I was shot multiple times last night in my head, legs, and in three places along my back. The strange part was that at the beginning of the dream, I had a feeling I’d be shot, then a woman took me to a healing place and tried to help me get my soul right. As I was leaving her and all her grace, an expressionless man walked by, looked me in my eye and said, “You’ll be shot tonight.” I shouted, “Nooo!” and he said, “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
He didn’t say this out of malice. It was simply what he knew and I did too. A war was coming and all I could think to do was to run for my life, as I was defenseless. They caught up to me anyway and laughed as they shot me over and over again. It was vicious, relentless, and inescapable. And I cowered like an animal, playing possum until the assault was over. Like Claude McKay told me, I should have fought back, but with what? I woke up yelling, panting, scared, angry, and fighting the air. This morning, the left side of my back ached and my husband rubbed it over and over as if the bullets were still lodged and the pieces of flesh still wet and oozing. He rubbed until I fell back asleep, but I awoke with the same fear and hurt. It was all so real, so vivid. My sister always says that the body keeps count. This must be what she means. I’d argue that the subconscious does as well. I think this dream was an extension of the epigenetic and current trauma that was already there, beneath the sinew, fused to my blood, the cancerous marrow in my bones. Last night, I was part of a battle that I didn’t even know I was supposed to be fighting.
The truth is that this is how I feel in real life. Who knew we’d all be here, fighting so much? So many of us were already battling internal wars, tending to quiet scars. Now it feels that the wars are external as well, engulfing us. How does one fight it all? How much are we forced to carry? We are at war for myriad reasons – for the nation, for our children, for our safety, to be able to do our jobs, for our paychecks, for our spirits, for our bodies, for the right to exist, and for our very minds. Often, I feel lost, out of control and as if I’m floating into unfavorable and violent water, threatening to drown me and all I hold dear. Is it all in my mind? Am I being feeble or paranoid or melodramatic? That’s so gauche as a black woman. You are strong! You are fierce! You go girl! You’ve got this. I don’t. Not now. That’s my truth. I can’t do nothing for you man, Flava Flav got problems of his own. I am struggling.
But don’t we create our realities? Did my mind manifest all of this pain? Did our collective mind create this mess we’re in? This virus? This perpetual violence? It’s too jarring a thought. Too close to the truth, so I prance in platitudes. Why can’t I just pray away the pain and fear? Why can’t I deep breathe and Om away the stress? Isn’t there a yoga pose for this? Or valium? Aren’t there safe havens that I can go to and never, ever, ever leave? Isn’t that safe haven supposed to be my mind? If so, it’s betraying me right now. I feel a death at my back, breathing down a weakened spine. Is it the death of courage or maybe the death of compassion? How many cares can I give? When do I save some of it for me? Who props up the strong ones? I feel like a horse, carrying so many and so much, but what happens when a horse can no longer carry? They get shot. People will say, “that was a good old mare,” but they shoot her still. What happens when you’re no longer useful, no longer willing to carry the proverbial weight? At work, in relationships, in life? What happens when you put that shit down and just walk away? And can you?
I wonder if any of this is worth it, and for how long I must suffer, we must suffer, and for what? Like really? For what? I’m waiting for the answer. I don’t want to hear about the moral arch bending towards justice right now. I don’t want to hear about my vote or how powerful I am. I’ve been shot and it fucking hurts. Where’s the triage? Who’s going to get me back to health, back to myself? I have few answers these days and more rage than my college days. I didn’t think that was possible and I know it ain’t healthy, but it’s where I am – wounded, tired, and enraged. I’m not interested in engagement or “doing the work” or helping others see what all this is. I just want to live. I want to be without pain. I don’t want to bear witness to pain anymore. I don’t want to cause it. I want to be left alone for a while to grieve, to mourn, to cry, to be. Be just where I am. Give me space. Don’t ask me to pick up another damn thing, even the pen. I just told you I’ve been shot.
And I’m just trying to find ways to live with all this hurt.