"To sacrifice [freedom], even as a temporary measure, is to betray it."
- Greer, Germaine. 1970. The Female Eunuch.
I have the thousand-mile stare down to a near art. I am imperturbable in my pursuit of a limbo state, the numbness of neither/nor, this dalliance with catatonia. I went shopping and stared through pants and shirts. I stared through myself in the changing room mirror. I masked hollow smiles for passing Cosmopolians and neglected to taste my frozen yogurt green tea shake.
The defence is still faulty, though, despite days of practice. Things keep getting through. My uterus gave me the big Fuck You this morning and started menstruating, when that event should not have even been in the offing. I looked down at my bloated figure and cried throughout my shower. I thought to myself: This is the last time my body does as my body has done. The change is terrifying. I do not know what it means, or if it means anything. I do not know if I want it to mean anything. I do not want it to have that kind of power. I want it to be a cyst. I want it to be a wart. I want it to be the mole that grows an ugly hair. Those things could be incinerated and then forgotten like all the slivers and ground in rocks I am sure I had during my childhood. They would not beg to mean something.
I am sure that I am ugly and too obviously aging. I hate this sudden paroxysm of vanity, but there it is. Cancer makes me feel old. It seems that I have grown arm wattle and looser skin overnight. I want my legs shaved, and I bought anti-wrinkle cream because the women in the commercial for it were relaxed and happy. I suddenly wish not only that I were thin but that I were slight. Ugly and aging disappear when you cannot be seen. I want to be a wisp of woman with less body to contend with. Body is problematic. It is heavy. It gets dirty easily. The packaging is a constant traitor to its contents. Body has no ethics. Body is pleased or it is not pleased. It survives or it does not survive.
None of this is happening to me. I am not wearing a red, waterproof wristband which declares through some esoteric hospital coding system the whereabouts of my blood, its type, my name. I am not carrying a post-surgery handbook around in my bag. I am not nauseous from the last period I will ever have in my life, one that will not be discontinued midway by a colpotomizer and a unipolar hook on Tuesday afternoon. No.
I am terrified, and part of me hates myself for this fear. This fear steals joy from me, and I feel as though I am betraying myself. I should be more; there should be more that is apparent than this severance of flesh from flesh. In my dreams over the last several nights, I have deep, black wounds spotted all over my body. It doesn't hurt, I say, and so friends put their fingers inside the bloodless holes to investigate. They pull them out and look at me blankly. They don't know what the holes are either, but somehow I know that, although they are non-lethal, they are permanent. When I put my finger inside one, it is dry and subtly fuzzy, like black mould in a damp container.
Spam, spam, wonderful spam.