I bet you didn’t think it would possible to sleepwalk for years, without ever waking. I wouldn’t either. Except I did it.
I sleepwalked through every shopping trip. Every piece of clothing I nodded in agreement to, every pair of heels I knew would make me slip. Every skirt, every dress, every pair of tights I wore under them. I agreed to them all in a sleepwalker’s trance. Eyes glazed over, not taking in any of the colours, or materials.
I didn’t want them. They didn’t make me comfortable. But I nodded along anyway. All the other girls were wearing them, so I should too.
I sleepwalked all the way through my first real boyfriend, my mind went blank through each attempt to hold my hand. Or to kiss me. Or to talk about his feelings, which I just couldn’t comprehend.
When he put his arm around me, it was a dead weight on my shoulders. An unbearable weight pushing down, reminding me that I was there with him. That I was his. And I sleepwalked through the one after him, too.
All the other girls had boyfriends, did I want to be the only girl that nobody loved?
I sleepwalked through the first time I got drunk. In a park full of noise and of cigarettes, filled with tipsy girls and shady boys.
I slept when an older boy handed me the bottle, smuggled out from the corner shop, under a cigarette burned Adidas hoodie, while I loitered nervously outside (he should’ve known better.) I slept so I couldn’t taste the dirt-cheap wine, couldn’t feel it hitting my empty stomach (I didn’t know better.)
I sleepwalked through the vomiting that inevitably followed, and when I really fell asleep that night I thought about how I never, ever wanted to do that again.
I knew I would though, because everyone else was doing it. Did I want to get left behind?
I sleepwalked through my first big fight. I slept so I didn’t have to face the fact, that maybe something wasn’t right. So, I didn’t have to admit that things couldn’t carry on this way.
And I sleepwalked when I sobbed out an apology and stopped fighting. It was easier if I didn’t.
I sleepwalked when I moved away. I had been drifting for so long that I couldn’t even tell whether I even wanted to go, or to stay.
And when I finally left, I slept. But I didn’t yet walk.
I slept long, and soundly. Until the exhaustion of being someone else waned away. And while I slept, I dreamt.
In my dreams, I was me. But, the me I was meant to be. I did the things I wanted to do, and I met the people I wanted to meet, in this new place, where no-one knew my face. I saw the paths I took, and the moves I had to make.
And this time, when I woke, I stayed awake. Because who else was going to make my dreams come true, if not me?
Amber Denwood is a queer, female writer, trying to bring more queer female writing to the world. She writes a lot about pop culture for publications such as VultureHound magazine, and writes a lot of poetry for lesser known publications, such as the notes app of her phone. If you’re interested in seeing more of her words, you can find her on twitter at @ambzld
Photo by Alexis Fauvet.