It’s like being encircled by skyscrapers as they simultaneously crumble to the ground. What strength do you have to stop them, to avoid the dust filling your lungs, or to avoid the fear of being crushed?
I’ve just hit the last year of my 20’s and it’s been a decade that was nothing like I’d wished, hoped or worked for. It’s been a decade that has so often left me feeling weak, pathetic and alone. A decade that has been underlined by a dread of waking up again.
Panic ruled my days, but panic over nothing in particular. Leaving me to attempt to “guess” its cause. Slowly, I eliminated everything that brought meaning to my life. In a desperate attempt, a desperate hope, that fresh air might be found. But no one thing held the fear. I didn’t want a mental illness, I wanted to be strong, to love, to live.
Everything that was meant to make my 20’s great, made them dark. I had no direction, no purpose and all because a fear injected panic pierced my brain and seeped into every limb and organ. I didn’t feel excitement or desire, love or compassion. I felt black and desperately wanted light. I dropped to my knees time and time again, literally begging God to give me life and peace, or to take me in the night.
I’d grown up believing in waiting till marriage for sex, believing it would make it better, increase connection. That I would love one woman generously and passionately. But I couldn’t love at all, I couldn’t escape my constricted mind. It was like a ratchet strap was wrapped around my brain and continued to be tightened click by click. At every attempt of a relationship, affection and desire were stolen away with fear. I wanted to find one person and love them for life. Yet I couldn’t love for a day without gasping for air.
Desire and affection could exist for a moment. They could rise above the fog briefly, but this only made it worse, destined to be stripped away.
In later years I’ve learnt to allow life to be different. To allow sex to play a different role than I’d once thought. To allow it to play a role at all. I’ve managed enjoyable and respectful experiences. In all cases, the women I have been with have been sensitive and caring, even when I have panicked afterwards or been consumed with fear and guilt. How strange it has been to find echoes of life in moments I once thought disgraceful.
Slowly, I’ve exposed myself to life, not to the life I’d imagined, but the one in front of me. Allowing my world to be vastly different than envisioned. The fear subsiding just a little more when I don’t run, but face it.
My 20’s have been hard, I don’t expect my 9th and final year in them will be any different. All I can do, is to try and continue to find the courage to face the world. To find life in the struggle to manage better.