I came home tonight from a long stressful day of work on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I'm a nervous kind of person - that's what they used to call nearly-insane people before they had titles for them like "bipolar" and "manic" and "depressed."
I haven't felt myself lately. I can always tell when I'm out of my element because I stop writing and read fewer books and get less sleep and become agitated even more easily. This occurs when I feel I can't be myself because of social pressures: the requirements of lying and talking and listening when you don't want to.
I am constantly doing things and saying things and listening to things that I don't want to because it's what is expected of me. And it's making me crazy. My kind of heaven would be a place where everyone is free to be themselves without judgement and prodding from people to be someone else. A place with no such thing as obligation. I don't think there's anything I hate more than obligation. And I hate a lot of things.
I came home and ate dinner and told Steve I love him but I was just going to be alone for awhile in a hot bath. So I sat in the warm water and began to read one of my favorite books, The Bell Jar (also about a nervous young woman). I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath, I read. To me there is no greater cure for a full mind than solitude. So I sat in the water with my book about a girl as crazy as me, if not more so. I didn't listen or talk to anyone. I let the solitude wash me clean and back to myself.
I must be a less resilient person than most, because I know of quite a few people with much more stressful lives than me that handle it all with ease--god damn grace, nearly--with seemingly no sanity-retrieving rituals of their own. But not me. I'm not graceful or poised or resilient. I'm frantic and moody and stressed. So I do what I can to reclaim a little bit of myself when I no longer recognize my own reflection in the mirror.
Then I made my way back downstairs, prepared a cup of hot chocolate, and sat down to write. That's how I knew I had returned.