Surrenderstan: A Week in Enemy Territory

by Shelley Singer

I find myself today in a foreign land, a threatening land, a land of anxiety and of disorientation, a place where I must relinquish control, a place I will call “Surrenderstan.” It is not in an exotic location. You can get there by touching the handle of a grocery cart, by sitting next to the wrong person on the subway, by going to the theater or to a ballgame. I got here via the flu, to whose control I was forced to submit, kicking and screaming all the way.

Two weeks ago, at a precise moment on a Saturday afternoon, I got walloped by a two-by-four of exhaustion so sudden and so absolute that it tipped me over onto the bed, clothes on, Uggs dangling over the side. Too weak to kick them off, I stayed in that uncomfortable position for many minutes because I simply could not move.

I soon crossed the border into this land of dependency, of loss of control: should I ask for help? I never need help. My husband was down at the end of the hall, in his study. I could have easily called to him for help. Help me? Not so easy for me to ask. I’m the helper, not the helpee. What do you mean I can’t manage everything?

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