I was in bed, wide awake at 2:00am. It was another night when I was struggling to not think about death, but intrusive thoughts and feelings of hopelessness had curled down my arms in black wisps, extending toward my palms and reaching up to my throat. I felt as though my insides were wrapped in plastic, my once glossy organs dulled and slowed. I wasn’t working like I was supposed to.
“I can’t sleep,” I said to my boyfriend’s back. It rose and fell. “I can’t stop thinking the most awful thoughts over and over.”
He moaned, clearly not fully awake. “Think of other things, love,” he mumbled in a sleepy voice.
“Don’t you think I’ve tried that? It’s all I try to do!” I whispered back fiercely, aware that he was not completely conscious of this conversation anyway.
“Well, here are three things,” he answered, “Socks, pickled radishes, and the executive branch of the government.” I laughed as he began to snore. I may have been sad, but at least I wasn’t bored.
That was July 3rd. By the end of August, I felt past burnt out. I had fully combusted and stumbled across traffic-lined highways, turning into a slow red-ember glow until all that was left was a pile of ashy silver that blew apart anytime a wind came. I had to live slowly and stay stationary, exhausted by merely existing, so that I wouldn’t fall to pieces completely. Each day I inched through work, cautiously drove home, and watched hours of Netflix in my attempt to remain the best pile of ash I could be. Going out with friends, working out, or even writing simulated a strong wind coming to rip me apart--and I couldn’t handle it.
The first of September finally came and my housemate sat on the floor in front of me with tarot cards. He’d just given me my reading and it only validated what I had been speculating for months: On the outside, everything was great. My job, my house, my social life, but I still wasn’t where I thought I would be. It said that soon a break would cross me where I could re-evaluate my life and figure out what to do. I had everything that should be making me happy, but I just wasn’t.The next day, I left for vacation.
In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, I visited a wax museum, went through two haunted houses, drove a go-kart, and paid $30.00 for my boyfriend and me to ride the most delightfully awful Jurassic themed ride I have ever experienced. I became a child for three beautiful days before retreating to a small cabin to spend the rest of our trip. After a couple more days of hiking, exploring, and doing nothing, I realized that surrounded by nature, the mountains, and the beautiful quiet--that I really missed the city. I missed my favorite restaurants and bars, I missed my friends although I recently had barely been able to muster up the strength to see them, and I missed my house which had felt so oppressive before. I felt a burning inside, this time forging me into something shiny and new instead of consuming me from the outside in.
I realized that sometimes, we all need a break. A break from our jobs, our responsibilities, and our thoughts if we are fortunate enough to manage briefly turning them off. I was privileged to be able to take a week-long vacation from my job, but I now know that I need other breaks in my life. I can work on happiness. No matter what we feel we deserve, we are not created to suffer.
I got back from my trip two weeks ago, and instantly felt the familiar weight of sadness and stress welcome me home. Work was hard, but I got through the first week, and things are currently better. I am excited and ready to return to this blog and write regularly again. My cabin-mentality is starting to shine through, and I am learning to concentrate and embrace the small breaks. If we are lucky, our demons can be tamed and lulled to sleep while we try to learn how to send them away for good.
It takes a lot of energy to live. The world is a bustling place, yet we have to survive. I hope that anyone feeling hopeless or stuck finds their own metaphorical Nic Cage wax statue. Don’t be afraid to say no, take a sick day, or try to escape from your routine. Walk into the sunshine, take a breath and realize you are an integral cog in this world. And I hope that we can all work to be put back together, one piece of ash at a time.