Friday, January 9, 2015

How Egypt made me sick... literally!

On the past three weeks I was battling every sickness there is. Living in Africa, I can't even count how many times someone suggested I have Ebola. Instead I knew exactly what had cause this misery: my body is finding an output to stop me because I don't listen to it asking to take a break. My body has never been sick because it caught a bug; my immune system has been doing a good job. The only thing that has the power to knock me out is my brain. If I was a romantic novelist I would have chosen to say it's my heart that makes me sick. Either way, I know what caused my body to fail and me refusing it to do so didn't help either.

First I had a UTI, sadly brought about by reasons that didn't even sexually satisfy me, but I ignored it. Then I got the cold. I ignored it. When I started coughing like a 60 year old motorbike, had a heartrate of 180, a fever of 39 and lost the ability to walk while I was on Christmas vacation I thought it had become time to do what I hate most: call a doc! Minutes later I found myself getting an infusion and three different types of medication. What followed was three days of complete inability to do anything. Thankfully the next day I moved in with my boy of choice who had the ungrateful task of making me feel better as it was simply not happening. My bad conscience about leaving everyone at the job hanging saw me return to the job when I was still feeling like hell, and it just never got better since.

As I read about the Charlie Hebdo shooting and started realizing with force that I no longer live in a free society my body started itching. It reminded me of a time nine years ago when I saw 8 different doctors in the US to find out what this invisible rash on my body was. Nobody had found anything. Curiously, the day I moved out of the house I was living in with the most emotionally abusive woman I have ever met, the rash disappeared. Evidently, the itching had been brought about by my complete and utter discomfort living the way I was. The same thing was happening this week. Realizing the human rights you grew up with are no longer part of your life has caused me tremendous discomfort in the last few weeks. With terror looming, however, the effect it had on my body was increased.

My body just needs a way to express it's not ok with how I'm feeling. I should be super happy because everything in life is going great for me and yet I struggle with rejoicing because I feel so restricted in the society I live in. Now I'm not living a dangerous life but I am living an uncomfortable one. Being a blonde girl on the metro won't cause obvious harassment but it will cause me to not want to be there. Giving a guy I'm talking to a slap on the shoulder is unacceptable. Laughing out loud and being merry isn't forbidden but will raise eyebrows. Everyone who knows me knows that I can't possibly be myself in this country without having at least all eyes on me. Despite what people may think I don't like attention, at least not bad attention, and although I don't care about being judged, being the victim of raised eyebrows doesn't make me feel good.

I understand that I can't just come to the Middle East and do whatever the frick I want. However, accepting to acclimatize to a society you you have a hard time being part of is infinitely harder than making an effort with a crowd you like. I have no desire to be accepted by people who don't accept individuality, freedom of expression and secularism, all of which are principles my short life has taught me to love. I don't believe this part of Egyptian culture is not worth engaging with but I will refuse for it to have an influence on me. In a way it's a mutual feeling because to many people over here I am living a less righteous and therefore correct life. I, on the other hand, prefer my life big time. This might make me ignorant but if it does there is nothing I can do about it because I love freedom and despise hypocrisy, both of which are toxic to each other in this country. You can't have one without the other.

All this has contributed to the fact that I have not enjoyed to witness the life I'm living here. After all it is an experience and I'm learning a lot but first and foremost I'm realizing that I can't live without freedom. Being restricted is not in my nature and my body has picked up on it. Because I'm not giving my body the chance to fight the feelings of discomfort it got worse and worse to the extent where my impatience with this country found a way to express itself through my health. I'm still happy about being here and being here is the easiest way to get experiences that are essential for an easier life in the future but I have come to the boundaries of my existence accepting the unknown. I also had to realize that I am more ignorant than I thought as I whole-heartedly believe that a European life features the better quality of life and I can't wait to leave this lifestyle behind me one day in the distant future. When they say I should leave my comfort zone to make better experiences I never knew I had an area outside my comfort zone. I guess I found it!

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