A few nights ago, I sat in my bed, with you hovering above me, and in a panic, texted a friend. “I’m scared,” I said, fingers trembling. I didn’t know how to explain your shadow. I didn’t know how to tell him that the very thought of you scares me shitless. How do you talk about the shadow of a shadow? You’re gone, the hovering is in my mind. You left me a long time ago. I remember you though, don’t worry. I think about you every day. I’ll be walking, smiling, and a song will remind me of you. And some days, that’s enough to make me want to go back to my dorm, to get in bed. You still make me want to hide sometimes. Hide from you, though you’re not here. I’m still afraid of you; I still worry you’re coming back.
There are books I can’t read without getting upset, movies I refuse to watch. Did you know that you’re everywhere? You’re unavoidable, and there are days where all I want is to never see you. I can’t see you that much, I’m not ready to see you ruining people’s lives. I can’t see other people in their beds shaking without shaking in mine. I didn’t think I’d be afraid after you. I thought when you were gone, it would be over. It’s not over. When I was younger, I was afraid of heights. It’s one of the reasons I choose to start climbing, to shove it in the face of my fear. To prove it wrong. I climbed in gorges, on mountains, up so high that birds were flying below me. But the fear didn’t fully go away. I thought it would. I thought once I had felt that happy at 4,000 feet in the air, I couldn’t possibly be afraid anymore. But I am. Fear doesn’t leave because you win. It’s not a vanquished enemy, sprawled on the ground. It’s an old wound, and the scar will still hurt. But we choose to fight on anyways.
You aren’t a part of me, but you’re there. And I’m scared you’ll come back, I’m scared you will enter my mind and stick, I’m scared I’ll wake up tomorrow and not recognize my world. I don’t want that fog. I refuse to live with it. Did you know who came back first, of those you pushed out? Anger. I clung to her, and when I feel you too close to me now I cling to her. Maybe I shouldn’t, maybe it makes me unlikeable. Unlovable. You’d like me to think that, wouldn’t you? But anger is more than nothing, and keeps me away from you. Anger makes me grit my teeth and go on. Makes me work every day to spit in your face. You can’t make me believe people don’t love me. You can’t make me believe I’m unlovable. I won’t let you.
But there are days that the thought of you makes me smile. Because I pushed you out. Because now, after you, the world is brighter than it used to be. You changed my life, I’ll give you that. I’ll be afraid of you for the rest of my life. But I’ll fight back, always. You’re not a part of me. You don’t define me, and you sure as hell don’t control me. It’s over. It ended almost a year and a half ago, on a mountaintop, when I looked at the stars and took them in to push you out. You tried to take away the music—well, I’ll be damned if you didn’t make it louder.
Image Credit: Gabrielle Ivanier