Outside

I am in a chair. I am in a cot. I’m trying to sit up straight. I’m lying on my back, reaching up. You are in front of me on the computer screen. You are leaning over me, about to pick me up and hold me. I’m trying to breathe.  I can hardly see through the tears.

All there is in the world is your face, your beautiful smile, and your soothing voice.

I met you at my front gate, all those months ago, and invited you in. We sat on the porch of the gatehouse and chatted. Difficult stuff, to be sure. On the porch of the gatehouse, serious topics can be discussed.

Over the months that followed I invited you in again and again, further into my world, until we were in my private room in the heart of the citadel.

In that room serious topics can be discussed, and shame, and humiliation, and vulnerability. Things I’d never talked about with anybody. We made many discoveries there, and wrote them on the walls. But always we were in my room, in the citadel of my mind, writing thoughts on the walls.

And then we discovered, you showed me, you let me discover, an inescapable truth. My mind was going to kill me, almost certainly, and there was nowhere left to hide. No deeper sanctuary, no more secure walls, no more elaborate defenses. The enemy was within and always would be. In here is the courtroom where I sentenced myself to death for the transgressions of loss and failure and grief, and in here is the scaffold.

We retraced our steps, out through the keeps and curtain walls, libraries and beautiful gardens, to that monstrously strong gate.

Only in my last and deepest refuge could you have convinced me to come out and step through that gate, and back into my body.

So I’m in a chair, not lying on my couch, sitting up straight, not curled around my pain, breathing deeply, not sipping at air through a clenched throath. I’m so far outside what I have come to know as myself that I can only understand it by going back to a time before the first stone of the fortress was laid.

While my mind is screaming “Disaster!” and promising safety and offering doom, you and I are reciting together this poem and enchantment and unspeakable heresy:

Your mind is wrong. Trust your body.
Your mind is wrong. Trust your body.
Your mind is wrong. Trust your body.

My mind wants to die. My body is hungry and wants to eat and drink. My mind thinks my life is shit. My body knows that this bed is warm, and the skin of my lover feels good against mine. My mind can’t believe anyone could love me. My body smiles back when you smile at me.

Start again. The gates can be open, I can come and go, the citadel doesn’t have to be a trap. I can stop work on that scaffold, and maybe one day use the wood for something more worthwhile.

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