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I Disappeared Today

Excerpt from Grit and Grace - A Memoir

By Cathy SchieffelinPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
I Disappeared Today
Photo by Magda Smolen on Unsplash

I disappeared today. I’m not sure when it happened but now I can’t find myself anywhere. My family can’t see me, my colleagues can’t hear me, my dogs don’t even smell me. I’m just gone.... into thin air. Actually the air is thick and murky and has a sulfurous smell. So if I’m not here – where am I?

Maybe I fell into a cloud of mist. It’s not unpleasant, really. Just disorienting. It’s like I’m walking somewhere in rural Scotland, among the low hedges, surrounded by a chilly fog, sounds of the Atlantic roaring in the distance. But I can’t see my feet or even my breath, as I float along. I’m alone. I don’t mind being alone. It’s nice not having to accommodate anyone else. I can just be – even in my non- material state.

I relish the tranquility of this place. Wind rustles the trees and bushes. Cold air braces my skin. Mist swirls like whispering tendrils, gentle and haunting. Birds cackle in the distance – ravens and jays. Salt on my tongue and burning leaves in my nose.

I’m perceiving things – so I’m not totally gone – but I’ll be damned if I can find my shadow or reflection anywhere. Not even a hint of it. Empty air where I should be taking up space. And when I open my mouth – nothing. No words, no sounds. Only silence. And it’s not because I don’t have something to say. I always have something to say. But right now – silence... dark and empty.

Where have I lost myself to? Is this just in my head? Have I forgotten to open my eyes? Have I forgotten to listen? Have I forgotten the sensation of touch? Or I have found that sacred place – the place I strive for in meditation – to just be. Where all the noise and mindless chatter fall away and all focus is on the breath?

Do I even want to return to myself? Is this state a kind of nirvana? No one to chastise or judge me or tell me all the ways I’m doing things wrong. It’s peaceful here… quiet and calm. It’s also a little lonely. I’m used to sharing ideas with others and right now I can’t. Because I don’t have many thoughts – aside from the question of – Where Am I? Maybe I don’t really care that much about where I am. Maybe I should be asking Who Am I? Maybe that’s more important.

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Niece? This list is unsatisfying. Can I only exist as part of someone else. Is my relationship to others the only way I can be materially present in this world? Maybe that’s why I disappeared. I needed a break from being a part of all these other humans. I want to be me – alone – without expectation.

I'm a survivor. Breast Cancer. Wasn't always sure I'd get through it but I'm still here - floating and dreaming. The breast cancer may be gone, but new things popped up in its place. High blood pressure, diabetes, and achy joints. For every step forward, there seems to be a step back. I have to contend with my new reality.

That's why I don't mind this non-material state, hazy and unfocused. Here I don't have to worry about glucose levels or if my pressure's up. I don't see my husband's arched eyebrow when I crave ice cream. I'm not harassed by my pack of wild mongrels because they need a walk.

I love my humans and my canines – but sometimes I need a break. I’ll come back soon but for right now, I’ll rest in this state of non-being.


About the Creator

Cathy Schieffelin

Writing is breath for me. Travel and curiosity contribute to my daily writing life. I've had pieces published in Adanna Lit Jour. and Halfway Down the Stairs. My first novel, The Call, comes out in 2024. I live in New Orleans.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (2)

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  • MecAsaf6 months ago

    Excellent work

  • Marianne Alt7 months ago

    Yes. There have been periods in my life that I've felt that I've disappeared - or parts of me. I discover an item from my past and wonder what happened to the person who had last held it. And times that I wish that I could disappear - from all the things that you've described - responsibilities, other beings, judgement, the pain and weight of the world. You express this so clearly!

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