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 She lies motionless; hoping the stillness of her body will deter the thoughts from taking over her already cloudy mind.  They scratch at her like a dog desperate to be let in from the cold.  The cool early morning breeze floats through the window she had left cracked the night before.  She begins to tremble as every little white hair on her pale almost ghostly arms stand up, as if at attention, privy to what’s to come next.  A car’s headlights bleed through her window blinding her already strained eyes as she slowly, almost robotically, pulls her sweat-soaked blanket up and over her head.  She clenches her eyes so as to stop the tears she feels welling up from falling.  The rising and falling of the damp blanket against her cool clammy skin reminds her to slow down her breathing.   She inhales slowly and deeply allowing the uncirculated air into her aching lungs.  She pulls her knees into her chin attempting to make herself as small as possible hoping it might not notice her and pass on by.  She desperately wishes she could find comfort in the sound of her own breathing.  It begins to dawn on her that it is happening yet again, and there is nothing she can do to stop it.  She lets out a small gasp as she feels it begin to lower itself upon her, sucking the life out of her, hungry for a taste of the strength she possesses.  She reaches out from under the blanket and turns the power to her radio on.  Perhaps it will serve as some sort of distraction and calm her down a bit.  She’s desperate for something; something to give her some hope to face the day.  The sweet somber words of Mat Kearney come on and inebriate her soul as he sings….

She’s lying in the back room, crying on the bathroom floor, singing I can’t take it, I can’t take any more…” 

She literally feels the pain this girl must be feeling, yet she has never met her.   Thinking about it she realizes, at times the bathroom had become her safe haven; a place she could rest her inflamed, tear-soaked cheeks against the cold smooth tile.  It was the place that she often spent countless hours trying to rid the emotional pain that plagued her.  She is probably safe in guessing that this girl, not unlike herself, has a mind full of monsters.  The monsters have always been there clawing at her but have become more prevalent in the past six months.  She’s learned and attempted every skill there is to try to purge her mind of such hideous creatures, but not one has proved successful.  It’s like a dark twisted version of the familiar child’s game: Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Instead of the hippos frantically munching away at the marbles they masticate her thoughts.  Her mind has become a battleground; a place only the devil would dare to tread.  The monsters in her head, not unlike the hippos, are hungry and her dreadful thoughts are feeding them; causing them to grow larger and more unsightly.  This is not a game to her though; it’s a matter of life or death

            She remembers the story her father used to tell her when she was a little girl and begins to laugh quietly at the irony of it all.  Her mother, Jane, was a strong attractive woman whose one aspiration in life was to raise a family with her husband, Don.  She dreamed of two children, a friendly gentle golden retriever and a beautiful flower garden all surrounded by a white picket fence.  Like so many newlyweds, their lives were just beginning and they were filled with nothing but optimism.  After countless years of trying despite several miscarriages and her doctor telling her there was a very minute chance she would ever be able to carry a child, Jane found out she was pregnant.  Despite great skepticism, the sun couldn’t have shown brighter than it did that day.   Something felt different this time to Jane and she was determined to remain hopeful about this little life form growing inside her womb.  Everything seemed to be going great until about seven months into her pregnancy when her doctor found a cancerous lump in her right breast.  Needless to say she was completely devastated.  She was told that she should start chemotherapy right away and was assured by the doctors that the risks to her baby were fairly low because she was far enough along.  Jane decided, despite Don and her doctor’s requests, that she would postpone the chemotherapy until after she had given birth.  This was her dream, she had come so far, and she did not want anything to destroy it.  Fifty-two days later, she went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  She had not chosen a name until she rested this radiant and glowing angel in her arms against her warm soft bosoms.  Looking down at her baby’s precious tiny face, a tear came to her eye as a name suddenly revealed itself to her: Hope. 

Ever since the day she heard this story, Hope wondered how a name could possibly misrepresent someone so much.  She had not been her mother’s hope or miracle, instead she believed, she was the reason her mother died a premature and excruciating death when Hope was only two years old.  Hope wondered why she could not have been named Michelle, Stacy or even Amanda, instead of a name that served as a constant reminder that she had been the cause of such devastation.  Hope remembers coming to the realization early on that her life had been much different than many of her peers.  Not only had her mother been taken from her at such an early age, but she also had been diagnosed with a plethora of mental illnesses that bared their teeth at her day in and day out.  It’s almost as if she was being punished for her mother’s death or for something she had done in another life and she begrudgingly wore her pain like an albatross.  She did not want to think such painful thoughts, especially so early in the morning but she was rarely given a choice.  She hadn’t even rolled out of bed, and yet her mind was exerting more than most people’s do in a life time.  Hope wishes her mother were here to hold her during her darkest moments, to softly stroke her hair and catch the salty tears as they roll down her soft cheeks.  This is something she has yearned for and sought after for as long as she can remember and never was able to master the act of soothing herself despite her many years of independence.  There is a terrified little girl stuck inside the body of a young woman, reaching her small hand out for help, however remaining unable to break free and heal.

She shakes her head vigorously, attempting to annihilate the thoughts.  She desperately wishes that the flood gates in her mind would close or at the very least filter her thoughts properly like they were designed to do.   Instead she is drowning in her daunting thoughts, unable to stop them from swallowing her up.  It is cold and dark and no matter how much strength she puts forth to keep afloat, there is this undeniable invisible force that drags her weakening body down like a weighted balloon into the dark unknown abyss of the sea.   Death seems to entertain her thoughts more and more as it becomes harder and harder to fight the notion that giving up seems so much easier and attractive than a life full of struggling.  

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