Slipping through four wheeled strangers crawling in a sea of asphalt, my drive from the office is arduous.
Hold on. Just one more block.
Turning left on my street, I unbuckle the seatbelt across my chest. I allow a sigh within the walls of my lungs; she clings tightly to the fear. It’s a welcome relief to get one out.
When I arrive home, the rubble of my life serves up equal parts comfort and disgust. Piles of dirty laundry cover the floor and stacks of papers blanket my coffee table. The kitchen countertops work as a nesting place for empty wine bottles, dirty dishes and unopened mail.
There is a slight odor weaving its way up to my nostrils and I can’t tell if it’s coming from my skin, my scalp, or the basic parameter of the area. Ashamed, I don’t have the strength (or desire) to investigate further. I undress and climb in to my unmade bed.
If I only knew what it was, what I could do. If I only took a shower, did laundry, washed the dishes, went for a walk or had a piece of chicken (that last one’s from mom). If only.
Through the darkness of my room, outside my bedroom window I see sunlight playing hide and seek with the leaves of a palm in the breeze. Children playing on the street compete with the crashing waves echoing in the distance.
That is what life feels like.
I don’t have the energy to cry. The guilt of feeling depressed is depressing. I want to evaporate.
* * *
“So tell me.” Her voice was soft. “Why are you calling?”
“I’ve never been suicidal, but I am having fantasies of not wanting to live.”
I met Mary the next afternoon and gave her a hug as soon as she opened the door. She sat and listened to my story without judgment or pity.
In less than an hour I bullet pointed my life. Raped at age thirteen, drugs by fourteen, a skin deformity by fifteen, promiscuity to feel beautiful, left home at seventeen and on and on. Absentee father, abusive step-father, a mother who drank. The perfect sister everyone loved. And then there was me. The Stripper. The Fuck Up.
So stripping was my thing. I drank. I snorted. I pill-popped. I bent over and counted my money one dollar at a time. I worked the pole, slept around and pushed the envelope of reason. I rock-starred in my own one-woman show. And now, the music is over. The crowd is long gone and I am still here.
“I’m trapped in darkness and so much of what I see is light. How do I get there?” This time the tears managed to come.
“You will find your way. And I am going to help you.”
And so it begins.