I was thinking today about the time, last year, that my family dragged me on the giant metal slide at the Big E – the kind in which you sit on a burlap sack and then you fly. That’s just it. That feeling in your stomach, that I now know as unique and sort of like the roller coaster feeling – but without the twists and turns. Down the hills and valleys. Des screamed in my ear so loudly I heard ringing, but he loved it. LOVED it. I used to fear the smallest roller coaster. Now I walk onto bigger, non-kiddie roller coasters without a word. My body is a hothouse of loose wires and pounding hearts and breathless gasps.
I used to fear lions and tornados, but never lions and tigers, and not even bears – although I’ve gotten dangerously close to them – with their hot breath behind every corner and tree. I used to fear vomit, to the point of phobia – with all of these, actually – but I had kids and sometimes I approach it all the same way I approach roller coasters, although SO MUCH without the fun. Facing forward. Head up. Talk less. Smile more. Even when my body is a hothouse of loose wires and pounding hearts and breathless gasps. Some fears are easy to get over. Others aren’t, but gosh, isn’t it fun on the other side of them?
Some fears, it seems I won’t get over. They’re deeper, darker, more sinister. The voices are louder and more menacing. I protest and I face forward, head up, talking less, smiling more – sometimes all loose and hot with wires and hearts and gasps. Other times, I feel nothing. The voices are more convincing. I think there are some things I’ll never truly get over. I’ll work with it like clay – molding it hot and ready – sculpting, perfecting, kneading, needing, wanting, getting. At other times that clay has dried and cracked – and no amount of warm water can bring it back the same way. I struggle. Too much.
In a world of invisibility. I retreat further, every time. I’ll never get over some hang ups and hang ons. I’ll never feel enough. That little girl who learned how to disappear so much and so often, that it grew beyond her control. Well then she grew up and got high on life and wore the brightest colors and the funkiest leggings and she smiled at everyone. She didn’t talk less – she talked more. Her shoulders back, her chest puffed out. It only lasts until it lasts. I come back to it every time – I’m invisible. And I’m fading. It’s been a particularly bad bout lately, despite most evidence to the contrary. Not all, but most.
I can disappear within my own family and I know there’s no way they can’t see me, but I can’t even see me, so how can they? I can disappear within one of my jobs and it’s probably 50% me, and also a hearty 50% them. And I can be in a group of three or more and think I’m the weakest link there. I think I’m nothing. I know I’m disappearing. And I fear.. I have nothing to give. I wrote a poem once. This poem is from 1993. My 8th grade Literature teacher asked us to rewrite Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred.” Everyone did theirs differently than I did – bubblier or something. More that they listened to the assignment. I’ll never forget the way she looked up and looked me in the eye and said, “This. Is GOOD.” And I was unbroken.
The Lost Dream
The lost dreams sits in the shadowy corners of the mind
waiting hopefully to be remembered
hoping it won’t be swept away and digested in the brain
eagerly waiting to be revived
Where does a lost dream go?
Does it scurry away like a scared mouse or shrivel
like a snail?
Does it melt away like an ice cube,
or burst like a bubble?
Would it burn into ashes like leaves in the fire
or turn frozen from the cold and never change back?
Do lost dreams blow away like leaves in the Fall
or evaporate into the air and come back
as different dreams?
Will it escape to the mountains and stay away
for a long while
for to only come back if remembered?
Does it fade away slowly like a rainbow
or disappear like a ghost in the dark night?
Will it go above the horizon
to explore the world above
or shoot up to the sky to become a twinkling star?
Will it become a lost cause or ancient memory
or just become a nothing?
Or will it fly to be free and travel to
other people’s minds?
The lost dream runs away thinking no one cares.
It runs and runs never to stop.
It will often feel alone and easy,
but it knows it must never come back.
It’s funny that it still happens, after being in demand 24/7 with two kids, and three jobs, and a husband who hasn’t always expressed himself clearly – as I haven’t – but I know would be lost without me. And the way I use the camera and the computer screen as shields, and have come to a point, where I arrive in public – blinking in the sunlight and basking in the conversations. It’s because they’re novel – after hours spent alone. And the biggest part of my heart knows that my worst fears are not true. The family needs me as I need them. Every now and then I remember to put myself into this unfolding, fully, and make it so that you can see more than just my shadow. We fill each other in. We hold each other up. No fear.
This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I’m really afraid that/of…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.