She stood on the roof, leaning against the railing, staring straight ahead, wind in her face blowing her hair in all directions. She came there to escape, she came there to think. She came there because insanity was creeping under her skin, an itch she couldn’t scratch out, an itch she wouldn’t cut out for fear it wouldn’t help anyway. Insanity, she knew, was in the ifs and maybes. Insanity was the space in between. The unknown, the possibilities. They were hope for some, but insanity for her. It was all about perspective, she knew, that was the difference between hope and despair, between her view and everyone else’s. Knowing it was all a matter of a point of view didn’t help changing it.
The ifs and maybes were making her skin crawl, her mind scream, her soul ache. If she’d done that thing just a little bit differently, maybe if she’d said something else, something she had thought of saying but didn’t, maybe then it would all be different.
But maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe it was just her lot in life, her destiny.
And did it really matter?
It didn’t. She knew it didn’t. It was an exercise at futility. Masochism, pure and simple. Think of all the ways everything could be different, imagine all the possibilities. She did that. She did that over and over again, but reality changed not one bit, for all her thinking and imagining. She knew that it was making it worse. She couldn’t stop.
Her wrists were itching. She scratched them red but it made it worse. She tried to stop but couldn’t help it. She knew it was all in her head, but it made no difference.
Once again she ran the scenarios in her head. All the things that could have been but weren’t. So many possibilities. Some weren’t better than what she had now, but in some, things worked out so much better it made her want to cry. Cry for missed opportunities. She didn’t think anyone would believe her, but she knew it was very much possible to miss something that was never there. To miss the life she didn’t have.
The itch spread to the inside of her elbows and she forced herself to stop, to hold on to the railing she was leaning against. It helped for a few minutes, but as her mind wandered down the paths of possibility, her hands started scratching off their own accord. First one hand, then the other. Repeat.
Insanity, she knew, was in the in-between. It was in the time between now and the next moment, in the space between here and somewhere else, anywhere else. It was between all the things that could have been – not one of them, but between them. The breath between the ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
What she needed to do, and she knew this for a long time, was focus on the now, focus on what was, not what could be. But knowing didn’t automatically inspire doing. Knowing was so much easier than doing.
She forced her hands away from the red, raw skin. The inside of her arms were on the verge of bleeding and she hadn’t even noticed until she paused to look.
She grabbed the railing and held tight, knuckles white.
Don’t let go.
The trick, she knew, was breathing. Just breathing. The wind and the air would quiet the mind eventually. The now, what actually is, would catch up with her and for a while, for a blissful while, the ifs and maybes will let her be.
Until next time.