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Muddled.

Thank you
Smile
I’m grateful
Let’s laugh
And sing
Strengths
Positivity
Growth
Hope

I can still feel it
The weight of something
My brain muddled
Softened
Sensitive
Anger soothed
Over a thick layer
Of sadness

I wonder
If this is who I am
Who I am now
If I am bound
For hopelessness

The sky is peaceful
The chill is calming
Our footsteps are soft
The snow is slick
Our breathing slow
The stars begging
The darkness revealing

Sadness is unbecoming
So I’ll keep mine quiet
Sadness breeds quiet
At least in me
In my
Muddled mind

I wonder
If this is who I am
Who I am now

-Melissa

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Out.

You said I should say the words in my head out loud. So here it goes.

Today when I had a few minutes to myself, I decided to stay in for dinner. As soon as the door shut behind me, I could feel that thing in my chest. That thing where it feels like my whole chest is tightening.

I paced around my apartment for a while, eating an apple. I told myself it’s because I needed the steps but really it was because I needed the energy to wear off. When I settled a bit, I turned on the tv. The noise helps. I don’t know why the noise helps.

This happens a lot. I can be alone for a minute and the feeling hits me. Sometimes I’m with people when I feel it. Sometimes it makes me shudder because I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin. Have you ever seen me shudder? I try to be subtle about it so people don’t notice me.

It hurts, you know? It makes me feel restless and tired at the same time. All I want to do is stay in bed all day, every day. But that’s frowned upon.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t be alone because the silence is pressing in on every side of me and threatening to suffocate me. So then I either try to distract myself or be with other people. Sometimes I go and sit with you or others while you’re working – not because I need anything, but because you’re safe and I need the presence of someone who is safe. And I’m really scared that you’re going to get sick of me coming to sit with you or that others will and I can’t really explain to you why I need to or want to, just that I do. And I do. But when you combine that with the fact that I always assume my friends are on the verge of leaving me… well, it’s fucking miserable.

You said I should say the words in my head out loud. But I can’t. So here they are: written for the world to see but not for anyone I know to read.

-Melissa

Fail.

We were sitting in a dimly lit, fancy restaurant. We’d gone to a bar-ish place for dinner where we very much enjoyed the food and a drink or two. We tried to find a rooftop bar afterwards but had ended up in the hotel restaurant for drinks and dessert. One thing led to another and then we were suddenly each listing five life experiences that made us who we are now.

I listened as one of my colleagues say one of those five things for her was a suicide attempt.

The feeling in that moment odd. A little bit of shock as I hadn’t known that about her. A few things also clicked and I saw why one of her passions fell into her life the way it did. But the last thing was about me.

I listened and my mind reminded me that I’d never had a suicide attempt. My mind told me that my depression isn’t and has never been that bad because I hadn’t. That I needed to get over myself because it was all in my head and, clearly, since I’d never attempted suicide, I was fine.

I honestly had the thought: “Wow. You’re not even doing depression right.”

Oh for goodness sake.

How ridiculous is that?!

I actually don’t have a lot to say about it. I just know that it was very wrong. That it was incredibly distorted thinking. That it was a very unhealthy thought. And that I was invalidating myself (yet again).

How ridiculous.

–  Melissa

Five.

New year, new me, right?

No. Nope. Na da.

New year, same me.

I’m trying to push myself. Trying to do the good things. Trying to capitalize on motivation and ignore when I don’t have it. I mean, I have made it through fourteen days of this month after all. And I’m smiling more and I think I’m complaining less. I start and end the day listing things I’m thankful for. I’m reading the Bible and praying. I’m taking note of my impatience and working through it. I’m trying my hardest to shrug and let things fall off of my shoulders.

But I am so fucking sad right now. So sad. And tired. And there’s no reason to be tired but here I am. I feel like crying and cowering. I want to wrap myself in blankets and bury myself in pillows and never leave my bed again.

I’m still moving I’m still breathing I’m still going I’m still try I am trying but I’m sad.

I know it’s not an easy fix. I know it’s not a couple weeks of good habits and then I’ll just magically be better. I know it’s hard work and effort. I know I know I know. But right now? Now?

I wish there was a reason, you know? Like a trigger. I wish there was something today or yesterday that made me sad that would explain my current state. I wish you could look at the lump in my throat and diagnose the problem. I wish you could put tears under a microscope and understand, perfectly and in detail, what was happening.

It might be better tomorrow. Right? Tomorrow I might wake up and feel better. Tomorrow is new and I might have, or at least be able to find or fake, some motivation. You know, five minutes from now is new. I could feel lighter in five minutes. The weight of silence could be gone.

I will get up in five minutes. That is what is required of me after all. And I have the ability.

I didn’t have anything to say. I just want to write when I feel this way. I don’t know why. I just say the same thing over and over and over.

But five minutes from now could be different.

Here’s to your next five minutes.

-Melissa

Lean.

and I make a vow, then and there, that I will never hide again.

I can feel tears forming in my eyes as I finished reading what he wrote and put down my phone.

I wish he was sitting in front of me so I could shake him and tell him:

But you are hiding. Don’t you see that?! That is what’s happening right now. You’re still scared and there’s still a seventeen year old boy cowering in a corner right now, hiding. And, because you can’t see that or can’t acknowledge it or refuse to acknowledge it or whatever, you’re going to ruin the good thing you have going for you right now.

You say you’re an open book and, in a lot of ways, you are. You say the things that pop into your head out loud as you think them. But those are surface thoughts. Those are… They’re like the summary on the inside cover of the book. Or a movie preview that gives away most of the story line. But the depths of your thoughts? The real deep fears and insecurities? You cover those with bravo and a loud voice.

You’re unwilling to listen and truly hear. You’re scared to let someone in. You’re afraid of what doing so has done to you in the past. And I get it – believe me, I get it – but you’ve got to soften just a bit and give in just a bit and compromise just a bit. Because this thing where you just speak over the other person and assume you know and refuse to acknowledge how you could be wrong in any way? It is never going to do you any good.

And by the way? You don’t get to give me any more speeches about building walls because you are just as bad.

Don’t screw this up because you’re scared. Lean into the fear for this. This is worth it. I know you know this is worth it.

-Melissa

Admission.

You sat down stubbornly in the snow and said you weren’t going anywhere. I stared at you while you weren’t looking, deciding that, if I could paint, this is how I would paint you. Sitting in the snow, that determined and slightly pissed off look on your face, looking away from me and just waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

I asked you what you wanted. You said you wanted me to love myself. That the love you had for me wouldn’t stick if I didn’t.

I asked what you wanted me to say. You told me you wanted to hear the battle going on in my head right now.

But do you really? Is that what you want to hear? Because I don’t think you actually want to know.

You see, I can’t imagine you actually want to know that, no, I do not love myself. No, that’s not something I can give you. No. Actually, I hate myself. I can look myself in the mirror and, without batting an eye, remind myself of that hatred. I am a horrible person. In fact, I am the worst possible person imaginable.

And the most striking thing about all of that? I don’t care. I don’t care! I don’t care that I hate myself! I don’t mind my view of myself! You know why? Because I deserve it. I deserve to be hated. I have nothing good to offer this world. I will never be enough for the people I care about. No one should have to deal with me. I am the worst of the worst and I deserve to be hated. If someone can’t see that or likes me despite that fact, then they don’t know me. Because no one who knew me would actually like me.

We walked away and I still hadn’t said anything. I tried to explain I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place and, no matter if I spoke or not, I’d make you mad or sad.

I didn’t say this but, I’d already made you both after all.

We walked away and I still hadn’t said anything. I could hear defeat in your silence and see it in the way you moved.

I almost begged you: “Please say something – I’m so scared.” But I keep my mouth shut.

I apologized (“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be like this.”) and watched you shiver in the cold.

We walked away and I still hadn’t said anything.

-Melissa

Holidays.

Things change as you get older. For me, the holidays used to be filled with… magic. A lightness, an excitement – enthusiasm. There were stories of baby Jesus and Santa, whispers of presents, and tours through neighborhoods of brightly lit houses. For days and weeks there was a wonderful anticipation and, from that perspective, everyone felt it and longed for what was coming. All of it culminated in a day or two of sheer bliss, wrapping paper strewn everywhere, time to play with cousins, treats always at hand, and ending the day exhausted but falling asleep with a smile on my face.

I’m incredibly grateful for that experience. I know that’s not how everyone grew up. I  wish it was because everyone deserves to share in that goodness.

It’s different now. There isn’t really a ‘holiday season’ anymore. I’m sure others would disagree but that’s how it feels to me. The only thing prior to Christmas is trying to figure out what to buy for others (and then actually remember and find the time to buy the gifts). Then I leave home to return to a place I used to call home. Then that day or two that used to be bliss is still filled with family, but it’s not the same.  The love is still very much real and treats are still always at hand, but I tire quickly of being surrounded by people and dread the drive back. Now, I can see the cynicism on people’s faces and feel the underlying tension. The cousin I used to look up to now actually doesn’t like me, so we avoid each other. Now, instead of playing with toys, we sit and chat or play a game of cards, trying to ignore the questions about if I’m with anyone yet or not. Now, some cousins aren’t even there to celebrate because they live far away or are with their partner’s families.

It’s not that the holidays are bad now. Like I said, the love is still there, which is all that matters. I guess the point is that… the love isn’t perfect. Most of it is well intended of course, but it’s no where near perfect. And the day isn’t perfect. And the weather is never perfect. The presents aren’t perfect. The meals aren’t perfect (though the desserts usually are, I’ll be honest). And the people. Yes, the people definitely aren’t perfect.

What’s fascinating to me is the concept of family. You’re not supposed to get annoyed by them. When you only see your aunt a couple times a year, you’re not supposed to get tired of her. When you have this amazing, huge group of people who love you endlessly, you’re not supposed to miss the quiet of your one person apartment. And yet, so many of us feel all the things I don’t think we’re supposed to feel during the holidays. I mean, no one wants to feel anxiety or depression hitting them square in the chest during the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ But we do. And going back to the place we grew up to visit all of our cousins and uncles and grandparents and aunts is more difficult than we ever knew it would be when we were kids.

The magic and the children who felt it during the holidays is gone. And you know? I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s just a grown up thing. I can accept that.

It’s not that the holidays are bad now. Like I said, the love is still there. And that is all that matters.

-Melissa