Legit

I write about healthcare but I'm not a nurse. A boxer for a year and a half, I like to borrow the sport's metaphors. I write extensively about powerlifting but can't get my bench past 135.

I go on and on about abuse but haven't ever been hit.

There are days when I think maybe this offends some people.

As a writer, I use words to process the world first for myself, then for others. Images and paragraphs hover, swirling, until I sit to order them meaningfully. It is then that themes arise and I understand more deeply what I think and what I meant to say.

In a time when sharing online through word and image is encouraged and abundantly present, there remains something special about the art form of constructing a sentence or composing a picture. The artist trains to see, to observe. Art is for all--anyone can and should paint, draw, dance and write--but skill elevates the form.

I've noticed annoyance rise in me when prominent writers reverse a position/lifestyle they've explored at book length. Elizabeth Gilbert's wildly popular Eat, Pray, Love detailed her courtship with the man she would marry in her next book; she opines on love, elegantly, then splits with him and partners with a woman. Mommy blogger Glennon Doyle Melton writes about working on her relationship with her husband and then marries soccer superstar Abby Wambach. Lauren Winner wrote passionately about finding Jesus after growing up in Judaism, and then had a faith crisis and I think went back to Jewish rituals, I can't keep track.

I wasn't angry that any of these women changed their paths. I was upset that they had drawn me in through robust storytelling, winning me over to their way of thinking, and now they'd gone another way. Stop being so passionate already.

But life is like that if you're open to love, change and growth. These women happen to be writers, and writers like to communicate the present stage of the journey even if the road ahead isn't yet visible. Through one narrative we find the universal story.

In my case, I have an astute ability to assess a situation in a short period of time. Simultaneously, I can drown in the details and only feel my feelings--my sensitive soul drops me to the bottom of each new experience, where I pick up my pen. My mother calls me "dramatic."

I began in healthcare as a nurse tech almost a year ago now, somehow landing on one of the toughest floors of the hospital. It became the Covid-19 unit. I can't speak from the point of view of those who chose this vocation in order to save lives, but I can give you a peek inside the isolation rooms from an outsider's perspective. I spent all of this past Saturday in Covid rooms. I'm legit.

I was a skinny girl who discovered heavy weights and boxing and through them found her strength. I can talk about my personal accomplishments, marvel at the fitness world, and even describe coming up for air on the other side of middle age and looking at exercise a lot differently than I did. That's legit.

But no, I wasn't abused. I wasn't hit. And yet a man raised his hand in anger at my face and slammed the hard surface next to my head. I had buried the memory for so long that when it surfaced, ten years later, the realization was an account that needed to be written. For ten years, I had told myself I was spared a violence I deserved. I stayed with a man who would do that. For the women who have encountered so much worse, I attempt to describe the person I was and the woman who would now walk right out the door.

I guess what I'm saying is I have an obligation.

My experiences provide me a sometimes privileged view into the inner lives of others. My hope is that I can articulate these worlds for you, if you haven't been, or throw a line if you're already drowning there.







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