Have you ever woken from a nightmare not certain that you are alone? It happens to me all the time. I dream I am running away or trying to get away from some unseen bad ass behind me. The terror I feel takes my breath away. I cast a look over my shoulder, my breath catches in my throat. I am compelled to yell out. Suddenly I am aware that I am sitting up in bed, in the middle of the night, surrounded by my fear, my heart beating fiercely in my chest. I reach for the bottled water I keep at my bedside. Out of the corner of my eye I see her as I uncap the bottle to get a drink.
I have never been able to catch a glimpse of her straight on. Pigtailed, wearing a striped jersey, she is the girl at the bottom of my bed. The ghost of Trisha Past. She wants to be reassured that things will turn out OK. I have nothing to offer her. Life is not a sure thing. The answers she seeks only come with more questions. That is just the truth of it.
How do I tell her that she will have to grow up before she is ready? How do I prepare her for the emotional baggage she will never be able to walk away from? I have tried to make her go away but she always comes back pleading, “Please help me, save me !?!” I can’t help myself. What makes her think I can help her?
I rush off to the bathroom whispering to myself. She is just my imagination screwing with me. It feels real. I am uncomfortable making my way to the bathroom. I feel panic trying to force itself on me. I stop, look around and make myself take a deep breath. I search for a distraction to divert my mounting thoughts. I flip on the light. I pick up my latest book trying to read without my glasses. I am to afraid to pee. I need to calm down before I start to cry. Too late as the tears stain my cheeks. Down the book goes. I cry as quietly as I can so as not to disturb my husband sleeping just a few feet away.
The life I have, the job I work and the things I surround myself with don’t fit me. I have become something smaller than what I set out to be. I can remember being timid as a child. I was nervous to the point of illness the first day of school every year until I entered eighth grade. High school brought other problems and I soon came to realize that the first day of school was by far the least of my worries. I don’t know how to acquire the things that I so desperately am sure will make me content. I only know that I am as empty as that mayonnaise jar that sits in a back corner waiting for the recycle man. Did I ever have a purpose? The meaning of life is to fill the life you have been given. Mine is empty.
All of my days start out exactly the same. I awaken to the blare of the hated alarm clock. Instant dread sets in. I am not happy to greet the new day. I am pissed off. Am I stuck in a time loop? Destine to repeat the same day again and again until I have paid for crimes past? I have so many other questions that seem to have no answers.
Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on it. There is just something wrong. It is 5 in the morning and here I am in front of the bathroom mirror contemplating checking out of my life for the day. I am weary beyond belief. My eyes are puffy and red, my body aches; I feel like I’ve survived the roller derby. I hate what I have become.
I am not certain when the awakening began. I just know that one morning I woke up feeling different. How did I get here? What indecisions brought me to this point in my life? The last thing I remember was sitting in my fifth grade language class daydreaming about being a grownup. I am not sure how I got to this place but I am here. When did I give up? What was it that made the pile spill over into the well of “I don’t want to try anymore.” I wish I knew.
Why is there no happy ending? Why do we as people try so hard to acquire stuff in a short span of nothing more than a bunch of years? Is it really done in the quest for the happy ending or is it a personality defect? An inner voice driving you to prove you are as worthy as the next fellow in line?
I feel my youth is transforming into middle-age where everything seems old hat and tired. The face I catch staring back at me just couldn’t belong to me. When did my youth leave? Is everyone just as disillusioned as I am? I have spent a lifetime in pursuit of the next best “whatever” and I still haven’t gotten there. I can’t help but wonder if I am emotionally strong enough to leave my life behind. Do I have what it takes to walk away from the unhappiness I have lived with for so long? Can I finally be at peace? If I have spent so much of my energies on a battle I can’t win what is there to say about the war? I want to feel alive again. I want to be able to smile and mean it. Not just have it sit as a fixture to be applied whenever the cue card prompts me. How many people really have the guts to leap from their ledge of comfort out into the blue?
My life at least to me is about as ordinary as the next gal in line, which just sucks. I wanted to be the one. You know what I am talking about. The one that breaks free, the one who makes themselves a legend in their own time, the one. Truth is I am a discarded lotto ticket; all of my glamour and potential has been rubbed off. I find myself not caring about what is next. I feel cheated; left holding the burning end of the stick. I don’t like feeling this way. I have held secret resentment most of my life. Somewhere in my childhood someone made me feel like I was worth less. Less important than those around me, less pretty, less wanted, less everything. I decided one morning that there just wasn’t enough in my life. Enough love, enough respect, enough peace. If truth is to be told I felt like I had put up with enough. Enough bullshit, enough loneliness, enough anger, so I walked away.
I have never had a firm idea about what it IS that I want to do with my life. I can do many things rather well. The real problem; I can’t do any ONE thing well enough to make a sound living off of it. I have wasted most of my life trying to figure out the next move. I envy single-minded people. Pick the thing that you are good at and make it your life’s work.
Someday I will break free from the things that I allow to keep me prisoner. Someday, just not this day.