I’ve been denying my anxiety. Telling myself that “I don’t like driving” is just a quirk, a personality trait that developed from living in Brooklyn for too long and being able to walk, bike, or bus anywhere I felt like going.
I’ve been denying that sometimes, driving just fucking terrifies me. It’s not the driving itself. It’s knowing that blinking too hard could mean falling asleep or missing a sudden change in the environment, causing me to panic, and react poorly, and…end someone else’s life.
I am terrified because I know too much. Have read too many stories. Seen too many news accounts of people who were living…living…living until they made a mistake one day. And honestly, I’ve been making mistakes everyday. I’ve made so many bad choices that led me to where I am. I wish I could stop regretting them, but they are still stabbing me, prodding me, haunting me every day, but acknowledging the anxiety I feel about making everyday choices, about just being a normal human being, about getting too close to the right people, about getting too close to the wrong people. Everything is a threat to my African-American dream.
I tell myself that dwelling on the things I fear will just make me more afraid. Push myself a little every few days to do something that makes me uncomfortable, and still, everyday, I feel myself fading and turning into a new person. I’m not sure if I like her. She’s soft. She’s cold. She’s an unbearable and selfish bitch who puts her own needs above others. I’ve never been used to putting myself first; never really put my own well-being as my top priority, and even fighting for myself makes me feel a little hollow, a little more empty, a little less sweet, a little more bitter, a little less soft, a little more hard, a little less gullible, a little more selfish selfish selfish.
Being a person makes me tired. I can only manage being social for a few hours a day. I feel a lot safer behind my laptop screen. I feel more like myself through these typed words. I can filter myself here. Here, no one can hear me breathing too hard. Here, no one cares that I’ve gained too much weight, Here, nobody can see me. All they see are words.
I feel more like words now. Have always been better at writing than speaking. So much better at defending myself when I don’t have to use my voice and, I can never fall apart if my fingers still work.
And…I have a confession. I had to drive in the rain tonight. It was dark, and I was afraid of being weak. My father doesn’t believe in me. Doesn’t think I have what it takes to be a real adult. I carry a ghost instead of a soul and the past may never stop haunting me. I drag it around like a slave tied to metal. I keep choosing every day to be free, but somehow, I always feel hunted, like there is never enough time though I waste so much of it. I wanted to cry while I was driving. Just wanted to get home. Wanted the drive to end. Needed to prove I wasn’t weak and that I COULD drive and act like a regular person and really contribute to society in some way.
I have a confession. When I finally got home and parked the car, and realized I was alive. I hadn’t killed anybody. No one was hurt. I had pushed through the panic threatening to water my eyes and blur my vision, conquered the rain that sought to drown me, and all I wanted to hear was his voice.
Him. A man I am not allowed to love because he will never be here for me. A man I know would understand because he is honest about the fact that he has anxiety. I feel guilty. I feel like I was not very understanding of the constant anxiety he must feel even while I deny my own and hope that everyday I will go back to being that carefree virgin of 16. A man I am not allowed to love because he is already in love with music. A man I am not allowed to love because I am not even in love with me.
A man who does not want to leave this planet until he has grasped his own dreams. This is something I can understand. Something we share…he is…another source of anxiety. When I had him, he gave me nightmares. Without him, I sleep more soundly, but I carry the burden of constant guilt. Did I abandon him? I’m not sure…I think we abandoned each other thinking life would run smoother, be a lot less stressful than falling in love with someone who is never there. But then I think that maybe, maybe, I could fall in love with someone else. Have tried a few times to at least like somebody half as much as I adored him, but then I think that you can never really know someone who was never there for you, can you? Or maybe souls don’t need as many words to pair up, or become parallel and perpendicular.
I have a confession. I’m almost sure I didn’t trust him. Pretty sure I’m no longer really capable of trusting a man. Don’t want to. Afraid to. Resist it. The last time I trusted someone…he broke me. But he would never break me. Of course, I’ve said that before. It never turns out to be true. Who said, “Never, ‘say never’ “? Which statement should I trust…or distrust? I never even knew a man could give you anxiety until a man broke me. I knew men could give you pain, could make you wish you’d never met, could fill you with fear and sadness. Temporary feelings, really. Feelings I have never been afraid of.
I am afraid of my anxiety. It turns me into everything I hate about myself. All of those weak and pathetic characteristics I’ve been trying to stomp out since I could define gullible, soft, light-hearted, innocent, vulnerable. This is all just weakness. Don’t I have the right to be afraid of being vulnerable? People always aim to stab you in your soft-spots and I have a lot of them.
I think in circles.
I used to think that was just one of the things that made me unique, but everything is an obession. All of my flaws are pimples and I pick, pick, pick and pop them, let them scab over so I can rip them back open and flinch at the sting, dab at the blood, scab, rip, scab, rip, scab, rip. I am scarred. I am sensitive. I am numb. I am dumb for even thinking I could find love by feeding my sexual desires. My vagina is attracted to penises but I am so much more complex than climax. And a lot more dull. I am a void darkness hugs, an abyss, a black hole that sucks in everything that will hurt me.
I do not hate myself, but I’m not sure that I love me either. I am indifferent. I have good qualities and bad qualities. I do not hate myself. I am indifferent. I don’t think I feel love anymore. There is an inkling of fondness for those lost loves I can never have. I am indifferent. I am hollow, carved out. So I must fill myself with a new being. Is that physical or spiritual? I am not friendly with the ghost inside. She haunts me. Looks a little less like me everyday. She is a mirror image of all the things I cannot see with my eyes. I feel her in a dark place. Everything inside is shitty rainbows, and blurred clouds, and blended shadows. I am darkness. I am light. I am undefined. I do not hate myself. I am indifferent.
I don’t think it’s normal to criticize one’s self so much, but yet, I don’t feel hypercritical. I think I deserve this amount of criticism because I keep fucking things up. Maybe maybe, if I wasn’t such a fuck up, I could forgive myself for hurting you. Forgive myself from leaving you. Forgive myself from leaving you. Forgive myself from leaving myself and becoming a new person. Maybe if I was sure I loved myself, I could consider loving you despite the nightmares. Give up sleep and dream of you again. I forget what your voice sounds like. I am intertwined with something weak and something strong, holding on feels like such a battle, and I am not a warrior. I am a survivor. I ring the bells to silence the panic attacks, to drown out the galloping of my overworked heart, to ignore it kicking against my chest, looking for space to explode.
Can I deny this part of myself?
The one who is afraid of the darkness. The one who wakes screaming into the dark. The one who is jealous that you can so easily love another but can never love me too. Me too! I just want you to love me, too. Never really dreamed that I could truly have you to myself, but I’d have given anything to be loved by you too. But you are hundreds of days in my past and yet, you are still haunting me, stalking my thoughts and dreams. I just wish I could unmeet you.
Back to those days when another good day was only 8 hours of dreamless sleep away. I have to sleep now to give the fear an intermission. It’s show time all the time, and I…have no real control over the anxiety. If I call it by name, will that increase my courage? Give me super strength and super vision and excellent decision-making capabilities. Can I unlearn these fears? Give back the knowledge with its hefty burden. Become light and free and flighty and quiet once again. Can I trade back this ghost for a soul? Feel this hollow outline with light and feel sunshine beneath my belly button, get back my 3rd dimension.
I hardly remember what it feels like to be fearless. That’s how long I’ve been calling anxiety by another name. Nicknamed it Inconstant Lover and SweetTart, Sweet and Sour, Moat and Tower, you do so well at isolating me from myself. Shall I continue to call this rose by another name? Prick my fingers upon its thorns with sweet hopes that prayers will run it away? No. I cannot be afraid of you. I guess, somehow, I’ve always been more a part of you than you are of me. For you have shown me a whole new world and I wish to leave forever.