But I’m glad you’re here.
Hey there. Happy July.
I’ve been scared to write. Time kept passing, and there I was, picking my boogers instead of posting.
I had things I wanted to tell you. But I was afraid of telling it wrong (or right, and hurting someone’s feelings). I was ashamed. Things got hard, and I internalized them as reflections of me as a person. Not in a fun, ultimately affirming Mulan way. I didn’t want to know when my reflection would show that inside I was really just 100 bed bugs in a trench coat wrecking shit.
I got a new job and lost it just as fast. A less than wholesome version of myself (read: the selfish, argumentative human manifestation of If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie) threatened my relationship. I wasn’t booking work. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t I wasn’t I wasn’t.
I kept failing. But I didn’t want to be a failure.
So, I’ll say I’m learning. Learning is what I know to do, because what else do you do when life keeps handing you steaming piles of horseshit?
The biggest pile of shit was bed bugs. So let’s talk about those six legged blood sucking night crawlers.
Listen, sometimes you don’t have a bed.
Sometimes you don’t have a bug.
Sometimes the Lord is bounteous and you have both.
Fucking bed bugs, y’all.
It’s difficult to see stressors clearly when where you sleep is also the site of you as a human feeding sack.
It wasn’t just a bugs that led up to this point. I lost my sense of intention. I leapt, but didn’t plan for a net to appear and certainly didn’t know how to make one on the way down.
The trouble started in December. A man I barely know offered to take me to the airport Christmas Eve morning. Obviously (or perhaps not), that man’s now my boyfriend. At the time, he was just a dude I boned and wouldn’t really leave me alone. Not that I asked him to. He’s cute, y’all.
He shows up the night before. Despite my best efforts, I end up crying in his lap over some bites I have. “I’m a bed bug!”, I said between embarrassingly toddler-like tears. He told me I wasn’t a bed bug, and when my landlord showed up, they both checked for the fuckers. Suckers. Excuse me.
No signs of life.
So we pressed on. Life happened (you can review previous posts if you’d like vague hints as to what and when from December, January, and so forth).
All through January I had bites on my clavicle, thighs, arms. Only ever a few, very itchy, seemingly appearing at random. I told myself they were anxiety hives. After all, I’ve always been crazy high strung. All my hair fell out at the ripe old age of 3 because I was so stressed about being a toddler. Dude. Plus, still no signs of life. My landlord promised to bomb in January. He did so again in February. Two of my friends stayed at my apartment in the April and May. Both had similar bites. Still, nothing found. Nothing seen. And strangest to me, Jake never had a scratch.
Due choices (and non-choices, or laziness on my part, if you will), we started staying at his place more and more. Until it became staying entirely at his place, my apartment a fond memory and glorified storage unit.
Choices, y’all. Or lack thereof.
Finally, it came to a head. I got the greenlight to move out, but did so by not doing so. I was hoping someone would intervene. Someone would appear and say, “stop this! Let’s get rid of them!” My lack of choice kicked up all kinds of problems interpersonally. After some warranted but uncomfortable conversations, I rallied and requested an exterminator.
The exterminator has treated twice now. Twice. Each time, the litmus test of elimination is sleeping in my own bed. Each time, I wake up with 20+ bites. I now have faint scars on my back from the first round of bites post-extermination. That sentence doesn’t even make sense because post-extermanition usually means YOU’RE DEAD BUGS.
When I think about my things trapped in a bed bug apartment, I get upset.
I don’t have a car, y’all. I don’t own very much. Most everything I have is a gift of the most generous kind. I willfully sold my life-as-it-was down river last year. Now, nearly a year to the day later, I’m still piecing it back together.
I get upset. Friday was really fucking hard. My rent was waived for the month of July due to the infestation. I was still charged, plummeting me into an overdraft. I woke with a bite on the back of my leg.
My things? Well, I sold them.
What I have now? Eaten by bed bugs.
It’s so hard not to catastrophize because the common denominator in all these situations is me. I know it isn’t my fault, but it’s impossible to hear.
It seems like it is. It seems like I’m too foolish.
If only I’d saved more money back when.
If only I’d stayed at Jake’s less.
If only I’d broken up with Mary Clare sooner.
If only I had double majored.
If only I’d tried harder.
If only I had clear skin.
If only I weren’t impossible, ugly, small, and inadequate.
If only I’d been enough. If only I’d been enough.
What the hell are those thoughts? What the hell do they have to do with bed bugs? Nothing, that’s what. Sometimes, things just happen. Sometimes, they’re our fault. Often, it’s pretty easy to divide the wheat from the chaff.
These bed bugs triggered a huge shame response in me. Bed bugs, compounded with my constant state of near poverty and generally low self-esteem (re: other things we have yet to talk about, but are coming, loved one. I know you wanna hear about my self-esteem issues! Who doesn’t love white women complaining?), have made me deeply ashamed of who I am and where I am in life. I shut down.
There’s a nasty part of me that reminds me, “this is your fault. The common denominator is you. This is what you get for being inadequate and terrible”.
There’s another, different, nasty part of me that says, “I don’t deserve this! Someone fix it! This isn’t my fault and I need help! Help me I’m a cry baby!”
The thing I do know, and can endorse strongly, is ignoring both of these voices and doing something about the situation. I endorse choice. I endorse responsibility. I’ll keep saying it: all forward motion counts.
You can only remove you from the situation.
You can only advocate for yourself.
And after you’ve given it the old college try, you can absolutely shuck all that bug infested shit and move on.
I don’t know guys, I don’t want to make bed bugs a metaphor. Sometimes things are just things. Bugs are just bugs.
I’m kind of thankful for them.
Not for the bites. Not for the inability to sleep at night. Not for the psychosis that’s triggered every time I see a piece of lint on my shirt.
But for reminding me that I have choices, I have agency, and I’ve built my life so that I may exercise those very things.
I lost sight of that.
I lost sight of my ability.
And some nasty ass blood fiends reminded me that I should kick ass and take names. And I can walk away. And even after all that, I will still be worthy of love. I will still be lovable. I am not the things that happen to me. I’m the person that choses to do something with those things.
I’m a wallower. Luckily, the people in my life aren’t afraid to be honest and tell me to suck it up.
My life is not anywhere that I’ve ever imagined it would be. My life is not what 15 year old Mia wants (although she would like my boyfriend’s apartment). 19 year old Mia is mad I’ve shed so much of my rage. 11 year old Mia doesn’t even know where Cincinnati was on a map.
My life is exactly as it ought to be, bed bug bites and all.
We press on. We chose. We grow stronger.
I love you. I miss you. I’m sorry my shame, frustration, guilt, and fear kept me from writing.
I’ve missed you so much.
To be succinct (which is hilarious, because that’s exactly what I’ve not been here today): life’s telling me to jump. I’ve been afraid to respond, “how high?”.
I’m coming out of something. Hopefully, I’m stepping to some better place.
I hope to see you there.
Thank you. Thank you for your time, your heart, your good fight.
I love you. I miss you. I hope to see you soon.