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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not Your Superwoman

All winter season, I scoffed arrogantly at the sick people around me—ha! All the snotty-nosed, sniffling, sneezing, headache stricken sick people who had let themselves get sick. Not me! I wouldn’t let myself get sick—I was way too in touch with my body to break down. I cook and eat healthy, exercise regularly, and sleep like I’m still a teenager. While masses of germs hailed like bullets through the air, I, Superwoman, would be immune to all of them and not get struck down. Getting sick was for suckers!
The closing of the holiday season at work was starting to kick my ass like a whip to a donkey. My lackadaisical four-day work week had been stretched to six-day back-to-back work weeks with our biggest mid-January convention wrapping up our busy season. Superwoman was wearing thin. Still, I was convinced that I would not exhaust myself until after the convention had ended…. Not so. Folding like a cheap poker hand, I woke up Monday morning as miserable as a New Year’s hangover. My head felt like a water balloon before it bursts, and slimy trickles of snot gushed out my nose. My usual morning desires like breakfast, hot tea, and a steaming shower to splash my senses awake were diminished into one sole desire: to collapse my head back into my pillow, and sleep for an entire day. Instead, I went to work.
Ordinary lights pulsated like strobe-lights on my pupils, and ubiquitous noise thundered in my ears like heavy metal. My ego was a bit wounded. I was not immune after all; I had become one of them. I had become…sick.
My only relief was calling into work at 7am the next morning, my boss insisting I stay home. Immediately, I fell into sleep’s sweet surrender, overcome by prisms of dreams as my body went to work, exorcising the demon bug out of me. The pockets of time I spent awake were utilized guzzling down pulpy glasses of grapefruit juice, flooding out toxins with copious refills of water, and scalding germs with hot tea.  After each waking nap, I slowly un-peeled another layer off myself until I finally woke up feeling…well, better. So I did the two things I always do to uplift my spirits: I wrote and cooked. A note to readers though, that the keyword here is that I did not clean up after myself in the least. 
The ruca walked into a kitchen filled with colossal stacks of water and juice glasses, teacups filled with soggy tea bags, and my bowl of half-eaten oatmeal crusty in the sink. “Baby,” I reasoned, trying to explain that cleaning was part of the secondary process of healing.
“You didn’t even make the bed!” she exasperated.
“Well technically, I did just get out of it,” I shrugged.
Indulging in my soup instead of arguing, we slurped down steaming bowls of lemon-spiked caldo with carrots, zucchini and tiny pasta wheels. The lemon coated my throat and steam sizzled into my pores. Something inside me fizzled away as I soaked up my homemade medicine.
            I awoke the next morning super early alert, alive, and so chipper you’d think I was actually a morning person. “I guess I am human, after all, and not Superwoman like I tried to be. Everyone gets sick, even healthy people break down at times,” I chatted with the ruca, as I picked out my clothes for the day. “Even though I hate the feeling of becoming vulnerable to something tougher than me, it’s part of life. You know, it made me think of a quote I read somewhere about crying and I translated its same meaning to being sick. Getting sick doesn’t mean you’re weak; it just means you’ve been strong for too long.”
            I realized suddenly that my conversation was nothing more than a hokey monologue, and that the ruca was sniffling miserably into her pillow. “You got me sick!” she moaned. “I haven’t gotten sick this entire season!”
More glasses would go unwashed, and the bed would probably go unmade again today. But as the ruca sneezed into a fistful of tissue, I realized that I was right: even the strongest can only be Superwoman for so long.

© Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2012

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