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I wake up in a cold sweat. I bolt upright, breathing heavy. Another nightmare. Another sleepless night. I want to cry. I wish that anxiety didn't exist. It’s the reason I’m failing in school. The reason I have no self confidence. The reason that I am full of unnecessary, unreasonable fear. I can’t even style my own hair without second guessing myself and worrying about the whole time. People always say to me, “You have such beautiful, long hair. Why don’t you ever do anything with it?” Anxiety. Anxiety is the reason. Anxiety controls my whole life. It’s like being in prison. I can’t escape and the more I try the more trapped I become. I will never be free and that’s all I want and ever will want. I just want to be free.
I turn my head to check the time. 3:00am. Great only two hours until it would be ringing to wake me up for school. Yep 5:00am for school. The place where it’s required to get a good night sleep in order to keep your head off the desk the following day. Maybe I just won’t go tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just stay home. I just wish everything would go away. I wish I could just close my eyes and never wake up. That would be nice.
I groan and fall back into my mattress. I try to focus on falling back asleep, but I can’t. Thousands of thoughts swirl through my mind. The more I try to suppress them, the more they fill my mind again. “You’re fat.” “You’re ugly.” “This is why you don’t have any friends.” “Maybe you should just kill yourself.” I sigh. I want to cry. Maybe the things people say are true. Maybe I should just end it all. Everything would be over. I would finally be free.
I slowly remove myself from the comfort of my bed. My feet touch the cold wooden floor and I shiver slightly. I make my way across the room as quietly as possible. I reach the window. I part the curtains and reach for the latch to unlock the window. Click. I slowly lift the window just enough for me to fit through. I look out into the sparkling black sky. God has created a beautiful world. Why must I be a part of it. I stick my head out the window and feel the cool spring breeze brush against my face. I climb onto the window sill and stand there feeling the breeze flow through my long hair. I step onto the roof and walk to the edge. I look over the edge at the the ground . Wow three stories seems a lot higher when you’re up here. ‘Should I do it?’ ‘Will anybody care?’ Whatever. I jump. I feel myself falling, falling. I close my eyes. I hit the ground, but I’m dead before I feel any pain. I’m free.
I wake up but this time not in a bed but in a tent. No wait it’s a teepee. I am in a Native American teepee. I can smell the smoke from the campfire outside. I can hear people talking but I can’t understand them. They are speaking some native language that I don’t understand. I look around the small teepee and see not much of anything. I am lying on an animal skin pelt with nothing else but a tan dress with some embroidery and colorful beads. My long bown hair is now black and in long braids. I sit up and see a large feathered headdress. Is my father the chief? I wonder.
I am scared to leave the teepee, so I sit and wait for somebody to come in. I sit for hours and then a large indian man comes into the teepee. He smiles down at me and says something, but I can't understand. So I stare at him with a blank expression. He looks at me confused and says something to me, but again it’s incomprehensible to me. He seems to be getting angry. He stomps his foot into floor with anger I become even more scared. Why must I be so scared of the smallest things. Curse this anxiety. He now is yelling and I scooch backwards away from him, but he steps towards me. I want to scream and cry, but I’m too scared to. I scooch all the back until I hit the wall. He stands over me and I can hear his breathing, smell the alcohol on his breath. I can feel his hot booze soaked breath hit my face. I can practically see the steam coming from his ears now. Why can’t I just scream out and call for help? Why does anxiety make me helpless? I hate this. He leans down and whispers another incomprehensible sentence into my ear. I shiver as his hot breath flows into my ear. I try to say something. Anything to please him, but I can’t. The words are just stuck in my throat and they won’t come out. I try and try, but nothing.
He lifts his hand. He is going to hit me. The chief is going to hit his own daughter. I try one last time to scream out and this time I do. I scream and I scream. This seems to surprise him and he backs away. I hear people outside running. Running to help me. I continue to scream until the flaps of the teepee are ripped open. My father looks scared. I can see the fear in his wide eyes. He holds his hands up and backs slowly away. Two big men come in and grab him. Twist his arms around his back and drag him out of the teepee. A women runs to me and hugs me. I feel so important and loved that I begin to cry. She pulls me tighter as I weep into her shoulder. She whispers something to me and even though I can’t understand her, I do. She lets me go and I look into her dark brown eyes and we both smile.
She stays with me tonight. It is awhile before I fall asleep because of the happiness I feel. Finally after hours of staring at the teepee wall I fall into a deep sleep with a smile on my face.
I open my eyes due to the blinding sunlight coming through the open window. My window. In my room. I’m home. I smile. I have never been this happy to be in my own room, in my own bed, in my own life.
Did I decide not to jump? It felt so real. I could feel the air whooshing past my ears as I fell to the ground snapping my neck. I can’t be sure. I slowly get out of bed and head towards the window. I look out the window to see if there is any marks from where my body would have fallen. Nope none. Weird.
Well it’s 5:00 am so I slowly get dressed and make way down the stairs to eat breakfast. I see my parents sitting at the table. “Hey Ithaca,good morning.” my mom says to me as she sips her morning coffee. “Good morning.” I say in return smiling. “Well someone’s in a good mood this morning.” “Ya I am.” I smile. I quickly shovel my breakfast into my mouth and hurry to school, excited to see where my new found confidence gets me.
I walk through the front doors of the school with a smile on my face and my head held high. People are giving strange glances as I pass. I enter my first class and sit in the front of the room, compared to my usual seat in the back. The teacher walks in and smiles at me and I smile back. As class continues and more questions are hurled towards the class. I try and raise my hand for every single one. After class is finished the teacher approaches me. “Well you sure are the bright star of the class today Ithaca. Where did this self confidence come from?” she asks. “ Honestly I don’t know. I woke up confident and in a great mood.” I say in return.I can’t tell her about this crazy dream I had. At least I hope it was a dream. “Well that's good. I hope you keep it up. Confidence looks good on you.” I smile at her comment. It warms my heart. This is what it feels like to not be scared of the little things. This is what it is like to feel free. I am free.