Six. Six red streaks that stung in a dull, pathetic way. What was I doing? I thought I was done dealing with my emotions in this way. Why did this silly habit I developed in middle school follow me into adulthood? Why couldn’t I just open up to people the way I could open up my skin?
It was the most cuts I’ve given myself in one sitting. I didn’t bother thinking of a cover story in the moment; they were easily concealable and the only person at risk of seeing them would be Isaac…and he wouldn’t see them if I played my cards right. Like slipping on an old shoe, my secretive tendencies fit right back into place as if they never left. The only person that knew I was cutting was Charles.
I hadn’t spoken to him except for a handful of texts for an entire year. But I knew that he, of all people, would understand the most and judge me the least. He was frank with me, “Let’s face it, _____. If [Fred] cheated on you, it’s your fault. If global warming melts the ice caps, it’s your fault. If everyone in the world dies from nuclear attack, it’s your fault. Everything is your fault.” I laughed, “How the fuck do you know me so well?” He was right. I blame myself for everything, tell myself that I’m weak for giving into sadness, and unleash anger at myself for letting my emotions show. Instead of addressing my emotions, and letting myself feel them, I tell myself that I shouldn’t have them. And all if does is make them worse. “It’s a stupid, fucked-up cycle,” I told Charles. “And I hate that I keep falling into it.”
We talked on the phone for four hours. While we did touch on my recent set-backs, we also talked about his life, about future goals, about people we went to high school with and all the old memories we shared. Suddenly I was 17, back in high school, and walking through the woods with him all over again. And I remembered why I fell in love with him.
I wish we could be friends. He’s the only ex I should have in my life I this point. But our lives are going in different directions, so any kind of constant communication at this point would be moot. And besides, clinging to the past won’t help me develop my future. I need to figure this out on my own. It’s like Charles said, not trusting people won’t help me feel better, or change the past. Fred made the choice to cheat on me, and it was his alone to make. It’s not my fault for trusting him. Trusting people does not make them cheat on you.
I really want to trust Isaac. But I also don’t want to scare him off. I thought when I’d finally divulge my depressive tendencies to him that they would be past tense, and less scary, but eventually he’ll see cuts or scars that I can’t cover up. Eventually I’ll need him to be that person I run to when I can’t stop myself. And as much as I wish I didn’t put that pressure on my partner, and would instead go to friends, that’s just not how I operate. And that doesn’t make me weak. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.)
I’ve lost any romantic love I’ve ever had, but that doesn’t mean love is the problem or that I am. Time just has a way of pulling people apart when their lives are headed down different roads, and only time can make those roads intersect.
I’m not looking for love necessarily, but I am looking for faith in love. “Alright, I’m going to finally get some sleep here,” Charles told me. “Wait,” I said. “Can I ask you one last serious question?” “Alright,” he said. “Do you believe in soul mates?” He paused. “No…maybe…yes? Yes, I think I do.” I decided right then that if Charles could still have that kind of hope in life, after everything I put him through, that maybe I could too.
I haven’t written or checked the ol’ blog in a while, so here I am. And what do I have to say this time? A lot. About what? A lot. A lot of bullshit, probably, but ultimately things that matter such as:
-College. Have I mentioned that I leave next Tuesday?
-My last post. Someone actually read it.
-Long-distance relationships. Will we make it?
-Sex and pregnancy. It seems as if everyone is getting pregnant and it’s freaking me out.
-My last group therapy. *Sniffle sniff*
So, let’s begin. I move into my dorm next Wednesday, at about 8 or so in the morning. Not only will I probably be sleep deprived from insomnia and anxiety, but I will also be engaging in physically demanding work while a) trying not to have a complete freak out, and b) loving my parents while also hating my parents for being so old and clueless. And then, after my half of the matchbox-sized dorm room is filled with crap, my parents will leave me. Suddenly, that first day of preschool will become totally understandable again, as I try not to cry when my parents abandon me in a strange, foreign place. And then what? I unpack? I go out and try to make a friend? I hide under the covers?
At least I know I’m not alone. My high school friends are freaking out, too. Lately we’ve all been spending time together, soaking up our low-maintence fun before having to begin the high-maintence task of making new friends. One of them actually approached me about how I was handling everything going on…see, she read my last post and was a tad concerned. Immediately I felt bad because I thought none of my friends ever bothered reading this anymore, and wrote about it in the post she read. I also felt bad because I realized she cares about me a lot, and I’ve always neglected to come to her when I’m feeling upset. And then there was also just maybe fifteen minutes ago when I logged onto my blog and saw that a few WordPress readers liked it. That made me feel a bit bad too. But, alas, everyone gets in a bitchy mood sometime, and at least when it is written down it is optional to listen to.
Speaking of listening, everyone who has given me advice about my upcoming long-distance relationship is saying the same thing: make it or break it. It’s all about the work you put into it, and how much you both want it to work. Well great. Great. I’m left with the realization that if my relationship fails, it will be because one of us will either cheat or be too lazy to keep trying. That information is like a sack of potatoes, awkward and pressure-filled, balancing on the top of my head while I hula hoop with a ring of fire.
One thing about working at McDonald’s in this day and age is that the majority of my coworkers a) have kids b) are pregnant and c) are around my age. Everyone is squeezing them out. And all of those after-school specials I watched as a goofy middle-schooler are catching up with me; if you are having sex, does that pretty much make you doomed to have an unplanned pregnancy? That’s the LAST THING I need before leaving for college. Maybe I’m just worried because I don’t want to end up like Candace off of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, aborting some unwanted baby. The only thing I want to abort is Taco Bell from my stomach after one too many tacos. And even then, I’m aware of the down-sides.
There is just so many endings going on right now. Tonight I said my goodbyes to my grandparents, Tuesday night I said my goodbyes to group… Ugh, it was so sad. I’m happy that everyone in the group is in a good place now, but I know whenever I’m all screwed up again I’ll need them and want to hear about their lives. A few of them have become part of my family in a way, and I want them to be in my life still. For over a year we’ve been spilling out our souls to each other…that bonds people, you know?
But I know I’m doing the right thing by going away to college. It’s a new beginning, with new possibilities to change my life, blah blah blah, inspirational garbage. All I know is that the things that scare you are the ones worth while, so I’m right where I should be.
I’m pissed off.
I’m pissed off that I work five days a week and have negative two dollars in my bank account. I’m pissed off that I get yelled at for getting home past curfew because I was crying in a parking lot to my boyfriend, while my brother can have his girlfriend spend the night at our house and have her up in his room with the door closed (did I mention that my room is next door and the walls are thin? Yeah. And meanwhile, my boyfriend can’t set one foot in my room without me getting screamed at). I’m pissed off that it’s been a week of working at my crappy job and the one day where all I want to do is be alone and relax while playing this computer game “Civilization” (my boyfriend got me addicted to it to the point where I want to play it everyday for hours), I don’t have enough money to buy it (or gas, for that matter. Or the spending tickets I’ve acquired. Or the lawyer for the speeding tickets). I’m pissed off that all I ever do is screw up and get yelled at for it. I’m pissed off that I have less than a month left before I leave this place and my boyfriend. I’m pissed off that I have to start taking meds again when all I want is to be normal and stay there. I’m pissed off that this stupid blog is FOR NOTHING, that my friends don’t bother reading it, or anyone else for that matter. Am I helping anyone, or being helped myself? NO. IT’S ALL FOR NOTHING. I hate it. I hate my life right now. I hate that no one in my family wants to spend time with me without criticizing me. I hate that all my friends are busy. I hate that college is starting. I hate it all. I hate that my boyfriend has had a lot more relationships than I have had, and has slept with more people than I have had, and they’ve all been good and fine and all of my past relationships remind me why I suck and deserved to be treated that way. I hate that I’m thinking all of this and writing all of this, when no one wants to hear it–people want to hear about how being positive is easy and life isn’t scary and that once you have found love it all works out and that confidence will never fail you and your friends from high school will stick by you and won’t end up doing heroin.
And I can’t write about any of that, because I know none of it.
Sometimes, when people look at my scars where I’ve cut myself they joke around and ask things like, “So why’d you carve a giant swastika into your arm?” (which it isn’t, and is offensive), I think, “You’ve never hated yourself like I have, have you? And you’ll never know how sad you can feel inside when you look at your scars and not regret it. Because deep down somewhere I know I took it easy on myself, and if I truly were honest when I had that knife in my hand I wouldn’t be here right now. So go ahead, look concerned or laugh. If you knew what this was like you wouldn’t say a word.” That’s how I feel writing in this blog sometimes. I feel like I’ve put my scars out there in these posts, and in response all people want to do is judge rather than understand.
I don’t need advice and I don’t need sympathy. I need support, I need to know you people are actually there.
(If you even are.)
So I’m back from my summer registration for college–how was it? OVERWHELMING. Sure, I went with my boyfriend instead of my parents, so I didn’t have to hear, “Where are you at? What do you think? Remember this! Oh, you don’t want that… Why don’t you want this? [insert more annoying crap here]”, but even so it was stressful. Suddenly I was sucked into a world where if I didn’t manage my time, I would be forever doomed. Lecture after lecture talked about Professor’s expectations, not getting fat and eating right so you don’t become depressed, roommate horror stories, getting involved in a thousand clubs, studying for three or five hours each night, finding a part-time job that will work with your class schedule, and how to report if you see someone about to get date-raped or whatever. As if I already don’t have to struggle not to worry so much.
It just hit me…this will be my home. These buildings, this road… And at the end of each day, it’s not like high school where I get to see my parents and my dogs and the same rooms in the same house I’ve lived in for the past 18 years…I’ll still be in this new place, out of my element. And holy crap, I don’t know anyone—ANYONE. I’ll be here, and everyone else in my life will be back home. For the first time, I was scared to go to college.
It also didn’t help that on the way back home yesterday my boyfriend and I parted on an uncertain note. The whole trip we had fun with each other like always, and then I asked about how it would be when I left for school (something we’ve discussed numerous times) and BAM! suddenly we both had no idea how much longer there would be an “us”. All because of the distance. Those stupid miles, I hate every one of them because they are the only reason my boyfriend and I would separate. We still laugh all the time, we still hang out all the time, we still love each other; we’re happy. If it wasn’t for the two and a half hour drive the thought of breaking up would be ludicrous.
So I was relieved that I had group therapy that night to go to. A couple of my friends in there gave me a bit of advice that was reassuring, and even though I’ll be leaving them too, which will be really really sad, we’ve exchanged phone numbers and promised to call and stay in touch. So those first few weeks of school I know I can go to them if I’m in a tight spot. My college also offers counseling services, so that might be useful, too.
I just feel sort of numb and anxious at the same time about it all. My world is slowly slipping away from me, and while it might be waiting for me when I come back on breaks or next summer, it feels scary not to know what will take its place.
Last night I had a complete mental breakdown.
Saying it like that, so matter-of-fact, makes it sound normal. And I suppose some types of mental breakdowns are normal, I mean everyone loses it from time to time, but this was not one of my semi-regular bouts of “What am I doing with my life?!”. This was straight-up bat-shit crazy.
I was driving in my car for 25 minutes, sobbing, cursing, talking to myself in nonsense….
“This is all a dream just a dream and tomorrow I’ll wake up and try to think of how the car ride home really was and I won’t remember so I’ll picture me just listening to the radio and smiling like I usually do when I’m thinking about [insert boyfriend’s name here] and that will become the reality yes that will be reality and this will be the dream and tomorrow I’ll think of how stupid this is and god how could I be like that, after all that was just some dream and I’ll try to think of how the car ride home really was and I won’t remember so I’ll picture me just listening to the radio and smiling like I usually do when I’m thinking about [insert boyfriend’s name here] and that will become the reality yes that will be reality…”
“I want mommy….I want my mom!….Mommy…I want to go home….I want [insert boyfriend’s name here]! I want [brother’s name]! I want [dog]!….Momma…”
“This isn’t real…this is just a dream…..”
And silence where I would consider doing crazy things like driving my car off the road, and death.
Needless to say again, I was beyond “losing it” and headed straight into “bat-shit crazy”. It is very embarrassing to write about…but a scary enough experience where holding it in would not help at all. Why was I flying off the handle? I had no idea. Lately my emotions have been very extreme. I had only a number of guesses to why this was….1.I was seriously crazy 2.I was pregnant 3.adverse effects from stopping my meds, even though I had been off them weeks. None of these things were especially comforting, as you can imagine.
About the pregnant thing…I wasn’t being totally crazy here, I mean, the possibility was very remote, but there….however, I tend to use pregnancy as the lead source of my anxiety. I convince myself that I could definitely be pregnant, I freak out even more, I add it to my stress, and it becomes one more thing I use to push other people away in my life, because after all, if I was pregnant it would only “become real” once I told people, and who wants that… Basically, it is the crazy part of me trying to gain even more control over my actions, if that makes sense.
About stopping my meds…About two weeks ago I ran out of pills and simply decided to not schedule a doctor’s appointment. See, somehow I’ve convinced myself that my parents hate me because I am on antidepressants and go to therapy. So I quit therapy, quit the pills. Now my parents would like me again, and not be so mad at me all the time, right? And for a week or more it was working…I was happy, and I was happy without being drugged up. And then this week began, where somehow my emotions have completely consumed me, and all of my thoughts. Even my dreams were becoming terrifying…dreams where I would become schizophrenic, dreams where I became a monstrous serial-killer-cannibal….
Maybe it sounds stupid, maybe it sounds fake….but it felt like a looming disaster coming.
Anyway, after that interesting car ride I mentioned above, I arrived home and cried to my mother for over an hour. And I stayed home from school today. And I snuck off when my mother went to run errands and took a pregnancy test, which was negative. And I also took some leftover pills I had of Prozac.
And I slept the entire day. I didn’t remember having any dreams.
There is a lot out there to be scared of. Spiders, seeing your grandparents naked, math homework, etc. And everyone seems to be afraid of something. Heights, drowning, guns, whatever. There’s just a lot of crazy shit out there in the world. Which makes sense when you look at the crazy people in it.
And these fears can change daily. Failing a test, ruining a relationship, being criticized by the people around you. We are constantly on the watch out for something.
Yet there are a few things that everyone seems to be scared of—and maybe this only applies to my generation, but I believe that everyone has felt one of these things in one form or another—things you wish you had never found out about as a child.
Caring, for instance. Yeah, everyone seems to care about someone, even if it is just themselves, but everyone also seems to avoid having certain people care. Parents, for example. Every teen with parents who give a damn wishes that sometimes their parents just wouldn’t. Depressants sometimes wish for the ones in their lives to leave them alone. Guys wish the women they chase after wouldn’t care about relationships. Women wish guys wouldn’t care so much about how they look. Friends wish their other friends didn’t care about what other people think; spouses wish their partner wouldn’t care about how they leave their towels on the bathroom floor. We are all afraid to have some people care, even if it’s something small like bathroom towels. But think of other situations, ones where a teen comes out to their parents, when a pregnancy is unexpected, when you admit to the person you love that you fucked up. Relationships between people can change forever in a matter of minutes.
I don’t know about you, but that kinda scares me.
The feeling of helplessness is another scary thing. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve had that were suicidal, all of them burdened with problems I didn’t know how to solve. It was the worst feeling in the world to know I couldn’t do a damn thing to help besides listen. And it’s not just advice that people have trouble with. Anyone who has had a family member with cancer knows that same pain, especially the parents of children with cancer. And when it’s not your mental or physical health at sake, it could be your home or family. Many people in the last five years have known helplessness when faced with a lost job. Many have also felt similar when divorce, abuse, death, etc. have separated their family. Helplessness is the equivalent of watching your live shatter all around you.
Now this next one may sound weird, but to some it has caused great reason for fear. Anger. Like caring, it can change everything before the blink of an eye. And not only can it change your relationships, but it can also change who you are. Anger is that make or break emotion that either helps you through your emotions or hinders you, consuming you and your problem until nothing is left to do. After all, what do you do when your anger is just making things worse? You get angry. At yourself.
So, looking back on these things, this caring and helplessness and anger, it can be hard to swallow. Because all of them are inside you, and you can’t really run away.
After discussing this with my friend this morning in the park, I realized that sometimes it doesn’t even matter what happens to you in life. It’s the after that can be worse than the before or during.
Life is always going to have something shitty up it’s sleeve, and you can either be afraid of dealing with it, or just deal with it.
So we walked around the park for hours, talking about how pissed off it made us, even in the pouring rain. And then it was as if we had reached an agreement with our lives:
Life can be messy, shitty, and unfair. Yet despite our circumstances, we are still strong. Why? Because we are here with each other, in the pouring rain, and we are laughing.
If someone would have walked up to me five months ago, and told me, “Junior year you will get lost in yourself, and you will not know how to find your way out.” I would have said they were wrong; that I knew everything there was to know about myself, that I knew how to handle stress, that I would stay in control and be strong.
If that person was me, let’s just say, and it was some screwed-up universe where I could time travel and warn my past self about future suckiness, my past self would have said something different. She would have been scared. Perplexed at how we could let that happen. And then she would have snapped into action, preparing herself for the worst and taking every precaution. Who knows if that would have helped anything, though.
But why the different reactions? Why was I hypothetically so quick to believe the worst from myself, instead of a stranger? Is it just that I am determined to prove others wrong when they tell me things about myself? Or is it because I have the slightest amount of faith in myself?
I hate to be in fights with people. I remember this fight I had with Val in eighth grade, where we kept pushing each other’s buttons during a particular phone conversation. We didn’t talk for a week exactly, and while it taught me self-reliance in a strange way, it also gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that just wouldn’t go away. No matter how happy I’d feel, as long as we were fighting, the sick feeling remained. Finally I called her, and told her that I missed her. The first thing she said back to me was that she missed me too, and tried calling earlier. So, while I still felt a bit peeved at her, it didn’t matter in comparison to how much I missed her and how glad I was to hear that she missed me too.
I guess that’s how you know you really care about someone.
But it’s one thing when you have that fight with a friend, and it’s another to have it with a guy. Guys are different. Most of them like to hold grudges and get all gruff when you try to explain your side. Which makes it harder to call them up and say, “Hey, I know you may still be mad, but we haven’t talked in what feels like forever and I miss you.”
When I called Val I was nervous. Just thinking about calling up a guy provokes the same feeling. But it seems scarier, because they could just call it quits. Friends don’t just call it quits, not real ones.
And I guess if you’re going to have a guy in your life to the point where you get into spats you should at least be friends. But why can’t it work the same way? Why can’t people just talk things out instead of getting all MAD?
If you can’t tell, I’m not exactly a confrontational person. I don’t really get mad at people, either. That doesn’t mean I’m some happy person who never gets pissed off at life, now, (I can’t stand those people) but the little things that people get all worked up about don’t get to me. Not really. Most of the time I just brush it off my shoulders and move on. Every once in a while, it’ll get under my skin and start becoming a bother, but nine times out of ten I’ll end up more sad than mad about it.
I’m not too sure why—it’s not like I’m this hugely depressing person or anything.
But back on topic. This coping thing I just explained, it sort of makes things difficult when they do bother me. I either take an extraordinarily long time to get over stuff, or I don’t.
I’ll let it all simmer and stew until I’m about ready to explode. Then usually I say something. But when I do I don’t yell. I’m not even mad anymore. I’m just hurt. And I think of all those things I let go and feel sad because they all feel like dead ends. Emotions I let go of without even looking at why they were there.
This year, junior year, is making those dead ends stack up, and fast. Whenever I do have time to catch my breath, I look at them and can only ask, “What do I do with these things?”
So that’s why I’m thinking about this alternate-universe person. Because they seem like they’d know the answer, and they don’t even exist.
They’d also know how the fight turns out.
And they’d tell me which path to go down, rather than having me stand at the intersection, asking, “Where the hell am I going?”
Originally written: 11/6/11