Tuesday, August 25, 2015

After Five Years

When I think of my 'former' self, I think of the photograph above. I recount to myself the same story, over and over, the details sometimes bending and blurring but always stinging in the same way.

'After' refers to the past five years - after hospitalization, IV drugs, blood in my brain. Hallucinations. Feeding tube. Bed pans. Lost time. After identifying my reflection in a mirror for the first time as if I was the monster designed for shock value in a horror movie, a poor choice for hospital bathroom artwork. After my left eye was sliced down the middle and couldn't be saved. After titanium cheekbones, titanium eye socket, relearning how to walk. Countless doctor's appointments. Stitches like barbed wire lining my gums. Metal screws jutting out from my lower jaw bone and digging into my bottom lip. A bruised pituitary gland. Surgical procedures that I could count on both hands, that I have lost count of. More stitches, more mediation, more recovery, more lost time. After the tear duct infection, surgery while awake, facial scarring. The idea that I am nothing more than a chart, test results, something to attempt to fix and then send away. After embracing the 'hollow shell' archetype because it takes the pressure off of actually feeling anything. Feeling like no one and nothing.

I have written this story before, in greater and less detail with different inflections, but I don't want to write it out anymore. I am forced to remember facial trauma whenever a stranger glares at me a little too long while trying to figure out what happened to my face; whenever I feel a hot wet tear involuntarily roll down my left cheek because prosthetic eyes don't absorb water; whenever I decide to apply make-up or view certain pictures of myself. I don't know when or if these sudden memory triggers will ever go away, but I do know that I don't want to remember what I don't have to.

A photo posted by Jenny. (@veganpastryschool) on

Five years later, I work in the kitchen of a vegan bakery in Portland. I am 26 years old. I spend too much time talking about the dog I can't adopt because I live in a one bedroom apartment (but it's 100% likely I will adopt a cat very soon). I used to write quite often but I don't write much anymore, for reasons I am aware of and have accepted. I enjoy blues and jazz singers, walking long distances, and discovering new places. I primarily read memoirs and cookbooks. I'm kind of boring and am not prone to opening up to people, but that's okay. I've been able to change the scenery and the situation and everything feels a lot better now. I feel better now.

After five years, this is the last time I will write about 'the accident' in this manner. I wanted to leave this here because it's a vital component of my history and something that changed me, both mentally and physically, but it's over. I'm ready to move on and live through new stories.