Screaming in the Attic

That girl cried in our attic at night.  Some nights she was silent.  And other nights, she screamed.  I didn’t know who she was or why she was screaming.  In the end, there was only one answer.  If my mum wouldn’t go into the attic, I would have to up there myself.  At seven years old, I was too short so I had to fetch the stepladders and climb up to the trapdoor that was right above my bed.  And we didn’t have a flashlight so I would have to use a candle and hope that the wind would not blow it out.

The image of what I saw in the attic is still in my head, like a picture found on a stranger’s camera.  Now, it’s just another ghost who lives with the man swinging from the pipes in the toilet and the one who stands right behind me, only visible in the corner of my eye.

Less than a year ago, I decided it was OK to be me.  I have lived with rational conscious thoughts, the ever-present ghosts and something else.  It turns out that it is in the human condition for all of us to experience something called “intrusive thoughts”.  Intrusive thoughts are usually very unpleasant and unwelcome thoughts about violence, sex or blasphemy (http://tinyurl.com/cb3qzv).  A typical intrusive thought would be to think you might push a stranger in front of a train.  Of course, you aren’t going to do it but your mind momentarily generated the thought, none-the-less.

Now, I simply dismiss intrusive thoughts as they enter my mind.  They’re annoying but inevitable.  But I can’t erase the uninvited images from my childhood and no matter how I try, I can’t exorcise the ghosts.  So we have learned to live with each other.  It’s just one big party inside my head.

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