When I was searching for a name that felt good for my business, my mother spoke about the word “well” and suggested Well Woman, which lead me down a path, at the end of which stood The Well. I sat with The Well, we talked about all the ways wells serve, their history, their core function, the way they had shown up in my own experience. It all felt right and yummy…except. Except I still found myself bristling at the word “well”.
A quick google of the term “to be well” is enough for my traumatized heart to take to the couch. “6 Keys to Being Well and Happy”, “Feeling Good Is Possible!”, “Wellness in 14 Days!”. As with most sound bites, it all felt so…aggressive. My oppositionally defiant spirit felt a solid “fuck off” to the term.
Show of hands from anyone who feels they’ve been personally attacked by the overcultural push towards wellness. Me, too.
To be well is most commonly defined as being free of disease. Free of dis-ease. It is inextricably linked with being productive, sexy, privileged, and ultimately to being white, thin, able, and for femmes in the American culture, to be all that while wearing a pouty lip, lashes for Jesus, and displaying only the lumps of our bodies that have perky nipples on the crest of them.
I live with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or cPTSD. PTSD is associated with many physical manifestations, things like chronic pain of multiple origin, headaches, arthritis/arthralgia, gastrointestinal disturbances, disassociated relationships to food, sex, drugs. Any one of these are debilitating to the attainment of success as it’s defined in late-stage capitalism.
I have had several lovers who have experienced catastrophic physical events. Two of my lovers have had spinal cord injuries that resulted in complete paralysis. I have been up-close and personal to all the ways in which society effectively cuts off persons with a mobility disability. The most harmful of these is the way in which the persons own community, deeply embedded insidious bias and with the wide-spread fear of the “other”, turns away from the person, furthering the vulnerability the person experiences, often to the point of seclusion.
My career has been experienced within the medical industrial complex. I am a 16-year veteran of various emergency departments around the US. My professional life began 19 years ago in a private, upscale oncology center with some of the most brilliant minds “modern” medicine had to offer at the time. I could give you a real BTS moment of that shit show.
After all those experiences, after living breathing loving medicine, let me share the one truth that holds evident through the past two decades: wellness is bullshit, no offense to bulls.
The prayer I speak that covers you all is this: that instead of being “well”, you be alive. That instead of burning it all to the fucking ground, you bring yourself to the fire for warmth, for sustenance, for tending. That you know how vital you are to the fabric of humanity on the days when you’re pissed and you slept all day, full stop. That you find the power of the reclaimed word, for me they’re “fat” and “queer” and “witch”. That instead of balance, you seek fulfillment. That you return to the proverbial well, over and over again, to be refreshed and affirmed.
I love you.