I had a mole removed. I almost cried and the look of concern that crossed the doctor’s face at my sharp inhales and twitchy eyebrow movements made it clear to me that I was being the pansiest of pansies. It was not my best honey badger moment.
To be fair, it was my favorite mole. It’s been there as long as I can remember, nestled in what I refer to as my knee-pit, that area right smack behind behind my left knee. My youngest sister, at age 2 or 3, circa 1997, discovered it in the throes of toddler-hood and spent weeks toddling after me in a desperate attempt to yank the mole from my leg. She’d try, I’d yelp, she’d convulse in a fit a laughter. It was fun, really.
I learned that left was left because of that mole. When I was learning right from left I learned early that my mole was on my left leg and whenever I felt confused on which way was which, I’d reach down, touch the mole and know that left was left. It was like a security blanket, a little spot that let me know that yes, don’t worry, if you ever forget your left, I’ve got your back.
My grandmother once tried to yank it off, erroneously assuming it was tick.
So you see, we have a history, this mole and I, but the mole changed and in a fit of fear I went to the dermatologist for the first time ever and that jackass took one look at that mole and declared, in a manner that I remember as slightly diabolical, that it must come off. I was expecting this, figuring that suspicious changes in moles are usually met with amputation, but it still managed to come as a shock to me when the nurse swiftly and unceremoniously unveiled all manner of mole removal utensils right next to my head.
Cue the sharp intakes of breath and the fist clenching nervousness!
I tried to think of the Noble Honey Badger getting bit by a fucking cobra and how a cobra bite does not equal a mole removal and how I needed to squash whatever near-hyperventilation reaction I was having, but I just couldn’t. I thought about the tattoos I have, other pains I have suffered, and yet THIS, this stupid shaving off of a mole I’ve had forever, this removal of a useless part of myself was just too much bare.
I left shaky and annoyed. Irritated at myself for showing that much vulnerability and annoyed that I couldn’t honey badger my way through that shit.
Sometimes I forget how much of an oxymoron I am, that even though I’m mostly comprised of ferocious honey badger parts, there are still little bits of me that resemble a helpless duckling stuck in a storm drain. Sometimes I forget that it’s okay to let the vulnerable parts of me show, that it’s okay to be not okay every now and then.
I used to be mostly helpless duckling. When I think back to teenage me and early 20s me, all I can remember is the crying. I cried for days. Weeks. Whole years, it seems, in some cases. Everything hurt. And it’s not that I was weak, I was just vulnerable and sensitive. I evolved as life went on, learned not to cry all of the time and developed a leathery exterior that protects me from most things. I became more honey badger, less duckling, and in many ways I tried as hard as I could to mush those mushy parts of me that once flourished in the Time of Many Tears. And I get scared when they bumble back up, when my reaction isn’t all honey badger I get scared that I’ll slip back into the dark hole in I once dug my way out of.
I have a hard time realizing that there’s a difference between a dark hole of sadness and a moment of vulnerability. I have a hard time letting myself go, in any sort of way, emotionally or physically. I am restrained. I restrain my emotions far too often because I am afraid that if I let them out, even for a fucking minute, they will take over my whole life and I’ll wake up on some Tuesday morning to find myself back in a hole being suffocated and choked my own emotions.
NOTE TO SELF: IT’S OKAY TO BE NOT OKAY SOMETIMES.
It’s okay to be upset sometimes, to be in a vulnerable place, it’s okay to be emotional NOW, instead of withholding it for days or weeks or months until it erupts, all volcano like, at the worst possible time. Vulnerability is not a fault. It’s okay. Emotional responses to emotional things are acceptable, even encouraged.
And duckling bits can be just as good as honey badger bits.