A few years ago, I learned how to scream.

Several times a year, I stay in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere. I have a love-hate relationship with that cabin. The lack of WiFi is a big part of that. 

But what I love about being there is that I get to go to the lake. 

I have yet to meet a body of water that doesn’t nourish my soul, which is funny since I don’t really know how to swim. 

A vast expanse of water just does something to me. As a teenager, if I needed to have a big, emo Think, I’d drive to the beach and park myself on the sand. The most ecstatic and most brutal moments of my life have been by oceans and rivers and fountains. 

So one night when I was staying at the cabin, I was down by the lake, looking out into the inkiest black night I’d ever seen. And I screamed. I screamed and laughed at how loud it was, how good it felt, how it stretched all the way to the hills and echoed back at me. So I kept screaming. I think I wanted to obliterate something. I needed to dislodge something stuck in the darkest, twistiest caverns of my brain. 

A therapist once observed that I hate to feel. It was a revelation that now seems like a portion of the truth. I hate to feel because I think it’s going to tear me apart from the inside. It’s going to nibble away at my organs over the years because what I feel all the time needs to be let out by screaming into the mountains, and most days, the closest I can come to release is a really good workout. And that’s not enough. My feelings can’t be worked out on an elliptical. 

The thing is, I am thriving. Everything is working out for me beyond my highest expectations — which honestly were quite low for a while. My shit is together. It’s accolades and lucky breaks out the wazoo. 

But every day for the past five-plus years, inside every single moment of happiness or even absolutely banal OK-ness, there is a tinge of despair. It’s omnipresent. You know when you go buy paint and you see them add colors into the white base, and even in the lightest shade of icy gray, there’s a drop of red or black that you wouldn’t expect? It’s that. It is inextricable from the rest of me. And I can never feel full catharsis for the despair. 

You know what a better metaphor is? Shrapnel. It’s like living with shrapnel dangerously close to my heart. 

And I’m fine. I’m better than fine. Really. But it’s crazy how little it takes to tip my scales all the way toward despair. The most backhanded insult, the tiniest inconvenience. A thumbnail. The things you find out about people that you should have anticipated — that you have anticipated, out loud, flippantly — that still feel like a bomb straight to the face. 

But you can’t scream in pain, because you have to be in a Zoom meeting in 10 minutes. You have to pick up a Target order. You have to give the dog her allergy medicine. 

You can’t just start screaming in a suburb on a fucking Monday and have no good explanation for it.

Anyway. I’m reading A Worthy Opponent by Katee Robert. It’s good. Yeah.