Trinkets and Armor, 5: Shame is Useless for Living (but Excellent for Senryū)

Someone once told me something about sarcasm being cheap, right before asking why I preferred senryū over haiku. I ignored her cheap jab, and answered, “Because sarcasm and satire with human bits in them are the perfect tools in a world where everything is either screaming or mouthless.” I still believe those words and these, too: “Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish

 

So… smile at this threesome, my Wicked Luvs:

my cancer hurts you?
oh, I know, I feel your pain
splitting my right boob

coping is so hard,
my pain hurts you much deeper
because you aren’t me

no, my darling nut,
I shan’t be prey to more ills—
I’m kicking you out

 

If you are visiting from the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads and wished to read only the poetry, feel free to skip the next bit. For the rest of you, my Wicked Luvs…

…here is Trinkets and Armor 5:

 

If we’ve had more than a handful of conversations, or if you’ve read my blog for a little while, then you’ve probably heard me say things like: “stick it to stigma” and “guilt is a drag” and “politeness that threatens tranquility is a life-suck”, and yes… you’ve also heard me rant (quite vividly) about the uselessness of shame enticed by someone else’s expectations or lack of imagination or superabundance of stupidity.

After I posted “No Caress; or, Boob Talk”, I received a message (or 3) from people who might have some serious reading comprehension issues, or… perhaps, they’ve taken self-absorbed to an egocentric level that not even my well-known narcissistic ways can fully comprehend. I was gentle with one or two of them, but when certain individual suggested that I had to allow him or her access to me so that they could find the best way to process my breast cancer diagnosis, I lost all sense of coolness.

I just exploded. I wouldn’t be surprised if that individual’s tympanic membrane has not recovered. And… I shared my fiery feelings with my Piano Man, with a friend, with several healthcare providers, and with a gentleman who was diagnosed on the same day I was. After he finished wiping the tears of laughter (you see, my Wicked Luvs, it seems that rants made in Spanglish and shouted at a gazillion miles an hour can be seriously humorous) he told me, “I wish I could tell some people to give me space, but I don’t know if I could live with the shame.”

The comment made no sense to me, and I told him so. Then he explained where he is originally from, said that his parents and relatives would probably stop talking to him if he shamed them by being impolite… The more he shared, the more outraged and sadder I felt for him. After he confessed that he had even considered not telling anyone about his illness, I just hugged him. “Dude”, I said, “one must do what one must to get through this mess. If I were you, I would try to figure out which one is more difficult to achieve. Then I’d go for the one that requires the least amount of energy. Once the breast cancer is under control, then it might be time to stick it to a lifetime of society-pimped shame. But… since I’m not you, feel free to ignore me.”

I don’t know what he has decided to do. But I do understand that his position is an incredibly complex and painful one. I feel terrible for this man… and disgusted by the reasons behind his emotional troubles. Family, community, culture and such… should be about love, protection, and comfort for the group and for its individuals. But… we all know how ridiculous this thought reads, if placed next to some of the beliefs and ideals some families and larger groups have embraced.

As you can see by the tone of the last bit, I am still slightly pissed off. When one is host to a disease (or 5) that take almost everything out of one’s mind and body, one should not have to worry about hurting people’s feelings. The damn thing shouldn’t even be an issue. And, you know what? Those who truly care about you don’t make it an issue. They might want to be with you 24/7, but they do what they must to be sane (and caring enough) to help your immune system fight the grim reaper.

If you must spend every second of every day battling depression or Crohn’s or necrosis or a nerve disorder or bipolar disorder or cancer or whatever your health demon happens to be, those who say they care about you should have the decency to do their very best to fight the pain your disease causes them in a way that doesn’t worsen your illness. That, my Wicked Luvs, would be true politeness in my book.

Anyone who can’t feel bad about me being sick without making their suffering another thing I have to deal with, will be gently removed from my sight. Any person (other than a child, since they don’t know any better) who has the nerve to try to make me feel guilty about not helping them cope with my cancer won’t be treated as gently. They might not even get a sick joke as my door hits their cheeks.

 

This week, I invite you to share a wee bit (or a whole lot) on how you deal with people (groups, society…) that make you choose between your health (physical, psychological, spiritual…) and their peace of mind. Write a post, or a poem, or a story, or paint a picture and tell me about its meaning… do what works for you.

 

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

 

Trinkets and Armor, 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready

 

If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “And I Dare…”.

 

The page where I archive our weekly Trinkets and Armor prompts starts with this quote: “If life rips your heart out of your chest, make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.” A handful of you have messaged me to say that you feel inspired by what we’ve been discussing these last few weeks, that the quote itself makes you “want to do something”, makes you “wish you could join in”, but that some of the issues faced by some of the souls sharing their pains and wisdoms in this project make you feel “like a whiny poser”.

Well, my Wicked Luvs, I invite you to tell that little society-spawned voice in your head to shut it. No issue should ever be as important to you as the one that keeps you from being happy. Talking about it, trying to make sense of it, is not whining or posing. On the contrary, you take power away from the nasty spawn when you plant your feet, and growl, “My troubles matter as much as everyone else’s”. And just in case my intent isn’t as clear as my teeth when someone says, “Magaly, this is your mango!” know that this is me singing, “Join in, my Luvs, let’s dance with each other’s troubles until misery can’t tell whose foot is kicking its face.”

The thought of wiping the grin off misery’s face, one wild kick at a time, leaves me scrumptiously energized. Still, I shan’t linger on it, since today’s topic is not cathartic kicking but self-empowerment through planning, practice, readiness…

 

While I was a Marine Corps Combat Instructor, I learned that there would always be a young Marine who was certain he or she was cleverer than everyone who came before, especially more ingenious than those ancient combat instructors who obviously just wanted to make students’ lives hell, out of pure boredom. So, my fellow instructors and I always kept an eye out for the telling signs.

I spotted the brainiac during a gear inspection, before a 9-mile hike. A usually easy hike, sort of short, on slightly rough terrain (not too hilly… but things could get tricky when you are hiking through the forest exhausted, sleep deprived, with gear weighing as much as ¾ of you). So, yes, some young Marines searched for creative ways to reduce the weigh they had to carry. The clever young man I was watching replaced his poncho, extra socks and skivvies, and some other bits with inflated plastic bags we used for waterproofing. I sighed and headed his way.

“Hey, Devil Dog”, I said to him, “I’m going to check your pack last. You have fifteen minutes to rethink your choices.” I left to inspect my first squad, but glanced his way every now and again. I watched him re-pack properly.

Half an hour into the easy hike, it began to rain. The leaves blanketing the ground became ankle-breaking-slippery traps, the wee hills turned into steep muddy hells, packs got heavier, life sucked. Life sucked even more for a second virtuoso whose instructor explained, in a very loud manner, just how displeased he was at the fact that said genius had deemed it prudent not to pack his poncho or any extra dry gear. “Do you know what hypothermia is? Do you? Don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll find out. You’ll probably get acquainted with the Silver Bullet too…”

The shouting went on and on and… As the instructor’s screams drowned thunder, I searched for my young Marine, the one who had tried to lighten his pack earlier. I found his eyes staring at me from under the hood of his camouflaged poncho, his fingers viced around a roll of waterproofed black socks. I winked at him, and said, “Sure, Devil, you can let him borrow a pair after Sgt. S is done… teaching him”.

I will always be grateful to the Marine Corps for teaching me the same lesson when I was a student: we’ll rarely be surprised into inaction or despair, if we keep ourselves ready for whatever life (or a downpour in the woods) flings our way.

The next few months of my life will be… extra rough. Since this post is getting a bit too long, I shall wait until next week to share details about the incoming storm. Right now, I can let you know that I will spend a lot of time rearranging my closet and cabinets, placing anything I might need after September on spots I can access without having to bend too much or having to stretch my arms, I will cook like a maniac and freeze the yumminess, I will let friends know that our interactions will be erratic (since my sexy bits will claim schedules I can’t predict)… I will get my Self ready for anything, so that nothing can fill my skull with unexpected stress. And while I take care of all this, I will continue to remind myself that all the prearrangements will very likely not be enough. Life is not big on sharing plots.

This week, I would love to hear about how you dance with the unexpected, and how you deal with said unforeseen guest when it invites itself into your life, and tells you, “Yes, dearie, trying to ignore me is futile. You must deal with me.”

 

My poetic contribution for this week is another oldie *slightly tweaked* (partly inspired by Remedios Varo’s “Tightrope Walkers”):

“And I Dared…”

Created
with three legs
and a wheeled limb,
my life is often misery
in a tightrope-walker world,

unbalanced
between two mouths and 5 eyes,
unable to wheel the world
without twisting the known rails.

“Help me, Faery Weird Mother,
I need a prince to kiss and poof!
the weirds that trip me.”

She instant-wished me
a DIY magazine.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

Hurt,
I flung the failed wish at the world
and wheeled my rage into the woods,
in search of The Cutter.

After
losing too many moons…
I collapsed at the edge
of a pond.

Dare, thought my mouths, fading
into the depths, becoming…

…awakening
from a magic-less sleep,
to say, “Why not?”

I became my own prince,
kissed my-Self
ready for anything,

and I dared…

 

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.