Many years ago I wrote a series called “She”. It never saw the light of day - just the cold, dark corners of my computer screen, tucked away from the world. It exposed too much then, broke too many rules then, hurt too many feelings then. Through changes and moves the document was lost, topping somewhere around 30 pages of poetry and short stories. When I awake in the middle of the night my mind still wanders to that place, beginning new lines while half awake. I think of turning over, reaching for my phone and putting it down - starting anew on the story of “she”. Then exhaustion and ideas of its importance overtake the original work. The fleeting thought gone like a dream I can no longer remember.
I yearn for the days in my childhood bedroom where pen met paper until the sun began to peak over the houses beyond the yard. When writing was not for others but for my own mind to work through the dark, tangled web of uncertainty that overshadowed so much of my youth. It is that darkness that has forced me to turn over tonight to write this - hoping I will allow myself to venture back into the void of agony to face it head on rather than avoiding its deep grasp on my mind.
My mind waivers between the ease of these memories and the forgotten moments that time has placed in them over the years. Her dark bedroom, solely lit by the light of my laptop screen looks somber in my mind. The girl sitting on the bed feels foreign to me now - and yet relatable in her struggles. She types until the keys make so much noise that her mind cannot come up with the words. Often only taking small moments to wipe tears from her eyes. During the day she is so on top of her emotions, putting on her mask for the world. She smiles so often to cover the pain, that even when it finally fails and her tears come down her face - it’s over a crooked smile. Her uninhibited nature fully constructed to conceal what lies beneath. She was surrounded by those who were so unaware of her suffering, it spun her further into the distress and anxiety of the night. When she could no longer produce the mask her emotions surfaced.
Panic often followed, along with the tight grip of her fingernails puncturing her skin in the bathroom stall during class as tears fell down her face. A ritual picked up as boys bullied her by stabbing pencils in her back during classes over the years. She knew not to speak out but to distract her pain by creating more. Remembering these instances led her to stay awake while the moon rose higher, finding some solace in the keystrokes. If it grew too late, she’d pick up pen and paper and continue to avoid a concerned mother walking in to find her daughter still up. When it was finally finished, her mind emptied or rather filled to the brim - she would turn over and rest her eyes. In what would feel like second, her alarm would awake her for another day caught in the facade of her life as she awaited her moment to flee this life and make a new one somewhere else.
Yet, the keys of her laptop only brought comfort for so long, often leaving an empty hole in her gut awaiting an answer of what to do next. She turned to food as the answer, something I still face, rooted so heavily in my childhood. It was normal right? Girls eat ice cream when they're broken, the movies say so. And so she did, often consuming more in a few minutes then during the entire day - she was coping, she was fine. I am fine. The word that would spin my body into a hole of desperation that could only be broken by admitting so much failure to the world, and crawling out on my knees.
She doesn't notice the darkness creeping in around her like the fall of night during a new moon. Life continues on, her friends plan for college and so does she, escaping the days of high school by running beyond their reach. One day, she wakes up and realizes the mask is no longer a mask but a part of her personality, intertwined with reality. Covering up pain and desperation with smiles and laughs, cracking jokes through a broken heart. She no longer can separate the emotions, but rather only sees the world through a lens of acceptance of pain. The world is always a little gray, very often too dark to imagine any kind of escape. She used to feel so far off from me, and now I am her, I always have been. But, with every day of acknowledging that she and I are one in the same, I pray that I can rip apart the facade of my life and start anew, as me.