On losing control

The words losing control bring to mind some abnormally large and fast-moving machine going off some all important rails.

But that’s not what it feels like.

Abnormally large and fast-moving machines that are going off some all important rails are free.  They’re unstoppable.   They are being propelled forward with such force that they cannot be stopped.  Of course, they cannot stop themselves, either – but oh, to be unstoppable just the same.

For me, losing control means watching doors close around me.  The lights go down, the ceiling and walls contract steadily, unaffected by the panic rising up behind my breastbone.  First left, then right, then left again – but there are no exits.  Smaller and smaller, until there is no more room for clean air.

I feel it on my arms.  I can’t tell if they are hands or vines or linen restraints, but I can tell you exactly where they dig into my skin.  Exactly between my elbows and my shoulders,  and I can sense that it’s binding me from behind.

As my exits are sealed off and the room becomes smaller and smaller, I’m desperate for the power of the abnormally large and fast-moving machine.  Explode.  The wish pounds in my throat.  I take suck in large gulps of air, struggling to inflate beyond the collapsing space.  I fantasize about screaming, but screaming out loud at boxes in your head is silly, and I can’t even imagine the sound I would make.

First left, then right, then left again – and still there are no exits, and the windowless walls are closer now.


But I’m not big enough.  I have no power or force, and the walls are impervious to my desires.

I clench my fists.  I take one more deep breath.  I silently scream into my ribs.

And still, the box remains.

There’s nothing left to do now but surrender.  Quit.  Lie down, close my eyes, and pretend that the box and I cannot see each other.  I banish any notion of abnormally large and fast-moving machines, because hope too quickly leads to struggle.  I just close my eyes tighter and focus on how calm the darkness is.

This is good.  This is peace.  This is easy and perfect and you will not be crushed as long as you are still.

I lie still until the walls surrender, too.

And then I forget – and I get up and start the whole damn thing over again.

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