I wake up and I feel numb.
The bed sheets entangle me into a complicated web of exhaustion, pain, and misery. Thoughts come racing into my head so quickly it’s like I am still dreaming. Except I’m not. I am awake.
Anxiety surfaces like seaweed drifting along the milky white foam of ocean waves. I feel like I am drowning among the seashells and the oysters. My fingertips scan the water and I watch the salty ocean pass through each callous on my skin. And then my eyes take in the surroundings of my room, my bed, my creaky hardwood floors. I am back. Awake.
My mind takes me places sometimes to escape the reality. Sometimes the present is too much to bear.
My bones rattle in agony with any attempt at leaving my comforting sheets that encompass me in warmth. Safety. Fatigue overwhelms me.
The hardest part is finding motivation to face the day. One more day brings more problems. More questions that I can’t answer… swarming me like vultures in the desert. It’s dry and lonely in my bed today.
Who knew getting out of bed could be so hard?
I can’t seem to move or budge. The racing thoughts seem to slow down and take
shape into manageable sentences. Something I can make sense of.
But I can’t put them into words because I can’t interpret them. They make no sense. Language fails me.
Everyone around me is standing in the ocean like it’s a puddle to play in. But not me. It’s harder. I have to find something to hold onto in this sea called life. I cling to my imaginary umbrella until my knuckles bleed white
The covers overwhelm me in a rush like a tidal wave, jostling me into their grasp until I can no longer breath. My eyes are sealed shut by the weight of the salty hurricane pressing against my lids. I am done.
I surface for just a moment to gasp and take in my surroundings. The wave has passed. I am ready.
People do not see me. They see happiness with each gentle wave. I see the past: hues of purple and pain mixed with tears of agony. Strife. Heartbreak.
But I see another monstrosity, like that of a typhoon, coming to pummel me once more.
And I am back in the ocean. Drowning. Surfacing. Overcoming. Tumbling back into the under tow, grasping at the waves for help. Spinning and spiraling every which way until the sea shouts at my sorrows to seek refuge in the seaweed of my soul.
I find no relief.
Everyone around me is safely on the sand, while I slowly sink below the waters into a pit of dark blue.
In the darkness, I manage to open my perceptive scanners to see I am surrounded by pillows. Linens and blankets in the masses prod at me to submerge once again, but I need to fight.
Something distracts me in the distance. What is it? A beaming light blinds my peripherals, sending a shock wave through my body like that of a bolt of heat lightning when it skates across the horizon. Clarity. Lighting the path to freedom.
With every power I can muster, I press the palms of my hands firmly into the ocean floor, forcing every ounce of strength to pulse through my veins. I can do this.
I push upwards until I can start to see a glimmer of sunshine radiating through the current above me. Closer.
I breach the surface with an exhausted cough and I realize
I am standing
On the cold, hardwood floor.
With my sheets in my bed, tamed.
And my day can begin.
This poem was presented by the author on April 14, 2018, at James Madison University as a part of Sigma Tau Delta's Undergraduate Conference.