Questions launch themselves into my mind’s nebulous pool, rippling outward and outward and outward.

How do I maintain enough of a barrier to protect my peace without it fashioning itself into a new set of suffocating armor?

How do I care for you but care only just enough so that the sway of your seasons doesn’t jostle and tear at my leaves?

How do I make amends with the fact that I’ve never had the debilitating privilege of falling to absolute pieces and trusting that those around me will do a good job of picking them up and putting them back together?

I care for you, and I envy you, because I want the kind of love I give to others. And for the most part, I receive it. But I also do an excellent job of making it very difficult to give me love. I spend so much time trying to calculate your next move that I don’t leave room for the receipt itself. We both get frustrated because we both think we’re right. Because we both care.

I’ve often thought of my invading thoughts like stereos that are set to static in rooms of my mind that I cannot find the keys to. They’re on different frequencies, liquefying the contents of my head and making it nearly impossible to invest myself fully in my connection to anyone. I understand that I have the power to cut the feedback loop that breeds anxiety, breeds thoughts, breeds anxiety…and yet somehow I lack the wherewithal to follow through and end my own misery. My consciousness is the Ouroboros; it feeds on itself over and over and over, and I feel it viscerally each time it cycles again.

The Universe that I have become familiar with, that has suffused me with hope and faith and courage and confidence, is a Universe that is difficult to fathom into the small space that is my “home.” I spent so long feeling so small compared to everyone and everything around me that once I branched out and stretched across the cosmos, I wasn’t sure I’d fit back into the slot. But the slot is gone. It didn’t survive the Great Demolition. Now I creep steadily through streets like dense curls of fog. I slither beneath your doors and overtake you slowly, but thoroughly.

Before: A girl fighting her demons completely alone.

Event: Brave warrior woman succumbs to her foes and retreats far, far away, where she dwindles and dies.

After: Woman warrior-wraith is forged anew but different. She has returned, finally, to haunt you. She will be merciless.

I don’t want to be your nightmare or your dream come true. I want to be your sense of purgatory, of just-a-bit-off-ness, the ghost that creeps into the periphery of your vision and makes you do a double take. I want to keep this timeline steeped in just enough surreality to keep you from growing too comfortable. Stay on your toes, dear reader. I will not be a pleasant presence, but I will be a necessary one.

Once I’ve thoroughly infiltrated your defenses and made myself comfortable in the molecular structure of your life, I’ll begin to really wreak my havoc. I will slam doors and flicker lights. I will shatter ceilings and demand penance. I won’t seek you out, but should you cross my path, prepare for absolution. I will not pull punches or play pretend. I am far too powerful to temper my trouble to save you yours. You’ve been warned.

Please join me on my poltergeist. Let’s unravel the world and recreate it. I’m not merely coming out of the shadows — I am the shadows, and everything that lurks within them. There is absolutely nothing, and everything, to be afraid of.

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