And then we begin
If I’m going to do this right, I’ll have to start by being honest. You see, I spent so much of the past nine years perfecting the art of concealing and deception and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be simply myself without the endless masquerade of shadows.
To plainly speak the facts, anonymous as I am, and to slowly let go of – of everything.
Nothing is too precious, I told myself some time ago, to sacrifice for my sake at the hour of my need, never mind that very forfeiture would cost me and harm only me.
As a little girl, I never thought myself exceptional or even reasonably capable of attaining my high-flung dreams. Teachers, bless them, tried to convince me of my ‘potential’ but to whom are my limitations most familiar if not myself? As I shrank away from the urgings of accomplishment and success, I subsequently warranted less attention until I was grown enough for them to think, “Well, if she doesn’t care, why should I?” And they stopped. Finally.
It wasn’t just school. I was no good at making friends either. Some misaligned permutation of childhood awkwardness and introversion was always interpreted as aloof disinterest, which I in turn interpreted as a lack of notice on their part. Well I for one am not going to make an effort to ingratiate myself amongst people who don’t want me: if there were any options, I always preferred to opt out completely.
So it was no big adjustment when I started to become sick. In college, my acquaintances had (in my opinion) dim views on mental illness; it was either something that, since borne out of your own thoughts, able to be extirpated that way and thus not afforded any significance – or it was not a malignant disease that required treatment but something that made me special and interesting.
I disagreed with both and decided to just carry on as usual and omit select details.
Of course, I found I had a vested interest in keeping the truth hidden when my illness intensified to the point about four years ago when it became clear even to me that I needed help, although of course I wasn’t ‘ready’ to get better yet. In fact, being sick had successively alienated my friends and driven me further into the dark. It became the only thing to count on to keep me company when everyone else had fled and as much as I hated myself for it, I could not let it go.
Also necessary was the construction of a fictitious world which I could inhabit at will when observed by others so they would never begin to guess at my terrible secrets. The effort of maintaining this artifice is immense. It snatches at any serenity that might drift by in moments of forgetfulness or candor until I am frantic with despair and resigned in misery, a slave to this repulsive disease forever.
So you see I am not used to being entirely present, as it were, and it will take me a while to disabuse these old habits of mine, as I inch towards healing myself again and becoming whole.
Sometimes I become angry with God for creating me thus, cruelly flawed and fragile, without giving the capacity to help myself. But it isn’t my nature to stay that way, and anger soon turns to sorrow, for I’ve started to the separation from God more keenly now that my illness can no longer succor me. I’ve always wanted to be like those girls whom everyone likes, for other people can see how effortlessly satisfaction and contentment is handed to them and think perhaps I could have been one as well, if I didn’t have to fight against myself in order to just to keep crawling forward.
But I feel perhaps I will be surprised by joy someday, and it might be much more dear, to finally touch something I have never felt before. To everything there is a season, and all seasons must run their course.