Doubtful Heart

Mikaela Law

© Copyright 2018 by Mikaela Law

Photo of a water lily bud.

I am not me. It takes a long time to find yourself, sometimes I wonder if some people ever find themselves. For a while, I had thought I knew exactly who I was, who I wanted to be, and I thought it was easily attainable. That's not how it goes at all. One day I thought I knew who I was, and the next I realized there wasn't one true thing I could tell you about me. I had become who I thought I was, who I thought I needed to be. I was not me. I am still not me. But I'm trying to find her. I think if I want to find myself, I first would have to figure out who I was, who Iím becoming.

I am a settler. I always had people who loved me, I always had a hand to hold, arms to fall into. But I wasn't supposed to. I was supposed to stand tall, stay strong, and embrace the world with everything I could. I was taught to be tough, but that made me even more weak. You weren't supposed to be sad, there were too many people all around the world who had it much worse than you. You werent starving, as my mom would say, children in Africa are starving. I had always known that I was fortunate, I always was thankful for what I had. You have what you have and that's it. That's how I was taught to settle, with anything. I was a settler, I never did what I wanted to do because I was supposed to settle with what I had. I wasn't supposed to ask for more or complain about less, I was to accept the bare minimum, no matter how much I actually needed. It's a poor way to live. I couldn't realize that for the longest time.

I am a fixer, I know what sadness is and feel it as if itís my own. Since I was born, my aunt had been sick. I was always being told that she was ďwasnít feeling wellĒ, but never knew to what extent. Then I started to learn, I started to notice. Her thin skin stretched too far over her bones, her eyes sunk too deep into the pit of her skull, and her voice slowly began to lose its tone. I was looking at the walking dead, and I know that's how she felt, like a soul bouncing around inside her body, trying to get out. I started to learn more and more. I started to notice that the family would whisper about her, shame her for being this way and not trying to fix herself. But they didn't understand, even I knew that. They didnt know how hard it was for her to get up in the morning and muster up enough energy to say hello. They didn't know that she constantly felt like she had to hold a boulder above her head in order to stand up. They didn't understand, not in the way I did. I knew how to help. I knew that she needed someone to be with her when there were big crowds because she would get so anxious she couldnít breathe, or that when someone offered her food she would immediately shake. They didn't know that, they just settled with what she was, and not what she could be.

By the time I was 15 she had been to rehab 3 times for her eating disorder. I had only ever visited her once, and I couldn't forget it. She had lived in a house, an hour or so away, with a few other women struggling with what she was facing. She told me that for breakfast she would drink liquid meals in hopes of bringing up her caloric intake, but it hadn't seemed to be working. In her room were pictures of her son, smiling and laughing, reminding her of something good. She had said that his face is what got her up in the morning, I guess he made the boulder a little lighter. It was a hard thing to face  that if it weren't for him, she would've been dead a long time ago. She showed me her jeans that she had gotten from Justice, they were size 13 from the little girls section. She was much smaller than me at that time, and I was only 12.

I am an idealist. It's a hard realization to find out that the world isn't filled to the brim with hot chocolate and marshmallows; it's more like vodka and a mixer. Instead of warm gooey lava easing into your stomach, its harsh cold alcohol that burns your throat and sends a chill through your bones. Life smacks you in the face and doesn't stick around to tell you why. When the best friend of my mom's oldest sister was shot in the face by her own boyfriend, I realized that there was something to be scared of. The world was cruel, it had no reasoning. My innocent childhood was over when I came home from school to hear my mother and her sisters screaming in sadness against the hot night. They were all cuddled up in bed, trying to hold onto each other as tight as they could to make sure the other didn't break. I heard their pain, saw it, felt it. My heart was caving in. The only thing I could do was walk over and place a hand on them. They all, in unison, grabbed me tightly and held on for dear life. I think they were hoping I never had to feel a pain like that, and they found peace in knowing I was so young, and still had so much life left to live. What they didn't realize was that the honeymoon phase of my life was over, and the real s*** was about to happen.

I am not one to judge. I knew that who you are on the outside is not who you are on the inside. Judgement wasnít anything I was used to. I was never judged, I was normal. And I could never judge, I had always believed there are two sides to every story, two faces to every person. The person you see isnít always the person you are. I had learned this from my uncle, who had gone to prison for a part of my childhood, but when he came out the other side, he was a different man, a better man. He was the man we all knew he could be. He came out a tall, well-built brute with tattoos crawling up and down his body. His voice was deep and harsh; just one word and he could silent any room, but he used it gently. If you were walking down the sidewalk and saw my uncle, you would want to cross to the other side and quickly glide the rest of the way home. But his heart is much more than a scary man walking in the night. His heart is filled with so much life itís almost hard for him to bear. When his mother passed away in 2016, that heart full of life was thrown against a wall and ended up painting the whole room red. When hearing the news, a crack formed in everyoneís hearts, for him. My whole family took a part of themselves and gave it to him in hopes of healing his forever broken spirit. It didnít work in the way we hoped; we didnít realize the only person who could fix him was her. The funeral was the first time I had ever seen him cry. His face turned lazer red as he coughed out heavy words filled with sorrow and bile. He stood in front of everyone who had ever loved his mother and tried to explain how is love was the greatest. As I watched him cry, I felt the same pain that he was feeling in his chest; I felt  my ribs inverting towards my heart, as if trying to puncture it. The silence that came after he sat down was one I would always remember.

I am not my body. Itís not always right to trust your body, or your mind. Reality and fantasy can easily be mixed up when your mind and body are battling against each other.  I had always thought that if your body is feeling sick, then itís because youíre sick, or if you feel like somethingís wrong, something is probably wrong. That isnít always the case. I had to learn that my gut feeling wasnít always right, my gut feeling used my body as a vessel to carry out its master plan of dragging me through its life, and not letting me live my own. If you get a bad feeling about a place, youíll usually leave. But I started getting bad feelings about the simplest things, like which road I wanted to take or going out with my friends. I started to become scared of everything, to listen to the gut feeling of something is wrong, even though something was most definitely not wrong. It felt like someone had strings attached to my arms and legs and were making me do things that I really didnít want to do. That is anxiety. Your body is doing things your heart doesnít want to do and your mind is thinking things that your heart canít handle. You make up situations in your head that wouldnít of been there if you hadnít thought of them, if you hadnít sat there, frozen in fear that your thoughts were going to come to life. And now youíre in a bad situation all because your body told you that you needed to be worried, told you that your heart needed to start beating a little faster and your hands should shake a bit harder, but in reality you didnít have to be worried at all. Anxiety is the tricky fox that runs circles around your feet. It leads you down a path that you donít trust, but feel like you need to. Anxiety is never feeling comfortable in your decisions.

I am anxious. Someone I know someone who had once said that anxiety feels like swimming up to the surface of water, misjudging how close you are, and having to last another few seconds holding in a breath when you thought you were so close to being able to breathe. My anxiety is much different. It feels as if someone is pushing me around in every direction, as if Iím in the middle of a football huddle and all of the hard-padded boys are shoving me around in the circle. I feel as if Iím trapped within myself and Iím looking out on a world that is controlling me. My anxiety is watching my life being lived by someone I donít know. Itís hard feeling as if you are always wrong, as if any decision you make can be second guessed by an outside party, but that outside party is yourself. I canít make my own decisions without asking for help first, I canít stand by my word and feel strong and certain about the things I say or do. I canít be myself when I donít know who I am. I canít think for myself when I donít know if itís actually me thinking, or the other person in my head doubting everything I do. My anxiety has made it hard for me to believe anything about myself, what I feel, what I do. I cannot do anything without first doubting myself. Without first thinking of anything else that I could think of, of every side of my own feelings, of my own story. Itís as if Iím fighting with myself to win an argument that I didnít even start. I am constantly wondering if what Iím doing is right, because I was raised to never be wrong. If you make a mistake, you will suffer. You will pay for what you did and you will endure the pain that you couldíve prevented if you hadnít made that mistake. Therefore, I am constantly walking on eggshells trying my absolute hardest not to mess up, because if I do, itís over.

I am passionate. I like to think that I feel the same emotions as everyone else, but I feel them a little bit more. I donít ever have surface feelings, Iím never slightly sad, or a little bit angry. I am sobbing and screaming. I am telling the world how cruel it is for making me feel this way. I am never just content, or at peace, I am always feeling something, and it is absolutely exhausting. My passion runs all through my blood, it is a part of me and always will be. It shows up in the funniest of ways; it roars when I read a book front to back in mere hours, making me want to write something as gorgeous and as bold as the words that are stuck to each page I devour. In that moment I really do believe I could be a writer, that I could finally fill the paper with something that is worth reading. Thatís what I passionate about; writing something that is worth reading. I want to be able to make a difference in a life.

My passion embeds itself into people. All people. Whenever I see a homeless man on the street begging for money, I feel the need to give them anything I had. And if I donít, the thought sticks to the back of my mind for the rest of the day, a guilt that never resides. If your heart is aching, so is mine. I will give up any part of myself that I need to in order to fix someone else. I feel what others feel, put myself in their position and feel their pain; so when I say I understand, I mean it. Passion is described as a strong and barely controllable emotion, which fits perfectly with my being. Nearly everything in my life is barely controllable, so no wonder the only feeling I have is running loose as well.

I am who I am. There are many things about myself that I still do not understand, that I still wonder about each and every day. There are still so many thoughts in my head that I cannot lay out on paper, that I cannot even begin to try to form into words. There are few things that I do know. I am a settler, a fixer, an idealist, not one to judge, an anxious mind, I canít trust my body, but I should trust my passion. The unanswered questions that bounce around in my head still feel like an itch I canít reach, a fly that wonít leave me alone. I hope that one day I will be able to scratch that itch and kill that fly.  I donít know who I am, but there are parts of myself that I finally understand, that I can finally accept and grow into. But there are many parts that Iím running away from, parts that I donít know if I can fix. I want to understand more about myself each and every day. I never realized how much there is to learn about yourself until this past year, I never knew how important it was to know yourself in order to know others. I am not going to settle with what I am, I will settle with who I can be. But when you donít know yourself, the only thing youíre doing is living blindly. I am tired of living blindly.

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