One night in the hospital, I had an epiphany. With the midnight stillness floating in through the vacant windows of my “penthouse” room, the stillness spoke. My weary mind turned sloppy pirouettes,
devoid of its characteristic rapid-fire analysis. You’re making survival choices. Suddenly, it all made sense. My frantic clinging to every morsel of life, whether benevolent or somehow unsavory, was
My physiology penetrated every fiber of my being, starving not only for caloric sustenance, but also for the remnants of life. Stealing whatever shreds of life I can, tucking away affection, tattered shreds
of half-right living, is yet another survival technique. What if this boyfriend, this holiday, this meal—is my last? Sure, some idealistic compartment of my being castigates me for settling, for accepting a
relationship or excursion that denies my full humanity, but really, I’m far from residing in a palace of idealistic whimsy. I’m just trying not to be dead. It suddenly seemed entirely rational to gobble up whatever meager crumbs of imposter love that I could, to bask in a facsimile of nourishing sunlight because even the wrong thing must be better than nothing.
AHA! I thought, sorting through murky layers of sludgy fatigue. I offered myself a rare token of acceptance, even compassion, for making choices that don’t exactly align with my moral compass. It’s okay,
Briana. It’s okay to choose the survival boyfriend, the less-than-enjoyable outing, to somehow capitulate to whatever feels
intrinsically ill-fitting. In the stiff hospital bed, submerged by starchy sheets triggering angry inflammatory cells, I gave myself just a smidge of grace.
I look to the shadowed walls, consulting the dark caverns of the room for any sign of confirmation. The neon glow of screens, the constant chug of pumps offer nothing. No matter, I tell myself. Survival choices are worthy choices.
In the subsequent days, I’ll throw whatever seeds of grace I’d began to sow, out the window of my penthouse hospital palace window. Though encased in a layer or ten of lethargy and all-encompassing paralysis,
the other, familiar and demanding tendrils will win, again.
The survival boyfriend will no longer cut it. I will be unwilling to settle. I will hear the distant cries of my damn moral compass,
pulling me away from situations, people, agreements for the sake of checking living proof experiences off the list. Something will no longer be better than nothing.
In my emaciated, empty, cavernous bones, I will demand better. Because the wrong thing is just the wrong thing, even when it feels like the only thing. IV tubes tangled, pumps chugging, I’ll walk away from a
quarter life, searching for a whole life.