HOPE

adelaide bowen

March 19th, 2022

Maybe I should have written diary entries — maybe it would have helped me work through the emotions, the turmoil, the maelstrom that lived inside me (and still does). I don’t think I had the foresight to keep a journal of this terrible time; does anyone go into the flames with how to record being burned to a crisp in mind? All of my thoughts have gone to waking up, showering at least once a week and making sure foods on the table for everyone to eat.

In a house where reality is tenuous, you must create a reality for yourself. One that can’t be denied. I have been living and trying my absolute best to keep myself from going completely under, but I think I may have frozen myself in place to do so.

May 26, 2022

It’s been days without a shower. My nails are dirty and my scalp itches. My teeth feel fuzzy and I know I need to brush them, but I can’t find the strength to get up. We are weeks away from a life changing event and once again my courage fails to breathe life into me. Not that I’ve ever had anything but a falsely inflated sense of it. It has always been yet another smokescreen to keep even myself distracted until I got through to the other side.

Every time we’ve come up on a move in the past ten years this cycle has repeated itself. Like it’s on an internal clock, my legs become lead, my head stuffed with cotton. My hands feel aimless and my stomach twists. I can face the situation as much as I want, I can go towards my future knowing it’s for the best, but it does not erase the decades old unease settled within me.

It’s different now. I’m not nine anymore. I can’t tell Mom I’m tired and need help. It’s all on me, and I can’t even do that.

My dog is dying and every day I watch death draw closer to her, his hands clasped tightly behind his back. Live, he rasps gently, For I am coming. It should not be possible for Death to be gentle, but I have never known it to be anything else. Death is not cruel or unusual or unkind. It can even be beautiful in its everlasting tragedy.

Even still, I find my grief to be deep and hard to wade in, my legs weak. The knowledge that Death has a claim on her leaves me unsteady. I almost smell it on her, too. I watch her wobbly walk and her wide, unseeing brown eyes sparkling in the sun. I cannot help but watch the way she ages, and feel an overwhelming ache that she will not be able to experience a better life outside of this house. The end of her life, being like this… I could not have predicted. I will be unsatisfied, without time to rectify this. She deserves better. She deserves more. She was with us for so long…

Death will welcome her like an old friend and she will bound across as youthful as the puppy she is. I have no fear for the transition. I am merely adjusting to the idea, as I must to all ideas I am unaccustomed to, to all ideas I simply want to toss my head at.


Sometimes I think That I was not made to be alive right now But then again - when was I made to be alive? Some other time, then? No. I don’t think some other time would’ve done me any good, either I simply think that When writers say;

There will always be a ribbon of loneliness running through who I am

Or

I’ve been trying to go home my whole life

And

Never knowing where home is

That there is such an air of truth to those words, I have no choice but to hurt for them, to feel them

For us, really

It feels like a tiny conversation

Between me and the writer

I wrote this during a particularly bleak period of time where I didn’t have much hope for the future. It’s not like I don’t still intimately understand it; some days are just worse than others where I feel this, and some days are better. But I try to make it background noise instead of the main show. I try not to fall into my anguish head first, though the slide is tempting.

These thoughts are not forever. I let myself flirt with them, succumb to their seductive whims for just a little while, but I must refuse them, ultimately. Darkness is alluring and can even feel wonderful for a time, but will not serve you. But, for a moment, you can lean into it, dance with it if you must. And then you find a reason to remember why you must wake up again, for you’ve been hibernating within yourself, a husk carrying your dormant spirit around.

Here you must find a balance; and recognize that anything less and you will continue to crumble like finely powdered snow. You can tread the line, even stand under the shadows umbrella… but eventually it’s time to come back out of the shade and into the light where everyone can see you. You can walk at your own pace — but you must return. There is a world waiting for you that is better with you in it.

I read today that solitude is sacred (wise words, Ms. Cisneros) and I wholeheartedly agree. I know — how can I so quickly contradict myself? Well, that’s easy; life is full of contradictions, and when you accept this, it’s almost as if there aren’t any contradictions at all. Make sense? If it doesn’t, let me explain. It’s like this:

Contradictions are natural. Life is death, and death is life. Things must eat to live, and as such must kill. Plants must compete for sunlight and will strangle others to survive; parasitic fungus will overtake spiders in order to find more hosts, and this all contributes to the world spinning in harmony. None of it makes the world cruel or bad or evil; no morality can be assigned to these things. It simply is. And that’s the beautiful complexity (because how can these intricate processes happening ever be anything less?) and simplicity of life (because some of these just are) — that it just is.

There will be contradictions as far and wide as you look, so you may as well resign yourself — or, like me, look forward to— running into the fascinating contradictions life has to offer.

You can find yourself if you know where to look, in the vast mountains of silence. It can be a hard weight to carry, the rejection of peers, teachers, perhaps colleagues or even family, on your back. Maybe it’s branded onto you and you cannot rid yourself of it - people know you are not one of them just by sight. It is sad, yes, to feel the gaze of the world against you, the shadow of being ejected forcefully to the edges of society.

But there is time for true introspection here - a quiet you may never get otherwise. To retreat and find yourself. You, who is young, unknowing, innocent — hold your pain, allow it space. And when you cannot any longer, give yourself peace. Breathe. Clear your mind, focus on anything you can. The sky, a tree, some birds. Breathe deeply in time with the Earth (lay down on your back and close your eyes — you’ll feel her) and relax.

Don’t allow your mind to race for too long, take these moments with a fierce grip, because one day, you must seize your loneliness and scatter it to the wind; only to be revisited when you need to find a quiet place. Become familiar with yourself so that it is easier to reach this state of peace.

You must be able to find yourself underneath all of the fallen snow and the loose debris once the seasons have passed and you’ve brushed yourself off. Time has passed, yes, but nothing you cannot catch up with. You’ll find that the world did not stop for you, no, but it did not take off and leave without you either.

All the medicine, therapy and friends in the world cannot change the fact that, in a situation such as my own, the only person who can do anything to help make me feel even a little better is me. If that takes a bit of energy to do, then I will gain some for my effort. A return investment, if you will.

Once again, for so long I have allowed myself the willful ignorance that darkness provides, willing to convince myself that comfort and security does not lay just beyond where I do not go, if I just had the courage to step out of bounds. Able to hide in its comforting shade, where I don’t have to face the truth if I don’t wish to.

When I turn around and finally, the enormity of it all comes crashing down. And then I pick myself back up. And it’s slow, it’s meaningful — who but I stands up to brush my teeth, even if I go back to bed after? Who makes sure I take a shower at least once a week? Who is making a conscious effort to eat more despite a lousy appetite and a persistent eating disorder & body dysmorphia?

It does not have to be perfect, or consistent. It just has to be that you’re trying. If you find you have energy at four p.m., seize it with vigor and brush your teeth, change your clothes, eat something. Stretch! Making an effort to change your clothes every now and then, clean up, drink water — paying attention to your habits can help you become grounded if you are feeling untethered.

In my time alone I have proven to myself again that I can be someone I can rely on. Perhaps this is something that others may benefit from knowing that they can also become someone they can rely on.

Coming back to the land of the living can be like choking on dirt or breathing in asphodels, depending on how you claw your way back. Be wise with your energy and take care of your body — know your emotional and your physical self. Though it may come back to you slowly, like a limb regaining feeling after being out in the cold — this has been the case for me, and though my progress is slow, each step is momentous — you will eventually shake the pins and needles from yourself and find your body once more.

If anyone can find the poem that the line “Never knowing where home is” is from, please let me know!

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