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When You're Afraid of Life

I stare,
out the window,
world passing by,
wishing to grasp
with non-existent hands,
anything to rid me
of what makes me
different —
unique —
an ugly word —
pressed against the window pane,
holding me back,
unbreakable glass

I feel like I spend my days in halves. One half of it I’m a teacher, working through exhaustion and fighting, praying to help students in their lives. The other is lost to me as I struggle to break out of a prison of glass I have unintentionally created for myself. What people see is a projection, a reflection of what I am, as the real me cries behind the window. Every day I look out and wish I could be there, experience life as it’s meant to be felt. There have been times that my wall has been shattered, and my soft heart has been pierced by hate and malice. Yet instead of leaving my wall down and allowing myself to heal, I hastily put it back together, gluing the pieces together with fear and pain, creating something stronger. If my window is cracked, even scratched, I cower back in the corner of my prison and reinforce my wall.

The truth is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of life, of people, of what the truth really is. I’m afraid I’ll disappoint, so I don’t try. I’m afraid I’ll get hurt, so I chase people away. I’m afraid to belong because I never have before, and new is terrifying. What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t do it? What if I become overwhelmed? But even as I write this, I know my own thoughts are overwhelming.

Living in fear is exhausting, and so I am always tired – tired of the way I am living, tired of everything around me, tired of how I am feeling. For some reason I keep going like this. I don’t know why. I honestly can’t pinpoint much of this, but I continue moving forward, even though it doesn’t feel like forward. In fact, I would say I’m moving sideways, back and forth, one step to the left, and then one step to the right, like some sickening dance. I move because I feel I have to, yet truly I am being pulled by the forces in my life. Left, right, left, right. What happens when my feet stop moving? When I stop trying to move forward and just give in? Will the projection die? Or, more likely, it will become a shadow, a wisp, barely an illusion, clinging impossibly to any light it can find.

I don’t want that to happen. I want to be free of my prison I have created for myself. I want to know what the world feels like again.

Follow this journey on Oak in the Wind.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by Alexander Cherepanov