Am I fifteen years old? Friends gained and lost in spectacular teenage drama. Timid love confessions, explorations, confusion and angst. I know everything, but I hate everyone, most of all myself. I refuse to eat, often for days. I am grasping at something in my world that I can control. I turn up the stereo and rock gently in the corner to try to hide the pain. Sometimes it works, but not this time.
My head spins; I feel disorientated. I try to reorient myself to the present but fail; now I’m 19 years old. In bed with my lover – tonight I failed to have sex for the first time. I thought I would. I planned to do it. You knew, too, didn’t you? I thought I was ready. I know damn well you were ready. I thought: “that’s the next step in our relationship, so that’s what we are supposed to do now… right?”
But I didn’t want to. I was so scared I was shaking, and we stopped. I remember – the bed was over there by the window that time, but I remember the feeling of terror, and then comfort, gently and lovingly spooning on the bed all night. Thank God (and you, gallant, sweet, frustrated you) we didn’t. Later, yes, we will make a beautiful loving symphony together. But not here, not now.
The fear dissolves, and I’m 23. I am packing my things to move far away. I carefully tuck away the most painful objects and memories, hiding them from myself. They will be found in a different decade, when they won’t hurt so badly to examine. I lovingly hug the stethoscope my confidante gifted me for nursing school. And my panda bear. Where would I be without you? You’re still here with me, aren’t you Molly?
I briefly connect with reality, recognizing that I’m in the right room but the wrong decade, but then my mind dissolves back into the memories, and I’m 27. I’m terrified again, but this time I don’t know why. I’m hiding a deep dark secret from myself. It is devouring me alive from the inside out, but I have no idea what it is… Or do I?
In the dark of night, I search the Internet for the secrets of the world, pretending I’m just curious. Are they my secrets, too? Am I normal? Wasn’t I supposed to figure this shit out when I was 15, like everyone else? No one else has it figured out, kiddo, so don’t lose sleep over it. Just live and let live, and love yourself. Okay; I think I can do that.
I break down and sob, howling with grief at 31, here in my dark room in the basement. I used to feel safe here. But now I feel foreign even in my warm place. And afraid. I am so very afraid.
The distant memory of the raging hormonal tempest of puberty pales in comparison to losing my love, my life, and my self all at once. I can’t imagine I have ever felt so lost. I don’t know what to do, where to go or even who I am. My world is a shambles. My life is destroyed. I start from nothing, scratching and clawing my way out from the deepest hole I have ever known, inch by bloodied-fingernail inch.
In the midst of the emotional storm, I finally wrench myself free from memory lane and return to the present. My anguished heart pounds an indignant staccato in my chest, and my breath comes in short gasps. I get up from the bed and flick on the light, to banish the strikingly realistic not-quite-daymares and come fully into the now.
Today is different. It’s 2014. I rebuilt, I love, I am loved. My niece sleeps peacefully in my sister’s old room. Where my room is almost the same, hers is completely different. I wonder if my sister stands in the middle of her old room, or lays on the day bed, and feels moved as powerfully as I do here in mine? Her former demesne is a playroom now, for her beautiful children to laugh and squeal and cry and tantrum.
So much has left this room. But so much has stayed the same. I returned this time with all my possessions in a single carry-on luggage, and I’m happier than I have been in many years. I love spending time with my family, my friends. And I love my life. I know who I am now, and I love that person.
I bow my head and clasp my hands in front of my heart. To the nightmares of my past, and the chaotic dark energy holding them in my present through the memory portal that is my old room, I release you. I thank you for making me who I am, and teaching me to live life to the fullest. I know you, and I know me.
Let there be peace among us.