I used to be free.
I was a child who read science books. My two best friends were girls. We would wait for our parents after school and talk about life as we knew it then. They were my secret friends. It had to be that way because they didn’t want anyone to know they were friends with a boy, but it didn’t matter after school when everyone was gone.
Puberty was the most traumatic event of my life. I began to see my two friends differently and was not at ease around them, I couldn’t relate. Five years passed before I had another close friend.
I was beset by night terrors during my first year of puberty. Shearing, crystal-vivid dreams of stretching across infinite space – into death itself. I became obsessed with death, the fact that I would die. I had panic attacks, crying fits of sheer terror. They increased in frequency until they happened every morning at eleven for two weeks. I had panic attacks about the panic attacks, knowing their terrible regularity. My hands are unsteady as I write this and cold sweat drips down the sides of my body. I remember these days like yesterday.
My mother was a single mother and she did the best that she could, but she could not foot the psychiatry bills. She was at work most of the time that summer and I was on my own.
I looked to science and found no relevant information about death. I looked to God and the clergy asked me to have faith. In the meantime, I lost myself in digital worlds, Mario, Zelda, Baldur’s Gate. This made things worse as I lost touch with reality.
I did find God eventually and the terror subsided. But I was like a windup toy, just happy to be moving forward.
My stumbling journey into manhood was a forgotten chapter in my life. I would occasionally have one of those dreams, drink a glass of water, and carry on. But I never gave much thought to that period of time, until recently.
Now I am afraid that I lost a part of myself when my mind was soaked in testosterone and that she will never return to me – that my dreams and waking fears of death were singularly real. I am all but forced to question the wisdom of this world’s design.
The irony of this is lost on me, and I hope that the past can be undone. I don’t know how or when or why, but maybe someday.