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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

silently tortured

but you're trapped

chained down by

guilt and

shame

for how could you,

of all people

hate yourself?

you,

who has people who love you?

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

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

and suffering

and sadness.

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.


Dear me,

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.


Love you,

Me


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.



Hey you,

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.


Love always,

You


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.



Hey again,


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.


Love,

You


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.


Hey you,

It's me.


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.


Yours truly,

Me



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41 comments

Holly Pierce
20:09 Jul 03, 2020

This is an amazing and powerful story, and the journey the narrator goes through is astounding. Your word choice and writing are beautiful, and you created a world of emotion. I love this story even though it seems quite sad at first! It's a good kind of sad though :)

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Anoushka Jain
11:41 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked it. I wanted to portray more of her emotional journey after the letters, and make her story a happier one, but curse those blasted word limits!

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Shivani Manocha
17:41 Jul 14, 2020

Hey Anoushka! I absolutely loved your work. I loved the poem, it gave the story a musical effect. I could feel my pitch modulating as I was reading it out loud (as I shifted from the longer to shorter sentences). You have so beautifully portrayed the struggle a person goes through to just "be", so well. Loved it:) I would love to get a feedback from you for my first story!

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Anoushka Jain
18:47 Jul 14, 2020

Thank you for your comment! I was actually getting around to reading your story again, soon!

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Yageen Faiz
18:13 Jul 08, 2020

hello! can you read one of my stories if you have time? thank you!

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Anoushka Jain
02:44 Jul 09, 2020

Sure.

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Anthony Neal
16:48 Jul 03, 2020

I always enjoy reading stories that play with structure, especially when it is done well. That opening poem really evokes a sense of breathlessness and helplessness with the lack of punctuation and short sentences - very effective and hooks the reader into the narrative that follows. It was all emotionally engaging too. Well done!

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Anoushka Jain
17:04 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you so much! That was what I was going for actually, and I felt utterly hopeless reading it to myself. Again, thanks for the compliment!

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Hi, Anoushka! This is Brooke, here giving you feedback like you asked. This was a heart-breaking story and a heart-healing story at the same time. It made me so emotional, and I loved it. The way you wrote it with the two dimensions and the letters to 'myself' was amazing! I can't wait to read more of your works! Keep writing and stay healthy! :) -Brooke

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Anoushka Jain
14:02 Jun 26, 2020

I'm so happy to hear that! Thank you for your comment, it means a lot to me as I was really unsure about this story. Also, I would love to hear how I could improve it!

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It's my pleasure! As a young writer, I can't really see anything that you could improve. Maybe write more about her reaction to the letters in between each one? Go into more detail, tell us readers exactly what she was feeling. Like my most recent story, "Her", I tried to make sure the reader knew exactly what Ida was going through.

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Anoushka Jain
16:13 Jun 26, 2020

Being a young writer, and by that, I mean VERY new to this writing charade myself, (literally, I've written like 4 stories cause I'm so nervous) I know I need to improve loads, and I love hearing people's feedback. Thank you for your suggestion!

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All of us can improve loads, even the best of us! Don't get down on yourself! It's my pleasure! I love helping fellow writers! :)

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Anoushka Jain
17:26 Jun 26, 2020

Thanks! That means a lot to me, especially since I've decided to get over my fears and actually write!

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Rhondalise Mitza
17:38 Jun 25, 2020

Hey, I can see why you were having trouble with this prompt but I liked it!

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Anoushka Jain
18:02 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you! I was worried nobody else would understand it, but I hope you did. Also, I would love to hear how I can improve!

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Daisy Torres
05:42 Aug 03, 2020

This is soooo goood. I love the concept of the main character writing theirself a letter, and how you so easily show both sides of it. I love the poetry that you laced all throughout the story. I reaaally love how well you showed this person's struggle and overcoming. Fantastic job!!! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ’•

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Anoushka Jain
12:23 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you so much! Your comment is so sweet, and it made me open Reedsy and want to write this week, which is amazing cause I was feeling kind of down about my writing. :( So thank you!

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Daisy Torres
13:45 Aug 04, 2020

Aww I'm so glad it did! Definitely keep writing!! That's the only way to get better, and your writing is definitely worth perfecting.

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Anoushka Jain
17:37 Aug 04, 2020

Aw thanks! I'm definitely going to try to keep writing regularly from now onward, and I'm excited to read your stories too!

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Daisy Torres
18:17 Aug 04, 2020

Oh that's awesome!! And thank you! I'll look forward to seeing you around then 😁

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Anoushka Jain
04:16 Aug 05, 2020

Haha yes!

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Bella K
21:42 Jul 06, 2020

Hi!!! This was such great story I couldn't believe my mind! I am a new and young writer so I don't see much you need to improve on. Though I have been informed of the 'show not tell' rule. I think you could add a little bit of that into your story! Otherwise this story was picture perfect! I loved it from top to bottom. Could you maybe check out my story? It's okay if not! Just looking for some improvement/feedback!

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Anoushka Jain
12:48 Jul 07, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback! I'm trying to do that, but I would love if you could give me a suggestion where I could do that in the story, and what I should show! I'm so glad you liked it! Say no more. I'll check it out as soon as I get a second away!

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Sayani Sarkar
19:18 Jul 02, 2020

I loved the story and the concept. I loved how you gave an example where some older generation doesn't take mental health seriously. I loved the way parts of those mails kept popping up in the middle explaining more and more what was going on with her. It's beautifully written!

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Anoushka Jain
03:06 Jul 03, 2020

Oh thank you so much! I'm so glad you picked up the finer nuances of the story which I was worried people wouldn't get. This comment made me happy!

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Grace M'mbone
17:49 Jun 30, 2020

Anoushka I was gripped first by the total. Very well chosen. Applause. I couldn't stop reading your story. Lovely.

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Anoushka Jain
18:07 Jun 30, 2020

Thank you for your comment, it made me very happy inside! Also, I loved your story and writing style, so I would really really like to hear any advice on how I can improve, if you have the time!

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Daryl Gravesande
17:52 Jun 27, 2020

Loved the poem in the beginning! Tugged at my heart-strings the WHOLE time. Love to see more work like this!

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Anoushka Jain
17:56 Jun 27, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! Would love to hear any advice on how I can improve, whenever you have the time!

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Daryl Gravesande
18:37 Jun 27, 2020

No need for improvement in my eyes! You are an OUTSTANDING writer. Honestly, you deserve all the credit you're getting!

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Anoushka Jain
19:57 Jun 27, 2020

That comment made my day! Thank you!

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16:52 Jun 25, 2020

I think it's the first 30 lines, but it looks more than 30. Maybe it's because I'm using my phone to read it. It looks something like this 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 Everything is separated... That's all.

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Anoushka Jain
16:55 Jun 25, 2020

Oh okay thanks, I'll see if I can fix that!

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17:16 Jun 25, 2020

You're welcome

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13:26 Jun 25, 2020

Anoushka, this story is really great because of its uniqueness. However, I don't really understand the essence of the separation of your sentences in the first part of it. At first, I thought it was poetry but then I realized it didn't rhyme. Maybe you could join your sentences together in a paragraph? Other than that, this is really great. I love the concept that the letter is to myself. Keep writing. I hope to read more from you!

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Holly Pierce
20:07 Jul 03, 2020

Poetry doesn't always rhyme, there are many different types of poetry

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Anoushka Jain
16:33 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you for your comment! I'm a little confused about what you mean though. Are you talking about the first 30 lines or so? Also, did you understand all my gibberish, because I was a little confused myself by the end of it. I would love to hear your feedback!

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