Yesterday I was working on an assignment for my creative writing class in which we were asked to describe a place where we feel or have felt safe. I know that the assignment was meant to give us a chance to work on our descriptive abilities, giving our readers a sense of location that touches all five senses. I, however, was unable to do the exercise properly because as I sat there trying to think of a place where I felt safe I realized that the only place I could think of was on a cliff seconds before I jumped when I was sixteen. Clearly I survived the suicide attempt, and miraculously without any broken bones, though many stitches were necessary.
I don’t tell that story often, but I believe we know one another well enough that I can admit that to you guys feeling in some small way that I don’t have to worry about your overreactions. We are writers, internet savants; people who bleed onto the page yet still wear a mask every day to hide the internal scars and madness. You can know me and I can know you, and it is (more or less, though not entirely) safe.
Then, I started trying to think of any instance at all in which I felt safe, and I noticed that they were all with specific people that are currently too far away to protect me in any way. I moved to this state to be with someone with whom it turns out I was not safe. I left the only places I felt comfortable and the only people in my life that I trusted behind for her. This is fine because it got me pursuing dreams I never thought I could do anything about, but it did strike me rather painfully to realize that… there never was and currently isn’t a place in which I feel safe.
Anyhow, what I wrote is a frightening rendition of my mental stability, and it makes me wonder if perhaps a miserable, boring office job would be safer for my own sanity. Then again, life is short and then we leave this earth with nothing; why would I not take the chance to leave something meaningful behind even if it causes me pain each and every step along the way?
For those who are interested, I am pasting below what I wrote. I am so far unsure whether or not I will give it to my professor as I do not think it follows the rules, or that I would be comfortable having her read this piece. Also, if you continue reading you should know that the assignment was to write about a place in which I feel or once felt safe, and then about the opposite; the opposite does follow. This is what I wrote:
“There’s a room in my mind where I like to hide. It is filled with water and a soothing lack of sound. There is no gravity there, and no darkness; no shadows can ever force their way inside. Inside is where I like to hide a child who is finally safe to play. There are no voices telling me what I can and cannot think, what I can or cannot say; no voices saying that I can or cannot do. Nothing within this room doubts me or leaves me behind. Within this room there is no pain, only endless peace and a simple, flat line of emotion. Nothing will touch me here to hurt me, and nothing will raise me up in cruel and unforgiving hope.
I have a protector inside of my mind. He’s black and gold and frightens visitors away. I cannot see him, but I hear his growls and purrs and deep breathing from where I lay. He sleeps with me wherever I am curled, his fur so soft and never itchy, and he gives me comfort without making a sound. He knows my pain, understands my sadness, and saves me from the need to see blood fall, to pour, to end in black. Yet he resides within my room, invisible to any eye; no monsters can ever show themselves or hide.
And yet, even though this room exists within my mind, this perfect place of sensory deprivation without gravity or feeling or sound, I have never fully been inside. I have seen it once inside a dream, a room without windows or doors where nothing can reach me. The room that hides a black and gold protector who only outsiders can see, so big he shouldn’t fit and so kind he should be free. Inside of this room resides a piece of me I cannot free, while locked outside the rest of me cannot find peace. She sits in the light, alone and unfeeling and waiting for a day when it is safe to come out and play.
Inside of this room resides a mind, which full of dreams and stories conceives of characters and worlds, and, in the safety that lives there, breathes so many of these imaginings to life.
There is a room I claim and pay for as my own, where shadows hide and whispers shout. Inside smells like an outside garden, sour and putrid and rotting, and nightmares live in every corner waiting for the light to go out. The fuzzy wisps that encircle each edge taunt me with their clarity, and the sounds that hide behind silence assault my ears until they ache.
Outside of this room is the world, neat and disorderly in turns, horribly silent and achingly loud and full of people who each cause harm, whether intentional or unintended. It is cold, wind biting at my exposed skin and rain saturating my once clothed body until I shiver and ache all over. And though this world can also be hot, burning my skin and drying my throat, heat, the more tolerable torture, is a rare comfort to me here. This world eats away at my soul, dissolving it like a drug on an addict’s tongue and throwing the remains in the bin to rot. Nowhere is safe, nothing is sacred. Is this consciousness? Is this how I’m supposed to see, where I’m supposed to live, what I’m supposed to be?
The world outside of my mind is saturated with pain, with hope and with fear. It raises me up just to tear me back down, it frees me only to imprison me again. It exposes my dreams, then violates them with every realistic reality, the constant voices blending and ebbing, each shouting at me that this will never work, that I am wrong, that I should suffer. The constant struggle, the fatigue in my muscles and the aches in my spine, weary my brain so that I cannot think or act, only feel. I am paralyzed watching the piles in my room close in on me. I cannot move to change this, cannot think to escape it, cannot hope without having it cut out of me and sold by the pound like a delicacy in a butcher’s shop.
I just want to lie here and be buried. I want to shut off and hide inside my mind until the pain of reality goes away, and the cotton on my tongue, the tightening in my chest, the sweetness of melancholy in my throat – until they all fade away to nothing. What would the world be like if I just let it fade to black? Nowhere is safe.”