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Escaping the Monster That is Me

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Sitting up late Friday night I hugged my knees with my head in my arms. No one knew what was happening behind the closed door of my room. No one knew what was happening behind the closed door of my mind. I couldn’t explain these ‘episodes’ that plagued me so often, these violent attacks on my mind and body. I waited hours into the night until the early light of dawn stretched through my window. It was five in the morning. I finally realized nothing would happen so I tried to catch an hour’s sleep before it was time to get up for the day.
Exactly sixty-three minutes later, my brother burst into my room and dumped a cup of ice-cold water on my head, giggling as he hurried out before I could respond. I sat up quickly and revisited last night’s non-existent events. If it didn’t happen yesterday then it would surely happen today, I concluded with a half-restrained cry. Warm tears now mixed with the cold water that still ran from my hair down my cheeks. There was only one way to get through the day- to abandon reality. As sick as I was of ‘living’ this life of fear and dread, it was the only one I knew. I put on my emotional mask and shut down my mind. Now I could feel nothing, not fear, not pain, not joy- nothing. Quickly, I dressed and began my daily routine of going through the motions. “Good morning mom” I said flatly as I passed her in the hallway. I didn’t bother to slow down or say anything more, not wanting to risk having a conversation. I knew that today I was severely unstable and anything could make me crumble. “Oh, good morning dear- happy birthday!” my mother said. I could hear the hopefulness in her voice.

“Thanks mom” –was it really September already? How old am I now? I wondered. I sighed; it wasn’t worth turning on my mind to think about. In the kitchen there were decorations and a presents everywhere. “Happy birthday Melissa!” my younger brothers and sisters yelled. I mustered all my strength and pasted a pathetic excuse for a smile on my face. “Thanks guys, it’s nice” I said through the painful smile. Unable to maintain the artificial joy I wasn’t feeling, I stated in a deflated tone “Oh I’m almost late for my morning jog” and walked out the door.
Once outside I bolted down the street before realizing I had forgotten my phone. Running was how I usually released my frustrations but lately I hadn’t had the opportunity and the stress had really built up; so today I ran farther than usual. I ran through the park, over the railroad tracks, and past the city border. I ran more than I had ever run before. The wind at my back gave me a sense of freedom that I didn’t want to end no matter the cost. I barely saw the twenty-five mile marker on the trail as I barreled on. A few miles later the path ended. My body screamed for rest but I wouldn’t stop, I couldn’t stop. The dryness of my mouth, sharp pains in my calves, and exhaustion from staying up all night threatened to slow me down but I kept on. I became aware of intense feelings of hysteria beginning to arise as my body panicked from the overexertion. There was a five lane road up ahead but I paid no heed and ran full speed toward the street. I suppose one could have called it a semi-intentional suicide attempt as I plunged into the traffic. The turbulence from the passing cars almost knocked me over but I stayed on my feet. After barely getting across, I finally slowed and rested at a vacant bus stop.
My body hurt so badly I was shaking violently and all my muscles locked up. I had no idea where I was or what time it was. The trauma my brain was in began to wake up the emotions I had shut off earlier. The physical and emotional pains were so strong; my head was pounding, my legs were throbbing. I immediately began vomiting continuously until there was nothing left to throw up except stomach acids. My tears tasted sweet compared to the lingering bile in my mouth. Somewhere in the back of my mind, through my dazed state, I knew I had to pull myself together so I won’t be late heading home. I sat still on the curb for a few minutes, and then shakily attempted to stand. My stomach lurched as the sky turned red then black. I woke up lying face down on the concrete and I had a long gash down my leg from the fall. I figured I wasn’t out long because the blood was still fresh. Not knowing what else to do, limping, I began the long walk home.
It wasn’t long before I realized the cut was worse than I thought it was and I wouldn’t be able to walk home. I struggled to remember my mom’s phone number as I stood at a payphone. “Hey mom” I said tiredly. “Melissa! Where have you been? You’ve missed half of your birthday; your sister’s been waiting for you for hours.” My mom exclaimed.
“Sorry” I mumbled. “Well…….” my mom said expectantly.
“Well what? Oh! I lost track of time.” I said after realizing she wanted an excuse. “Listen mom, I’m pretty far from the house and I scraped my knee so can you come pick me up?”
I could hear my mom sigh on the other end of the phone “sure, where are you?”
“On some street called Cherroille Road and that’s all I know”
“Ok see you then” and my mom hung up.
Almost thirty minutes later my mom pulled up. “Thanks mom” I said as I got in. I turned my face to the window so she couldn’t see how bad I looked. As usual, I offered no conversation but oddly neither did she. When we pulled up to the house, before I could get out, my mom started “Wait Melissa, I don’t know what your problem is but you need to get over it now. Just pull yourself together and go celebrate your birthday with your brothers and sisters so they can enjoy it. No hiding in your room all day”
“But it’s my birthday so shouldn’t I be the one enjoying it?” I asked in an even tone.
“Haven’t you realized that you don’t seem to enjoy much of anything anyways?” my mom retorted. She had me beat. Too tired to argue, I just nodded listlessly and got out of the car. Before I went inside I pulled my hair in my face. I opened my presents and pretended to care what they were while ignoring the sharp glances from my mother. Twenty minutes later I snuck off to my room. I fell face-down on my bed and screamed into my pillow. I put in my headphones and cranked the music as loud as it could go trying to drown out the sounds of reality by drifting into this world of heavy metal. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up hours later in the dark. It was eight-thirty and someone had brought up all of my gifts. I half-heartedly began to go through them but could feel nothing when I found that I had received a new iPod. I hated feeling like this- having no energy, always in pain, alive physically and dead emotionally, all while the world moved on without me. I debated on whether to wait out the oncoming attack tonight again or not but decided against it on the grounds that I really couldn’t handle another sleepless night. Before I went to sleep for the night I silently prayed this attack would only be mild.
It was about three in the morning when it began, a slight pang in the back of my right hand woke me up. I sat up quickly and held my hand out in front of me. I watched as it slowly began to twist on its own. I could feel my bones moving with it. First my thumb turned up and seemed to become engulfed by my palm. Then my index finger curled in an unnatural way making me scream in pain. I hastily stuffed a sock into my mouth and bit down. Then my middle finger tangled with the next and knotted with it. I heard a snap as one of the bones in my middle finger was wrenched from its position during the process. My pinkie finger bent to make a perfect ‘c’ and froze in place as if becoming a permanent position. Finally I watched the bones in the back of my hand shift to meet the new arrangement. My hand was now gnarled and deformed with part of my thumb disappeared. For a moment I was so amazed and scared at the sight I almost forgot about the pain. But all at once the excruciating sensation of having my fingers rearranged threatened to undermine my whole conscience. Before my hand could move again, I shoved it under my pillow. I was terrified, terrified of my own hand, or what was left of it. I didn’t know what kind of powers inflicted me with this or why it only occurred at specific times. I felt like a one girl freak-show. I rocked and tried to comfort myself as I sat on my bed. I dared to consider what could have been causing these episodes but my mind was still in a sort of stage of shock. Someone, something, or maybe even my own mind was controlling me. All I knew was I had to escape- now.
The next morning my mom came into my room to see what was taking me so long to get ready for church. She stopped dead in her tracks in the doorway. Her eyes grew wide with horror as her grip tightened on my doorknob. All she could see was red. Red everywhere- all over the walls, floor, and ceiling. My mom screamed and seconds later my dad rushed in to see what was wrong. The sight that greeted him was one that told the story of the years of pain a fifteen-year-old girl suffered on her own while he and everyone else lived in oblivion. In what appeared to be blood, the words “leave me alone, why is death so familiar?, go away, no one cares, and what is life?” were scratched out on the walls. All the pictures that had been resting on the dresser, the faces on those had now been impaled with blunt-end black scissors. A knife was protruding vertically from the pillow on the still-made bed and there was a thin trail of blood leading to the bedroom window. I was nowhere in sight.
My mother was never quite the same after that. She always kept a close eye on my other siblings and took them to see the psychologist regularly. She never spoke and never smiled. Sometimes I feel bad for putting her through that and other times I feel like she should have known. My dad has never stopped looking for me; he’s searched in every town on this side of the country. Some say he still searches for me so he can find out what went wrong, while others believe he hates that I‘d left like that. I don’t really know why I snapped so bad that night, all I know is I’m never going back. I’m not normal so I’m not going to pretend anymore. This time there’s no escaping the monster that is me.

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