“I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay.”
The water in the shower is hot. The steam penetrating.
I heave a sob. I rock back and forth.
“I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay.”
There’s a knock on the door. “You okay?”
“I’m okay!” I respond.
I hold myself. “I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay.”
“You don’t sound okay.”
I was too loud. The pitter-patter of water on tile not enough to mask the gasps for air, the sounds of a dejected spirit.
The door opens. “What’s going on?”
“Please don’t pull back that curtain,” I think to myself, but don’t have the energy to say aloud.
He’d see the true Wizard of Oz, and she wasn’t great and powerful.
She was shriveled and small, helpless to fight the pain in her chest, the liquid involuntarily pouring from her eyes and mixing with the shower steam.
A soggy mess.
He leans against the counter. “You’ve been in here a while.”
“My stomach hurts.” I answer. “I’m okay.”
“So you’ve said.”
I lean my head against the wall of the shower and stare without seeing. It’s been 10 days of this feeling, this inescapable, horrible feeling of impending doom and dread. This feeling of hatred towards myself and life and everything in between.
I’ve been here before, but it’s been a while that I’ve spent this long as a resident. You begin to think you’re free of it forever when its dormant. You start thinking you have a handle on it.
And then one day you don’t.
You feel yourself slipping, slipping, slipping further away into the dark night you said you’d never go back to. It’s like standing on the tracks and watching a train come your way. You see the inevitable heading straight toward you and you’re screaming at yourself to move, but your feet are held down by some force you can’t control or see.
“I’m okay.” And it’s a sob.
He turns off the water and hands me a towel. I take it and wrap myself in its cocoon. The water drips onto the carpet as he lays down in our bed and looks at me expectantly.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I say.
He doesn’t reply. Just simply waits.
I might as well still be in the shower, the amount of water that falls from my eyes. “I’ve been waking up every day so angry and sad all at once … and just … tired. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this.”
“Maybe you should see someone,” he says.
“It hasn’t been long enough to warrant that,” I answer. I immediately know how stupid it sounds. Exactly when is an appropriate and justifiable timeframe to ask for help when you feel like your soul is dying?
“I feel so helpless. Life is so unfair.” The tears keep their steady flow. “It doesn’t care if you’re a good person. It doesn’t care if you care about it or not. Everything is so pointless, meaningless. Everyone is so hateful and the world is a disgusting place.”
He says nothing.
“I just want to wake up and not feel this way.” I cry. “This isn’t me, but I’m so tired of being me. Hope is an illusion, goodness doesn’t exist. Everyone just looks out for themselves and no one really loves, or is truly altruistic. I’m exhausted trying to pretend that there is good.”
I melt into the bed and I feel like a shell on the seashore, the essence has left and emptiness remains.
The problem with emptiness is literally anything can fill the void because it’s there. The emptiness craves to be filled, no matter what is available.
“I can’t figure this one out,” I continue. “Usually I can pinpoint what is triggering this. But I can’t this time.”
He listens as I ramble.
Then there is a glimmer in the darkness, a string that I tug on to see what’s waiting on the other end.
I tug harder on the thread and the whole picture unravels. I talk through it and keep pulling at the string until I’ve unravelled the void, the end of the string slipping through my fingers. The sensical and the nonsensical revealed.
I breathe and I can feel myself breathing this time. My lungs feel full, my chest loosening its tightness.
He listens until I’m finished, until the tears dry up and light enters into my eyes.
I realize I was never empty, but full.
Entirely too full.
The shell on the seashore was empty because I had outgrown it, but I was not the shell. My soul was looking for a bigger place to call home. I felt lost because I had left behind my old dwelling in search of wider pastures, room to grow.
I was growing, not lost. I was searching, not wandering. I was too full, not empty. I was bursting, not imploding.
He moves to get up from the bed and smiles. “I say we get Mexican food.”
I had been let out, the deepest darkest secrets revealed.
I let him pull me into an embrace. “I feel so stupid.”
He kisses my forehead and it’s like jasmine, like rain, like everything healing and nurturing.
I wake up this morning and the burden is not gone.
But it’s also not quite as heavy.