Madness runs in my family.
My mother assures me that its power dilutes with each generation, so the worst I might experience is some anxiety or depression. I hope she’s right.
Because I’ve seen it for myself.
I’ve felt its insidious pull in the darkest corners of my mind. It rides waves of sadness and anger to the edge of my consciousness and whispers to me, You’re not good enough. Stupid girl. Worthless girl.
I heard it the loudest when I was a child, playing the violin. The very act of practicing, and for so many hours at a time, left open gaping wounds of mistakes through which the madness could seep.
Even now, it magnifies my faults and diminishes my triumphs. You’ll never be good enough. Stupid girl. Worthless girl. It can pull me under, drowning me in a whirlpool of my own self-pity.
Spitting me out onto a desolate landscape.
It’s easy to get lost here. Time moves differently in this place. Some people, desperate to escape, cut or starve their living bodies, so their souls can feel their way back to the world.
Luckily, I know a secret way out.
While I was caught in the wasteland as a child, I learned that the more I denied the madness, the stronger it would become; so I gave it a voice. I said the words out loud and listened with my ears to how silly they sounded: “You’ll never be good enough? Stupid girl? WORTHLESS girl? Ha!”
It was then that I discovered that the madness shrinks back when it sees its own reflection.
It used to be that I had to follow the dark path all the way down to the bottom before finding my strength. But now I leave signposts for myself. When the madness strikes, and I find myself falling inexorably into that labyrinth of despair, I reach out and find a thread.
I tug the thread and it tugs back and it hums with life and love. I follow it back to the world.
And I say to the madness: YOU HAVE DARKNESS, BUT I HAVE LIGHT. YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME.
And the madness recedes.
The monster from your childhood that haunts you to this day, and how it still affects how you live…
And I promise, I’ll have something happier to write later this week.