After the 13th time I sat in my carshaking like a thunder cloud
waiting for the storm to pass
I thought maybe this whole
“being around other people” thing
might be just too overrated
when I can’t even move my mouth
to say hello.
I practice my breathing exercises
Calming the voices in my head
the ones that shout insults
before I step into the crowded room
“Everyone hates you”
“Stay in bed”
I know it doesn’t make any sense
I’ve been performing in front of people
for half of my life
but the performance
and the person on stage
are not one and the same
Acting is something
The tool box I carry with me
is a purse that is filled with various
I carry psychology techniques
the way some girls carry lipstick shades
If you want to know how to “relax”
I’ll start telling you alphabetically
Feel your lungs expand full
Push the air out
Anxiety causes the body
Oxygen causes your cells to relax
started in my childhood
I was “that kid” no one wanted to play with
And I still think I’m not worthy of taking my turn
on the swing.
A typical adult day
starts in the morning
it is a drop
in the quiet
the thought that keeps me awake
I am trying to avoid
Avoid the physical sensations
that come with a body.
The sounds and the pain
and the movement
the desire to stay
I write emails to close friends. Explain why I haven’t talked to them in 8 months.
Explain it had nothing to do with them.
Explain how much I miss them.
Re-read what I wrote.
17 more times and dissect every possible way they could interpret the message.
Do I sound too:
“No one likes you”
“No one will ever like you”
Move to a new town
Dye my hair
Pretend I am someone worth knowing
Write 3 more drafts of that email then decide not to send it
I sit alone on the couch. In the dark.
Cover all the windows.
Watch my favorite movies. Laugh.
Wonder if my laughter even counts if I’m the only one who hears it.
Drink too much wine at the party
Pretending to be someone else
In the fog
Give out my phone number
Ignore phone calls. Promise myself to call them back.
I want to call them back.
Sit in the back of the classroom.
When someone acknowledges me
I try to be polite as possible
Never knowing if I’m entertaining enough
To keep the conversation going.
Go buy food. Use the robot. Try not to make eye contact. Blend in. Be invisible.
I want to be seen
But not rejected
I want to be loved
But never left
I am waiting to abandon
Or be abandoned
I Regret every word that falls from my mouth like a drunken mistake and second guess everything I say
Make stages the place where I can be honest
When I can’t be honest with myself
Always Breathe Cyclically
Let the storm pass
It always does