Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)
- TITLE: Voices
By Seema Bagai
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You can’t do anything right.
How many times have I heard that? The bubble gum-pink box of doughnuts beckons from the kitchen counter and I grab it along with a pint of mint chip ice cream tucked in the back of the freezer. I shove the sadness down with each bite and swallow. After several minutes my stomach screams in protest over the pain I’ve inflicted upon it. Still I continue until all that remains are empty packages and scattered crumbs.
Bile bursts from my stuffed stomach, burning my esophagus and settling in my mouth. I flop on the kitchen floor, lean back, and press my throbbing head against the dark cherry-stained cabinet. Nearly unable to breathe, I press my palm against my forehead and squeeze my eyes shut for a moment.
Greedy fingers snatch the discarded cookie bag and rummage inside hoping for a remaining morsel to erase the bitter taste coating my tongue and threatening to make me gag. Not finding anything, I reach over and open the donut box which contains a few crumbs and a streak of chocolate on the inside of the lid. The empty ice cream carton sits at my feet, the melted green drips pool on the porcelain tile.
See, you messed up again. You’re pathetic.
Those words ricochet through my brain like kernels of popping corn. Distress creeps upward and threatens to surge outward, so I pick myself up off the floor, grab my keys and purse from the counter, and storm outside. I don’t want to feel this way.
In the car, I turn up the volume on the radio, and careen down the asphalt river hoping the voice will cease its taunting. It doesn’t. As I drive, the sinister hissing claws through my mind.
You don’t deserve to be happy.
“Stop,” I whisper. “Just go away.”
The voice refuses to yield to my request and soon sorrow returns to smother me. This time, though, I am too weary to prevent the flood from releasing, and hot tears careen down my cheeks. Unable to see, I exit the freeway and pull into the nearest parking lot.
You’ll never be good enough.
Those words are a knife slicing through my raw heart. I bury my face in my hands and sob. I’ll never be good enough no matter how hard I try. How many times have I said I’m sorry and promised to not do this again? More than I can count. Despite that, I keep falling flat on my face.
Once the grief escapes the confines of my heart, I slouch down in the driver’s seat. I am tired of trying to be perfect. The strength it takes to maintain this charade of contentment is no longer inside me. Too tired to move or even attempt to silence the liar, I stare out the windshield at the darkness.
“What do I do now?” I mutter.
I myself will help you.
A gentle whisper drifts into the car and caresses my ears. The ache in my heart eases. I wipe my face with my sleeve and sigh. Guilt tries to seep back in, but the voice smothers the lies and replaces it with peace.
You are precious and honored in my sight.
I stretch and take several deep breaths before starting the car. The drive home takes longer expected. I didn’t realize how far I had driven. As the scenery becomes more familiar, I sense a lightness within that I have not felt in a long time. Once at home, I flop on the couch and curl under a blanket, wrapping the fleece tightly around me.
The evening’s events replay in my mind as I glimpse the debris scattered in the kitchen. I’m scared. I don’t want to keep doing this. Show me the way out of this mess.
I will strengthen you.
The tears return in drips. I just want the pain to go away. Make it stop. Please.
You will go out in joy.
All scripture references are from the NIV: Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:4; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 55:12
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