By: Rachel Sara Safer
Who are you? Why do you keep following me? Why do you continuously reach out when I’m clearly ignoring your existence? You don’t belong here with me. Our personalities clash. I’m a happy, go-with- the-flow type of person, and you’re constantly worried and tense. They say opposites attract, but why am I attracting you?
I remember our first encounter—it was quick and curt. Like brushing past a stranger on a busy New York City street. I never pictured us becoming part of each other. Why me? You’re like a bad case of lice that won’t go away. I feel you everywhere, but it’s so incredibly hard to see you. I feel like I can only fully see you when I close my eyes, but when they’re closed, all I see is a terrifying and empty darkness. Is that what you look like? Or am I being catfished?
People tell me I’m too young to have a relationship with you, so why do we have one? People constantly tell me that I need to have children, a house, or bigger burdens to feel your presence. They don’t believe that at the age of twenty two, your presence is all I feel. Did you purposely pick me so I’d look crazy and you’d feel powerful? Make me seem like I’m seeking attention when I’m simply seeking refuge?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you anymore, because you clearly aren’t getting the message. I DO NOT WANT YOU IN MY LIFE. I’ve tried so hard to end this toxic relationship, but you seem to be a part of me. It seems like I’ve ignored your presence for too long. I gave you time to plant your seeds and enroot yourself in me. How can we part ways peacefully? How can I stop being crippled at the sound of your voice? How can I stop hearing your jealous voice screaming in my ear when I’m trying to enjoy the presence of my husband, family and friends? How can I take back the power you have over my mind, my heart rate, and how fast I breathe?
I’ve danced you out time and time again, but here you are. Sitting across the room, glaring at me. I’ve written. I’ve sang my heart out in the car. I’ve learned breathing techniques. I’ve meditated. I’ve given myself countless of pep talks. With each attempt, I gain control of myself for just a few more seconds. Day by day, such slow progress, but I’ll take those few extra seconds any day. Then like a tidal wave, your presence comes crashing down in an attempt to wash away everything I’ve worked on. You show up at birthday dinners, simchas, school, car rides. Who keeps inviting you? Can’t you see you aren’t wanted? I don’t want to be friends. I don’t even want to be acquaintances! Can we go back to being strangers? To the time before you were lurking in the dark corners of my mind, while I denied you were there? The time before you knew I existed would be great!
I’m sick of feeling alone. I’m sick of you making me seem ‘crazy’ and ‘not normal’. I’m sick of hearing your voice telling me to panic over nothing. I’m sick of you bringing up the past and future. I’m sick of you controlling my present, causing me not to be present! I’m sick of you creeping up behind me, closing your hands tightly around my neck whenever I almost forget you exist. I’m sick of you making me suddenly feel like I’m dying when I finally smile—really smile! It’s exhausting, constantly fighting with you for control over my mind and body. Don’t be fooled, I’ll fight you until my very last day. I’ll exploit your tricks to everyone.
You told me to keep this blindfold over my eyes and stay quiet. You said it would protect me. I took it off for less than a second, and funnily enough, I realized I wasn’t alone. I was sitting beside so many familiar faces. I was sitting with people who would obviously be anxious, based on their life circumstances. I was sitting beside others whose causes of anxiety were more of a mystery. Still, I was sitting in a sea of people suffering, because like me, you’ve enrooted yourself in them too.
I tried to speak about you to the others, but every time I open my mouth, your limbs covered it; your voice silenced me. I realized that is where you get your strength from. If I stay quiet, if I succumb to the pressure of societal norms and go with the stigma, you swallow me whole. You will swallow all of us whole.
I don’t feel lonely anymore. I’m stronger because I figured out your weakness. I won’t stay silent and feed your strength a day longer. I will continue to talk to people—someone, anyone—about you. We’ve learned your techniques and tricks. Now we can see when you manipulate us and lie to us. I’m happy, because one day, I’ll be able to look back on the memory of you and laugh. We’ll conquer you. We’ll fight you. We’ll end you. Why? Because together, WE CAN overcome anything.
Your newest enemy,
Rachel Sara Safer