shadow.

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I form friendships on the rare occurrences in which I feel like a real person. The planets, my hormones, my scoliotic spine and the chemicals in my brain must align just right. And for a few precious hours I somehow feel able to connect. I wonder to myself why this is usually such a chore for me, this connection. I feel like a born natural.

There is a brief period of carefree fun. Like summertime, only before you had to get a job. A sort of honeymoon phase. But I’m walking on egg shells the entire time, wondering if you really want to be here. If you’re actually enjoying yourself. If there’s someone else you might be having more fun with. Then answering, Yes, of course there is. Who isn’t more fun than me?

And it all starts to unravel from there, this temporary state of lucidity.

Slowly, gradually, I sink back into my default state of paralysis, of self-doubt, of shutting down. Because I know it’s only a matter of time, that eventually, you’ll see it – This failure to connect. This irregularity beneath the surface that’s sure to flare up again any moment now, like an undesirable skin condition.  I begin piecing back together my defensive armor, throwing out my well-worn disclaimers like weapons, “You don’t understand. That time you met me? That was a fluke, an anomaly compared to the rest of my existence. I’m not really enjoyable to be around. I don’t actually like doing things. All I can safely guarantee is my absence and my silence and you wondering what happened to that girl you shared some laughs with until, eventually, you stop wondering altogether. And maybe I’ll be sad. But I’ll tell myself it’s for the better because then we’ll both be off the hook. No obligation. Trust me. It’s better this way. Trust me. I should know.” 

And you’re going to think it’s because I don’t care, or because I’m mad about something, or disapprove of you somehow. What else could you possibly think? I’ve given you nothing else to work with. I can assure you that this isn’t the case, that there is an alternative answer for my erratic behavior, but I can’t explain it.

How could I ever explain to you that there is this other version of myself who I find disturbing and relentless? I can’t explain why she considers going out to dinner on a busy weekend her own personal nightmare. I couldn’t tell you why theme parks fill her with dread or why she’d rather shave her head than take a spontaneous road trip to Vegas.

I can’t account for her lack of motivation at work, for her inability to pay attention in meetings. I could not begin to tell you why she sees her bed as a cocoon from which she can never remove herself in order to do anything productive or of worth. I cannot explain her inability to come up with a response to the numerous unanswered messages in her inbox. I don’t know why sometimes the thought of answering a phone positively inundates her will to live. I couldn’t tell you why she acts so unusual when you’re just trying to make conversation. I can’t explain why she so often forgets appointments. I don’t know why she is unable to shut up the self-debilitating monologue in her head, “You aren’t capable. You can’t do a single thing.” 

And I don’t know why I can’t outrun her. But, honestly, none of this would bother me if I only knew where I end and she begins.

All I can say is she is me, the majority of the time. And that I’m sorry she hasn’t been better to you.

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