by Ang Kia Yee

I’m coming down from the anxiety of being turned away now, and recentring myself. At the end of it, when you sit down with something you’re upset or panicked about, you usually find assumptions that aren’t necessarily true. In this case, it is untrue that I was too honest. I simply was. Honest. And within the probabilities of different futures, perhaps the doctor and I kept me safe. Despite the rise in tension, we were an assemblage, we collaborated on this outcome.

As the panic subsides and I realise that nothing is so urgent, that life flows in a way that I must also learn to give in to, I am recalling how tense she was and how tense she still must be, a young doctor working very hard in the midst of a pandemic. Probably without the pandemic she would have worked just as much, and her face would also be hardened in this way. It is a difficult position to hold. I sensed that behind her hardness and curtness and unwillingness to look me in the eye when I came to her to ask again, she was exerting so much energy. I wonder now if she was afraid that I would get angry and take it out upon her. In the end, who, when faced with a customer or patient or audience of any kind, does not on some level want to please? Or want to be liked?

I think my anxiety comes from feeling like I was too honest, that I could have gotten what I wanted and expected if I had just been less truthful. That somehow that makes me a fool, an idiot. That hurt, because I hold honesty dear to myself, as something I want to uphold. But it is not so simple. It is not true that inconvenience is an error, or that being stopped halfway means failure. So much of my response was not about the situation, but from all these logics (yes, I want to use this plural form) I had learned as a child. So much of my response was situated in a learned urgency (faster is better, sooner is better). So much of it was also feeling rejected, feeling like I didn’t belong. All valid feelings that I will tend to. But not indicators of what was actually happening.

Truth is subjective, but I think the truth is I was being protected. And my worries about the hives from before were being validated. Yes, we want to know what happened. Yes, we care that you do not go on in the face of considerable risk and danger. Yes, it is hard to take this and you may be pushing back, but we must put our foot down. Am I giving them too much credit? Am I over-reading the logic of this system and its gates? Perhaps. Still, I think this is a form of love.