My Stunt Double: The Shell of a Person I Have Become.
It has been so long since I felt myself. Really… felt… myself.
My self. Myself. Whatever that is.
I feel like I am just pretending to be me.
I’ve been pretending for a while now. So long in fact that myself is starting to have a hazy quality. A nostalgic quality. An image in a frame viewed through a scratched and dusty pane of glass. Myself. My true self. Preserved in prime shape. Strong limbs. Wild smile. Eyes darting to find the next adventure. Feet barely touching the ground.
But that person has disappeared. The person you know. The person everyone knows. She has faded into the shadows.
You can still see me going through the motions. I laugh at your jokes and play along with your flirty vibe. I celebrate your successes and mourn your sorrows. I accept your invitations. I don’t want to disappoint you, so I roller-skate. I do the handstands. I climb the mountain. I ride. I do the push-ups and hit the heavy bags. I chase the sunbeams and throw myself in the ocean every chance I get.
I wash my hair and put on my signature black eyeliner. I work. I teach. I parent. I friend. I create. I debate. I encourage. I dare. I achieve. From about 6 in the morning until well after midnight. I do all of the things you expect me to do. That everyone expects me to do. The things I have always done.
But… it’s not really me. It’s my understudy. My stunt double. My stand-in. The one who goes through the motions when I cannot. For whatever reason. The one who moves to her mark and follows the script. Although she has rehearsed for years, she is inevitably bound by the confines of the role. It is not hers to evolve or improvise. She is playing a character and has no choice but to color within those lines.
Although she tries to smile so the light reaches her eyes, it never really does. She exists within two dimensions. That is why, when you truly pay attention, you notice something is missing. But she keeps hitting her mark and stays on script so the cameras continue to roll, and although they seem to lack something (depth? significance?) the scenes continue to be flawlessly performed.
I love my stunt double. She ensures that nobody sees the shell of a person I’ve become. She ensures that nobody realizes I have gone. She is reliable. She is practiced. She will never quit. For her, this is the role of a lifetime.
I hate my stunt double. She is a fake. A fraud. A great pretender.
I hate that you don’t notice. I want you to shout, “Where the fuck is Andrea? What have you done with her? Bring her back! I miss her! You are nothing like her! You’re not fooling me, you fucking bitch!”
As for me, I still lie awake until the sun threatens to rise, but my thoughts are fuzzy and my body feels far away. The electricity that once ran through my veins where blood should be, and the fire that leapt freely and incessantly across the synapses of my brain is gone. I have not disappeared completely, but I am only faintly interested in what’s going on in my absence.
I am easily distracted and seduced by the white noise inside my head.
I have no idea how long I will linger here. Perhaps until you notice and call me back from the shadows. I’m not sure.
Andrea Baker has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology and once knew everything there was to know about Byron and Bundy. She is a certified Yoga teacher and ever-evolving student in Vancouver’s beautiful Yoga community. She has divided her life equally between Canada’s east and west coast … never living far from the sea. The ocean has influenced her writing, her Yoga practice, and her approach to life. She distrusts capital letters, loves sticking eka pada koundinyasana, and wishes she was just a tiny bit taller. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or her blog.