It's 11:48 a.m. and I am tired.
I am always tired. I am so tired of always being tired.
It figures the first time in a long time that I sit down to really write would sound just that way. Isn't it what I always used to say? Which makes me wonder about how long this "tired" problem has actually been going on. I guess when I was younger I didn't really think it could have anything to do my health. My body. I didn't think there was anything wrong with being tired, I just thought it's how things went. I was busy. I had a pretty taxing job. I was raising a kid. I was dealing with family bullshit. Trying to manage all my emotional baggage. Living the life of the square peg. It's all pretty tiring.
Now it is a different type of tired. It is a heavy, desperate sort of tired. When my bones are finally still at the end of the day, it feels so good. So final.
I'm writing all this and I start to realize that I'm not very good at using my mouth to get out what's really in my head. Verbalizing does not lead to analyzing. Things are coming to my fingertips that would never in a million years come to my mouth. I am about to say things that I would never tell anyone. Not my closest friend. Not my husband. Not my kid. Not my cats. It's not because it's all such a secret or something. It's just that those words don't come and if they do, it's not in the same form and they lack something. They're missing some key component. Components. Something that has to do with my feelings and interpretation and vulnerability and being close to a thing instead of distant.
I say, out loud to my husband, something like, "I'm nervous," regarding my pending medical test results. This is like, a simple declaration about some physical sensations I'm having at that moment. Maybe I'm a little distracted and having some butterflies in my stomach. And he dismisses it and tells me not to worry. He is great at this not worrying thing. Cognitively it makes so much good sense. There are things I can't control. There's nothing I can do but wait. I shouldn't obsess over every single outcome. So on. So forth. But what is underneath "I'm nervous" is a whole lot of other stuff. And I need to think about it. And I need to feel it out. I need to run through the full gamut of emotions. I need to plan for every contingency. I need to have all the information at my disposal should I need it. That is to say, when the thing happens, when the shit hits the fan, I want to be prepared for it so I don't freak fucking out.
So, I'm nervous. The real thing that is happening underneath those words today is that I am feeling very strange about life. About living. I've been on this crusade to clean my house and there are some significant mental bits that go with that. I'm purging. I'm casting things off. I'm making room. I'm getting rid of some of this baggage. I'm aware that I'm always one tragedy away from becoming one of those hoarders you see on TV. I have this dream of living in this tiny little house with just a handful of objects that I own out of necessity rather than nostalgia. I think it will free me. All my life I have felt sort of trapped.
So, I'm working on the closet. I'm looking through photo albums. I came across a picture of my son when he was a baby. He was in a lifejacket on a boat and someone was holding him on her lap. And it was me. And I did not recognize myself. I was searching my mind, looking at this face wondering who was holding my baby. And it was me. It suddenly clicked that it was me. So, naturally, I tried to recreate this moment in my brain, but it was lost to me. I don't remember what I was doing on this boat or when it happened or who else was with me. The picture was loose in the back of a photo album filled with unrelated photos. I mean, pictures of Jacob when he was a baby, but none of us in any type of boat or water situation. And you know, it's strange, because I'm realizing that I have only been on a handful of boats in my lifetime and all those memories are accessible to me, it seems. But not that one. So, why?
And so, I'm looking more at these photos and I realize that I don't really remember most of these photos. I mean, I have stories that go with them. I see myself and have snippets in my brain of events that took place. But I do not feel at all connected to those memories or to the pictures. I feel like I'm looking at someone else's life. When the memory plays, I do not feel anything, but I have a cognitive awareness of things. I remember this person or that person. I am aware that they were significant enough in my life to be at my baby shower or my first wedding or at my house or my dinner table. But those people are like ghosts. Like strangers. True, these are people who haven't been in my life for a long time. Twenty or so years most of them. But it's not that. It's that they were always strangers. I was always disconnected from them for the most part. It's like someone else is always living my life. Or, it's like the person who I know as me is never actually living.
That is probably closest to true. There is a big shell of a person that is out there living and dealing with shit and then there's this other person who is really me who is trapped in here. I am never really who I am. It's kind of difficult to explain. A while back someone posted a video and I was in it. I was something like 19 at the time. Again, I didn't recognize myself at first. I knew people who were in the video, but many I did not. It all seemed sort of familiar and had a dreamlike quality to it. And then I caught these glimpses of something I recognized. "Who is that?" I thought. I know that person. It's on the tip of my tongue. I recognize those earrings. Wait, that's me.
But I remember nothing about that day. In fact, there is so much I don't remember about that entire time in my life. And there is so much I don't remember about most of my life. At least, I don't remember it in the same ways as I do other parts of my life. I feel like I have not been a present participant in most of my life. I feel like someone else did that. And I watched. Except that sometimes I didn't and then I just don't remember at all. Once in a while, something will happen and a pleasant memory will be jostled from my childhood. And then very shortly after, a bad one will follow. And so I spend a lot of time trying not to remember anything at all. It's like these good memories are stored in the same place as the bad ones and accessing one disturbs the others nearby.
Or it's sort of like turning the ground to plant a garden and stirring up old weed seeds. Sometimes it's better to just smother the ground with cardboard and start your garden over on top of that. But I can't get over this feeling. This feeling of never feeling like I'm really living. Of feeling like I'm not here for what's actually happening. This feeling of being here but not being here. Being inside my head and away. Being trapped.
In the last few years, I have felt much more like I am myself. I am whoever I am. I am me. It's been a couple of months since I've gotten married and something about that seems to have flipped a switch in me and I feel like a person again. Like I am real. After being hidden away for so long, I am out now. Like the things happening around me every day are actually happening to me. Like they matter. I am feeling and experiencing things. I am here.
But now, I feel like I'm going back there. Away. I'm back to not really hearing what people say. Not really experiencing the things I am doing. Not really being alive. My shell is doing the laundry and cooking and driving my kid to school and arguing about politics and shaking my head at the foolish things that people say. Meanwhile, I sit here waiting to hear if I have a pituitary tumor or cancer in my plasma cells or lupus or a host of other things I can't even pronounce. I'm trying to rewind to the appointment just days ago, where my shell sat and heard my doctor say all these things so that I can access it all. So that I can prepare. So that I can arm myself and protect this other little me that lives inside my head so that hopefully she will be able to come out and live for a little while. But I just hear that my own body is probably attacking itself. And I just think, "No, that can't be happening, because *I* am in here and that is not how it works."
And while the phlebotomist repeatedly poked my arm and hand, slowly extracting the eight vials of blood she needed, I went inside my head to the safest, most real place I could last remember being. To the last place I felt completely and totally alive and myself. And there I was, standing on red rocks in the desert, looking down on the man who would be my husband in just moments. He was taking a picture of me. And when I look at that picture, I see myself. I recognize me. And when I pair it with the memory of him taking it, I am on the other side and I know I was there experiencing it. Living. Being real.
But for at least the next 12 days, I realize I am not going to be here. Unless I am *here* instead. That is the funny thing about saying vs. writing and living inside my head vs. living outside it. If I am writing, then I will at least be alive in this space, saying the things I cannot get out of my mouth. That trapped, distant person will have a place to be.