Settling In

August 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m not sure how I forgot, or maybe I just didn’t want to think about it, but I tend to get really depressed when I have this much alone time. I slept great my first few nights here, but lately my nights have become miserable. I feel exhausted, but toss and turn, sleeping only to have muddled or chaotic dreams. One dream in particular sticks out. 

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A couple nights ago, I dreamed that I was at the airport with my parents. We were trying to catch a 2am plane to Europe, but we were cutting it close. When we were in line to board, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten about Cleo, that in all the chaos leading up to the trip, I’d neglected to find someone to care for her while I was gone. With 40 minutes until the plane took I off, I ran around the airport trying to figure out what to do as I only had $10 cash, which I wasn’t sure was enough for a cab though I did only live a few minutes from the airport [in my dream]. A hispanic woman who worked at the airport in the lost baggage office offered to take me, assuring me that it was no problem, especially since I lived so close. I frantically fretted, worrying that I was inconveniencing her at best and at worst, that I might cost her her job, though I also didn’t want to take a cab only to realize I didn’t have enough cash, because Alabama is still behind the times and doesn’t have the credit card machines in taxis yet. With the clock counting down until takeoff, I decided to ride with the baggage attendant, as images of my sweet old dog pacing around the apartment alone and in the dark, starving and wondering where I was, flooded my mind. 

We were halfway to my apartment when I remembered she was dead. 

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I’m sure you can understand and appreciate my confusion and upset when I awoke from this dream. How could I forget to find someone to take care of her in my absence, as I was off traveling the world? Perhaps more disturbing, how could I forget she was dead? It was the strangest feeling, having to tell that flight attendant that the dog she was rushing me home to rescue was dead and that somehow I had forgotten. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about that dream, concerned about what it means, if you buy into the belief that dreams mean things or are our way of telling ourself something. 

I think I’m afraid of what my life is, the nature of my way of living. I see things as temporary, not in a “die tomorrow” kind of way, but in a way that leads me to believe I’m better off not getting invested since I’ll be moving along shortly anyway. I have the hardest time remembering things, those good moments in life that remind you why it’s worth it to be alive. Those moments where you feel that fleeting emotion called “happy” and where you feel something close to satisfaction. My memory is such that I only remember the bad things. Whenever I am outside at dusk near yards or other grassy areas, I remember so vividly a hallucination I had as a three year old. I still remember the gripping fear that came with that hallucination, and how I screamed and cried for rescue on the other side of a chain-link fence, my mother in sight but moving so slowly because she couldn’t understand my desperation. 

I still cry remembering how empty I felt when Alec and I broke up the summer after my sophomore year of college; it was like my torso was gone, leaving nothing but a gaping hole where my organs used to be. I still cry remembering how I felt hyperventilating between sobs on the floor when I said goodbye to Alec before moving back to Alabama. I still cry remembering just how painful the decision was to put Cleo down, and how quickly she was gone from my life. These things I remember: vividly, viscerally, painfully, permanently. 

So why can’t I remember the good things? Why can’t my brain hold those memories, instead of letting them disappear? Why does my brain choose to hasten their dissipation instead of trying to catch every exquisite detail of life? It’s heartbreaking, really, to get to age 25 and hardly be able to remember what you’ve been doing all this time, who has touched your life, and what moments were the most special. 

I’m due for another serious suicidal episode. My last one occurred around this time last year and again around August/September the year before. Like those times, I feel alone and lonely, like I don’t matter, like I could disappear today and it would be weeks before anyone found my bloated, rotting body. (It would be weeks, seeing as I haven’t started work yet so only my landlords would notice my late rent check.) Directionless, confused, worried, feeling like I’ve been spinning my wheels like crazy only to realize I’m on a stationary bike. I’ve imagined it so vividly, the bite of the blade and that queasy feeling you get when you stand up too fast. The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness followed by the peace of knowing there wouldn’t be a tomorrow, there wouldn’t be another day to fight for some kind of meaning in a violent, self-destructive world. I’m gone and life moves on. 

But I’ve been through this before. I know what that feeling is like and I know how to breathe through it, how to call on my exceptionally vivid imagination to illustrate just how terrible that would be for those special few who love me. I can see my parents’ initial confusion upon answering the phone, wondering why they are so urgently needed in Texas. I can see their hearts breaking. My dad might never recover, or may follow my own end. I don’t know which would be worse. 

It’s so easy to spiral into that, so easy to compound every negative thought or feeling when I’m alone with myself with no distractions for such an extended period of time. I don’t know the last time I spent a week alone like this, with so little human contact or activity, responsibility, obligation. I can’t believe I’ve been in Dallas a week. I’ve done nothing. But that was the plan, wasn’t it? To do nothing? To settle in and calm down and enjoy not drowning in deadlines, tasks, and plans. How could I forget my dead dog? How could I forget I don’t thrive in lifestyles like this? How could I forget I’m developing a pattern of suicidal thoughts that tend to get significantly worse when I’m alone like this. Whoops. 

No wonder criminals get so much worse in solitary confinement. Really, it’s a form of torture. I wonder why I did it to myself. 

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