(Sort of) knowing why the (semi-)caged bird sings

I’m at the tail-end of a really rough migraine right now.  At least I hope it’s the nearing completion.  Last night I dared to have a number of potential trigger foods/beverages (items I haven’t tested yet to ascertain the impact they have on me) in the same evening.  I deviated from my diet, I failed to follow my own rules.

Other than dealing with the migraine from hell, there are no real ramifications.  It’s not as if all my data goes to shit now.  But I do feel a little bit like a moron.  Why’d I do it?  Do I enjoy pain?  Was I hoping to get a migraine?  What kind of asshole invites the devil into their home after cursing and fighting him for so long?

Yesterday my boyfriend’s old college friend was visiting us from L.A.  We had some of the old gang over in honor of his visit.  I wanted to eat and drink like everyone else, I didn’t want to be “that person” who has dietary restrictions last night.  I didn’t want to have to explain–again–why I had to say no to so many things.  It’s embarrassing.  That’s why I did what I did.

Self-analysis is both taxing and almost impossible to execute objectively, but upon initial reflection, I thought the real crux of the problem was that I’ve not fully accepted the person I am becoming.  And I do think that’s somewhat true.  Part of me is someone who really needs to watch what she eats and drinks.  When she sleeps, when she eats, and what activities she engages in.  Another part of me can be a person who occasionally explains the reasons why she does the things she does (e.g., “I am not drinking red wine because I might get a migraine”), but can also simply be a person who generally drinks white wine.

Let me explain (Irony!  You’ll see…).  I’m a dangerously honest person by nature so I am inclined to feel like a liar if I don’t explain my actions to people, particularly if I’m going outside of my own comfort zone.  It’s a bizarre social tick, I suppose, that I haven’t been fully aware of until just now.  If at a party and presented with white and red wines (and I know red wine may cause a migraine for me whereas white is pretty safe), I’m liable to say, “Oh, I’ll drink the white because red might cause me a migraine.”  And I will consequently feel isolated.  “Now everyone knows I’m a migraineur freak,” I’ll think to myself.  This is because I’ve yet to learn that people don’t need to know the reason behind every god damn thing I do.

Back to last night–I didn’t want to “have” to say why I couldn’t have red wine (or the few other things I shouldn’t have eaten).  Now I know, I didn’t have to say anything!  I feel like a fucking idiot, I really do.

On some level I must have known all of this already.  I must then begrudgingly conclude that maybe the real real reason I deviated from what I should have been doing is that I wanted to seem normal to myself.  To clarify: I wanted to be my old normal self who could eat whatever she wanted and drink whatever she wanted without giving thought to migraine-related consequences.  Otherwise I feel like a bird in a cage.  Singing “with a fearful trill/ of things unknown/ but longed for still,” (“Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? by Maya Angelou, New York, Random House, 1983).  My chubby little fingers wrapped around “bars of rage,” clipped wings, feet bound.  Drrrramaaaaaaaaaa!  I hope you read that in your head with buckets of Broadway-vibrato, because that was my intent.

I’m not quite a caged bird, not in the way Angelou meant (i.e., I’m not of African descent and have certainly not been held back by society because of my skin color–I’m a privileged white woman***).  I get to occasionally unclip my wings, if only for the briefest of moments, and I shouldn’t be too stubborn to use those tools.  And I also need to nix the self pity.  Of all the things I’m going through, limiting my food and beverage intake isn’t exactly the end of the world.  By limiting this one freedom I gain another–to occasionally push open my little metal door and take a flying lap around the room.  That’s worth it.


***There are few people I can imagine who inspire more respect in my heart than Maya Angelou and I am not attempting to draw a parallel between my plight and hers or that of the U.S. or diasporic black community.  The situations are almost laughably incomparable.  But with her great talent she wrote words that spoke intimately to me about my own suffering.  It’s a testament to her artistry that she reached me even though, I believe, she wasn’t speaking to “me” at all. I’m very grateful to her for that and can only hope she would be contented to have reached an unintended audience via an unforeseen alternate interpretation of her poetry.


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