My anxiety crushes into me every single day. I am not on a path to self-destruction, but I am constantly worried. I worry my skin, my hair, my partner. I pick and strip and wonder: is this how it will always be?
People didn’t talk to me about anxiety or depression when I was younger. There was a lot of speculation about how wonderful I was doing despite the circumstances (the circumstances being my life at the time, my home). I’ve worked really hard to leave any noticeable traces of my pain in the past. I’m not a burden type of girl. Woman. Girl. Which one? I was at a writing workshop once and an author I love said I still used girls when referring both to myself and my peers because I still didn’t view myself as an adult yet. I still wasn’t done growing. But, are we ever?
Anyway, the only time someone had a discussion with me about the possible effects of growing-up in a household riled with disease and addiction was my high school math teacher. He sat me down in my advisor’s room, moving back and forth in an ancient rocking chair that sat in the corner, as I picked the arm of the chair I sat down in.
You’ll have to be careful he said. Or something like it. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember his care and how I scoffed. How could I? I would never. I’ve spent too many nights seeing the consequences within my mother’s home to ever bring them into mine (my future home that belong solely to me). He nodded. Perhaps skeptically.
We work to hide our ghosts and then, then when they appear or reappear we feign surprise. Oh? I didn’t know you were still here. Or we rebel. Or we get defensive. Or we cover them right back-up.
My ghost is a ghost of a little girl. Maybe not little, not in size, but in emotion. I am young and I want to be loved and I keep finding the wrong people (the wrong person). I keep searching amongst the rubble for the key. The thing that will get me out. My life is not a nightmare of my own making, but it’s hard not to put the blame on myself. Who else knows better?
The first time I signed a lease my hand shook down the page. I signed the wrong year. I was nervous. I had never had my own place, my own mailbox with a key, my own pipes that clang above my head, my own roach infestation. Everything I had ever had could be taken away from me and then, it couldn’t. Was I a woman yet?
I look to my past to tell me stories (a story). To bring me comfort, words of wisdom, problem-solving. I don’t know if I’ll find that. I don’t have a box in the closet labeled PAST or even really, a willingness to find one. I hate the phrase “doing the work,” but I also know that’s what we all do to get through the day. Work, somehow somewhere. We do the things that add up to something.
I realize I rebel against the way it “should” be done. I want to be great at everything right away. I want more of my writing published. I want to graduate from therapy some day. But mostly, I want to keep my anxiety at bay. I don’t want to spot treat it, I want to find the cause. I want to make peace with my demons and find a way for us both to live in the light. I want to keep trying to write about the very thing that sometimes feels like a death notice pinned to my door.
I don’t want my kid one day to be in a chair, picking at the corner of a chair, wondering: why.
These words are my way out. They’ve got to add up to something. The time dances in front of me, playing in the light. Do you remember, it asks? I say, how could I forget?