Tag Archives: 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

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Missing you.

I want you to know I was walking with a friend tonight and you came up. I’ve never talked to him about you.

I want you to know that when he asked, I couldn’t say your name. No one here in this  place has ever heard your name come from my lips.

I want you to know that what you did still hurts. I know it’s been six years.

I want you to know that the loyalty I have toward you is still very real. Sometimes that’s why I don’t like telling people about you. Because when I do, other people get mad at you. When I tell them what happened, no matter how bright a light I paint you in, they don’t like you. And I hate that.

He told me that, when it comes to friendship, once I’m friends with someone, I’m friends with them forever. I didn’t know people could read that about me. I wonder if he could feel it because he’s one of those people.

You were too.

The difference is I tell myself that he could leave me and disregard my friendship any time he wants. That’s completely his prerogative. If he decides he’s done being friends with me, it will be horrible. But it will be his choice and if he wants to make that choice, I will be okay with it.

With you, I told you I was afraid of people leaving me and you told me you never would.

And then you did.

I’ve learned, and am learning, to hold friendships closely but loosely. You were the reason I had to learn.

And still, I’m missing you.

-Melissa

 

Father’s.

It’s Father’s Day.

I forgot how much you don’t like Father’s Day until I was sitting in church this morning and something reminded me of you. Something reminded me of the Father’s Day years ago when I was sitting in a different church and you texted me that it was Father’s day, I typed, “Yes?” and you replied, “I hate this day.”

This morning, I felt your pain again. I’m sorry that you hate this day. You deserved a dad who acted like your dad. You deserved a dad who showed his love to you, who taught you how to be wise, who shared your humor, and who was there for you. And your mom deserved to have help; she deserved to not have to be both parents. Though I will say I always loved how you celebrated her both on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Today – and this is kind of a long shot – but today, I bet you felt those same feelings but they were matched with feelings of fear. Today, I bet you felt inadequate. Today, I bet you hoped desperately that you will be the father to your son that you needed.

Don’t worry too much about it, okay? Because you will be. You’ll do whatever you can for him. You’ll love him and teach him and, goodness knows, you’ll get him rolling his eyes very early with all of your dad jokes. You are loving and caring and gentle. You will show him what it’s like to be human in this crazy world and you will absolutely fail sometimes. But that’s okay. Because you can teach him that failing is okay, humbleness is necessary, and you move forward and learn from your mistakes.

I am sorry if you’ve felt pain and fear today. I hope you’ve also experienced joy and love. You deserve joy and love.

Happy first Father’s Day to you my brother.

-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

Torment.

“Just keep your damn mouth shut; they don’t need you or your negativity.”

I felt tears growing in my eyes at the words. They were harsh, bitter. I thought about how I could do just that – keep my mouth shut and not infect those around me with my own irritability. I really should just listen and not add anything to the conversation. I mapped out conversations, wondered over how I could successfully deflect, agonized over how unhelpful I’ve been, worried over how much I revealed about myself.

“Just keep your damn mouth shut; they don’t need you or your negativity.”

I couldn’t argue with the words. They were true, weren’t they? I did need to talk less. Everyone would say I needed to talk more but, I mean, what do they know? They don’t know me like I know me. They don’t know my thoughts. They don’t know the kind of person I am. Because what good do my words add? And if they add no good, why say them?

“Just keep your damn mouth shut; they don’t need you or your negativity.”

And I don’t need to talk. No, people need to be heard. That’s one of the only things people want – to feel heard. So I should give that to them. I should listen. That’s all I should do. Let them talk. Prompt them to talk. Give them my undivided attention. And I should stop giving advice or adding my input; it’s not helpful and they don’t need it. What if it’s even harmful? I should just keep my mouth shut. They don’t need my input. They don’t need me.

“Just keep your damn mouth shut; they don’t need you or your negativity.”

The words, harsh and bitter as they were, were also silent. Your own thoughts often are after all. And, I don’t know what your thought life is like, but mine isn’t always pretty. It’s so interesting to me that, when thoughts like that fly through my mind, no matter how painful, you just… keep moving. You smile, you hold you head high, and you keep walking, even through the torment.

“Just keep your damn mouth shut; they don’t need you or your negativity.”

-Melissa

Exist.

“On a scale from one to ten, how bad is it?”

I’ve been watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy lately. In the show, emergency cases often come into the hospital and the doctors have to figure out how to save the person. Sometimes, those emergencies involved a foreign object going through a person. One time it was a pole someone had been impaled on. Another time it was a big tree branch. These cases are difficult because you can’t just pull the foreign object out, unless you want the patient to bleed to death. Usually, the pole or tree or whatever is holding all of the blood and organs in place, so if you just rip it back out of them, they’ll bleed out.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like watching tv is the foreign object that’s keeping me from bleeding out.

When I’m watching a tv show, I’m distracted. I’m wrapped up in someone else’s life. Lately, when I turn off the tv, sadness overwhelms me. It’s like the silence that follows is too quiet. My mind no longer has something to focus on. And I get really sad. I bleed out. I’d rather just keep watching tv. Unfortunately, I have responsibilities and people to hide my feelings from, so I can’t just stay curled up on the couch all day watching Grey’s Anatomy.

On one of the latest episodes I’ve watched, one of the main characters hasn’t been doing extremely well, and for some very good reasons. Her boyfriend comes and sees she’s having a hard time and simply asks, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is it?”

On a scale from one to ten, it’s about a seven right now. Maybe a six. Which is better than yesterday. Worse than the day before. Much better from the day before that.

I’m just existing right now. I don’t think I ever thought I’d be a person who just existed. I just won’t pull the tree out. It’ll keep the bleeding under control.

-Melissa