When I feel the fear perching in the back of my chest
tongue lolling out of gargoyle visage
heart pumping adrenalin darts
I lean in
embracing the pain and fall.
This hot prickle constricting air in lungs
eyes bouncing looking for a way out
until I take that action that makes me feel like screaming and hiding and running all at the same time
then it tramps down to quivering smiles and anxious waiting
my fears are bound up in the uncertain possible of what someone else will say when I ask or say that thing that scares even me
waiting for the Yay or nay like a gladiator looking at the crowd
waiting to be butchered or to live for a few minutes more
Sip these last notes
Bitter though they be
Knowing the stanza ends
Knowing the next song you will choose
Knowing the next song you will play
Knowing that these next steps
Next choices will be informed
By what is in your heart now
Not fed out of necessity to keep living
But out of the need to be alive
It takes so long to arrive
So long to become
That when it’s time
Is the hardest thing to do
Fear is a guide
Weighing all consequences and only fear keeps
Then step forth
Embrace the brave heart
Step into a future without the confines of the same
You know what the worst part of beginning to fall in love is? Well, really two things. The first is how fragile it is. You are right on the edge of something and you can sense it coming and maybe you slow it down, hoping you can control it this time(I’ve never been able to). But you also know that at any moment before you begin the fall, it could all blow away like candy floss in a harsh wind.
The second is that, while you try to guard your heart to whatever extent you are able, you know you are at the mercy of another person. And you feel the echos of the past, reverberating forward. All those times it didn’t work out.
And you’re afraid.
People who haven’t been looking for a while don’t know what it is to find and love and lose, over and over again.
Or if you remember, it is through a haze. Or maybe you don’t overthink it.(I envy you that).
But, I’m afraid. Not of before or while. But of the potential for after. I’ll do whatever I can to not have an after. Though, usually, there is nothing to be done that I’m not already trying.
I try to spit in the face of my fears. To do what I fear. But this existential dread at 2AM. It’s hard to face.
I was in my childhood home. In it, there was a man who lived with his parents. He was both me and not me. Like I was riding in his head and knew what he was going to say but I couldn’t make any decisions.
He lived in the house and it was just him living his life. The whole time there was a vague unease. Like everything and everyone was subtley off. It seemed that this man’s parents flinched from him. Everyone he met seemed to interact kindly to him but all with a vague air of fear almost. And I feel it too. This vague pressing sense of dread fills every action, look or words.
He took his parents out for a drive. And he told them he wanted to show them a house he was going to buy. The father was in real estate and he knew there were no houses in the area up for sale and their fear ratcheted up. He told them not to worry, that he knows of a house about to be available.
He turns a corner in a street in my childhood neighborhood. And points out a large grey house. 2 stories with a covered carport. There are a couple of cars out front and a woman gets out of one. She is crying and has a bundle of red roses in her hand.
Someone from the house meets her on the driveway and they hold each other and cry. There are no ‘for sale’ signs on the house or any indication that it is or will be up for sale. It hits me and the parents at the same time. The only way to know that this house will be for sale soon is to arrange it. This guy who is me and not me has killed whomever is in the house. I’m shocked and incredulous. The parents are scared and less shocked. More resigned. Like this was something that they were hoping wouldn’t happen Again. Like they have been living with this secret monster for years. They drive home.
Then there is one of those jump cuts and the man who is me and not me is talking to someone on his porch. The parents are there but they seem like caricatures. I am no longer in the guys head. I’m watching in the third person and also feel trapped.
The guy who looks like me invites the guy in. He feeds him and paralyzes him. Informing him that his meal was his last guest and did he enjoy it. The parents seem to waver then like they aren’t there. Like I’m in this me/not me’s mind and he sees the parents but they aren’t really there.
He invites in people and kills over and over again. And I’m trapped watching him. I can’t wake up. One of his victims gets away. I, somehow, am then seeing through the victims eyes. I nudge the person to certain places in the house. Places he can barricade. Me/not me hunts him. And victim/me starts to panic. We close a door but it won’t latch and we put a small metal step ladder in front of a door, under the handle but the serial killer hits the door in such a way that it pops it open. We slam the door shut on his hand and he howls in agony. The victim opens the door and pulls the killer halfway in. He pounds the killers skull in with the door pinching the skull like semi hard candy until a part of it breaks away and there is a little boy version of me/not me. There is also a apparition of this person’s mother who talks to the boy. Telling him what to do.
I/victim run and we get away. As we run I, but not the victim, hear the ghost mother telling the boy to eat up. That he needs to heal and eating this brain (his adult brain) will heal him. Like he’s some kind of immortal monster trapped in some pocket dimension reliving his life and death over and over again.
The victim gets far enough away and I wake. Heart pounding. Full blown panic attack. From a nightmare.
I worry. I worry that whatever I am. This creature, this person I have chosen to be. This person I have actively defined by my choices.
I worry that when you finally see me, all that structure and facade will fall away and you’ll be left with what I am.
And all of that is a lie. It’s a lie that my fear tells my heart because it needs to maintain its control. But it is a lie.
I have constructed myself but it was like chipping away at a hunk of marble. I didn’t build a structure on top of a structure. There is no facade. There is just this false feeling of being an imposter. Because if I’m all that I am and then I fail it will be because I was not enough. Or because what I am is not what is desired. And that is my fear. Not that something I’ve done or not done will be the cause of rejection but that despite it all. Despite who I am, I am somehow not what is wanted.
That’s the fear. It’s not that I am an imposter and will be found out. It’s that I’m NOT and despite it all will still be found wanting. And I can’t do anything about that. I can be me. I can show up and put all the tools and processes and everything I am and if it’s still not enough, then we’re just not meant to be. Not meant to click and choose each other.
And seeing that now, I wonder at what I was afraid of? Afraid that I’d be rejected by someone who won’t, who can’t see me? Can’t value me?
There might be pain because I will have invested emotionally but if you can’t love who I am, why should I allow that to hurt me. It should instead free me. And it does
that today will be the day that I don’t cry
Today will be the day I don’t reach out
Today will be the day where I feel isolated
Today will be the day I can’t see tomorrow
Today will be the day that it won’t hurt to think about
So much seems to hinge on circumstance. The turn of a phrase or an action. A misplaced step or a perfectly balanced step. More and more I see the limits of what may be possible as the disadvantage of not being impulsive or not being secure enough financially to take an action or not have enough faith in my abilities to land on my feet. Because, if I did, I would have flown to her when she got hurt. It might not have made a difference but we would know.
Or I would have moved to Texas where, it seems, there is a nexus of my tribe. And that could be a miracle or a folly. But I can’t know at this distance.
Or maybe that’s all delusion and I’m just wonderful words on a screen and in person it would be disaster. But I don’t know, because I can’t think to take any kind of step to bring me to them. Is it prudence or cowardice? Am I so bound in secondary rules that I can’t even go without a strong reason or a invitation?
Or are they just dreams that on seeing we’d all wake up from. I wish I could tell you.
The reality is I’m starting to fall for you. I get butterflies when I see that you liked something and when you comment it makes me feel, about what I posted, validated. It’s not a game. It’s what I feel and I don’t want to play games with you regarding my feelings. What I am is afraid. Not just afraid that if I say something, it will be revealed that I’m reading far too much into things. But also that I may lose someone who genuinely likes my work, because I’ve made you feel uncomfortable.
You asking if it was a game was like a kick to the stomach. It’s not a game. I would never knowingly play with someone’s emotions like that. It’s a action dictated by fear. I only didn’t realize that until something was said. Now that I know I must face it. As I feel I have by publishing a response. Tell me whatever you wish. I wait.