To speak about and bring to light some things about myself, I can tell you that, in some small ways, one in particular, I can relate to the great Edgar Allan Poe. (My intellect will not ever match his, not even by half, so, please, don’t think me arrogant in the slightest.) He and I both, clearly, have felt as though we were cursed. That statement wasn’t meant to evoke any pity for me because curses aren’t necessarily as horrible, in my opinion, as their connotation may suggest. Although I may want it to be lifted, in a way, it scares me, the thought of what my life would be in the absence of my curse.
You see, my friend, to put it plainly, I am haunted. Ghosts are real and one is relentlessly haunting me. He always has. I don’t mean that I live in a haunted house, not the movie-haunting ghost types with a white sheet or a translucent figure floating around, switching off lights, slamming doors, or moving furniture. I’ve never seen nor tangibly experienced that type of ghost- at least I’m not absolutely certain that I haven’t. My ghost does, very much, follow me, though. He is the echo of what once was so, and of what could or should be. Sometimes he manifests as a deafening whisper or a palpable presence. It can be unbearable, sometimes, to have him buzzing around, within me, without me, around me, and about me. Other times, he’s helpful.
If you’re having a hard time picturing this ghost of mine, permit me to describe him. This phantasm appears to me only in my mind’s eye. Don’t mistake this seeing as faulty, for the eyes of the mind are usually more perceptive than our proper eyes. He has no face and yet he has every face. He is genderless and formless. He tugs at me and nags. He glows, with heat or light, as a candle sometimes flares as it burns down the wick. When he speaks to me, his voice is gentle yet forceful, dynamic, and persuasive.
What does he do and say exactly? He infuses me with flashes, as if by taking possession of my being, warning me, reminding me, and threatening me. My ghost wants me to do things his way, to appease him, and he promises to hurt me if I don’t follow his course of action. Believe me he follows through on that threat; the pain he has inflicted upon me, from within, that of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and sorrow, is among the most acute pain that exists. It goes beyond aches and strains of the muscles and nerves. It is a heavy and defeating pain.
For example, if I were to treat another person with some form of unkindness, he wags his finger at me, pricking me with sharp reprimands, telling me exactly what I did to displease him and what he would have wanted me to say instead. And he tells me, and tells me, and tells me again, repeating and re-explaining what he wants incessantly, pounding out the rhythm within me, minute by minute. However, if a person were to hurt me emotionally, with unkindness, my ghost wraps his hands around my throat and across my chest, holding me back from retaliating. I try to ask him, Why? Shouldn’t the thoughtless person be stood up to? Reduced down to size? My ghost answers, No! I’m in control of you. Do nothing. Say nothing. Nothing. Repay the wrongdoer with silence and nothing more. When I stop struggling against him, he eases his grip on my neck. To make matters worse, just when I think the embers are dying out, he replays the incident for me (the ones in which I was the victim), as if by means of a movie projected in my mind, over and over and over. And he expects me still to do nothing? Do you know how agonizing that is? I admit, I struggle with this spirit often, but I do, many times, agree with his decisions for me. Sometimes the ghost annoys me with his notion that I should find some kindness to extend back to a person who wronged me. I promptly reply, Fuck that! Although, sometimes, I relent.
But my ghost won’t leave me be. He won’t give me a break, won’t un-inhabit my mind. So, I’m forced to drown him out with distractions sometimes, to numb myself because he forgets that I’m human and he is not. I can’t bend to all of his urgings with absolute perfection. I come as close as I can because I don’t know any other way. I figure, he was paired with me, somehow, placed within me, so there must be a purpose he serves, no? Or perhaps he exists only to torture me, because I’m damned, perhaps. I have considered both of these ideas. He never answers my questions about his origin.
The problem is that my curse doesn’t allow me to act and react by mere animal instinct. Everything I do is filtered through my ghost. It just doesn’t seem that hardly any other person I meet is haunted by their own ghost of the same nature as mine. He forces me to be nicer than those who have treated me with awfulness, to work harder than many, to be more honest, more creative, more thoughtful, responsible, loyal, open-minded, humble, forgiving, grateful, and knowledge-seeking. So, I wonder, if it is, in fact, only me that’s cursed, only me that’s haunted, what does that define me as? Is my ghost not weakening me because I am not able to behave as many of my fellow man does? Shouldn’t my ghost be toughening me up with the strength to dominate others, to manipulate people to better my own life and the lives of my children? My mother has told me just that, to toughen up, many times, to stop giving myself so freely, my time, my money, etc. But she doesn’t understand, it was my ghost forcing my hand and my actions, not me.
I have a growing sense that this curse of mine, and my ghost, is slowly killing me. I’m just not quite sure, though. He is exhausting me, making me live up to his expectations, ones that I don’t see other people held to, although I am usually proud that I have pleased him. He is taking one ounce of my soul out of my heart, bit by bit, steadily. This can’t possibly continue infinitely, can it? The process is too painful. I fear, one day, there will be nothing left of me that once was distinctly and uniquely me, and I will only obey the ghost begrudgingly or simply rebel against him completely. Will I be reduced to a shell of my former self? Will I look in the mirror one day or hear myself speaking and see myself as unrecognizable? Or be disgusted with who is reflected?
It is all in vain, to wonder about my curse. It is never-ending. I don’t seem to be able to combat it or find any other choice, and I’m not sure that I want to. So, it is with acceptance that I must embrace my curse. The ghost told me to say that, too.