I wake from dreams where
I still feel like I can reach put and
grace my fingers across
the surface of everything I’ve
lost living in the depths where
I’ve been buried.
I swear we’re still connected but
there will always, now and forever
be a barricade you’ll never quite
Sometimes, amidst the dark, I forget how to dream.
Go back and read some older posts. I challenge you to read beyond the face value and the convenience of reading the first few lines of this, writing it off, and going elsewhere on the interweb. You’ll see that I used to be someone who felt and thought and sometimes even dreamed. And I don’t mean the ghosts that haunt me in my sleep sometimes or the happy dreams that make me hate my existence when I wake up because those dreams I have no control over. Beyond the occasional inspiration, they’ve gotten me nothing but a crack that runs even further down the walls of my heart. My eyes? They’re harder to keep dry some nights.
I feel like i have to downplay how I feel to everyone, including my therapist because, as much as I dislike how I feel this time of year, I”m so used to it that I have all but given up. And I don’t want more medication; it’s hard enough to take the ones I have already.
Something happened. Somewhere between starting and finishing my bachelor’s degree I became this recluse. I spend my time hiding in my bedroom watching old TV shows on Netflix or I try and find random things to keep myself entertained. Before that I used to have friends and we used to go out to the bar or a coffee shop or… something. I was meeting new people all the time. Where did all those people go? They’re all married or have kids now which is fine but is this how life is supposed to feel for those of us who haven’t figured out how to find someone that doesn’t kill them slowly on the inside? I don’t know. I have reached that point again where the idea of a relationship both scares me to death and pisses me off.
I don’t want to give up my independence or my space. It’s both a gift and a curse and if you don’t understand I’m not going to explain it to you.
There are so many things I wanted to do and there aren’t that many people approaching 30 who care about the kind of stuff that I care about. I want to be in a band, I want to write a book, I want to not spend every night in my room. I’ve been told I’ve got to go out there and I’ve got to make the connections because no one’s talking to anyone. If that’s the case then why does it seem everyone’s talking to everyone but me? That may sound like self-pity and it very well may be. At the same time, my anxiety has only gotten worse with time which makes social gatherings really difficult and I feel like any friend I make quickly becomes fair-weather or ceases to be my friend just because I don’t want to be what they want me to be.
I’m not a savior, i’m not just some idea. I gave up being perfect a long time ago and now I’m just trying to get along with just being me. Even that is a struggle some days. Most days. I think too much, I know too much and I can’t let go of the girl who dumped me 6 months ago because, emotionally, she took a piece of me and I can’t get it back. So, when I hear the song “Mullholland Drive” by The Gaslight Anthem, she’s the first thing I think of [“When you think about your life, are there things you would reverse?”].
It has struck me that, maybe, I should just start over. Sometimes, I feel like there’s nothing here for me anymore and I could leave and the only people who would probably even say anything are my family. I should just uproot myself and go to Grad School in Chicago like I planned to and find people there and maybe I wouldn’t feel so out of place, so distanced from everything and everybody. All I’ve really got here is a handful of friends, family and a job.
The dormant dreamer inside me wants a whole lot more than that. If I could wake him maybe things would be better. I’ve considered giving Omaha a year since I’ve just signed a lease on an apartment. I don’t know. I’m not usually one for ultimatums but if something good doesn’t happen soon I may just give up entirely and run away somewhere.
Anywhere but here.
I have not been happier than I have been in my dreams, lately. It seems that every waking hour I have spent less than ecstatic about my existence has pushed my subconscious into fits of dreams where I am smiling against the tide of my cheeks. My heart knows no pain or sadness when in the throes of the illusion conjured up by the empty space in my heart that has been there for the better part of this year. It’s a wound that won’t heal; it’s a space that is never filled because I won’t let it. Partially because I have no reason and also because I’m terrified of having it all taken away again. My conscious mind knows the force of the rug being pulled out from under it before it happens and my heart-the ballast-keeps me stable when it happens.
My dreams have been about being in love a lot lately. I don’t know why. I know there is a part of me that thinks I will be healed by finding the one that I find in my dreams but the reality is that she is just a dream. Dreams exist to keep the brain alive when the body is asleep. I wish I could tell you I believed that was its only purpose but I’ve seen too many things projected against the back of my eyelids that told me something insightful to simplify everything to so fine a point. My mind is expressing the things that I refuse to let get in my way right now.
More than anything I want to be left alone, but this conflicts with the desires of my heart which filter into my mind and soul. It’s not good for a man to be alone and I have been alone with my thoughts for a long time. My heart is still mending from the damage of a hard blow dealt from the last time I dove into that deep, warm water of someone else’s arms and I’m okay with that. There’s a part of me that wishes the rest of me knew that it needed to heal. But still I dream about women that I’ve never met and the thing my life seems to lack the most. Love. It’s a concept I don’t like to touch on but it’s a need of every human being. I am not beyond analyzing the fact that I am still human because my brain does it’s best to remind me of that fact.
These days are filled with a lot of sadness and depression. Sometimes, it’s just a melancholy buzz in the back of my mind. When I sleep I see and feel things I don’t feel when I’m awake. So, when my eyes open and I ascend into consciousness from my reverie there’s a certain darkness that sets in. I am no longer elated by the eyes of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, her presence, her touch. She was there and she was as real as the pillows in which I rest my head on. But the hook sinks in and rips the seam from illusion to reality and I’m left in the aftermath wondering what I did to deserve such cruelty.
I wonder when dream ceases being dream and becomes reality.
And then I swallow it down because it’s what I think I don’t want right now.
In some situations there are no good options. There are no solutions readily available to move you forward in any sort of meaningful way and so you must sit with the ramifications of the decisions that have been made. In this situation I had no other choice but to go through everything with the help of some friends and having to grit my teeth through the pain as I tried with all my might to move on with my life all because of the decision of someone else.
Having absolutely no control over what happens to you in a situation like this is by its very nature one of the most painful things I have ever had to sit and accept in my life. You aren’t the only one who has left me in the dust to accept my fate with no real explanation. Experience, in this case, doesn’t make things any easier to understand or to try and get past. In fact, knowing what it feels like only made things hurt even more.
I’ve come to understand that people are going to do what they feel like, regardless of how it affects anyone else because it’s much easier to look out for number one than any other number you might think of. It’s a lot easier to feed someone nothing but lies than to tell the truth because the truth hurts both parties involved.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a process. This pain, this heartache only disappears with time and there is no set paradigm or set of steps that will tell me when I have finally passed through the blaze and the downpour to the other side of all of this. I will continue to see you in my dreams where my subconscious tells me you still have control over a good portion of my thought process and all of it is an aching melancholy that I can’t quite escape yet.
Understanding now is the fact that I have not cleansed myself of you completely and that affects me in too many ways. I don’t like it because you don’t deserve the space in my heart and in my head that you still occupy because you obviously didn’t care enough about that in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here outlining my experiences in hopes of some sort of catharsis.
I’m not looking for a reaction.
I’m just looking for a peace of mind
Something that will make it all stop.
Knowing what I know, I will likely weave my way in and out of everything I’ve already described more than once, over and again. Eventually, it will go away like you did and I’ll be free and unafraid to feel again. But for now, I’ll continue to live my life without a destination in hopes that I’ll truly accept what happened and it will disappear from my thoughts like a dream upon waking.
My hope is to be healed.
And you can’t help me.
After what seemed like millions of long days, hours spent at the helm of a ship with a broken rudder he called a job he finally closed the door of his apartment behind him. He slipped his boots off by the door and dropped his bag in its usual place: on the floor leaning up against the wall. He stopped and leaned with it for a moment and rubbed the aching muscles in his neck and wondered how much more he could take before he walked out. How long before the monotony got to him and the customers became belligerent enough that he just gave up, threw his keyboard and walked out the door never to be seen again.
He thought these same thoughts every night, as if it was part of his circadian rhythm and he hated it. He prayed for contentment.
Then it hit him, as it always did, that he was alone again. The people around him as well as his work kept him from realizing this fact and so he remained imbued with that feeling until he looked up from his reverie and saw the emptiness of his studio apartment. Sure, there was stuff there but stuff, he realized, only kept him so distracted. Eventually his mind would wander to places and things, not always bad until they collided with the force of a fist into a brick wall with the memories he was trying so hard to forget. Or, at least, assign them a state of analgesia so his heart wouldn’t sink like an anchor in still waters every time they surfaced.
“You’re only as strong as you are when you are alone and in the dark,” he told himself as he turned on the TV and sat on his bed. He knew he needed sleep if he was to survive another hellacious day at the hands of his employer and its clientele. Though it used to be a problem for him to fall asleep after it all went down, his body and brain eventually fell back into the pattern of somewhat regular rest. He liked sleep because it often offered him a reprieve from the thoughts that still haunted him and the memories of her as she was; the good times, the sweet saccharine drops that dripped into his mind, now turned bitter as saltwater. Some nights it was his only reprieve and he was thankful for the peace.
He crawled into bed and laid there, waiting for his brain to shut him down for the evening. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, the rise and fall of his own chest and the force of inhaling and exhaling. As he fell into a steady rhythm of respiration he began to feel his mind wind down like a toy as the battery begins to drain. He could never tell when sleep was coming, so he just maintained his soft focus on his breath.
Everything was dark for a moment. Then his eyes were open and he was on his bed, laying on his side near the edge with his left hand resting up near his face. Everything seemed fuzzy and dark, disoriented and slightly out of focus. While he was trying to understand it all he felt a hand slide up to his side. Soft hands on his skin where his shirt had ridden up and revealed the pale space between his ribs and his hips. This was all too familiar and he knew whose hand he felt; he was reliving a memory. Their chastity was a beautiful thing to him but when the view panned up he could see her lying on the other side of the bed, smiling sleepily. He was no longer seeing through his own eyes but the eyes of what he realized then to be a dream.
He felt the knife stab him in the heart again but from behind, between the ribs.
Without a thought, he reached to his back and pulled it out. There was no physical pain and no blood on the knife. He turned back to her and she just smiled and gently waived but her hands were black and dripping with it in the darkness. He held the knife blade down and shifted glances back and forth from the knife to her.
She never stopped smiling and waiving, like a programmed automaton. This infuriated him for some reason and he brought the knife crashing down through the fabric of his subconscious creation with the intent of plunging it into her heart. The rage in his eyes didn’t affect her one bit in that moment–
His eyes opened wide and he sat up. He looked to his left where the bed was empty and laid back down. He took a deep breath and rolled to his side, heart throbbing for a moment as he tried to bring himself back to the present and to reality.
“I’m fine. I’m OK,” he told himself as he drifted back to sleep. He found himself, just as he drifted off to sleep, a little disappointed that he didn’t get to make that violent strike into her chest. Not because he wanted her dead but because he wanted to find out wether or not her heart was truly made of stone.
under the street lamp, everything tinted by the radiation of its bulb, electricity lightly humming. And he knew that feeling well.
But just then he didn’t. His mind was swimming with swarms of thoughts circling around his head like killer whales around an ice floe covered in seals. His chin rested in his hand, his elbow propped against his lap as he stared at the concrete. He was more looking through the concrete, beyond the concrete into a space which only he could see, beyond the crust and mantle and into the space where pure imagination dwelled. It was where the movie studio in his mind directed a thousand scenes, edit, revised and reviewed scripts and he let the actors play out their roles. Indeed, all the world was a stage in the space between his ears but the actors were real people and the names were not changed to protect the guilty. And, right now, the actors in his head were guilty.
Soft footsteps approached.
“So, you’re the one burning holes in the sidewalks around here? I figured it was some pyromaniacal kids with fireworks, considering the time of year.” It was her again. She must have seen him come into the park again. It was nice to know he wasn’t the only one who had nothing better to do at that time of night but, after their last encounter, he was a little wary of her.
“I saw you walking here again. I thought I’d check to see how you were doing and to see if you took my advice.” She sat down next to him, her face obscured by the curtain of her shoulder-length hair. She was like a ghost but she could breathe, a puzzle to be certain.
“Well, did you?”
The train roared past, catching the back of his jacket in the wake in his head. “Yes, I did.”
“Good,” she looked up into a nearby tree, “How do you feel?”
The question rattled him for a moment. It felt like he had trekked a thousand miles since someone asked him that question. So much time had passed and so many resolutions made regarding his heart and his head had been made and dismissed in so small a space in time. The hammer flew end over end and disappeared into the headlamp of the train over and over again.
“I’m not entirely certain. There’s a large part of me that wonders how much of it was actually real. I can trace the end back and link it to so many things now that I’ve had time to reflect and I keep wanting to know, wanting to ask how much of it was real and how much of it was just… ” He grasped for a word that wasn’t there, despite the innumerable ideas in the shape of flies that floated around his head. His right hand motioned in forward circles to signal his brain to get unstuck from the mud but eventually gave up with a sigh.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s a fair question. But would you really want to know the answer to that? I mean, if you had a lot of good memories then does it do you any good to find out that she was just placating you so you wouldn’t know what was going on? That’s just more pain and misery, isn’t it?” She kicked a small pebble across the concrete.
His eyes burned holes in the sidewalk again. He stuffed his hands in the front pocket of his hoodie and rested them there.
“I suppose it would be. I don’t know. Part of me is curious to know if any of it was real or if it was just filler until something better came along.” He let out a deep sigh and looked down at his lap.
“You’re looking at it the wrong way, I think.” He felt her hand reach out and brush his hair out of his face and back behind his shoulder. He knew she could see him but he couldn’t see her as that seemed to be the way of things. Her touch felt so strange to him that he almost recoiled out of instinct, like someone about to be hit. He just kept looking down trying to keep calm as he felt anxiety bubble up. He felt damaged, inhuman though her touch implied nothing. She pulled her hand back and had leaned closer.
“If there’s anybody waiting for something better to come along it should be you.”
He furrowed his brow and turned to see her face.
Then the streetlight went out.