Hush. Do you hear that? The little knocking in the back of your head? That gripping tightness around your heart? That bile that rises just enough in the back of your throat that you can taste it but never expel it? That’s me.
I’m what causes your arms to seize up. I’m what causes that rubbery feeling in your knees whenever you stand toe-to-toe with me. I find it amusing how much control I have over your life now that you’re an adult. I never thought I’d have any control when you were a child, no, you were much too stubborn for that.
But that was until you scraped your knee one day. You could have fallen from a bike. You could have got it by tripping over yourself as you ran, laughed, and played with other kids. They didn’t know me either. You do now. That pain is what introduced us. It made us best friends. Sure as a child you shrugged me off after a good cry but I was always there. I watched you grow and develop and with it I grew stronger.
I was with you that day you stood in front of that special someone, the person that causes your chest to tighten whenever you see them. I was there as you opened your mouth to say something but nothing came. They laugh at your cheeks turning red. That’s when you knew that I was there for keeps. That paralyzing force that turns a once wet mouth into ash. That feeling of needing to swallow but that lump just chokes and chokes and chokes any hope out of you. What makes it even worse is that somewhere along the lines of the skinned knees and elbows someone put a thought into your head. A hurtful thought that just allowed me to grow exponentially up until this point.
They walk off. Tears brim your eyes. I just only grow stronger. Oh but I overestimated you. Yes I did. No longer are you the child that would sometimes avoid the jungle gym with memories of those skinned knees haunting you . . . no . . . You don’t care about the skinned knees anymore. You’ve learned that emotional pain is much greater than a broken arm or even a dreaded paper-cut. Those heal. The pain fades. The memories remain but that pain is fleeting.
You’ll carry this pain with you. All because I get to take in the pleasure of knocking at the back of your skull. I get to twist and dig my fingernails into your chest whenever you feel anything for anyone. You’re never good enough. I own you. People don’t notice though. People don’t care. They never care. It’s a strange thing from my perspective because I am in every one of them as well. Knocking and knocking and gripping and tearing. They are all just like you. Too stubborn to know any better. Too stubborn to admit they have no control over their lives. Too proud to admit they are a slave.
By the time you’re old enough to make your own life choices I am strapped in. I twist you in every terrible direction I can because I know I can. What does it do to you? Do you feel worthless now? Do you drift through life just praying and hoping someone comes along to save you? Never going to happen. I won’t allow it to happen. I. Always. Win.
I like to see you suffer though. I like it when you have hope. Every day you smile and enjoy your life I relish in it because I know it will only be a matter of time before that hope and that joy you feel will be crushed by me when you least expect it.
Though you’re special. You can’t really get rid of me. You can try but I will never fully go away. Your hope. Your salvation could be a few feet in front of you reaching out for you to grab its hand and you will pull away because you have grown so used to me being in the back of your mind like some ichorous cancer that cannot be cut out. You pull away from that hope because you think in the long run I will just destroy it like I have so many other things. That’s how I feed and you taste so very, very good.
That’s when you finally shut down. Physical pain and emotional pain are one in the same. You grow numb. You don’t even need me anymore to ruin everything that was good or ever will be good in your life. I win. You drift and that is all you ever do. You partake in fleeting pleasures that mean absolutely nothing and that just feeds my gluttonous ego even more. You give into your anger. You give into your jealousy. You give into your laziness. You give into lust. You topple.
You can’t understand what anyone will ever see in you. You’re as far as you can go and trying is no longer an option. You’re too weak. You start asking “what if?” like it even matters. There are so many things in the past you wish you could have changed and it all started with that one shitty day you scraped your pitiful little knee and felt that pain for the very first time.
The day you met me.