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

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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

Stubbornly.

We were sitting at a table with four other people and, as you animatedly told your stories from the weekend, you only really looked at me. You glanced at the others periodically, but I felt like you were telling your tales to me.

The guy you liked, one of my closest friends, was sitting in between us. I knew you’d tell him many more details later and, at the end of our meal, I heard the two of you making plans to go into town together.

But, as you spoke now, you kept looking at me.

I could’ve cried. Instead I laughed, listened intently, and gave you as much eye contact as you wanted.

I could feel you wanting my attention in that moment. I could feel you wanting my laughter, my friendship.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been fighting it. I’ve been avoiding giving you my eye contact, my attention. I felt you didn’t want it. I felt you’d given up on me and didn’t care to try to cultivate any relationship between us and, stubbornly, I said, “Fine.” Stubbornly, I avoided you. Stubbornly, I ignored you. Stubbornly, I put bricks back into place in a wall I thought you’d been working to tear down.

And today, I could’ve cried because I felt like you wanted my friendship again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a billion more times: making new friends is hard. It’s confusing and vulnerable and complicated and painful and terrifying. Stubbornly, I want to know: Do you want my friendship or do you not? It’s your choice.

Because I want yours.

-Melissa

Deserve.

I think she might have been right.

That counselor two years ago.

I think she might have been right when she told me I didn’t let people love me.

And that saying? That saying that says “We accept the love we think we deserve”? It’s a line from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but I’ve heard the quote. And when I first heard it, I ignored it. I wrote it off and told myself it wasn’t true. At least not for me.

But I think Stephen Chbosky may have been right too.

Making new friendships is a terrifying, painful process for me. And this time around, I’m very aware of my self worth because of it.

Because, as scary as it is, I’m making a new friend right now. When I hang out with him, I’m cautious and reserved. He can tell. He’s commented a few times about the wall I’ve built around myself. And I can tell he’s looking for a hole or a weak spot in the wall.

But he doesn’t know how many walls there are.

Anyway. When I’m with him, things are good. It’s fun. It’s easier than I’d like to admit. But when we part ways, I start to panic. My mind starts to spin with thoughts of how something in our latest interaction is going to make him hate me and I convince myself he will stop talking to me or ignore me the next time we see each other. I’m already afraid of losing him. And I’m afraid that losing him will cause others to leave me too.

The other day, we were hanging out with another friend and there were a couple of other people around as well. He was teasing me and telling me that he liked me. I turned and looked him in the eye and said, “You don’t like me.”

“Yes I do!”

“No. You don’t.”

He brushed me off and told me that he did like me and that I needed to stop listening to whatever voices in my head that were telling me he didn’t.

Our other friend, a close friend of mine, who has been keenly observing our interactions, laughed. The subject changed. I was a bit taken aback and drew into myself a little. Because he’d hit the nail right on the head. I was constantly convincing myself he hated me and, if he didn’t now, he would tomorrow.

Having friends and making friends… Is it supposed to be this painful? Even with the close friend I was just referring to, I tell myself all the time that he could, honestly, that he should, stop being friends with me. I remind myself that I have nothing good to offer him and that … it’s hard to write down… But I remind myself he deserves a better friend than me. That he’d be better off without me.

I know how that sounds. That’s why it’s hard to write down.

I keep telling myself that people hate me and, if they don’t now, they will tomorrow.

If they don’t hate me now, they should tomorrow.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

-Melissa

Better.

Depression sucks. And I talk a big game about getting better. I know what to do. I know seeing a therapist would be good and I should exercise and cut some sugar out of my diet. I know there are studies that any one of these things can help someone living with depression.

I carve out time in my schedule for self care. An hour to read here. An hour to do yoga here. An hour to write there.

I have these moments of determination and clarity and can imagine myself doing all the things I need to do to get better. I go to meetings smiling and chatting and make a good time of it.

But there are other moments. Like the moments that led up to that meeting, reminding me I’d already cried two or three times that morning. Or moments where I sit with my head in my hands as I have a few minutes alone and just repeat over and over that I’m okay and that painful, restless energy shooting through my veins is something I can get through. Or that moment when a friend texts me and I know I have to go and get out of my apartment and hope the fact that I’ve been crying for the last hour isn’t too obvious. Or the moments and moments and moments I spend lying in bed for two hours after I wake up, trying to find the motivation to even sit up. Then hopefully standing up and getting ready will follow.

Those are just a few moments that have occurred within the past 48 hours.

Two days ago, after I’d been pretty productive and had planned in the self care into my calendar and had been researching depression workbooks (who knew those were a thing??), I got into bed and had this sinking feeling. I fell asleep and the only thought on my mind was, “I feel discouraged.”

One of the scariest things to me right now is trying to get better. I know that sounds crazy. Because going through life like this is miserable. But… I don’t know. I’m just really scared. What if I put in all of this work and… And nothing happens? What if I do my very best and better than my best and I’m still floundering? What then? I mean, I can only last like this for so long, right? And others won’t be able to deal with me, whichever me this is, for so long, right? So what happens when I don’t get better? What happens when I do everything I can and I’m still not okay?

What then?

-Melissa