new and unmapped and strange
what would it means to stand on the first
page of the end of despair?"
- Adrienne Rich
It is a strange feeling, waking up with the daylight bleeding through a little bit more, hope seeming to be almost, maybe, within grasp.
The struggle has not magically disappeared - the Monster roars loud and fills my mind and knocks me to the ground again and again. But the earth underneath me has shifted a little and as I try to find my feet, I am not sure how to navigate this new world.
I am scared because this feels a bit like freedom - a weight lifted off my shoulders. I have permission now to not follow the path I felt bound to, but to actually do what I want with my life, to pursue what I love.
And just like that, the urges come on stronger than before, a longing to delve into sickness, to go back to the thick bars of the cage where it was safe and structured and I knew what to expect, to fall back into other people's truths - boxes that I don't fit into but that were comforting nonetheless.
But this feeling, I could fall in love with this feeling. It is relief, my first inhale above the surface, my head just barely above the water for a few sweet moments.
What if? That what she said, right? To be curious?
What if - what if, just maybe, perhaps, I could create a life where I wasn't miserable? What if I could find a job that I love and actually be happy -- but I don't know, there are so many unknowns, questions upon questions, and oh good god this could go horribly wrong.
But even in my panic, a lingering thought: what if it doesn't?
The high that came immediately after That Day has left and the newness worn off and I am left to face the Monster again.
"I can't, I can't do it," I cry, my whole body shaking. I want don't want to be in this body, I want to drag my nails across my skin as though I could claw my way out, tear through flesh and blood and cut my heart loose.
"I don't want this inside of me," I say through the tears, staring at the empty plate, wishing I could run to the bathroom and empty out the contents of my stomach.
get it out of you
The Monster's hot anger fills my head - it's all I can hear, all that matters right now.
The closer I get to hope, the tighter the Monster's hold gets on me, knowing that hope is a threat to its lengthy reign. I am not sure I am strong enough to stand up to a Monster, not sure that this little bit of daylight shining in is enough to beat back the darkness.
I want a cut-and-dry answer of what the future will look like, a promise that if I choose recovery and life, that everything will go smoothly from here on out. I want it to be safe and certain and contained.
The Monster promises me those things: safety, certainty, containment. It sings a siren song of death - peace and no more fear, no need to face the great unknown and things I am not prepared for, no need to work a crappy job or worry about finances - become a ghost-girl, slowly fading into nothingness.
Growing up I remember the idea of sitting in a cubicle for the rest of my life felt suffocating. I knew very well what I didn't want to do. I couldn't see myself in an job lists I was given in school: What do you want to be when you grow up? the paper asked me. I have no idea, I whispered back, while writing down the answers I knew they wanted to hear. Fifteen years later and I am still not sure how in the world I will survive without settling for misery. The jobs my friends work at sound soul-sucking, and if those are my options, no thank you, I'd rather take myself out of the game now than face a lifetime of toiling at something I hate. I'm not going to live a half-hearted life - my soul won't allow me that.
All I want is to turn back around and run towards familiarity, hide from the world, avoid and never face my fears, let the Monster have full control, succumb to the deathly siren song. But my soul won't allow me that either.
So where do I go from here? My pulse clinging desperately to hope and relief and freedom, echoes of What if What if What if swimming through my veins. And I can't live against my own soul anymore, can I? That's been the problem all along. The more I try, the further into this purgatory I push myself, keeping myself in the very thing I am afraid of: living in misery for fear of living a miserable life.
So, as impossible as it seems, I am finding some semblance of freedom here, albeit slowly and incrementally. It seems that the more I allow myself to walk in step with myself, the closer I align with my soul, and my own truth and stop living in the boxes that have been placed upon me, the more I feel like I am able to breathe again. The breaths may be shallow and the light bleeding through may be dim, but it is something.