On being not okay

There is a part of me that has taken the reins for right now. We’ll call her Addie for Adrenaline. It amazes me how much I want her to go away and yet she is hanging around as self-preservation. She’s a life jacket tossed on a me when I sometimes feel like I’m drowning on dry land. If a homeless person makes furtive movements close by, I begin twitching and want to tear off for the nearest sealable bubble. Asian men make me cross the street. I, who am so prone to all things urban am clawing against finding myself in large throngs of people, away from epi-centers of activity. I want Napa or the seemingly safe suburbs, the couch.

The oral surgeon today told me surgery is not necessary but is not ruling out a fracture from the trauma my jaw sustained from the assault. And these words, trauma and assault feel foreign and yet so inexplicably mine that I almost begin crying at the thought that someone punched me for no reason at all. That a crowd of people sat in silence. That seven weeks later my life still consists of soft foods, a bite that is uneven and only being able to insert 2 fingers in my mouth or the absolute avoidance of yawning.

I know, I know, it could be worse. And this is the problem. In my head it happens again and again. Worse than before. I try to shake it off, change the tape that’s rolling but he comes back again when I see a homeless man, an Asian man, an aggressive man. And I feel less like a human and more like a walking wound. One who doesn’t want to “bring up the jaw” because it’s going to bum her friends out.

I wrote an email to a friend tonight who’s having thoughts that something bad might happen to her child and thought perhaps there might be some truth to be gleaned for you, dear reader. Also included was an early draft of a poem begun the other night after my therapist and I realized I haven’t written anything since the jaw seemed to worsen a few weeks back. We decided there might be a correlation and I continued in the decision to write the worst. Sometimes, this helps. How are you not okay? What fear do you need to write out so it no longer eats you foot to head?

Dear X,

One thing that may help is writing your fears into the light so that they don’t have time to fester in darkness and grow like mold. i think fear is such a toxic substance that we are stymied from living those abundant lives God is calling us into…

Here’s a very early draft of a poem that began because I wanted to follow “the rabbit” of one fear that cropped up the other night and see where it would lead. The good thing about that is: a.) it’s no longer inside me b.) never has as much power over me as my sometimes forgotten positive nature and I think c.) belief that it cannot topple the notion that “he who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion.” We are assured of that.

I’m glad you shared this struggle. That kind of transparency allows for that redemption life which we’ve bought into, friend.

With much love,


  1. Wow. I didn’t realize you’d been so badly hurt. Surgery isn’t fun, but hopefully if you do have it it will help. I think of your story often when I’m riding the bus. Powerful poem.

  2. I’m still not okay about driving since the car accident I was in almost two years ago.

    Every now and again I write about it, thinking perhaps it will move it out of my head. Last semester I finally got it into a poem.

    It still doesn’t feel done with.

  3. Since my carjacking incident last October . . . I *still* jump and startle easily if someone comes up behind me on my left side without my knowing. If that same person (be it friend, family member, etc) “sneaks up on me” from my right side – it doesn’t NEARLY have the same startling effect on me.

    I mean – I am less jumpy than I was the couple months immediately after the incident, but I notice that I am jumpy still.

  4. Actually…scratch that and reverse it. I’m thinking in stage directions – what can I say – I just got out of rehearsal. Don’t sneak up on me from the RIGHT side…and everything will be okay.


  5. Thanks for your comments and also for sharing some of your own “unbidden fears”. As a wise guy once said, “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” I think he was on to something- then again, being a wise guy, he sent Luca Brasi to sleep with the fishes…

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