My brain itches. I give in at the end of a long day. Tired. Bored. Ready for a numbing peace. But it itches. Even as I tap into a deep well of long-forgotten courage and adventure, the surface is just numb. 

It’s not that I don’t want to feel. I think. It’s that maybe I’m afraid that I’ll realize through all this courage, I’ve unleashed a terror from deep within as well. So instead of confronting it, I worry and fixate and plan and make lists. All safely cerebral. Or I numb out and cease to think at all, read trash that won’t evoke any true emotion, avoid journaling, avoid anything that forces my body and my mind and my emotions to collide. 

My god! It would be so cathartic. I yearn for that release. Even as I’m too afraid to tune into myself. So instead, I itch. I remain increasingly restless. I wander the beach, drive the back roads, stop at a vista that should move me – and feel the smallest flint-made spark – soon put out by the barest whisper of a breath.

Photo by Rebe Pascual on Unsplash
Image of rocky, sandy beach with water in background and woman staring pensively into the distance (no, it’s not me)

And as the days and weeks pass in this state, I bloat like a dead thing with too much air that cannot escape. My emotions ballooning under the surface of my itchy skin. I can either scratch at it until it bleeds a little and releases some small amount of pressure. Or I can wait until I pop and hope that it’s not as gory and uncontrollable as it feels it could be. 

Just this much introspection makes my eyes hot, sting from the salt of my eyes filling with unshed tears. A drop or two roll down my cheek. A sniffle. An exhale not of a deep cleansing breath, but just the excess air from the sniff. There is no catharsis to an exhale that was an accident.

In my more desperate moments, I’ve taken a stab at writing a few poems. The structure makes them less scary to me. I used to write all kinds of things all the time. Even in fiction, while that’s a story about someone else, to write it well, I’d try and tap into a character’s feelings. So I’d feel with them, for them in their narrative. My poetry has always been a little more desperate. 

I want to say that it’s not even that I’m sad. I’m getting almost everything I dreamed of from this experience. Or I’m about to. And I’m so grateful, genuinely. To be anything less than bursting with joy seems wrong. And yet. (I did, in fact, get that house — or I’m working on it, but I should.)

I think it’s because I’m so conflicted right now, maybe? I’m ecstatic to have done it – to have had the courage to leave it all behind, choose a new place and be here. How many people who’ve almost dedicated their entire adult life to playing it safe actually do that? So I’m brave, I’m courageous, in some moments even proud. But I’m in a rented room. I’m away from my beloved cozy and safe house where I could dance in the candlelight all hours of the night. I’m away from easy access to in person human connection with people I know. I miss my candlesticks. I miss my kitchen. I miss my art. I miss my comfortable bed and couch. I miss being able to wander my garden and see what’s blooming. I miss familiarity – to crave a soup and make it or know where to go to get the best soup for take out.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash
Image of streaming soup bowl on a stove lit in the sunlight with a window in the background in neutral colors

Of course I’ll find all of that here. Definitely. But for now, my creature comforts are missing. I’ve couraged until my courage is nearly run dry. And I’m so. Tired. So very damned tired. But I’ll wake up one of these days and have some energy. Or maybe I’ll find it as I’ve done most evenings on my new beach – you can’t not feel the cold wind whipping across your face, smelling the briney air and hearing the thunder of the waves breaking. This is part of making that lemonade I mentioned last time.

Image of wooden planked bridge going to sandy beach with small waves and a scrubby little island

So I’ll keep waiting and push myself out. And go to sleep early. And do it again until I feel better connected or like connecting isn’t so scary. And I’ll remember that I sat down to write this, afraid, unwilling to feel anything hard. And I’ve sat here since I said my eyes stung and had wet cheeks and more sniffles and maybe one or two deliberate, real cathartic exhales. Baby steps.

I’m still itchy. And that’s ok.

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