At this very moment, I feel like I’ve reached the peak of the mountain. It’s not the first one, it’s one of many and every time I climb almost triumphantly to the top I see the vast expanse covered in mountains and hills of every size imaginable and at night, sometimes I find myself sleeping with ease yet invaded by odd nightmares I mistake for dreams and wake up discomfited.
One step further and I begin my descent, it’s not so bad at the top because you can’t see the bottom but with every step the view widens and through the haze I can make it out. The barren land beneath which I see my next fate. I know it’s coming but I don’t know when it will arrive, and every day I find myself either exuberant or melancholy with no real reason, it changes with time and occasionally the weather.
The first time I slipped it wasn’t so bad, but the more I worried about slipping the worse I became, the steps made me weary and I grew afraid. Did I have to go back down, I asked myself. My shadow dipped beneath my feet as if to say “Yes.” So I kept trudging on, silently and alone.
I don’t like to bring companions, not that I abhor friendship or familiarity but their pace isn’t mine so I felt more secure going at it alone because I wouldn’t have to explain.
I’ve had to explain many times before, you see. And every time I did they never understood or pressed on, pushing closer into my bubble of security. So my explanations grew poorer as my mind grew weary and distressed and soon I grew silent too. Silence was better than noise, I found. Less imposing that way. I didn’t have to expect anything if I was silent, I wouldn’t need to feel so disappointed after. So in my isolation it was nicer, better even. With my shadow I didn’t need to explain, my shadow followed in the same silence and at the pace I wanted. My shadow never disappointed and it never would.
I didn’t have to hide either, none of those odd excuses for why I stopped or why I didn’t want to do something sometimes. Honestly, how many times do I have to say ‘No’ for you to stop? It’s exhausting, because I feel bad for denying your offer made out of the goodness of your heart and I have to apologise because I don’t want you to be angry and I don’t want to feel your wrath. It’s exhausting because I have to say it confidently when I don’t feel confident at all; feigning my happiness or confidence is exhausting. I can’t keep it up all the time. Everyone says crying isn’t a weakness. It isn’t unless the person is yourself. I don’t like crying, I don’t enjoy it. (…Does anyone?) I don’t like being vulnerable without a choice, these stupid involuntary tears fall from my eyes without me saying a thing. I don’t like that, it’s weak, and I don’t want your pity. I don’t want your comfort, I want to be alone. I feel uncomfortable having you see me at my worst, I don’t like showing it often. I can’t help it though…and my exterior is created through force. It’s not the best, you can still see I’m anxious or acting odd but it does its job to hold in most of my emotion and that’s good enough. So when that breaks it’s uncomfortable and raw. You can’t help me because if I can’t help myself what says you can?
My stubborn self says I don’t want your help. My vulnerable self says maybe it isn’t so bad. Neither definitively says they want your help or need it for that matter. So I don’t ask and I don’t tell.
The descent is steeper past the centre of the mountain and if it was hard getting down before, it was ten times harder now. So the buildup of fear is reaching the second half of the gauge and man, do I hate this damn feeling. It’s like that play Macbeth where Lady Macbeth tries to wash out the blood and in her delusions it never does go away. Well in an extraordinary sense this is exactly how it works for me. I try wishing away this anxiety and it never leaves me alone, not in my dreams not in my reality. It’s a damn spot on an otherwise fully functional machine.
They say that therapy helps. I can’t say whether it does or doesn’t, because I haven’t really received any and I’m not the most truthful either. These insecurities…I haven’t fully acknowledged them yet so saying it out loud isn’t something I can do yet. Plus, any wandering traveller or distinguished merchant I meet I try to steer clear of so even if I did let off some steam (which happens occasionally) it only works temporarily. The next morning washes away any security I had the night before because of the anticipation of the event eventually coincides with the reality of it. So along I trudge towards the bottom, and wow, I can really see it all now. The barren lands stretches further this time, so…that’s something to look forward to.
So here I am, close to the verge of my very own giving-up syndrome because it’s so easy to give up than to carry on except I never truly give up because I, like anyone else, know the taste of regret comes rather than triumph. The relief I feel when I give up at last is brief and bitter and could never beat the triumph I’ve once felt when I carried on. And the journey continues, slowly and still unsteadily in spite of my revelations.
However, the syndrome does return as it makes its rounds though and this time it has reached me. How about that? It passed by a few days ago and yet it made it around the valley all the way back to me today!
If I ever looked for a companion, maybe I’d go for a whirl. Consistent, committed and punctual, what a package deal.
So, I’m about…88% near the end. Let’s hope I don’t fall the rest of the way down.