PA Parental Reaction to Election Results

The trauma of this election has left me utterly shaken. The fact that we, as a nation, support a man who is so openly hateful, thin-skinned, impulsive, and ugly is maybe more terrifying than the truth that he will soon hold our nuclear codes.

I know and love people who voted for Trump, and as upset as I currently feel with their choices know they thought they were making the best decision. These voters were mostly motivated by fear for our economy and national security, and believed Trump might be the change we need. They didn’t really like him. They were pretty sure that the Clinton skeletons were more formidable than Trump’s. There are strong arguments against these beliefs, and I feel guilty for failing to convince any good people otherwise. I did not do enough, and I didn’t make an argument that spoke to them. I was emotional, and perhaps insulting, and surely inflammatory during these living room debates. These issues really trigger me—but I could have done better, and I’ll regret that for four years.

Two days ago, I was joyfully tearing up imagining the world in which our child would make her first memories—where a woman holds the highest government office in one of the most powerful nations: what that could mean for her… Will she stand taller? Will she not shy from competition? Will she be more confident answering questions in front of a class (and not blush horribly as I still do)? Will she rebuke feminine pleasantness for pleasantness’ sake and use that energy for more meaningful aspects of life? Will her moxie be ever free of the jeer, “bitch”? All these hopes decayed as my own state of Pennsylvania went red for a man whose insults against my sex raise bile in my throat, whose stance on virtually every human and social issue is an affront to my deepest values.

I am still in shock—but we must move forward. We do not operate under a dictatorship, and his power has checks. That is what I’m telling kids today. As it always was and should be, the onus is on us to move our society forward in a positive direction. Here is what I plan to do to combat the world that Trump presents to my daughter:

  1. Show her that the world is good. That people as a group are not bad, and that she will never regret being patient or kind to someone who is having a bad day, week, or life. I want to teach her that the way to true happiness comes from sharing, helping those in need, and loving as many people as you can.
  2. Teach her about consent. I’ll seek to remind her in small ways every day that her body belongs to her completely, and that anyone who comes into her space needs permission. If she doesn’t want to hug and kiss me, it might hurt (I gave birth to you!) but CHOICE reigns supreme. When she is older, conversations about sex will constantly loop back to consent, safety and choice.
  3. Lead by example: When it comes to societal pressures on women, both in behavior and appearance, I will nonchalantly protest. Don’t want to put on makeup, shave, blowout hair, wear heels? Don’t. You do because it’s fun and you have time? Word. It’s not a requirement, and I’m not going to be hurrying around stressed because I don’t look “perfect.” I was born perfect, and so were you.
  4. Respect and embrace other cultures. I remember my Grandmother, a Methodist farm-girl from Iowa, coming to a Baptist church where I was singing with friends for a special service. There was a band; people were expressing their love for Jesus with abandon like I’d never seen. I was completely uncomfortable, but then I saw her in the back, smiling, step-touching, clapping and singing, making all kinds of friends. In that moment I understood infinitely more about life. She also introduced me to sushi, loved listening to Selena, and talked to me in-depth about Native American customs she admired. She was rumored to have protested bus seating arrangements inspired by Rosa Parks. In the 1970s, she adopted two children of color and embraced African American culture into her family. She liked differences and trusted everyone, especially people that others didn’t. So just everyone chill and be like her, please.screen-shot-2012-05-23-at-5-17-58-pm

I know that it’s over, and we must accept the reality of our presidential future, and that, for the meantime it appears that a massively qualified, hardworking and brilliant woman will always lose to a man no matter how much of a sophomoric, bombastic, homophobic, sexist, racist, xenophobic wet fart of a clown he is. And that’s just soul-crushing. But we must use this a motivation for ourselves, to set our bar high for progress and keep moving forward, even if we must drag his fat ass behind us the whole way.



Me Too, Said Everyone You Knew.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.06.04 PMTo solve the enormous issue of sexual harassment and assault: begin with acknowledgement. This requires an “outing” of sorts, which puts victimized people in an increased state of vulnerability. This is horribly unfair. When they have the courage, believe them.

Maybe you don’t know her story because she feels ashamed. Maybe you don’t know her story because she knows her experience is unremarkable and not worth the mention. She probably has several. The statistics are startling.

Maybe you don’t know his story because of shame. He might have one. He might have more.

The terrible cruelty of assault and rape is agreed upon ubiquitously in our culture. Yet a much larger group perpetuates rape culture through engaging in or being complicit in harassment.

I always knew I was lucky for the men in my life. I grew up hearing, “You’re my hero,” from my dad. He cherishes my mother. I, on an undoubtedly related note, had respectful boyfriends and male friends and an unflinching belief that there were more good than bad men in the world. I’ve been very lucky.

And still I understood that harassment is as much a part of female life as getting your period. It’s unpleasant but part of the deal. In fact, the less threatening forms of harassment have felt oddly validating–as in, no I don’t really respect you as a full person, but I see you there and I notice you indeed are a part of that group.

My induction to that group happened in sixth grade Math class. I remember feeling such palpable shame and sickness. I had won the “Math Award” earlier than year, but suddenly lost focus and found I enjoyed Literature class much more. It only occurred to me, looking at my B.A in English a few years ago, that maybe those inclinations in our lives are not so self-driven. I was consumed by making sure that I wasn’t doing anything to call attention to myself in that class. But that bled into all my other classes, and everything else with time and experience, making it impossible to have true freedom. This is all so normal that I couldn’t have told you then exactly why I made the choices I did. When a woman is able to walk this life with self-knowledge and confidence that our culture denies I am entranced and amazed. It really happens. Some of my dearest friends who have experienced horrendous, violent sexual assault come to mind. They are absolute magic.

But for those lacking this assuredness a boyfriend can be a great solution to most harassment issues. The kind of boyfriend who’ll pull up his own shirt when someone screams, “show me your tits!” at you, or will give you an understanding hug when you tell him angrily that you we just called a “fucking cunt” for not joining those leering bros for their cookout. But he might not be aggressive enough, and when approached by several dudes who casually but convincingly talk about raping you, he laughs nervously and doesn’t know what to do. So you have to get a new boyfriend with the capacity for violence. And again our life choices are sometimes more on the survivalist than thrivalist kind of life. You hear me?

We’ve got to make it stop. When you see it, call it for what it is. You need to tell that friend he’s not cool when he disrespects marginalized groups and he better do better. When he tells you he’s sorry that he, too, is just a cog in this wheel and you’ve held up a mirror for him to become the man he’s always wanted him to be, congratulations are in order. That derailment is a big deal.

And for the few dudes who scoff that they, “can’t say anything these days without offending someone”–tell them to grow up and get some new material or STFU. We’ll be just fine without that noise.


Las Vegas and the ‘Hood

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A nice man assessed a blown gasket in a window of my house this morning. He made Sibbie laugh while taking measurements. His estimate for the replacement was more than I expected, and without my even saying so he suggested other ways to ameliorate the issue, which would mean he wouldn’t get a penny from us. He did the estimate for free, wished me luck and to text or call with any follow up questions. He explained everything clearly without patronizing and I felt lucky to have him. We chatted while he drew up an estimate. He, referencing the recent horror in Las Vegas, aptly noted, “It’s nice to have little ones around, they make us shut off the news and bring joy back.” He told me about his young son and we shared some new parent insights and laughs together. Then, in the same casual, genial tone he’d been speaking, he said something deeply upsetting.

“Makes you wonder why he couldn’t go try that with some gangsters in the hood, see what happens to him there, leave people just trying to have a good time alone.” I froze. “It’s really horrendous,” was all I could muster, and he was on his way. In the moment I tried to replay and decipher what he was saying–but I knew what he meant. He meant that in poorer neighborhoods there is a proliferation of violence and gun-wielding residents and that the gunman would have been quickly killed by them. There’s also the suggestion that violence is common and therefore less impactful. The subtext here is that Black lives matter less. In that hypothetical hood there are children, women and men who would unfairly bear witness to evil.  Exposure to violence doesn’t mean you are immune to it or ready for it when it happens or it doesn’t hurt. There is no getting used to violence–there is a taxation of the body and soul that the individual pays in myriad ways, no matter their color or address. We cannot shift violence to any place to make it easier to handle, and suggesting that this should be done is a racist act. The assumption that Black Americans feel less devastated by violence disallows true empathy and prevents future equality.

What I did wasn’t much better. I said nothing. I can blame my confusion about what he said initially,  I can blame my indecision about what words would make sense and would best meet him where he was in his misunderstanding, I can blame my gratitude for his help, that I was disarmed by his kindness. But as a person who wants so badly for equality in this world I failed in my chance to bridge the missing piece for this man, who didn’t know he’d said something poisoned by a sick world. That was my job. I wished I would have at least asked in a genuine tone, “what do you mean by that?” and if what I assumed was right, “I’m surprised to hear a person I found so generous would say that. No community needs violence, what we need are policies to prevent these things from happening anywhere.” Then I would  engage more if he responded and if not thank him again for his help and say goodbye.

“Today is not the day for policy discussion,” says Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But when is that day? That day was so long ago–before Orlando, Sandy Hook, Columbine, many nameless others… And the time to talk about violence against the Black community is now until it stops being such a blatant humanitarian crisis. At this moment I can only move forward by better preparing myself for such an opportunity to reach out, that I am ready with the words that illuminate hate in a meaningful way. Here are my next steps to better prepare for that:

  1. Be alert and assume the best. Give that person a real chance to clarify what you heard. Asking, “what do you mean by that?” or “I don’t understand…” gives them a chance to prove you wrong and you a chance to better assess what is going on and how to open a conversation.
  2. Think about where that person is and what he or she might not understand. Take a deep breath and prepare to say things simply and without emotional pleas.
  3. Fill in the blanks. Offer an alternative viewpoint that assumes they are good-natured and reasonable. Giving people a perspective outside their own only is beneficial if that person is open to hearing it. Nothing closes someone off like feeling judged.

Be aware and lead with kindness. That’s really hard when someone has just said something that you know is deeply wrong and insidious. The world doesn’t slow down and give you time to process moments like this–so our best best is to be ready. I’m guessing most people saying passing but hurtful remarks such as this are unaware, and breaking that news to them is a tightrope walk. The first step is your chance to have time slow a little and compose yourself for an uncomfortable but necessary conversation. I know it will be awkward and I’ll regret the words I flub and my heart will beat fast. But I will have said something that might ring in his ears instead of silence that complies with his harmlessly stated, harmful ideas.

Mother Feminism

Woman is a ray of God. She is not that earthly beloved. She is creative, not created.–Rumi

We all should be feminists; I hope you agree. But what that means precisely has been a point of contention among thinking people. “That’s a good thing,” I’ve been trying to tell myself about the debate. Conflict among people seeking power is inevitable and I think we can see it as a sign of progress. But as a newish mother who works to empower her daughter and set a strong example while simultaneously (by choice) pausing a career to be her primary caretaker (of which I am grateful to be able) it’s also stressing/bumming me out to witness conflict among different ideologies of feminism. It’s a game I can’t win. I’m guessing many of you have found yourselves wondering the origins of your life choices, as I do with everything. “Do I really want to spend this time on my makeup or am I making myself acceptable to the world? If it’s the later, shouldn’t I resist that?” And so on with a hundred other things…

In stone: Feminism must be intersectional, and the more uplifting to disenfranchised people the closer to truth we are. We can’t be good feminists if we do not call attention to the great many atrocities unique to Black women and demand a change. I’m still learning what this really looks like in practice, but it at least begins with acknowledgement. If you haven’t yet, please take fifteen minutes to check out this amazing TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw to better grasp The Urgency of Intersectionality.

Beyond this, which seems self-evident, I believe the fewer distinctions the better. I hope you know I don’t mean to stop talking, stop questioning, stop calling people’s bullshit out, stop examining ourselves. That’s the good work that must persist. I mean stop with the judging other women doing their best to be good feminists, because we’re all in different places with our lives and understanding, and shaming is not helpful. Emma Watson’s comments on Beyoncé’s feminism (no hyperlink because I won’t waste your nor my time on this smut) tripped me up. I appreciate Emma Watson’s presence and I am a long-buzzing member of the Beyhive. I don’t wanna see this mess.

You know what I’m going to say and can probably skip this paragraph: We’ve been so creative with the ways we tear women down. We’ve criticized being too fat, too thin, too sexual, too prudish, too cold, too emotional, too ditzy, too intellectual, too basic… Can we quickly acknowledge the absurd horror of the slim thick craze? Now I have to nearly die of an eating disorder and maintain round, dimpleless T&A to boot? The day I hear the title “silver fox” used on a woman I will do a backflip. If I’m 90 I’ll get help with this. If it’s about me I’ll get help with two backflips. According the the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists the rates of labiaplasty (in general a cosmetic cutting/shortening of the labia minora) for girls under 18 doubled between 2014 and 2015 and interest in the procedure continues to grow. A microscopic focus on every godforsaken aspect of the female appearance just refuses to die, to say nothing of the real, important work that women could be doing if they might be clear-minded for a spell and taken seriously as equals in the world, and the real, important work that gets done despite the odds that is passed over. As strongly as I believe we are moving in a better direction there is clearly something pervasive and ill about the way we teach girls and women to see themselves. I haven’t the ability to write about it all and you don’t need to hear it. What I’m asking is: How can we break the chains of criticism while judging and criticizing strong, trying women as not enough?

We must uplift and hold precious what has been long demented and gaslighted and diminished and beaten. I want to share stories and see understanding in the eyes of my peers–not judgment. I want to meet women where they are in their vision of their place in the world, and encourage the ascension.  We need to talk with open hearts for the purpose of learning and lifting. We can only do this when the necessary armor is off and our guards are down. We need to uphold new heroes. They are among us.

When I read the Rumi quote (top) I almost fell out of my chair. I had to read it out loud to make it real. It calls to attention the fabrication of women as support and not lead, as a rib, and says something so obviously simple yet so historically uncelebrated. We are creative not created. That’s some 800-year-old truth. And in the spirit of creation I hope that we find a way to give birth to a new future of female life that celebrates the great glory that is every woman, and stops criticizing her every move. Let us move on this spectrum freely and without fear of one another.

Inflammation and Food

Food deeply impacts health. We know that what you consume has much to do with wellness, but the specific foods that promote or inhibit this are constantly debated. I believe that inflammation is at the root of many health issues, especially for those prone to autoimmune disease. While it’s notable that there has been a change in both discussion of and access to healthy options, there is undoubtedly a lasting and common distain for the dedication to a plant-based diet. While a plant-based diet is simple in concept it’s not always easy to do well. I am not a medical professional; I have eliminated many foods trying to feel my best, and have found this to be truest to me. If you suffer from Crohn’s or similar disorders you are likely very aware of the foods that most hurt and help your specific issue, which in some cases are contrary to my recommendations. My awareness that my pain and paralysis stem from inflammation motivates me to minimize any potential stimulation. I do not do this perfectly (not even close), and there are aspects of inflammation I won’t get into here. My only authority on the matter is my own experience, light research, and anecdotal evidence from friends and family members. In short, this is what works for me, and I hope it can help you too.

Inflammatory foods are ideally eliminated to promote everyday wellness but especially when health is compromised and you are trying to heal. To my mind, the most important food to avoid is refined sugar. It is the most addictive substance to me, and I know I need to avoid it completely. My husband, in the wake of Phife Dawg’s death, heard in an interview wherein the rapper shared his personal struggle with sugar. Phife’s tragic and untimely death was reportedly due to complications from diabetes. Those colorful, candied doughnuts make beautiful instagram posts, but they are hurting you. It’s no joke. Nothing makes me feel so instantly icky, bloated and fiery in my nerves. Most days there will be a moment I am craving something sweet. I find it helpful to have some pre-made sweet, but refined sugar-free options. I like dairy-free ice cream or healthy no-bake cookies. What is remarkable about these treats is they satisfy your sweet tooth without an intense craving to eat more. The further you get from refined sugar the less you will miss it, I swear! *Note: artificial sugars, like aspartame, are just as inflammatory, steer clear!

Gluten is a hot-topic for many, and the hardest thing about being gluten-free is judgment. I don’t even like to say the word. Many people have absolutely no allergy, and so gluten poses no threat to their health, but refined flours, like those found in white bread, flour, some noodles, etc… undergo processing that make it act like sugar, and will cause inflammation in everyone. Luckily, whole-grain options are now widely available. Pick those when you have the choice, remembering that ancient grains are delicious and nutritious. I tend to stay away from most gluten free substitutes, as they are generally unsatisfying in taste, and do little nutritionally. I do like Udi’s soft and hearty whole grain bread, and find it can make a solid platform for a decent sandwich.

As a former vegan, dairy is fairly easy to eliminate. There is popular belief that dairy is essential, and I won’t dispute the value of calcium found in healthier options like yogurt or kefir. What I think goes widely unrealized is how much better the body absorbs calcium through plants like broccoli, kale, bok choy, even parsley (it’s not just garnish!) and how much gentler this is on human bodies. Milk is utterly needless in our diets and is better left to baby cows. I find that coconut milk or cream can be a great replacement in your coffee or mashed potatoes, or wherever else you might use dairy. You can find more information on this many places, but I like this source: Why You Don’t Need Dairy.

Being social in many capacities involves alcohol, but consuming too much sets the body aflame. I won’t preach abstinence, and I won’t practice it either. I very much appreciate the work of mixologists, brew masters, and winemakers. My most intense nerve issues have been mildly and temporarily assuaged by a spirit or two, but if I am honest with myself I must admit that this habit is unhealthy. When I am in such social situations I do my best to keep it to one or two drinks, but believe that elimination is really where I should aim, especially when I’m having a flare.

Now for the question I’m frequently asked: What do you eat? When I am really good about my ideal diet I focus first on the vegetables in season, and get a whole bunch of them. They should be the stars of most meals. The best inspiration for this kind of veggie showmanship comes from the gorgeous restaurant, Vedge, here in Philly. Luckily, they published a cookbook so mortals can attempt their impressive culinary feats. When fresh produce is not available I stock up on frozen vegetables like broccoli, green beans, mixed veggies…Around that I always have on hand brown rice, quinoa, an assortment of beans, tamari, olive oil, coconut oil (all hail the mighty coconut), and I usually have some antibiotic free, free-range chicken in the freezer. Any time I can add ginger, garlic or tumeric I do (these are all natural anti-inflammatories, good to take in pill form, too). I find you can do quite a lot with these! Having fresh veggies like cucumber and carrots chopped and pre-made hummus will prevent you from eating a bag of Doritos even when they are sitting in your cupboard opened and your husband won’t notice them missing (he will always notice). Apples/celery and peanut butter have followed me from childhood and are always around house Corey. Walnuts and dried fruit are great to keep in your bag for on-the-go snacks.

It is not easy, especially when you are out with friends and family who may not understand why you aren’t partaking in the plethora of delicious, incendiary consumables. I find a mantra helpful when I reach for something I know I shouldn’t, “What is this doing for me?” Your health is more valuable than the brief joy of crappy, inflammatory foods. When you think of food in terms of what you deserve, your body becomes precious and important. It’s the only one you’re going to get this lifetime. As an added bonus eliminating these foods is likely to make you look better on the outside, too. When I am really struggling, I watch some Beyoncé videos and think, “what wouldn’t I give for the chance to look a tiny bit more like her?”

Dreaming works for me.

Continue reading “Inflammation and Food”


I should have guessed that Graves’ might affect breastfeeding, given that the thyroid regulates all hormones, but I tried my best to let doctors tell me where to worry, and let the rest be… Looking back, I would have gotten my thyroid removed during the second trimester, when it was safest for us both. The first three months of my daughter’s life I struggled with making enough milk (with hyperthyroid it’s actually the let-down that’s impacted, not production, but same result—baby needs more). It became abundantly clear when in the recovery room from my thyroidectomy I pumped more milk that I could have previously in a day. I popped a synthroid and was done with my supply problem. In another post I’ll give you perhaps a more compelling reason I should have gotten that sick gland out earlier, but today I want to focus on nursing.

Graves’ was a hangnail. It bothered me a little at first, but besides some tremors, the weekly blood draws and many hours spent monitoring my unborn daughter, there was truly little trouble. It was the Parsonage Turner Syndrome, otherwise known as brachial neuritis that was and has been more problematic. It impacts just 1 out of 100,000 people, and it’s hard to explain fully, but I’ll give you a quick scoop. Generally a flare is sparked by a trauma: injury, surgery, childbirth, anesthesia, even vaccines. It begins with sudden, intense onset of severe pain located in the shoulder/upper back area (acute phase) lasting between weeks and months often followed by lessened pain, weakness and paralysis of affected area for around a year (chronic phase). I’ve had periodic episodes in my life since age 14, but have rarely been able to identify or predict triggers.

It made perfect sense that two spinals and a cesarean birth would do the trick, and I should have seen it coming. The next day I was given three vaccines (I only learned later) known to trigger. Go figure I experience the worst attack of my life. In recovery, on morphine, I was in agony, and shuddered at the near future.

On particularly acute nights nursing would have been impossible without help. Here’s why my mom is great: she (a former breastfeeder herself, and a big supporter) would try to help her ailing daughter, “I’m going to give her a bottle, okay?” Each time when I protested, I wanted to nurse her, she didn’t question, she would gingerly take my arms and wrap each safely around my daughter, prop pillows up to keep them in place, pack my shoulders with ice, and help me take some (useless) steroids and Percocet. Sometimes she’d be brave with me, sometimes she’d cry with me. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

I was OBSESSED with increasing my supply, so much that I would double pump 20-30 minutes after at least six of 12 nursing sessions a day, drink only mother’s milk tea, and took so much fenugreek I smelled like maple syrup. I would chart how much I was able to pump at what time, how much supplementing she needed, what her weight gain was that week…When you have a baby that eats every 90 minutes, and you have to supplement, it’s the only thing you do. You can’t leave the house, because you can’t stop, ever. I was in so much pain that I wouldn’t want to leave the house, anyways. I felt guilty supplementing with formula, but also knew she was still hungry, and needed it. A few weeks later, we learned our daughter had a milk-protein allergy, and in order to keep nursing I would need to eliminate dairy from my diet. I am already gluten-free because of my autoimmune issues, so I’m accustomed to reading labels, but this left my diet pretty limited.

Why the hell would I do this just to keep breastfeeding? I don’t think formula is evil, and I don’t for one second think that mothers who bottle-feed are doing less than their best for their children, but it wasn’t the right choice for me. I did it for myself as much as my baby. I am amazed by breastfeeding—it’s absolute magic, and I didn’t want to miss out just because of my illness. Not just its production is amazing, but the benefits for mother and baby are remarkable. You may know, but I didn’t until recently: the baby’s saliva is “read” by the mother’s body, which will then create solutions for what the baby may need—this is why breastfed babies develop fewer illnesses—the mother’s antibodies literally make breastmilk medicinal. How incredible is that?

The most profound reason to nurse became my mental health. Where my body failed in so many ways, I could nourish my child. With previous episodes of neuritis, I would struggle emotionally; I felt utterly useless. Not only did I feel the famous benefits of oxytocin, but I maintained value as a person, where I couldn’t contribute in so many aspects, I was positively vital to the most tremendous little person. Once I had my thyroid out there was plenty of milk, my body never stopped getting signals to make more, so it was a really easy transition. Once my baby could support her own head, I didn’t have to concoct ways to support her with my jelly arms. We both started sleeping more, and healing little by little.

I’ve listed a couple “should haves” here, but my ignorance was retrospectively bliss. I was completely unprepared for what would be, but preparedness may have deterred me from the ultimate best choice for us. Had I imagined just what it would take to successfully nurse, I may have logically weighed the benefits and thought, “If I’m going to go through all this, I’m going to need to put partner on night duty and sleep a few nights a week.” I got through a rough time because I only dealt with it one moment at a time. What I’m saying, mamas, is with the right support, you can do it,  you really can. It might be one of the hardest things you do, but what great thing isn’t? More importantly, whatever you do, forgive yourself, hell, applaud yourself for it. Heaven know we’re all doing our best.

Truth about Autoimmune Disease


I’ve found one of the more persistent aspects of illness to be shame. It takes explaining for a person to understand why I, looking perfectly normal (fully clothed, at least) cannot reach to take something being handed to me, or how I got that scar, or why I cannot meet up later that day. I’ve become a knee-jerk excuser, but here’s why you should be honest about your illness.

1) The truth is ultimately easier, even when it’s complicated. If you’re constantly offering faux reasons why you cannot hang, friends, being good, will accommodate however they can, and ask again with seemingly mitigating factors in place. Until you say: “I cannot reach the steering wheel today,” or, “I have anxiety over people seeing me weak,” or, “I cannot find the strength to shower,” you’ll be chasing your truth. Your friends will understand; they will always try! And with the truth they can offer the real friendship you both need–even if all that means is good thoughts your way.

2) You will sleep better at night. My partner and I talk about guilt from time to time. He experiences guilt in a pragmatic way; how God intended if you will. He feels guilty for things he’s done with intent. I feel guilt when my intentions are good, bad, or non-existent. I’ve laid in bed trying to remember what it was that I had said in avoidance of my (health) truth, debating wether or not it was the right thing to say, and trying to bank it in my memory for the next time I see said person. It might take longer to explain, your face might turn red, but the truth takes no memorizing, and little post-contemplation as you become more comfortable with it yourself.

3) You will find support in unexpected places. Accept it: you probably need help during this time. If you are lucky enough to have a loving companion, chances are, you need more help than he or she can provide. Chances are, that person needs help, too. When you tell the truth, people will want to support you. When I was finally truthful with my school, that I could not come back to work and why, they signed up to prepare and deliver dinners specific to my very limited diet. I didn’t have to worry about a meal for three weeks. I well with gratitude thinking of it now. (I felt grateful to the point of guilt, knowing we all have complicated, busy lives, but that is different problem I need to work through!) You’ll find others with similar, if not the same issues. My mother recanted a conversation surrounding a friend’s experience with postpartum Graves’ disease, and her admiration for my perseverance and positivity throughout my pregnancy with Graves’. For whatever silly reason, it felt so good to have her praise and support. I’ve never met another person with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, but have met others grappling with neuropathy. Sometimes it helps just to talk about pain. Together you can find the words to explain it, brainstorm what the professionals haven’t figured out yet, and hug someone with a fuller appreciation of your strength.

Maybe one of the harder parts of this honestly is the desire to not be a complainer. I want people to think I’m tough, and that I don’t for one second forget the many things for which I am fortunate. Finding a way to be factual, and forging ahead is where I’m aiming.