Tuesday, January 26, 2010

With bruises on my chin

"Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see." -Arthur Schopenhauer

I don't think about will power nearly as often as some might assume I do. It's outside of myself, a thing that I have without realizing its presence, and internally I am not aware of it. I have it. I use it. But until lately I gave it none of my mind, none of my time.

Generally I am a very strong willed person. I inherited this trait from my grandmother Virginia and from my father, her son. And of course I put this will to good use while defending myself from my older brothers during my childhood. I'm sure you can all imagine it--little Katie with little fisted hands and a little scowl on her face. I did a lot of screaming. I had the will to stand up for myself, the will to make my position known to those who opposed me. Or, in some circumstances, I fought for the sake of a greater good when I knew they were in the wrong.

And I'm not writing this to talk about losing my will as a whole, or finding my will--because I haven't lost it in the least bit. But there is a circumstance, the one that keeps you up at night, the thought that makes you cringe in the middle of class or lose your appetite. It is this circumstance which I no longer have the will to fight against.

I've been getting panic attacks lately, even in my sleep. I have awful dreams in which I am running from something--a holocaust, men with bows and arrows, a pandemic, appendicitis. I am always fighting and I always wake up losing. I wake up with a scream still deflating my lungs and a second scream just around the next breath. I open my eyes with my arms and legs twisted in the blankets and there is stifling heat everywhere.

It is in this manner I have started each morning for the past few weeks. It's usually an abrupt awakening, several hours before any of my alarms are supposed to go off. I have come to the conclusion that I wake up this way because I just can't take the dream anymore. I can't keep running and hiding and getting killed by some bizarre turn of events. I can't fight anymore. I've lost the will to fight.

And this situation, this circumstance in real life, is the same way. I've said so many things and done all I can within my power. I've followed others' advice, I've followed my own, I've given my time and money and peace all for the sake of gaining peace again. But it's out of my control. I'm not a warrior here. I'm not a soldier in this aspect. It's not even my battle, my war. Not anymore. I've lost the will to fight.

I remember when I would have fought for this to the death. I might still, given the opportunity. If I was seven years old, I might scream. I would have busted a lung and kicked the dirt. I would have gone inside and slammed a door. I was once so angry about something I threw a plastic chair at my bedroom door and left a huge hole.

But what happens when you lose the will to fight? It isn't a universal loss in this instance. I still fight for other things. I still go to sleep every night, knowing I will be fighting for my life and will be dead by morning. I still argue for my side and would defend myself if I were attacked. So what happens? It's just this one thing, this enormous heartbreaking thing, which has beaten me down and stabbed me in the gut one too many times. I just can't take it anymore.

This loss does not mean I don't care. This is not me signing off for good and turning my back on you. That would take a different kind of will power. I still have the will to be present in the situation, to maybe whisper how much it wounds me. I still have the will to write about it and face it every day.

Losing the will to fight doesn't mean I've accepted this. It just means I'm hoping someone will remember little Katie with her little fists and the little scowl on her face. Someone, please remember that strong willed warrior, and fight in her stead.

Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine (accompanying video is of me drawing...)
The song isn't completely related to this post. But I like it a lot, regardless.

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