Boiling Over


As I stirred the boiling water, I started to think perhaps I’d made too much pasta.

Groaning, I put the strainer into the sink.  It would be fine, I would just have to store the leftovers in the fringe, next to the containers of soup and pancakes and rice.

At least I never made too little.

The fear was always there, biting at the back of my thoughts.  It wasn’t like my fear of hights, or my fear of crowded spaces.  It wasn’t something big that would make me run away screaming.

It was little.

And quiet.

And always there.

Is it enough? It whispered, so quiet I wouldn’t notice I was listening until it was too late. Are you sure you won’t want more? Can you really call that clean? Is that really all you need?

I would find myself double, triple-checking instructions.  Knotting my threads just a few more times.  Explaining things a little further.  Packing extra clothes, and maybe an extra notebook.  Or two.  Watching reactions, memorizing everyone’s likes and dislikes.

Just to be safe.  Just to be sure.

It pulled me down until one day I lay motionless on the living room floor, captive to the patient whispers.  My eyes stared unfocused into the blank white ceiling as the whispers grew louder.  As they stopped asking questions.

You will never be enough.

I’d known it all along.  I couldn’t fight it anymore.  Just the thought of sitting up made me want to cry with exhaustion.

You will let everyone down.

I couldn’t be everywhere.  I couldn’t always know what was needed, or what I’m supposed to do, or how to do it.  No one does.

No one does.

No one does.

My chest rose as I breathed in.

I don’t have to be everything.  I don’t have to be there for every fall, every thought, every need.  Making sure everything’s under control was never my job.

Air rushed through my lips as I breathed out.

Today, I ate leftovers from the fridge.  Like wind at the end of a storm, I am learning to settle.  I’m telling myself to have patience.  I’m fighting the impulse of fear.

Right now, that fight looks more like a small child with a flyswatter, facing a swarm of wasps.  But someday, someday . . .

I’m coming with a flamethrower.

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