Stop.

Writing is supposed to help. So here it goes.

I feel like I need to apologize to you. I know, I know, I shouldn’t apologize. But, in my defense, you haven’t heard why yet.

I’m sorry for not speaking. I’m sorry for falling into a pattern where I don’t speak around you. I never expect you to read my mind. I’m just quiet. I was thinking about it and it’s gotten worse. As it does sometimes. Sometimes I get stuck in these ruts. But it feels long this time. And since you’ve had less on your plate, you’ve had less to talk about, and there’s more silence when we’re together. And for that I’m also sorry; I know you don’t like the silence.

I tried to figure out why I was quiet and it’s at least two fold.

The first is the depression. Sometimes I like to act like it doesn’t exist and sometimes I wonder how valid you think it is. Like if it’s real or not. Day like today, yesterday, the day before? They make me believe it’s real. And when I have bad days, everything compiles. My anxiety starts it off and then I’m bombarded with pain. And the things from my life that are painful or unresolved rise to the surface. It works to cover itself with exhaustion and irritability. And I find the best way to solve it sometimes is to just stay quiet. Especially because sometimes there’s nothing wrong. Sometimes I’m just in the worst mood and my mind isn’t working and I have nothing to say.

The second reason I think I’ve been quiet is because… I’m afraid you’ll stop being friends with me. Let me just say before your mind runs off that this is not because of anything you did. In truth, it has nothing to do with you. I’ve just… I’ve been left enough times that I expect it again. When I met you, I had no intentions of becoming friends with you. I wanted to; I knew we’d get along. But I knew I shouldn’t. Because becoming friends with someone is a vulnerable experiment and I’ve had enough times where it didn’t turn out too well. But here we are. You’ve become a friend that I’ve grown to care deeply about and that puts me in a very, very dangerous position. The thought of you turning away from me and never looking back sends waves of sadness through me.

I’ll just stop there. Because I can’t really tell you any of this.

-Melissa

 

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Twice.

I kind of have a horrible habit. If you ask me a question about myself, I will very readily lie.

No, no. That’s not the horrible part.

The horrible part is if you ask it twice, I’ll most likely tell you the truth.

You see, I told her I missed someone and she thought I’d said, “I miss God.” I laughed and said, “Well, that too. But no, I said I miss so-and-so.” She raised her eyebrows and questioned me: “What do you mean you miss God?” I laughed her off again and told her I’d just been kidding. She paused and then asked, “Were you really kidding? What did you mean?”

I could feel that moment of hesitation that would give me away even if I had lied again. I finally told her, well no, I hadn’t been kidding.

We’re going to skip the part where she gave me the Christian answer that isn’t helpful and didn’t really ask any questions about my current predicament. Because that’s not the point here.

The point here is that, if you ask me a question about myself, I’ll lie. For many reasons: I don’t want you to view me differently depending on my answer, I don’t want to seem weak, I don’t want to burden you, I don’t think talking will help, I don’t want you to have something to use against me, I don’t believe you really want to know, I believe that even if you think you want to know you won’t once you actually know, etc., etc., etc. Basically? A lot of fear.

What would happen if I was just… open and honest all the time? I don’t really know. If I just said what I was thinking? If I just answered questions honestly? Looking down that road, trying to imagine what that would be like? Maybe it should be a road paved with freedom and overgrown with a lightness I can’t describe. But that’s not what I see when I imagine it. No. I see loss and rejection and loneliness.

Hmm. I may never have to see which road it leads to. I don’t know that I could ever be open. And, not that I will ever, ever, hold them accountable to this (and nor should I – clearly), but people don’t know that, to get me talking, you ask the same question twice.

-Melissa

Changed.

We were talking and joking and I said something that made you both laugh. My comment made you both agree that nothing has changed. That I haven’t changed.

This was a little concerning to me. My mind spun for a moment before I drew myself back.

I haven’t changed? In over a year since you haven’t seen me, nothing has changed? I’m worried by that sentiment because I know where I was a year ago. I’m coming to one of three conclusions:

1.) I hid it a lot better than I thought I did while I knew you. I must have isolated myself to the point where you really don’t see a change in me since then. Maybe I put on some sort of mask when I was with you and didn’t let anything I was feeling leak from me. The anxiousness and irritability and sadness and utter emptiness… Maybe I kept them all and more from you undetected.

2.) Maybe you saw all those things and still see them now. And that’s concerning because I don’t feel them now. At least not as consistently and constantly. I didn’t feel them sitting there with you two days ago. So if you continue to see those things in me, I’m confused as to how.

3.) You ignored everything I’d said to you in the past. You ignored the pain in my eyes and wrote me off. Even when I told you it was there, you still chose to see only the good things I presented. So of course now I look no different. Of course now I sound the same. Because you aren’t listening. You’re choosing what to hear. You wrote off my depression as just me whining or complaining or being pessimistic. A year ago, you were ignoring… me.

You know, the third point is the one I’m afraid is correct. And that sucks. When I was severely depressed, there were a few people around me who … hurt me. Not intentionally. Not maliciously. I would highly doubt they even know.

I had someone reproach me for not getting enough sleep at a time I was afraid to go to sleep because I’d have bad dreams and it would end in me waking up and having to face yet another day. I had someone tell me how much they cared about me only to never make time for me again. I had people talk down to me, belittle me, and offer a lot of challenge and little to no support. When I told someone I’d been hurt by others during that time because of all of this, she replied, “Well, what do you want them to do?” or “What do you expect them to do?” in a condescending tone. I even had someone, after I told him people never cared enough to follow up with me, promise me he would follow up.

He never did.

Now, I don’t know exactly what I needed or wanted from these people. I guess I wanted to know I was cared for. Because they would tell me they did care for me but then there was never any evidence to support that.

I don’t know what my point is. I guess if someone tells you they are depressed or severely depressed, know they chose those words carefully and they know what they mean. Know that talking down to someone is hurtful and makes them feel like you think they’re worthless. Know that when someone tells you something incredibly painful, you should probably follow up, not act like it never happened.

Know that I have changed. In the year since you’ve seen me, I’m not the same person anymore. The depression is mild and the more severe bouts come in waves that are far apart from one another. I’m not drowning anymore. Breathing comes easily a good, fair amount of the time now. I’m not suffocating anymore. There are still incredibly hard days and some of those days turn into weeks. But now the good days outnumber the bad and, when you last were with me, the good days were so few and far between that I couldn’t remember what they tasted like.

I’m afraid that the fact that you don’t see that change means you were never really looking to begin with.

-Melissa

Robbed.

I could feel shock go through me. My eyes grew wide, my mouth gaped for a moment, and I asked him to repeat himself.

He did. He hadn’t realized I didn’t know.

How was I supposed to know? You haven’t spoken to me in over a year.

Tears came to my eyes immediately, but I quickly composed myself and focused my attention back to him. This wasn’t about you. This conversation was about what he was saying to me, about the life changes he was going through. And I could give him my complete attention.

A little while later though, my mind repeated the same phrase over and over again. Instead of your name, I kept saying “my best friend.”

But really? You? You’re my best friend? You? Of all people? You who left me without looking back? You who made one horrible life decision after another? You who deserted me? You who turned your back on the support I offered you? You who dismissed people who have always loved you? You who robbed me of the honor and blessing of sharing this life together with our other friends and family? You who I called brother unabashedly and proudly only to be tossed aside as if I were someone you knew for a day?

No. No, you’re not my best friend. ‘Friend’ is a sacred word to me and it will be reserved for those who care for me and allow me to care for them.

I have learned one thing within the past fourteen months: You are not the person I thought you were.

-Melissa

Missing you.

We make assumptions in life. And some days, you wake up and an assumption that you’d grown used to, suddenly isn’t so stable anymore.

It’s been over five years. Five years, nine months, and thirteen days if you want to be exact. Years that have changed me through heartbreak, transition, and opportunity. And I know they’ve changed you too.

Almost six years of silence.

I woke up this morning with an assumption firmly set in my mind. An assumption that told me there was no hope. An assumption that promised I would never again hear your voice or your laugh, I would never again see your face, I would never again have your friendship.

I woke up this morning to a very subtle change. And I could feel, can feel, it reaching for me. I can feel it’s thin, cold fingers, I can feel the brittle nails, wrapping slowly around my heart. This monster called ‘hope.’ Begging me to give in.

But I know hope. And hope is not to be trusted.

Didn’t you teach me that?

It was probably a mistake. It probably meant nothing to you. You probably thought I wouldn’t notice. You probably didn’t give it any thought at all. You probably didn’t mean to cause my assumptions to waiver.

Five years, nine months, thirteen days, and I’m still…

Missing you.

-Melissa

Choosing.

I don’t like being around people when I feel like that. I feel like I’m infecting them.

I can feel waves, like heat, radiating from me. This bubble surrounding me that those standing too close are trapped within. I feel their awkwardness when they can sense something is wrong but don’t know how to ask. I can’t make eye contact with them but I can feel the stolen glances they brave toward me. I can feel my silence- it’s palpable. But I feel enclosed in my own gloom.

And my thoughts make me ache. It’s your choice to feel this way, you know. You just have to stop. You’re making this hard on everyone, you’re ruining their time. Choose to feel better. It’s your fault you feel this way. You’re not doing anything about it. You have to do something about it. It’s your fault.

And then there’s tears in my eyes.

It’s your fault.

And it is. It is my fault. I should just smile. I should pull myself up by my bootstraps. It doesn’t matter how. I should just do it. I must be choosing to feel this way – I must be.

Just relax.

Just smile.

Just feel better.

Just talk.

Just act.

Just be better.

Just choose.

-Melissa

Superwoman.

I think there’s a superwoman in my head.

Really, I do. I think she takes charge and gets stuff done and pushes forward. I think my ideas come from her, my grit comes from her, my strength comes from her.

I think she gets defeated sometimes. I think she goes to battle with the other voices and forces in my head and she looses. Before I know it, she’s buried beneath the debris of the fight and I can’t find her anywhere.

It’s in these moments (or days or weeks) that I’m at a loss. It’s when I find myself taking every possible minute to myself. When I find myself giving all that I can to my job but that’s almost nothing. It’s these moments that I find myself desperately trying to figure out what to do, searching things on the internet like “how to deal with depression at work” and “should you tell your boss you’re depressed.” It’s when I look up therapists in the local area, only to come to the conclusion that I can’t get myself to spend that much money.

I’m tired and I’m sad. This day is no where near over and I can’t find superwoman.

-Melissa