Bay Village High School
Instructor: Erin Beirne
Personal Essay & Memoir
What is it like to be me? Your brain will not let you imagine such a thing. If you cannot feel what I feel, you cannot picture what feeling it must be like. I wish I could lend you my ears, lend you the words I hear. Let you feel the life keeping me standing, pitching holes in my soul as I try to build up walls around it. Let me hand you the bags of weight on my shoulders and watch as you struggle to stand as I pile them onto you, the things I carry with me in my day to day.
Wake up, they tell me. Wake up, you must get up, you have responsibilities to take care of today. But they are not talking to me. They are talking to her, the husk of a being that they see. She gets to sit and reflect on her good memories. She gets to reminisce about the little things she remembers, the little things she loved, and yet, I must carry her and do everything. I must wake up and watch as the mirror laughs at me. It points and giggles as I present myself to brush her teeth, fix her hair. "What a freak," it taunts. It tells all its mirror friends to chuckle as I pass them to carry her down the stairs, to the table. To grab her things, do her work. But oh, if that was all, I would be blessed by the god who laughs with the mirrors at me.
No, that is not all. That is only the mist before a hurricane arrives, a breeze before a tornado starts to spiral. The mirrors may laugh at me, but only I can hear them giggle. The other people, they can hear everything.
I must walk her out the door. I must walk her into a building hellbent by the empty faces that inhabit it. I must pass by and dodge the daggers thrown at me through their gazes and ignore the screams of laughter in my ears, only as loud as a whisper to anybody else. The nameless hoards of appearances plastered again and again that follow her, follow me. Even when they say nothing, the hollow gaps where their souls should be, they surround and suffocate my breath as I trudge past in the endless hallway leading to nothing but another turn into another endless hallway that leads to another endless hall.
What do they think of me? Do they think of me as her? Am I only the brain conducting what she wants to say or what she wants to do? No, none of that is true. They don't even know I exist. They don't think of me as her, because they do not think of me at all. To them, I am not even a word on a page. I am only the thought that created the word, the motivation that moved the hand to write the word onto the paper, the direction that geared the graphite to scratch and leave a mark. The credit goes to her, and I am left to slave away for her until the day she dies, and the day I finally gain relief and release from my cage of existence.
It all loops, you know. I cannot tell one day from the next. I look forward to the sparse days where I get to make a decision for myself, and where she is irrelevant. Where I am not her, nor myself. I am something else. Where people see me as something else, somebody else. It is, to me, like an average meal given to a person who's starved their whole life. I value a day of presentation as a creature, a person, a character unlike myself, unrelated to myself, higher than a year of crawling through days and weeks and months of being nothing but her. These days come so unusually. Most days, as I am today, I must pretend to be her. Claw through every second of anguish, drag my failing limbs and bleeding flesh through the mud of life filled with shards of shame filed sharper than glass.
And yet, I am the only one who suffers. She is unfazed.
The word hate does not suffice to begin to describe what I feel towards her, but hate is not the right word, either. Jealousy, perhaps. Envy, maybe. There is no word that humanity has created to decipher how I feel. The people who decided which words meant what did not feel like this. They did not imagine that anybody could feel like this; they didn't think a word like this could be necessary to include in their language. So I am left unfulfilled, unable to truly convey what this feeling is to you.
I will not lay the bags onto your shoulders anymore. I will take them back and let you breathe. I thank you for taking away even a fraction of the weight I hold, even if for a fraction of a moment. I truly hope you don't feel as I feel. I hope you will pass through your life feeling satisfied with yourself. I do not mean to scare you or to make you feel bad for me. After all, the voice you are hearing, the words you are reading, everything on this page, it was written by her. Don't give her your astonishment, these are not her thoughts. They are mine.