You would think by now, after all these years of trying to understand and find my way, to fit the shards back together, I would be able to find the right words to describe what happened and how it affected me. You would think I would be able to easily pull the memories out of the distant past, touch the emotions, paint the picture of my life and make sense of it all.
Yet, more often than not, I find myself without words. Unable to speak. To verbalize a single thought. Unable to write. Unable to adequately explain why my world is so shattered.
I find myself without a reason to continue the journey.
This endless void where I reside in a place of numbness and isolation is an inescapable prison. I cannot connect. I cannot breathe. I cannot connect because I can’t even begin to identify the real me standing in the lineup. I’ve hidden within roles for so long, I’ve lost who I truly am. If, indeed, there is enough left of me behind the mast to count as still being human. If existing counts.
The masks I wear are not worn to deceive, but rather to deflect. There is a difference. They’ve been worn to protect others, to deflect their eyes away from the ugliness so they won’t be horrified or offended. To protect others from me…and maybe to protect me from myself.
I try to pretend that I am someone I clearly am not because I can’t get beyond the fact that who I am is not acceptable. Not normal. Not good enough. Of little or no value. So I pretend I am someone who is worth of hanging out with. Worthy of being hired by a good employer. Worthy of talking to and getting to know. Someone who isn’t a broken, empty, utterly shattered shell of a person.
I leave the abused part of me at home. The unacceptable and toxic prat. The part that can’t function. Just as I left the little girl who shattered into a million gazillion pieces behind in my bedroom when she could no longer endure the sexual abuse and unnatural demands of her sick father. The child who endured the demeaning, destructive words both parents were so often known to spew. I walk out the door now, just as I walked out of my bedroom door when I was a child. I go on. Even if it’s without my heart and soul. I keep walking. Even if I don’t have anything to walk toward. Or anyone to walk beside me. I walk. I do. I function. Simply because I don’t know what else to do.
Really…how does one give up? What would that look like? Would I stay in bed and refuse to talk? What good would that do? No one is going to take care of me. No one is going to lend a shoulder for me to lean on. They have their own burdens.
So if I stop walking, I won’t have food. I won’t have money to pay for a house. No clothes, no car. I won’t be able to take care of my dogs or get my teeth fixed or go to the doctor when needed. I don’t know how to give up, even as I don’t know what to do next. Or if there is anything to do next. I’m not sure there is a next step. But I take it anyway.
Collapsing is only going to make things worse. And so, I keep getting up. I keep going to work. I pay my bills. I adore my dogs. I take the trash out. I pick up around the house and even clean occasionally. Including the toilets.
It requires that I ignore my soul. I’ve gotten good at it.
Yet, over time, continually denying who you really are, pretending to be a “normal” and functional person, corrodes your identity until there is little left of one’s person-hood. I no longer know what I hope for or if I have any dreams left. It becomes impossible to determine if there is anything left ahead to make it worthwhile, much less wondrous. I’ve strangled myself and now, I can’t imagine there is anything good. I no longer know what matters because I’ve left too many little pieces of my heart behind.
All I know to do is to keep walking. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. There is no viable alternative. I’m letting my feet take me wherever they will because I don’t know what direction I should go. I keep taking one step at a time up this mountain that stands before me because there is nothing else to do. I don’t know how to stop.
I will keep walking until my body simply won’t go any further. Not because I believe in the grand ending or that there will be roses along the road. Not because of any glorious view I expect to see from the mountain top, should I ever reach it. But simply because quitting is not an option.
And so I take a step. I get out of bed. I go to work. I do what needs to be done.
A step. And then I take another. And then another. Even if I’m not going anywhere.