How much are you an accomplice to everything intent on killing you?
You don’t think this is a question you would have once considered. In fact, this question would have seemed absolutely ludicrous.
Because, after all, you can never stop anything from happening to you.
And maybe in some circumstances, that’s the case. Maybe there’s a loose grasp on the reigns so there’s no surprise when the horse bucks you off.
You live there in the dirt and don’t give it a second thought.
But at some point, you noticed the dirt wasn’t really the best place to live. And when you lifted up your head, you noticed how clean everyone else was.
But there you lay, as everything happened and with no reigns to hold.
Suicide seems like such a lofty goal for some. An insidious undertaking that claims a loved one or a person of someone you used to work with who always brought bologna sandwiches to work. But it’s never really been about you, even though you collect your own dark moments when it’s tried to nuzzle your shoulder.
But you don’t talk about that. Those things won’t get you followers on Instagram. So instead, you collect those instances like stray kittens with no mother, foster and hold them awhile but only in the quiet.
On the outside, everyone thinks you’re the best.
After a while it wears. Being the best. Being the smartest and being pretty and being fit and being…well, everything the world craves.
Eventually, those things wear away. We have the Fall to thank for that, and even though it all goes on its slow, downhill march, you still claw at it. Your humanness always needs to be fed.
It’s such a headache to feed it because it mostly means starving yourself. You don’t eat, which means you sleep standing up but never laying down. When you’re in bed you count the stars and talk to no one because you don’t believe in God. You silently pat yourself on the back for not needing a crutch.
You, my friend, are so strong.
The bags are thin-skinned under your eyes and you rub your ring finger round with concealer. You pat-pat-pat, pretending you’re erasing away every little regret.
At work, you are the best worker. There just isn’t another option for you. You eat in the breakroom, careful to look like you’re feeding your unfed body because everyone knows rumors are worse than calories.
You’re promoted and there’s a vile sense of self-worth from everyone’s projected hate. You only need friends from the outside looking in.
You go home alone to no one but a cat who is less concerned about you than you are. You drink white wine and accidentally chip a tooth on the glass but you keep on drinking anyways.
Your stomach rumbles, a reminder that you’re in control, and you will let it rumble with every ounce of will you have left. You watch a show on Netflix about tiny homes, wondering why seemingly competent people would be willing to contort their bodies just to live in a shoebox.
Your days are weeks now and your family are voices lost in your voicemail. You sometimes call back when you know they’re not available and turn off your read receipts on your phone.
You text like Lazarus, back from the dead.
Everyone smiles if they see you in Wal-Mart but their well-wishes are tinged with an “Are you okay?” You thwart it, though, with a question about the baby, a soft touch on the arm, a general warm undertone that emanates from your malnourished skin.
“No, absolutely not,” your eyes struggle to say, but you swat them away, batting your lashes.
There’s a church you drive by where all the people are. You think about those people more than the people you actually know. What is so different about them that they can congregate every week, being their same selves, and not panicking or vomiting as they walk up the steps?
What’s so different about you that the notion plays like astrophysics in your head?
One day, you think, Maybe I’ll get there. Maybe, I’ll clean myself up, scrub off all the dust, and walk in like I’m my same self too.
There’s a tug deep, deep, deep. It’s inside of you as your eyes scan the out. You’ve sunk chin-deep in the tub. It’s the perfect scenario for your friend, Death, to come and whisper all the things you already know: you’re alone, you’re so hungry and tired. That cat won’t stop staring at you. Why don’t you just walk away? Let’s walk away together.
You sink, sink, sink, a little deeper than you thought you might. The water is warm. There’s a soft end to all the hard you’ve had to endure. Don’t you deserve it?
But then, a still, small voice. It says your name. How does it know your name? You push up, break the surface of your bath and look around, but the only thing you see is the cat staring back at you. Again, you hear your name, as if it were knitted long ago before your cells ached and danced. You want to hear your name forever, so you clutch onto it, wondering why it feels like it’s inscribed in your very DNA.
All the regrets under your eyes are there in the tub, and something guides your hand, removing the plug.
The water—it washes you clean as all the burden swirls down the drain.
Your heart finally has something to hold on to.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.Psalm 34:18
© 2022 by Ericka Clay
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