It feels like long ago, almost in some other life, there was a time when everything could be reduced to a spectrum of simple, yes and no questions. “Wanna hang out, you going to the bonfire, dinner together at 7?“.
But humans are all but simple, and I learned that the hard way, when my room’s walls started shaking and closing in on me at night. When I started counting the calories in my toothpaste because, at the end of the day, they do add up. I learned it the hard way when my anxiety kicked in at 5 in the morning, when my shaking breast woke me with waves of pain that felt like earthquakes on my limbs. When the idea of showing up a few minutes late to class, and having people’s eyes on me as I made my way to the last row of seats made me consider not showing up at all. When my friends’ questions could no longer be answered with a simple yes or no. “Are you ok? BBQ at Josh’s tonight? Are you sure you’re ok?“.
I curled myself up in so many balls by now there must be a cylindrical imprint of my body on the mattress. I learned that crying takes up a lot of energy, so after a while I started hibernating through my days. Grey blurs of hours, followed by long cold nights, and all the sobs reverberating through the walls. Walls closing in on you. Bricks closing in on you, mocking you with their weight, collapsing onto you, stealing all the air from your lungs. Sobs.
Cringing at the smell of food, and all the vomiting. Oh my, the vomiting.The fear of it. When you don’t know if it is better to empty out your insides and be left shaking and hollow, or live on with a sick feeling in your gut creeping up your throat like a madman stalking a house. Only this house has seen far too many earthquakes.
The fear of people, and people everywhere around you. People talking on their phones, arrogantly talking on their phones. People who look like they know what they’re doing because they speak loudly on their phones. And in the same time the need of people, the fear of going through the hours alone because you are afraid. Not from the monster under the bed, but from the one you see in the mirror. The need to have your hand held, the need to have someone curled up around you when you are a trembling ball of panic and tears are soaking the bedsheets.
Dark hallways that morph in front of your eyes to look like mazes, the hollowness at their end whispering your name like a chant, like a prophecy. Trembling hands, the telephone slipping through your fingers as you try to dial your mother’s number, just so you could hear her calming voice on the other side of the line, to take you back to a time when she used to sing you goodnight lullabies.
The signs of it on your body that go unnoticed. The dark circles that weigh your eyes down, the scratches on your notches. The bloody fingertips and bitten-off nails. The pounds coming off your body, the hollowness of your cheeks.
Blankly staring at the front of the classroom as your professor struggles to start a PowerPoint presentation for today’s lecture. His background picture is that of a galaxy, and you wonder how it was taken. How do we photograph entire galaxies, you wonder. Is that a computer made picture, a picture made with a computer, for the mere purpose of fitting on a computer screen?
And the bruises, and the lip blue from biting, and the scratches on the back. You wonder how we get them without noticing. How we wake up bruised, having no clue how we got hurt. How do we go through all those quiet injuries? How do we let bad things happen to us, pain happen to us?
How do we know when to draw a line, a black line that means: I’ve had enough, here starts “too much”? A black, straight line, when the geography of our lives is a list of grey, in-between bits. How do you know when to keep fighting, or when to get up, gather your pieces and walk away?
Constellations of bruises we have no idea how we got. Yes or no questions you can no longer answer. Sicknesses and diseases that carry the names of people we met who most likely forgot about us.
I remember my philosophy professor telling us that names carried power. You give something a name, you give it an existence. I don’t like giving names to things, unnecessary labels that carry promises one may or may not keep. Names break our hearts. Names give power. Names create existence and set boundaries.
My state has no name at all, or all too many. Regardless of that, it carries more power than anything else that’s happened in my life. It has altered me in so many ways that my mother cannot recognize me anymore, and it hurts me to see her hurting. Someone else, someone with a nice piece of paper on their office’s wall, could be able to name it for me. But, just like I’m glad I never got to choose my own name, I’m glad I get to choose not to give a name to all of this. After all, it is just a state. And as we see times in our lives slipping through our fingers and passing like a running water, this too shall pass. Then I will give myself a name – a victor.