My Anxiety, at 5:55 pm (Work in Progress)
I can run
And I can run
And I can run
I can throw one foot in front of the other
(I’m actually pretty fast)
But my pounding heart keeps up with me
Every step of the way.
And everything gets gray at the edges
of my vision
and nothing makes me happy.
The whole world seems dead
and everything is mocking how scared I am.
When the laughter of my
two-year-old brother can’t make me smile
then I know I’m in trouble.
I sympathize with computers
because I keep running every possibility
through my head, over and over again
If I do anything but pretend I’m someone else
some person in my book or a TV show,
my heart starts to chase me again.
Every mistake, every fear
endless opportunities for tears
and I feel like a rape victim.
I can feel my own thoughts throwing me down
taking all the power and control away
they take, and take, and take what they want
and I try to fight back, to lash out
but I can’t outrun my own heart.
Every day I swell a little more
and my face breaks out
and I’m finally starting to look the way
I feel inside.
She hates you.
They hate you.
I hate you.
Eventually I accept the fact
that I’ll never get her back
that people who used to be my friends hate me
that everyone around me sees me the way I see myself
that there’s this truth
and I can see it in blue, green, and brown eyes
when they look at me.
He hasn’t changed; it’s all an act.
He’s not a real friend, he just wants something.
he’s not a real person
he’s a child, acting like an adult
nothing ever changes
he never changes.
He hasn’t changed.
He can’t change.
He will never change.
And I have
I know because some nights when I’m drunk
or when I try to give someone advice
about doing the right thing,
and they laugh in my face,
I will think about what I have done and cry
and my heart does a warm-up lap
it helps, the hot tears burn me like fire
like the burn of the whip on a
priest’s alabaster back
like the burn of chemicals entering the lungs
of a scared, naked boy from Poland
like the burn of the whiskey sliding
down the throat of
But when the pain from the whip-scars fades
and the impure thoughts come again
or when the goose-stepping soldiers
pick another child to be solved
or when my family pours another round
and toasts to cross-generational mistakes
or when my body stops shaking and
I can breathe,
my hearts crosses the finish line but keeps running.
There is no perfect solution here.
I just can’t make myself shut up.
“The only way to win is to love yourself,”
they tell me.
Therapists and mothers and very dear friends.
“Something’s not connecting in your brain,”
the woman who gave me life says.
“Your neurons just keep firing and firing
and aren’t connecting with anything.”
And I keep trying to run as fast as they are
but I’m in really bad shape.
Please tell me I’m okay.
Please tell me all this surprises you.
Please tell me to shut up.
I don’t like to talk about it
because I hate it so much
that I can’t imagine subjecting another person
to a glimpse of my average thought process.
But this is me
and my racing heart
and keys with letters clicking furiously
like my god-damned neurons
so here we go.
Great dinner here we are at dinner I’m glad to see my friends again I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve seen them since I was working on that paper studying for that test in rehearsal with my girlfriend and why don’t they seem happy to see me did I do something wrong are they upset that I haven’t been around did someone tell them something oh god I hope it’s nothing like no it probably isn’t I’m just being stupid but then again I could be wrong I don’t know let’s make a joke oh good everyone laughed I guess I’m okay.
So that’s what it’s like, and it’s quick
if I wasn’t so used to it I probably wouldn’t notice
but I’ve heard it so often I know it by heart
like a Four Tops song.
I hope you don’t feel guilty
because that isn’t the point
and no matter how many eggshells you
break with your bare feet
I’m always going to be this way.
On the other hand,
I think everyone’s smile
is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.