I sat at the desk with all my research around me. My fingers itched and my mind raced.
I had carved out a bit of time and was looking to use it to my best advantage. I wanted to do something I could be proud of. Mentally I checked in with all the outside forces that could pull me away from my task. Everything was in order – or as much in order as was necessary – and I took a deep breath.
I was safe. I was happy. I had made it.
The bed behind me beckoned a bit, trying to coerce me back to its warm obliviousness, but I was only slightly tempted and refocused myself.
I didn’t have a clue where to begin, but I was about to find out where the beginning was. It was right here. This is how it started. And I smiled, inspired by that knowledge.
My moment of excited contentment was as brief as it was satisfying.
A stirring in the corner caught my attention at the very last second. My stomach clenched and dropped immediately.
“Dammit! I had been so very close this time,” was the only thought I had time for before I heard the laugh I already knew was coming. It was cruel and heartless… and familiar.
“Hmmmmm… Just what exactly do you think you are doing?” she asked.
I didn’t answer. I was not allowed to speak.
She stood up in the corner. She was much taller and stronger than me. She was much more beautiful, as well… but in a leering, jeering way. I had a hard time looking up at her. She was terrifying. She spoke only truth, but her eyes flashed with sinister intent. She knew her job and she was good at it.
“Remember!” she said.
Oh, I did. I never forgot. Not really. I had just been doing a decent job of ignoring it all lately.
“Getting a bit big for those britches, aren’t we? Starting to believe some of those lies you tell others? Starting to think you have something worthwhile to say?? Forgetting is what you are doing. We both know I am always right and no one else matters. Here, darling, let’s remember exactly who and what you are, shall we?”
Her contempt was palpable – and, oh, so bitter to taste. I felt I would choke on it.
My faced burned with humiliation and embarrassment. I bowed my head, but pleading and explaining would be useless… not that I wouldn’t try before it was over, though. I sank to the floor in a puddle of self-loathing.
She smiled a beautiful, horrible smile and, at her bidding, the memories play out in front of me, each more painful than the last.
She was at my side forcing my attention… taunting and crooning… her voice almost sweet:
“That is what you are really like (screaming and drama)… That is what your true character is (lying and cheating)…. That is just how smart you are (failing and losing).” She said, following along with the ghostlike images playing before me. “This is why you cannot forget (mother). This is how well you manage (daughter). You cannot ever hide it (the ER). You stink of it (the men). I am always watching (the psych ward). I will always be here to remind you (countless therapists). There is no escape (the jail cell).”
I suppose she believes she is doing me a favor by keeping me in check. And if you could see the failures, sins and wrongs she shows, you may very well agree with her. Certainly I do by the time she is done. She gives proof to validate every doubt and fear I have ever had.
And, as always, she reminds me that only she knows me. And if there ever were anyone else who really knew me they would see me the same way she does – pathetic, stupid, manipulative, unworthy. There is nothing I can do about it. There is no running from it and no redemption is possible. She will always be there to judge and punish.
Ah, she is enjoying herself now and there is no stopping her.
Any feeble attempts to defend myself or protest her harshness are immediately slapped down. There is no defense. Haven’t I learned anything from her? It doesn’t matter what others have done or if they have done worse. My crimes are not to be weighed against anything outside or against anyone else’s. Others are not her concern. No repentance matters and no absolution will be given. Atonement is impossible and she revels in my damnation.
Once she is sure I am stripped down and firmly back in my place, she loses some of her edge. A bit of spite is replaced by pity. She almost seems to care about me. A part of me thinks this is worse, but most of me doesn’t give a damn anymore.
Just let it be done and over. I look longingly at the bed in the corner, my earlier excitement and contentment utterly forgotten. I will do as she says and forget my ambitions. I knew I would as soon as I heard the slightest sound from her. They were silly anyway and easily abandoned again.
Finally, after what seems like forever, I am allowed to take what she gives me and crawl into the bed. I am too tired to cry. I am too empty to feel.
Her work complete, she whispers a final warning and promise, strokes my hair and retires out of my consciousness as I happily sink into glorious oblivion.
Her grin fades like the Cheshire cat’s, but even in my unsettled sleep I know she is there waiting… and I shiver. She will be back. It is the one thing I am sure of.; it is the one thing I know…then, blissfully, there is nothing else.