Tag Archives: care

Letter.

To the fixers:

Maybe you don’t know what else to do, so you give a suggestion. Maybe my problem seems easy to you. Maybe you can’t relate. Maybe you see an easy solution and you can’t imagine why I haven’t seen it. Maybe I have. Maybe it’s not as easy as you suggest. Maybe I can’t do what you can do. Maybe your solution is just a step in the right direction, but that same solution is surrounded by obstacles in my life. Maybe I don’t need a solution. Maybe I don’t need you to fix this. Maybe you want to help and you want to take control and fix this. Breathe. Just take a breath and be here with me. This can’t be fixed so easily.

To the challengers:

I see my flaws. I know there are many things I need to change. I’m probably more aware of them than you are. You challenge me to have perspective. You challenge me to think in different ways. You challenge me to think passed this. I can do those things. And nothing you are saying is wrong. But you’re invalidating what I’m feeling. I’m in a vulnerable place and you’re telling me, “Hey. I know what you’re feeling. But stop feeling that. Because you haven’t thought about it in this way. You just need some perspective.” I am allowed to feel what I’m feeling. You make me feel like I’m bad because I’m feeling this way. Just stop. Just hear me. Empathize with me.

To the uncomfortable:

You asked me why I was crying. So I told you. So you made a face that said you understood. Then you looked away. And you looked back and talked about something else. You tried to make me laugh. You ignored what I said. I know you’re not comfortable. I know you don’t want to help me carry this burden. Then please don’t ask. If you can’t handle it, please don’t ask me why I have tears in my eyes. Please don’t ask me how I’m doing. Because watching you see my pain and then ignore it? That’s something I can’t handle. So if you want to engage in my pain with me, then please do. But if you don’t want to–if you can’t– then leave me alone.

To the distracted:

You heard me. You not only heard me, but you said all the right things. You are the closest I’ve gotten to feeling a bit of relief from the sadness inside of me. You have gotten my hopes up that maybe, just maybe, I’m not alone. But you are busy. And the hours and the days and the weeks pass by and you seem to forget everything I said to you. When you see me, sometimes I can see you still remember, but you’re hurried. You have to move on to your next task, your next meeting. You say we’ll connect again soon as you pass by. Or you are so busy and distracted that you never follow through. In any way. You don’t even ask how I’m doing. Either be one thing or the other. Either be my friend, or don’t. But do not get my hopes up.

To the listeners:

Where are you?

-Melissa

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Professor.

The sky is turning black and the page is blank.

My eyes locked on the darkening window as soft voices drifted in from the open door.

Can you accept something and still be sad?

Ah, yes. Wow, that just connected to far too many parts of my life.

You see, professor, I can’t finish my paper. I can barely lift my hands, let alone a pencil. You see, professor, my head leans against the back of the couch and it’s hard to lift it again. You see, professor, I’m finding it hard to concentrate.

No, professor, I am not tired. Yes, I’ve been getting enough sleep. Yes, I’ve been paying attention (when I can) in class. Yes, you will get your paper on time. No, professor, it will not be my best work. And you see, professor, I can’t care.

You see, professor, this classroom becomes too small. I feel suffocated by the lack of…I don’t know– life? in this classroom. You see, professor, my classmates keep talking about how challenge needs to be paired with support. But you see, professor, they’ve forgotten to pair support with challenge. Professor, their challenges weigh down on me and I fight to not grow bitter against them. Because, you see, professor, they don’t see into my life. They don’t see my loneliness or these days (and days) when I’m unbearably sad. You see, professor, I’m not really close to them. They forget about me. They don’t ask me how I am. And you see, professor, that makes the loneliness so much stronger.

But professor, you don’t see.

And I’ve accepted that this is the way it is for a while. For a while, I will struggle to breathe. I will passively drown. But I wonder if I’ll ever swim again.

I used to be so good at swimming.

Don’t worry, professor. I’ll finish your paper. I’ll make something up. You’ll get it in time.

-Melissa

Love.

I want to live in a society where men and women can be great friends and no one assumes they’re in love. This of course comes from the way that I love. I get deeply attached to people and that is so often misunderstood. So often, people assume that I like whatever male friend I’m hanging out with or gushing about. And maybe that’s the problem– that I do gush over some of my guy friends. When I do that, it’s hard for others to believe that I genuinely don’t like them in the “I want to date you and marry you and live happily ever after” way.

One part of me understands that. I can see why the way I talk about or show care or attach myself to some of my male friends could be misconstrued as a romantic affection.

But the other part of me just gets so frustrated. Most of the time, the frustration is aimed at people who don’t believe me, no matter how many times I tell them. But today, the frustration is toward me. I’m not mad at myself or anything, but it’s just frustrating. Because I know people are confused because I honest to goodness cannot describe how I am feeling. I can’t put into words the difference between being in love with someone and loving them deeply but feeling no romantic attraction. And it’s hard for me to describe how deeply I care for these friends because I know it will be misunderstood.

For example, I had breakfast with one of these friends today. He talked almost the entire time so I was privileged to just listen and watch him as he spoke. I was able to sit and stare back into his blue eyes with pupils that, quite honestly, are much larger than what I’ve seen on anyone else. It’s like he’s in a black room and his eyes are searching desperately for light. I was able to observe the way his brow pulls together sometimes when he’s confused or didn’t quite hear me, the crease in his forehead slightly off center. I sat fighting a smile from forming because I was thrilled to be sitting across from him and to be listening to the way his voice rose and fell gently as he explained his new job to me. The way he automatically took the check and the smile on his face as I convinced him to let me pay. His short burst of a laugh. The fullness in my chest at the happiness and contentment of being near him again…

And now you think I’m in love with him.

And I understand that! But you have to just take my word for it.

It’s just… my heart doesn’t quite beat on it’s own. Instead, it hears and replicates the patterns of the beating hearts around me. It seeks to create a beautiful harmony that our ears are simply not privileged to hear. And I can feel the pull– the grip– of other hearts on mine. Ah, I wish I could describe the feeling! But truly, there are no words. And while there is no romance, there is a love much deeper than can be expressed.

So, I understand the confusion. But again, take me at my word. Everyone else might be confused but, for once, I am not. My Lord calls us to love each other- he didn’t say only love those you’re attracted to. Never did he say to only cherish your crush. No. He said love your neighbor.

Plus, let’s be honest: If I liked someone, I wouldn’t be gushing about them. I mean, come on! I’m not that forward!

-Melissa

Seen.

For the most part, the room was quiet. I had timed it perfectly to miss the rush, which was also great because then it didn’t look so weird that I was sitting by myself. I was eating, slowly. Something weighed heavy on my shoulders; my entire body felt tired. I did my best not to think too much.

One of the workers came and wiped down all the empty tables around me. He sang softly as he worked. Normally, that would find a way to annoy me but today I found myself leaning into the sound. Every once and a while he would switch to humming and I found myself wishing he would start to sing again. Wishing I could sit there all day and just listen to him.

He was too quiet for me to hear the words of his song. He was too quiet for me to even hear if he was any good. But he was soothing. And I needed soothing.

I stared out the window, thinking about his voice when someone spoke to me: “Hey. How are you doing today?”

I turned and he was down on a knee, looking up at me, an empty chair between us.

I smiled, politely, though I could feel it didn’t reach my eyes. I felt too heavy. “I’m good.” I replied, “How are you?”

Before I finished, he had interrupted me. He asked if I had just answered ‘good’ because society told me to, or something along those lines.

I hadn’t realized he’d been watching. I probably looked miserable. If I had known I’d be questioned, I would have put on a more socially acceptable face. I smiled again, explaining I hadn’t slept well last night. This was true. I hadn’t. Lies work best when they contain the truth. “I’m just tired,” I reassured him.

We talked for another minute or so. I shocked him by revealing how old I was- four years his senior. He was very clearly surprised. I reassured him again: I’d looked the same since I was fifteen.

“Well, I have to admit something to you,” he said, “I didn’t want to come talk to you.”

Flattering. My thoughts were along the lines of, ‘of course you didn’t. I probably looked like I wanted to kill someone.’

“But I came over because God kept prompting me to.” He went on, saying that, the entire time he was washing the tables, God has been convincing him to come check on me. His voice was still soft like his singing; comforting. “So I was just checking in.”

I thanked him; he didn’t realize how sincere I was in that moment. A real smile lightened my face for a moment as we finally introduced ourselves before he walked away and continued his work.

I could feel tears coming on so I was quick to leave.

‘I don’t need this right now,’ I prayed as I left, ‘I don’t have time to burst into tears in public.’

I explained to God that it didn’t make sense for Him to do that. I made a list of reasons why. He knew I was bad at kindness to begin with. And what if it wasn’t even Him?

But what if it was? What if He was reminding me that, yes, He had heard the prayer I had uttered this morning and He cared about the pain I was in. And He cared so much about the pain I was in that He decided to reach out to me in a way He never had before. What if He hand picked the sweetest soul, someone He knew I would be receptive to, just to remind me that He saw me? What if the pain I imagined carrying around on my back He could see and wanted to let me know that He saw it and He cared?

Because… Well, that does sound like Him after all.

-Melissa

Excuses.

I was trying to think of how to explain why I was 24 minutes late in turning in my paper. The prof I was trying to turn it in to is one of the most gracious people I know so he probably would have accepted any excuse. But I literally couldn’t write one.

Not that I didn’t have one.

But her words were in my head. Her words. “Results, not excuses.” Pounded into my brain a dozen times, directed at me when I wasn’t the only student in the room. When she called me out by name to say those words.

As if I did something wrong. As if I did something bad. Her unwillingness to hear me explain. Her unwillingness to believe that there could be anything valid for me not doing something perfectly. For me not understanding something.

As if I needed more guilt.

And tears filled my eyes and all I could think was: Shit. She got in my head.

So I said I was sorry for turning in the paper 24 minutes late. I said I would explain, but I’d been taught not to. And then I gave him the paper.

I have no idea why this hurts.

-Melissa

Missing you.

I couldn’t find the vanilla.

I knew exactly where it should be. I’d been down the baking isle three times. I wondered from it, up and down every isle now because clearly it had to be here somewhere.

A song came on the radio. The familiarity struck me even before I realized what it was. It was late enough that most people were in their homes instead of grocery shopping so the store felt peaceful. I sang the song softly as I wondered around. What had I been looking for?

Did you still listen to this band? Hmm. I never would have heard of them if not for you. I found myself looking for a drink you once got here that I’d never been able to find since.

Where would I be….How different would my life be…. If you were still in it?

I squeezed my eyes shut for just a moment and tried to picture calling you right then if nothing between us had ever gone wrong. Because I wanted so badly- I want so badly- to talk to you. And not to rehash anything or figure out what happened. Just to talk. Just to hear your perspective. Just to hear you. Just because I miss you.

Yes, even still.

But I couldn’t picture what my life would be like now if our friendship would have lasted. I can’t imagine it. It’s taken so many unexpected turns since I knew you. I don’t know if they would have been effected by your presence in my life somehow or not. I just don’t know.

But I do know it sure would have been nice to call you today and here your voice… I so much hate that…. it seems like a foreign concept now. I’ve… I’ve lost pieces of you as time has gone on. I so much wish I had never had to. But I… the person you knew no longer exists and the only memories I have of you… well, they’re actually hers.

The way you cared about me wasn’t fair, you know. The way you saw me wasn’t fair. It didn’t make sense. You shouldn’t have been so good to me. You shouldn’t have been so in tune with me.

Because now I miss you quite terribly.

And then the song ended. Something much friendlier came softly through the speakers above me, like the other song had never played. And no one noticed the change. No one felt like something so, so, so good had been cut way too short. No one felt an emptiness in it’s absence.

Except me, of course.

Now….where was the vanilla?

Missing you.

-Melissa

Too.

I sat quietly, trying to read one of the thousands of pages I’d been assigned. Unfortunately, my mind wasn’t anywhere near the book I held in front of me.

I replayed the moments in my mind. Not the good moments, though I had many of those to choose from. Just the awkward ones. Just ones where the silence lasted a touch too long. Just the ones that didn’t go perfectly, that made me question every single thing either of you had ever said to me. And my mind worries over every single second.

Because what if one of those seconds made you realize I’m not as great as you’ve somehow made me out to be? What if one of those moments caused you to wonder why you had bothered to come? What if you realized how uninteresting I was and got bored? What if you suddenly became aware of the fact that I am a horrible conversationalist? What if you came to terms with understanding that you had an idealized version of me in your head?

And I know none of those things are true.

Maybe it’s because I can’t read either of you very well. Or I think I can’t. Or maybe it’s because I… well, I honestly think you’re really cool so I can’t imagine you actually wanting to be my friends.

I do realize that this is not fair to you. I know that. I know that you, if I said these things to you, would argue relentlessly. I know. I am aware. I know you’ve proved me wrong countless times by now. And yet I question everything. I wish I could just turn that off.

Wouldn’t that be great? Do you have any idea with how much more comfortable I would be around you? Do you know that I rarely, if ever, fully let my guard down around you because I am so focused on how I’m being perceived? No, you don’t. Because I can’t tell you. Because that would legitimately hurt you, and for good reason. Because I should not be like this. I consider you close friends and yet… I’m afraid it’s too good to be true.

I’m so sorry for that.

-Melissa