Dizzying Silence

“She must be dizzy,” Mr. Music noted. I was standing outside of the circle, my lips frozen shut. I probably appeared confused, my eyebrows drawn together, my blue eyes wider than usual. I’m staring at Mr. Music, perhaps unsteadily, as if he could help me melt away from the ice that was holding me captive. I willed my brain – my little four-year-old brain – to tell my muscles to soften, to un-fuse my lips, to make a sound – any sound… no wait. Not any sound. I just needed to sing my line. That was all. It was probably only three little words.

We had been spinning in circles throughout the song, but I wasn’t dizzy. In fact, Mr. Music’s accusation had me believing for years that dizzy had two meanings… and one of those meanings was shy. I had always been labeled as shy during these moments in which I couldn’t speak. Everybody always said I was shy. Dizzy, though, that was new. Maybe I wasn’t spinning in circles dizzy, but I was the opposite. I was frozen dizzy.

After a few more attempts in which Mr. Music restarted the verse only to end with the staring contest I had incidentally begun, he moved on to the next student.

In pre-school (2000-2001) we were only taught about the six basic emotions: Anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. But in that moment I experienced defeat. It’s strange… using defeat as an emotion when it is usually attributed as a status – defeat meant you lost. Defeat meant you were one thing… a loser. I had lost, but to who? Who had I fought? How could I feel defeat when I had nobody to fight… but myself? My enemy seemed invisible and at times as I grew older, I, too, seemed invisible.

I’m sure everybody has felt invisible at least a few times in their lives. For me, it was always, and in those fleeting moments in which I did not feel that way, I wanted desperately to disappear… to become invisible once again.

Contradiction is a strange phenomenon. In those moments of invisibility I longed to be noticed, to be valued, to be loved, yet when I experienced those rays of light attempting to pierce through that cloak, I would retreat back into the abyss. It was safe in the abyss… or at least, safer. The only enemy I shared it with was myself.

“There are five conflicts in literature,” Mr. D explained as he paced the front of the classroom. It was the 2008-2009 school year and I was sitting in my seventh grade language arts class. The lesson he had prepared that day was a lesson in story formation, but it might as well have been a lesson in life… in the real world. Mr. D might as well have been a young Mr. Feeny (from Boy Meets World) when it came down to lessons such as this one. He continued to list off the five conflicts, “Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Fate, and last but not least, Man vs. Self.” It was in this lesson that I learned of the only internal conflict of man, of human beings in general. It is possible to be at war with oneself. Perhaps I really was at war with myself. But then again, if you’re fighting a disorder… are you really ONLY fighting yourself?

Maybe there was a bigger picture I wasn’t seeing.

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