The castle has fallen

The structure that was once my mind is gone. The labyrinth of cold, stone corridors that I’d built to constrain my thoughts to safety has crumbled. The endless hours of pain and introspection I spent etching my soul into those stones, has been wasted. They’ve all turned into dust. I’ve lost any sight of the map I had winding around my fears. It had guided me away from the dangerous parts of my mind like a second sight, an instinctive burning of where I should avoid. I’d written it so long ago, in so many parts, and with such fervor that I don’t even remember what those fears or dangers were in the first place. But I know they have to exist, or why would I have avoided them?

Having confined myself to the labyrinth, I didn’t even remember I had a castle, and just as I remembered it I got to watch it fall slowly in front of me. Huge swaths of rigid stone that once supported me, even though I didn’t know it, turned into useless sand. The ground where it all stood is made of the very same sand, unable to hold any foundation, and the city beyond has turned into melting clay that I can’t get to hold any shape at all. I have nowhere and nothing to build, and of course, the dangers I’d feared must have been released.
Worst of all, the sand doesn’t hold a map, that invisible refuge I’d relied on so much. Where do I even start…


Enter stage left, Natalie

I want you to imagine an alarm that constantly going off around you. It’s been there as long as you can remember and you’re the only one who can hear it. Every time you ask anyone else if they hear it, they look at you like you’re insane, dismiss your question, and move on.

Oh, you’re just overthinking it! Just do what everyone else does and you’ll be fine.
There’s nothing to worry about, I’m sure you’ll get used to it eventually just like the rest of us.
Why would you want to do that?? Just be normal and it’ll pass.
It’s a phase we all go through. I remember a time when…

Despite everything they say, it stays with you through your childhood and worsens as you get older.

You can ignore it most of the time, like the sound of the fan by a desk. You start to think that maybe it really is just like that for everyone. Maybe life is just intrinsically annoying and you’re overthinking it. Who knows maybe if you stop thinking about it so much then everything they say will be true and you might actually get to enjoy yourself.
You go about your life trying to forget about the alarm sounding in your head, trying to forget what it’s telling you. But there are things that make it louder, make it harder to ignore. You see the echoes of it everywhere. Things that you could see making it better, maybe even things you’d like to do anyway. But every time you do something to help, people gawk and stare.

You look too different...
You’re trying too hard…
You don’t know what that’ll do to you in the long term.
Stop looking for attention and just act normal like the rest of us.

So despite everything you’ve done telling you differently, you just accept that it’ll always be there and that there’s nothing you can do about it. That you should just listen to what the masses say,

There is no alarm.
I’m just like everyone else.
there’s no need to “change”, I can be happy with the alarm.

Even with all of that though, it still feels harder than it should, it feels like you’ll always be haunted by it. Even when you can distract yourself from the sound, it’s there in your mind. Everything you see reminds you of what you’re ignoring, and the alarm is right behind that thought to make itself clear. Day after day you search for more distractions. Something that keeps the quiet, alone time away.
It’s easy enough to ignore when others are around, there’s so much noise that it just gets drowned out. So you fill your time with noise, just hoping that you’ll find something loud enough that you could enjoy. You run faster and faster, always chasing those moments of balance between being overwhelmed by the sound on the outside, or falling victim to the alarm within. It’s a never-ending race, one in which you can’t reset or relax, and where losing is still an unknown.

You can’t keep doing this, it’s tearing you apart. You have dreams that are being destroyed by your drive for silence, but you’re stuck. You’re running so fast but the thing you’re running from Is inside you. So despite all of your effort, you’re just standing still. There’s no getting away from it. The only thing you can do to survive is to sacrifice your life to the noise. To just give up on anything you want to do or be and let yourself rot under the torrent of sound. Unless they were wrong. Maybe the alarm can’t be ignored?

But what would that even mean? Every time you’ve tried it’s been a fight against those you love. Everyone you’ve ever known has told you that it’s not okay, that you shouldn’t be trying so hard to fight something that doesn’t exist! But if you’re having to fight so hard to even stand still, are you even sure it doesn’t exist?

But what if they are wrong? What if there is something different about me, not unique, just different?
Well, even they weren’t wrong, that alarm is part of me now. It’s been there forever, and I’ve built my life around ignoring it. Would I even be the same person without it?
What would I even do if you didn’t have to fight it anymore?
Even if I gave in, how far would the alarm take me?

There are so many questions that you’ve ignored for so long that the alarm is now louder than it’s ever been.

What does it want?
Why did I wait so long??
How can this be normal???
Have I been lying to myself all this time

There’s nothing dampening the alarm anymore, it’s the loudest thing you’ve ever heard.

I’m done ignoring my alarm. It doesn’t control me, but I’m not fighting it.
My alarm’s name is Natalie, and I am my alarm.