Running Away

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?” – Albert Einstein

Submitted: November 15, 2017

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Submitted: November 15, 2017

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You couldn’t possibly pinpoint when it started. When, ironically, it began to feel like pins were pricking you, all over your body, driving you thoroughly mad. You don’t know if there was a certain age when you could no longer get to sleep at night, too occupied by the terror of feeling like there were spiders on your ceiling, waiting to drop. Centipedes between your sheets, slithering smoothly and just waiting for something to sink their venom into. The notion that if you turned your music off for a second that you’d be swarmed by the buzzing of a million flies having a field day over some roadkill; closing your eyes to see huge, mahogany roaches climbing over each other, climbing over you. Spreading their filth, their invisible disease.

And though those critters were all in your head, are still all in your head, the filth has spread. Slowly, but with every certainty, it began to grow in your blood, infect your once happy-go-lucky-disposition until it was eventually snuffed out. And now this.

So, the sleep left you first. And some nights it returns, seamlessly, as if the two of you have never had a rocky relationship at all. Sometimes it even takes its blissful stay for months at a time. But eventually, like a tide, it washes back out to sea.

You can’t be sure, but you think the next thing to slip through your fingers was the casual extroversion that all children carry with them through school. You stopped being able to feel at ease. You couldn’t feel relaxed around people. Any people. And if you had a dollar for every excuse you fabricated, every lie you relayed about wanting to go to parties, to the beach, to the shops within even walking distance but not being able to – well, you’d have the money to buy yourself the solace you’ve ever since longed for. And the fear of missing out fights a half-assed, fruitless battle for your ongoing socialisation. But it doesn’t win.

You’re so tired. So tired of pissing everyone around you off with your clichéd, babyish bullshit that you can’t put eloquently enough or desperately enough for them to understand. Of course, you also can’t tell them that they wouldn’t understand because then you’ll just seem like a pretentious, faux-deep manic pixie dream child in a body that’s too big, too imposing, too there – not to mention a soul that knows far better than to grasp at such an artsy, dated, embarrassing archetype.

So, no. Your friends don’t understand – and part of you is thankful for that. Even the ones who would understand still don’t understand. Because let’s face it: you’re not the only one – this kind of drug-store brand anxiety is bought in bulk. You’re not normal, but you’re not special by any stretch of the word. Your parents don’t understand, won’t understand, ‘cause the only illnesses that existed when they were growing up were physical. No big deal, though. You can’t be hurt, can’t be offended, because even YOU don’t understand. You can’t comprehend why being with friends is bliss one week, and enough to send you running to your car in tears the next. You’ve had a gutful, an absolute gutful of your own contradictory, nonsensical self. You wish you knew why it is you think it would be easier to die than to face being a grown up. Why it’s a more appealing option to slit your own wrists in the tub than it is to pick a university degree, no matter how much they try to convince you you can change your mind. Why you’d rather close your eyes and let go of the wheel going 110 on the freeway than you would face up to the fact that you feel like a reject-shop brand freak most of the time. It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around, in your defence. Disregard the fact that the other half of the time – well, maybe not half, third? – you’re looking forward to and actively planning your future.

This is just how you think. How you’ve been thinking for as long as you can remember (post-puberty, at least.)

But how do you feel?

Sweaty, for one thing. All the live-long day. Palms (so hot and clammy that they’re practically molten – while your fingertips are shaking icicles), popular pulse points, and ‘pits. The three Ps. You feel nauseous – car sick, minus the integral vehicle. “Sick with worry” isn’t an expression any longer. It’s a lifestyle – and it’s your lifestyle. Some mornings you can’t go to class without a friendly up-chuck in the toilet first. Which is pathetic, of course, why should going anywhere – bar the death chamber from a holding cell – make you feel ill? Why do you feel so threatened by a senseless sense of impending doom? And why won’t it just let up for a second? Because you’ve lost your agency: you’re not a person anymore. You’re just a crumpled up wad of paper with the word WORRY scrawled all over it. And the uselessness, the unproductivity it’s causing you is just making everything worse.

You know where your soul is. You can’t speak for everyone, of course, but you know where yours is. You can feel it, in your chest, not as close to the heart as one might expect. A little higher, a little to the right. You can feel it telling you, “no, no, no,” one those rare occasions you fight back your sense and drag yourself to obligatory functions, to events you simply have to show face at or admit that you’re a terrible friend – no questions asked and no excuses permitted. You feel it getting louder, demanding attention as the night wears on, as you talk to stranger after stranger: “no, no, NO.” This can’t really be your soul – looking to hurt its vessel. Can it?

And then you’re expired. Your time is up, and you had fair warning, you just didn’t listen to it. How can a burning building be sued by the families of perished residents who ignored the alarms, unheeded the sprinklers going off? So you have to get out of there. And you’re either holding back the gorge that’s rising steadily up your oesophagus, or you’re holding in the feeling that your bowels have spontaneously decided to liquefy. Either way, your face is burning and your legs are shaking, and you need to get home. But, lucky for you, the first thing you did – even before accepting this invitation – was plan a way out for when you inevitably reach your breaking point. Because if there’s one thing you’re not, it’s disorganised.

So drive home. Drive home in the eye of this way-too-common-to-be-a-panic attack, and by all means, freak out while you’re on your way. Shout, cry, beg, “God, why am I like this?” as you feel absolutely zero comfort from the fact that the closer you get to home, to being alone, the more you feel the noose loosening. You’re starting to feel better, but you don’t feel any better. ‘Cause all of this just proves it: you’re Not Well. Your loved ones should Be Concerned. Maybe you should See A Doctor. It’s time to Get Some Help.

You’re a walking, talking, functioning mess that’s been lazily programmed to act like a human being. A wreck. Napalmed in the middle of the night by your own mind, your burning body betraying you at its own whim; your subconscious telling you what you want, when you barely even know what you need.

So, what’s it like to live with anxiety crushing your chest, spitting in your face, dragging you down deeper as you feebly fight your way up?

I don’t know, you tell me.


© Copyright 2018 E Bowshall. All rights reserved.

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