I’m damaged goods. I don’t really understand why, or when it became so. But without a doubt, I am damaged. The older I get the less I seem to be able to hide just how damaged I am. I can be really great at changing my lifestyle, incorporating more exercise and eating well, losing weight … but not while still being on top of my workload in my paid employment. I can be the best worker, the hardest working worker bee, yet still just keeping my head at sea level and just barely not drowning in the sea of work … and I can’t do that and still exercise and still cook good food and still keep a clean apartment and still write. I can eat and exercise or I can work. I can work or I can write. I can write or I can be a good girlfriend and aunt and sister and daughter. I can’t do any two things together, let alone three or four or five. I can’t be everything to everyone. I can’t even be the person I want to be for myself and nobody else. I don’t understand why I can’t. There just isn’t enough time, enough energy, enough willpower to make it so. I am so tired. I am so freaking tired. And not in a sleep way. I can sleep five hours a night, six hours a night, nine hours a night for weeks on end, too much sleep, too little sleep, nothing changes. I still can’t do it. And I don’t even mean I can’t do it all, I mean I can barely do anything. I can barely do anything but people expect me to do … I dunno I guess what other normal people who aren’t damaged are able to do.

I can cry. I’m good at that. I can feel pain in my stomach and grow my hair long, shaggy, greasy with neglect. I can drink wine that numbs me, encourages sleep, but if I resist sleep … just makes me cry some more. I can watch shows on tv that I don’t care about, that don’t challenge me, that just wash over my numbness and numb me more. I can pull it together for a few hours in a random day and go out and meet friends or co-workers or family and pretend like life is normal, life is good, everything is okay here.

All the time I just want to run away. I want to just pack some clothes and go get on the train and leave to … I don’t know where. Everywhere. Anywhere but here. Places where nobody knows me and I can be myself as broken and as damaged as I am. And I can be tired. And they won’t care. They won’t care because they don’t know me enough to care. They won’t care because they will think this is just who I am. And maybe I can just float and be free and feel weightless for an hour or a day or even a week.

Sometimes I think back to that terrible day in the airport in Toronto and I wish I had just disappeared then. I wanted to. I thought about it. I had all day to sit around and think about where I could go, how long I could last before they would find me. I thought about what would happen if they never found me. Could I begin again, with a clean slate? I’ve heard of people who do that. Would my mother ever be okay again if I did that? That day, every fibre of my being wanted to just run and hide and not be me anymore. But I couldn’t do it. Even in that devastating moment I still had some optimism. Still some hope that if I stayed the course, if I did what was expected, one day, I would look back and laugh about that day. One day, it would just be a joke about a little obstacle I encountered on my life’s path. Over five years later, this hasn’t happened.

I am nearly 50 years old. I am nobody’s mother, nobody’s wife, yet I seem to have terrible problems just looking after myself, just getting my work done so I get a pay cheque, just keeping my apartment clean, just paying my bills, just being a normal human being, let alone all the extras … being a good daughter, a good sister, a good aunt, a good girlfriend, a good friend, a good employee, a good member of your organization, a good citizen of the world … I can barely just be, let alone be good.

And I suspect there are others like me, indeed maybe a whole flock of just beings, but I want to be better. In fact, I want to be the best. I want to be the best in a world where I can just barely be anything. This makes me sad. Stresses me out.

And I don’t know how to fix any of this, because I am damaged.

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