She stands about 5"6- skeletal, with dark, dead eyes. Fighting with her takes up an inordinate amount of my time and energy- for she is my punisher. I have known her for as long as I can remember, as though I was born tainted and guilty in some way. She is that guilt. She is every subsequent masochistic tendency. My demon is the reason I seek pain, in any form I can have it.
She tries to sabotage and destroy everything good in my life.
Sometimes, she hides. She hides in people, places, and experiences. Today, she is here, front and center, both tempting and taunting me. She comes to me when I am vulnerable, and sometimes she overtakes me. Earlier, I saw the worst suffering- and it pierced me. I usually don't let my work get to me, but today, it did.
I know you had a bad day. You can starve it all away and make yourself numb, you know.
I try to shove these thoughts away, deep into my psyche from which they came.
Besides, you deserve to feel the hell of starvation. You have a debt to pay to the world, and your payment is long overdue.
Once I am out of clinician mode, which requires immense professional composure- it hits me- hard. As soon as I step out of the train entrance, I can’t stop the tears- and I cry, shaking with sadness- my mind flooding with images of what I'd just seen and heard.
When I blink back my tears, she is there again.
You could have done better today. Not that it matters. You could never help enough people. anyway. You could help people for your entire life, and it would never be enough.
"Stop." I quietly tell myself. "Just stop."
I decide that vigorous exercise is the only way I am going to beat this today, so I make haste and arrive home. I change into my workout gear (which is usually some sort of androgynous tracksuit- to shield me from the harassment that comes with being a woman), leap off my stoop, and begin to run.
Once I am in the park, I pick up speed until I feel like I'm flying. I run and run, willing myself to go faster and faster. As I do so, the pain intensifies. Chasing the pain, and willing it to overtake me, I do not relent. My heart hammers, and my legs beg me to stop, but I grit my teeth and keep going. I go until I can't take it anymore, and I collapse on the grass,
My demon is nowhere to be found as I let it all go. I quietly cry, looking up at the pink and purple evening sky. The pain has numbed me, calmed me, and soothed me. I think what feels like a thousand thoughts, yet formulate nothing useful.
All I know is that tomorrow will go on, and I will go on with it.