Carrying Your Cross

I never liked competition anyway. It always seemed easier said than done. And no one, not even you likes second place. There shouldn’t even be a second place–much less a third or fourth. Even the one time that I placed first, it was a tie. It doesn’t mean much to be first but it hurts real bad to come in second. People that are not as good as me, make it farther than I do everyday. It’s ok. It’s just that it becomes impossible to think I’m worth anything at all. I remember my very first day of kindergarten. It was my first day of being last. My first day of putting myself last so that others could be first. And yet I never stopped wanting to be first. I don’t know if you relate to this feeling at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re surprised. For a really long time I was sinfully innocent and I survived by meeting everyone’s expectations that I always naively believed were for my own good. And even though I’ve since traveled dark and dirty roads that perfect people avoid, I still somehow believe I can please you because I’ll never be so good that I get to stop caring what you think. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I am doing it. I’m doing it.

Life has a way of turning out a pattern. The longer we follow a certain pattern, the more definitive that pattern becomes. And everyone else can see what we’ve been weaving for ourselves. But we have sewn ourselves inside. In my early growing up years I was a quiet little girl with perfect blue eyes and beautiful blonde hair. I can still remember the first time I ever competed. But there was no competition. I was silent and shy. The victor. Because back then little girls won by getting in the back of the line. But at some point something changed.

I couldn’t believe the feeling I had in the moment that she told me I had missed it. I would have never missed it because missing wasn’t something I did. I had never missed anything. And I never needed to stand up and shout “pick me!” “pick me!” because I was the one doing the choosing. And I refused to believe that I was wrong. So I looked her straight in the face and said that I would not repeat the same thing the next day because I knew that I was right and she was wrong. She backed down because she knew she was already too old and shriveled up to convince me I was a human just like her.

The night always came too quickly at my grandmother’s house. It hung over my head so that morning was my only comfort. Morning was bright, fresh and new. But night was dirty, stale and old. It was as if at night my grandma turned into the wolf that befriended Little Red Riding Hood. Her violent snoring scared me. But the morning always came. With the smell of bacon, eggs and biscuits. And since then I’ve always loved food. At one time I could eat four big biscuits that my grandma made especially for me. I smell my grandma now. And just because you’ve ever had a grandma doesn’t mean you smell what I smell. Her smell was never of flowers and perfume but it was a mixture of sweat, upholstery and lard.

I’ve always been into smells. I can smell something from a mile away except when it really matters. And then my imagination is so vivid that I smell things that really aren’t there and my chest tightens up and I start holding my breath without knowing it. I know you’ve heard it all. No one gets credit for being crazy anymore because we’re all clinically crazy. We have all been medically defined as less than who we should be. Maybe you’re one of those people who don’t accept the diagnosis but don’t excuse yourself so quickly. It makes sense that we all have problems because we are all evolving past humanity. What was once human is replaced by robotic efficiency and tin man feelings.

I decided to carry my cross at a young age. It was fear that drove the nails through my conscience. No one, not even you, wants to burn in hell for an eternity unless your past has numbed you to pain. I know a few people like that. Who wish hell would come a little quicker. Who fantasize about flames erasing memories of their past. I’ve never reached that point though. My pain is just enough to make me want to sleep through the day, not burn for a dark eternity. But I can barely write now because if I can’t be the best, I don’t want to be anything at all.

Everyone says I should be who I am. But they hate who I am because I am who I am without even trying. I have never told anyone they should just be their self. I don’t know who came up with that idea but some clichés never die and continue to affect popular thinking for ages. Everyone can’t help but be who they are.

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