The Worlds of Grey and Color

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The world I live in is grey. It’s filled with grey buildings and grey streets. The water is grey, the clouds are too and the people no longer wear the smiles that were there before, but the deep anguish that comes to you as though the plague. It’s not though. It’s not the plague, it’s something far worse: anxiety, depression, sleepless nights spent in a lackluster life. Or maybe that’s just what I see when I look at them.
Sometimes I see the world in a golden haze. The shimmers of laughter so heartfelt that I can practically see the glitter falling from the moments. The memories fade like an old reel video, the kind with no color, just the black and white of stark reality. Those moments are contagious, leading one to another until all of a sudden the movie stops and I rewind it to have the same conversations, the same memories playing in my head for hours, days at a time. I don’t sleep, because it hinders my time being productive, and honestly I don’t miss it. I can keep going, no time for rest necessary. And as I continue to watch, the video speeds up, my consciousness with it, watching the reel in fast forward, rushing through my life, watching in the rearview mirror. The thing is, I know I’m watching it but not living in it. Suddenly I notice a scratch in the picture, like a reminder that I am telling a lie. I start to make lists, plan to fix it. I go out to buy the supplies, and when I return from my trip, I realize I’ve bought only half the things on my list and an entire collection of things I will never use, nor will I even look at for a few months. So I go back out, this time collecting a few more trinkets and a couple more items from my list until I realize that I’ve spent most of my hard earned money on useless objects and so I begin to agonize over the money I lost. The stress and anxiety eat at me, so much so that I cannot watch the tape of my life, even though I’ve been patching it up. So I try to make a new video.
That one starts out promising, but eventually I discover that it’s exactly like the first, a lie, and I stop my work. The videos provide me with the reassurance of the ordinary, the mundane and for a moment that comforts me. I can take a moment from the stress of living life and recall with perfect clarity times when my life was simple and made sense.
Until I can’t.
One day I wake up slowly, one night I can’t fall asleep. But it isn’t like before. This time I’m so tired I lie in bed for hours, praying for sleep to take me. The sun comes up on me, but I notice it isn’t carefree, it’s accusing me of being in bed for days at a time. I start to listen to the same sad songs about life being a lie, about the future that never comes and I realize that I’ve been making up the entire experience. There was never a film, nor was there a projector. I wasn’t living in the movies of my life, I was living in the recesses of my own mind, where there is no one but me, no matter how many people it seemed like there were.
So I tell someone.
They start out saying that they will be there for me, and I’ve heard it before. But I carry on, hoping that the feeling in the pit of my stomach is wrong. I tell them that I’m no longer sure where reality begins and my imagination ends. And for a while, they hold me protectively, as though I might shatter at the slightest change. I begin to feel at ease and I know that the past is the past and that I picked the wrong person to trust in last time, this time will be different.
Until it isn’t.
The person who said they’d always be there for me lied. Maybe not in the malicious way, but in the way that hurts me most. And that lie doesn’t just cause me to stop telling them things, it causes me to withdraw into my mind, the very place I just came out of. I stop trying to make myself feel better and I try to protect myself with walls that I had torn down. Eventually the relationship withers and dies and I blame myself. If only I didn’t need so much help. If only I weren’t so unlovable.
Then comes the darkness.
The world I live in is beautiful. It’s filled with beautiful scenes of color filled things, and there are people there who love me. The sky is blue, the water is too and there are songs which fill my heart to the brim with life and love and awe. There is no hatred, only the slightest whisper of the pain I vaguely remember.
As I begin to accept that I mean nothing, that my life is more trouble to live than others can accept, I do the one thing I can to protect what little self I have left: I run. Maybe not literally, but metaphorically. I run back into my mind, into the world I created. I feel at home in the bright blue skies, the crystal like oceans and the deep green of the trees. The parts of my mind that I had shunned come back out to greet me, as though they knew I wasn’t trying to hurt them, I was trying to live in the grey world. The more I talk to these parts, I realize that the only person who could possibly love me is myself, these little parts of my mind that welcome me without judgment each time I return.
But I feel guilty.
After all, I did run out on them, push them away and hurt their feelings, my feelings. These little parts of me that have always been with me, whispering in my ear that I can succeed, that I can be loved. These parts that whispered louder than those that wanted to tear me down. But soon enough I give into the solemn blackness that calls to me ever so softly. I am worthless. I am nothing. I could never fit in, everyone will lie to me, hurt me. And it’s all my fault. I start to slip down the spiral, deeper than before, into the deepest parts of the blackness inside me. So dark, I think I might never find the light again. Nor would I deserve the chance to.
And then I find a single speck of glitter.
I vaguely remember the parties in the sun, the laughter and wonder. What if I have it wrong? What if I just didn’t know what I do now? I could take this little piece of glitter and make a better me, a new and improved me. And all I have to do is fight for it. So I claw my way back into the sun, awaiting my day of recognition. And there I sit, filming the next reel, watching my life pass me by.
The world I live in is grey, but the other one is brightly colored. In the first there are people I cannot trust, but will always try to. And I get hurt each time I do. In the second, there are fragments of the me that I want everyone else to see, keeping me company as I repair the damage from each and every grey heartbreak. The parts of me in color wrap me in a cocoon, internalizing the good and the bad. But I can never seem to find the line that separates them. I never know which one I live in, or when I will go back to one or the other. What I do know is that each time I enter the world of color, it’s a little harder to leave, to find the speck of glitter. And each time I leave the world of grey, I want to come back less and less.
For me, there is no black or white, only the pain of grey and the hope of color.

(C) 2015 Michelle Brewer-Bunnell

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