I don’t know why, but I feel like giving you all a little back story for this poem before you read it so that you understand where it comes from. The Edge of the World is a poem a I wrote a few years ago when I started college and fell into a anxiety-ridden depression for a few months after having to leave home to attend a University three hours away. Three hours doesn’t sound like much, but for me it was an eternity (especially since I didn’t have a car). I would no longer be able to wake up and stumble into the next room and have my family be right there, like they always had been for eighteen years. I know most teenagers long for the day when they can leave home and finally live on their own, but I was never one of them. I am a family person all the way and a proud Momma’s Girl. So needless to say, the first three months of college life were an absolute misery, I’ve never cried so much in my entire life as I did those months and I hope never to again. I’d never experienced such fear and pain, literal pain. Every morning when I woke, as soon as my eyes flicked open, I immediately felt this suffocating weight crash down upon my chest, splintering my ribs, and it stayed there until I fell fitfully asleep every night. I’d been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during my senior year of high school and had experienced the horror of an panic attack, but this crushing pain and sadness was more than I had ever felt before, it was very nearly too much.
Over time though, as I relaxed bit by aching bit, I realized what my family and friends had known all along: I needed this. I needed to find out who I was apart from everyone I knew. I needed to learn how to live with just myself (not that I’m one of those clueless college kids who arrives on campus not knowing how to do their laundry, that’s not what I mean lol). There was a purpose for all of this suffering…go figure. Once I adjusted to the new life I was living, I realized that it wasn’t so bad; there were even moments that I enjoyed immensely when I forgot to be sad for a little while. I still missed my mother terribly every single day, but I went to class and saw friends and went shopping and lived…I was so surprised to discover that I was living my life. I was living…I was okay, not perfect, but fine enough for the time being. Things got better everyday after those first three months, little by little (though I backslid everynow and then, but hey I’m only human lol). And when I returned for my second year I discovered that while I continued to miss my family, I was happy to be back at school. Imagine that…I was happy.
But back to the poem, I wrote this one afternoon (near the end of those first three months) as a friend and I drove home for the weekend. I was feeling better, but still not fully myself and wondered if I ever would feel normal again. We were crossing over a bridge and I looked out to where the water touched the sky and wondered…what if that is the edge of the world? Could I walk up to it and look down at the universe? What if I fell…did I want to fall?
The Edge of the World:
I’ve been to the edge of the world,
And peered below into the darkness;
Seen the vastness of eternity, and held my breath.
Icy waters rushed past my bare feet. Burning cold.
Searing flesh, freezing memories.
I’ve straddled the edge of the world,
Dangling one leg on each side; waiting to choose
To finally choose…unsure but desperate.
Seeking relief, needing relief
I’ve leaned over the edge of the world,
Seen the whole of the universe waiting,
Felt myself break into a thousand sharp pieces.
Still unsure of letting go, breaking free,
Of giving up to the unknowns of forever and eternity.
I’ve decided my fate at the edge of the world,
Resolved to pull back, to tread the waters home.
And feel each stab of pain
Like rays of sunlight on my face.
To try, again and again and again.
I’ve survived temptation at the end of the world,
Fought back the false promises of peace;
Destroyed the source of the whispered words.
Tore down the lies, the promises of artificial escape.
Stood up again and backed slowly away.
I’ve lost a part of myself to the edge of the world,
Straying so close comes with a heavy consequence;
And now part of me is lost forever:
My mind, my heart, my soul, my sanity.
I can never be whole again.
I’ve been to the edge of the world,
And found my way back home again,
Determined to try the game once more.
Knowing there will always be a part of me that is tainted,
Ruined and panic-driven by the wilds of forever and eternity.