it’s just one word, but it is fifteen characters of deep relief i have been waiting to hear for weeks, although it doesn’t take away the deep-seated terror, the one that creeps up at night when the world is silent. this used to be my sacred time, the moment of the day i would long to receive as quiet would descend and i could clearly feel and hear my thoughts, the block that belonged to me and me alone. now darkness swoops and as i approach sleep my body is a restless warrior fighting imaginary demons, and my eyes close but my mind never stops churning, sometimes spitting out fresh new horrors of things that haven’t come to pass but could, the imagery so flagrant, such as the night i dreamt my daughter was taken by a faceless man who stood directly in front of me as i stood motionless and passive, unable to stop his arms from circling her mouth and then pulling her into a black abyss where she dissolved. then morning smacks me in the face and i am scraping whatever energy i can from the 5-6 hours per evening of disturbed slumber to try to face the day, so i exercise too much to pump some fuel into my veins to make through the 9-10 hours i exert helping others when i barely feel i can help myself. sometimes in the middle of nothing, the sorrow sneaks up out of nowhere, and i find myself wiping tears away even though i cannot place their origin, and i seek refuge in places where i know i won’t be found. other times my heart bursts with a volcano of rage that i never knew lived there, bubbling, frothing, seething, and it is all i can do to keep my voice from soaring to a volume that will not burst eardrums or knock people over with its fury.
it doesn’t erase the agony of watching my elder children grapple with losing the only father they knew and trusted, the one who they felt earned the designation, or hearing my son plead with me to date women because he doesn’t want another patriarch, and i think that maybe he is onto something because the safest i have ever felt was in the grip of arms that resembled my own, finding comfort and beauty in a body so similar to myself it was like tracing a mirror. except i don’t know if i can ever love the same again, because that requires trust, and that has been stripped away from me as if layers of my flesh were peeled until the soft meat of my soul lay exposed and bare, and then doused with flammable words that spontaneously burst into a fire that engulfed everything i thought i knew about intention, promises, and truth.
dread still permeates everything between us. i am afraid that anything and everything could be mistaken for something it’s not, and so i weigh out every word carefully, and i try with futile effort to wrangle and control the minds and instincts of children who just don’t know that what has been spit from their tongues could be interpreted a 1000 different ways, how a simple phrase can be molded and shaped by twitchy adults into an arrow whose sole purpose is to maim, and permanently wound. i live in a world constructed of eggshells, herringbone china, and brittle nails, where i walk with such intention that i can barely allow my lungs to fill with confidence, holding the same oxygen until it is sucked dry, so panicked by the mere thought of ‘what if this happens again?’ that i nearly forsake breathing for the cold comfort of never having to live this nightmare again, except the only love that still exists for me in the world exists in them. as much as the river longs for snow and rain, or the sunflower turns its body to its warm god, they turn and long for me as the rock amidst the chaos of the churning ocean, and even though i can barely draw in air and feel as vulnerable as an open heart, i know they need me, and that will always be enough.
Reflections of a woman spawned in a cement cocoon...