I know you feel a dark nothingness sometimes
Like a drop of black ink unfurling across the paper
like a vine blossoming taking over with its dark ugliness
and then it swallows you you stumble around in the dark
feeling numb inside like icicles are stabbing you
stabbing you in the heart repeatedly
but your lungs are scorched
you need a sip of water
but it's too far away
you try to reach it but you can't
and then you fall
there's nothing you can do
so you silently scream, writhing in agony
hoping someone sees your pain
sees the dark empty pit inside you
and pulls you out as you sink deeper and deeper
inside into a hole inside yourself
sinking like quicksand
pulling you into yourself
while you go on living, nay, existing
floating in a shroud of misery
but you're trapped
chained down by
for how could you,
of all people
who has people who love you?
who has everything?
be ashamed they say
feel guilty they say
so you build
you build a cage
you tuck it away in the back of your mind
you keep the sadness locked up
and keep fighting it
just to keep it away from people
for if they see it
they will laugh
they will hurt
they will cut you
deeper than you do
and you try
not to curl up into a ball
and cry and weep
and bleed your heart out
for the darkness inside you
is ripping you up, threatening to turn you inside out
threatening to pull you down
into an ocean of pain
I know how you feel.
I see you scrolling through your messages, hoping that something, anything screams at you to stop. Waiting for someone to tell you they love you and they need you and they can't live without you. Waiting for someone to tell you to stop hurting. But they can't. They don't know you. They don't know your pain and your failures and how disgusting you think you are. No one knows except for you. And me of course. I can see you padding down the hallway, going to pick up your mail for the last time, you think. You wave at the neighbors, and try your newly practiced smile. It's horrible, and you can feel it. You see them wince and smile back. They haven't seen you outside in weeks. You try, I know you do, try pushing your lips up, and mimicking the smile you saw on yourself 4 years ago. Your lips are chapped, cracking at the very effort. It doesn't work. Your upper lip starts to bleed and you withdraw into your cocoon again, into the warm safety of your house, where you can just exist. People won't ask about those new scars, nobody will ask where you've been.
You sift through your mail, thinking this is the last time you'll have to go through piles of useless crap, unless they have this shit in hell too. You think you're going to hell. You were taught suicide is wrong. "It's cowardly. It's for degenerates who do drugs. People who commit suicide don't get a funeral," your mother told you. "They go straight to hell. Nobody will remember you or love you if you go do that, you hear me?" You can picture her saying that, chanting her bullshit sayings again and again and again. You remember her shaking your shoulders and spraying you with spit, writhing in anger when she saw the little nicks on your arm. She took everything from you, locked you up in your room, isolating you. That was her first mistake. And the start of many more to follow.
"We don't talk about your aunt in this house," she said.
"She made us all suffer because she was wallowing in self misery," she said.
"She ruined our lives," she said.
And at first, you believed her. You didn't know any better. And you sure as hell didn't know she would say that about you either, did you?
You wish the mailman had stayed to hand-deliver your mail. But they stopped that months ago when you stopped opening the door. You wish that the neighbors would come over for dinner one night. You wish the mail has a letter from a long lost friend saying that she wants to meet. You laugh at the very idea of that. You open your last letter, a creamy white envelope, and a single sheet of paper falls out.
I love you.
You and I go way back, to the very beginning. We're one and the same, literally. No one can, or ever will, understand you better than I do. And that's okay. I've been there, standing next to you. It breaks my heart to see you crying in the shower, pretending those tears aren't there. I've seen you at your lowest, in your matted hair which you hadn't washed in weeks, chained to your bed for days. I was there when you made your first cut. Just to make sure you were still alive. And I still love you and believe in you.
We’ve been through hell and back, standing together. It’s always been just you and me. Always and forever…
And I know you can survive today, and tomorrow, and the next week. Because you are not beautifully broken, not a hate-fuelled monster, you are a wonderful person who deserves the world. And I promise you, you will survive. I promise you will live. I promise you will love, and be loved.
You staggered back, clutching your chest like a knife went through your heart. You started sobbing, breaking down, right there on the hallway floor. I felt so immensely guilty then, it hurt my soul. But then, you looked at my letter, and you whispered, so quietly I almost didn't hear you, "Thank you," and I didn't need anything else.
I wrote to you so frequently after that.
You would wait, secretly excited for my letters, so excited, you started meeting the mailman when he came. You were so happy, you smiled at your neighbors. But you didn't realize it wasn't fake.
It's me again. Ha. That always makes me laugh. I know. We have a shitty sense of humor.
I want to tell you I'm sorry.
I left you stumbling around in the darkness alone, and you relied on strangers for kindness and appreciation and you begged them to love you. I feel ashamed for that. I should have been there to hold you up. I should have hugged you and praised you and appreciated you for all the love you bring to this world.
I should have told you to ignore the taunts and the ridicules. To not care what others think. When you knit yourself a sweater to wear to school and they laughed at you, I should've told you to not be ashamed of who you are. When I threw you out in the world without me, I said horrible things to shame you. I thought you weren't good enough. I thought if you were prettier, or smarter or achieved something more than I could love you. Then I could respect you and care for you. I thought things about you I haven't thought about Mom. And you took it. You internalized it. You made it me versus you. When it was never me or you. It was us. There was no need for me to split us up into two. And for that, I will always be sorry.
You cried so much that day I almost broke. But you had to do it yourself. You had to learn to love me like I loved you.
I know you're hurting, but it gets better. I swear.
I know you feel like a failure, but you're not.
I know you regret high school, but you turned out pretty damn well.
And I know you're confused.
I know it's tearing you apart not knowing who I am, but that means you're not listening. I'm you. I'm every little thing you hate about yourself. I'm your low self-esteem, I'm that pimple on your nose, I'm your little snort, the one where you find something hilarious. I was once just a little blob that followed you around. Harmless really.
Over time, I changed. I became a hideous monster, one that haunted your daily nightmares. Except, I looked exactly like you. I talked like you, I ate like you, I had the same thigh fat as you. That day I realized something was wrong with you. That's the day I wrote my first letter. You had reached the pits of despair. You hated yourself. Every little thing about yourself you found vile and disgusting. And even I, couldn't live with that pain.
You don't have to believe me, I know I wouldn't, but it's true. You have so many questions right now. But I don't exist. This, every word you see right now, it's there because you need to see it. You need to know all of this. There is no me, just you. And you have to love me like I love you. I would die for you. Really. I live for the day I become a tiny little thing again, small enough you can squash beneath your feet. And I hope we never have to speak again. Just know I'm with you the whole way.
That was my last letter. I sobbed my heart out that day. You did too. Two alternative universes, but we were connected once more. I couldn't feel your hate and disgust and anger as strongly anymore. I tried to contain my joy. But the day I started shrinking in size and stopped looking like a copy of you, I didn't feel as horrid anymore. I knew you could never love me fully, but I had made my peace with that.
I was so proud of you, so proud of the fact that you emailed your old friend from high school again, not shaking with anxiety about the fact that she might laugh at you. You invited your neighbors over for dinner once, and you actually had a good time, without worrying about the holes in your conversation. I know it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine either, trust me. I remember the time you cut a little nick into your arm, and I panicked, not knowing what to do. But what you did surprised me more than I thought was possible. You called your little sister, and asked her to help you.
You. You asked for help. It was unbelievable. I felt like a proud mama bear whose cub was about to leave her nest.
It took you 3 years to pull yourself out of the hole we had fallen into together. And even though I will always be a part of you, and your soul will still have a few bits and pieces floating around, from all the times I took a sledgehammer to your heart and smashed it into little pieces, you will get better. And that's what I care about.
I will never be as proud as the day you sat down with a pen and a piece of paper, and you wrote the demons and monsters in your head a letter.
I waited, nervously.
I was terrified.
Your letter arrived today.
I tore it open, shivering with anticipation.
Thank you. Thank you for everything you went through. I really have never been good to you. We've had such a destructive toxic relationship, and I'm sorry. It's difficult for me to find a space for you in my heart, but you are a part of me. Yes, you. My high pitched voice and my big ears. My love handles and my acne scars. That mole on my back. I promise, I want to love and embrace you. I want to accept you.
And even though we'll never talk again, know that I am trying so very hard to love you.