This is a day when I want to quietly slip away and disappear.
I don’t want to tell anybody what I’m doing. I don’t want to warn anybody. I just want to cut off the people I’ve known. The people I’ve loved. The people I’ve counted on. The people who’ve disappointed me.
I have these days occasionally. I never know ahead of time when they’re going to show up, but they always feel the same way — and they’re more frequent lately. I always feel like selling everything I own and loading up the car with Lucy and the cats and taking off for a place where nobody knows me.
It doesn’t feel like a desire to run away from a problem or from a responsibility. It’s not a sense of defeat or anything like that. It’s more like a sense of escaping from a prison I’ve built for myself. It’s like a sense that I’ve been waiting in a port for someone to arrive — someone who said, “don’t give up on me” — but that person has never arrived, so I’m leaving to find a new life instead.
On these days, I often hear the words of an obscure old song, one which I doubt you’ve ever heard. From a 1986 album, the brilliant lyricist Tonio K. sings about being held prisoner in this world — maybe hostage is a better word — simply because we need love which we keep hoping to find.
You’ve been a prisoner, babe
Been a prisoner all your life
Held captive in an alien world
Where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife
And they make you jump
And they make you do tricks
They take what started off such an innocent heart
And they break it and break it and break it
’Til it almost can’t be fixed
That feels oddly familiar to me on these days. It makes me feel vaguely that I’ve been on hold — treading water in life — while I hold out hope that I can be good enough for someone to love.
This is touching on something I’ve talked about many times, but I’m looking at it right now — at least in the metaphorical sense — from the point of view of someone with nothing to lose — someone who has been waiting for something which will never come.
Imagine feeling — in some deeply unconscious way that is only vaguely suggested — that if you’ll merely hold yourself prisoner in a place or time or space that you will somehow receive what you need. And now imagine becoming conscious — just every now and then — that the connection you draw between the two things is a lie. That the reward you hope to have — for patiently waiting — is never coming.
You can’t see your jailer
You can’t see the bars
You can’t turn your head around fast enough
But it’s everywhere you are
It’s all around you
And everywhere you walk these prison walls surround you
And so you realize that you’ve created your own prison. You realize that the things you feel you’ve been promised — especially love — are never going to find you. You realize that you control whether you keep wasting time and emotional energy on a phantom which has kept you believing that today might be the day when you pick up the phone or open a door — and find what you were promised turns out to be true.
And then you realize we’re all in prisons of our own making. It’s not just me. It’s not just you. Even those who haven’t understood the ways in which they’ve made themselves captives are held by forces of their own creation.
And it’s in one of those moments of clarity — on a day such as today — when you realize the only way to break free is to stop waiting — to stop wasting time and energy and years — on promises which turned out to be pretty little lies which tickled your eagerly believing ears.
And then you want to leave everything — and disappear. You want to go free.
Well I don’t know when
And I don’t know how
I don’t know if you’ll be leaving alone
Or if you’ll be leaving with me
But I know
You will go free
I need to leave this place, metaphorically at least and maybe literally. I need to do some things, be some things, travel to some places — lay the foundations that will make me feel that life has mattered.
I need a traveling companion for this metaphorical journey. But not just any companion. Someone who wants to be part of the journey. Someone who loves me. Someone who believes in me. Someone who wants to break out of the prison walls of lies and subterfuge she’s built around herself, too.
Every time when I feel this way, I get closer to an epiphany which will allow me to leave. On a day such as this one, I can feel the walls crumbling. I can almost feel the chains with which I’ve bound myself crumbling to dust. I can feel ready to leave the promises and hopes and lies of the past behind.
I know the day is coming when I will feel this way all the time — when I can step away from the chains and walls which are in my mind — and I can have the freedom to start all over again.
I don’t know exactly what that will look like or what the destination is, metaphorically or literally. I don’t know who will be leaving with me.
But I’m confident the day is coming when I’ll be free. And someone else — I don’t know who — will choose to make that journey with me.
The day is coming very soon.