When in my body

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I must admit.  I am depressed.

Not clinically depressed, and not intending on receiving a diagnosis.  But for the first time in my life, I can say without a doubt: I am undeniably, irrevocably, and hopelessly depressed.  This is because I am failing to admit to myself terrible truths.

It’s harder to try and dive into the reasons, but I will section them out.

First, in work.  I work as a bartender and server for a corporate chain.  It’s a comfortable job, one that makes enough money for the miserable bills that I have collected, with the opportunity to pick up extra shifts and make extra money for the little things that have gone wrong.  I’m friendly and familiar with the people that work with me.  I have some friends, but none that I choose to hang out with.  I have a couple acquaintances and regulars that frequent the bar when I work that I could easily exchange numbers with, plan to have a drink with on the weekends.  I don’t struggle with the hatred of going to work, as I have with other jobs.

However, I don’t like it.  For as long as I’ve been in the restaurant industry, I have never felt so out of place.  For one, I am almost too old for the environment run by students and people in their late 20s that have lost their focus in life.  Don’t take me wrong; I’m not hating on people that choose this life.  I’m simply saying that it is not for me.  That I, in their position, and even in the position that I am in now, feel like I am achieving nothing.  This is the problem I have with the job.  It is too easy.  It is too simple to agree to work for easy money and live off of the gratitude of other people.  Too easy to refuse to fix my resume and go out and apply for jobs with the degree I received when I graduated from Rowan University in the spring of 2014.  I am not living up to my capabilities, and at the same time I have convinced myself that I don’t have time to do anything different.  In the same minute, I’ll be picking up another shift at work.

It’s greater than this.  I am defining myself by the amount of money that I have, though I promised myself I would not.  I feel like a failure when I don’t make enough money in the week.  Why do I choose to torture myself in a job that doesn’t fulfill me for money that I just want to turn into another number in my bank account?  A strange paradox that I cannot break out of, and instead simply choose to continue on my path.

Second, in school.  Never in my life have I been more challenged as a writer, or more focused in my writing, than I am as a graduate student at William Paterson.  I truly feel that the efforts of my professors, namely the darling Professor Buddhos, who instructs Fiction Writing Seminar 1 this semester, have forced me to realize dark and wonderful things about my writing.  For example, I very clearly excel at surreal and imaginative writing.  I can capture the essence of dialogue without thinking twice about it. And my faults have been revealed summarily as well.  I struggle with description and tell too little in my stories, to the extent that the reader becomes lost in the pages and the plot. It is now something that I am actively working toward correcting and improving in my writing.

The problem comes in the writing itself.  Namely, in the writing that isn’t happening.  I can write to complete assignments and I can write to satisfy grades.  When it comes to my individual writing, I stall and stall until months have gone by and I haven’t touched the beautiful, handmade, leather-bound notebook that my boyfriend bought me for my birthday last year.  This writing, not my job, is the way that I define myself, yet I shy away from it.  With several stories in mind, I choose to play video games and watch Netflix and scroll through endless useless posts on social media accounts.  And it’s not even that I am afraid of failing, because I know for a fact that I can succeed.

The simple truth is that I love writing.  I do not know why I cannot write, and I do not know why I need to write, but I know the internal struggle is killing me slowly and I am losing my sense of self.

Third, in my relationships with others.  At this point, I do not maintain a regular friendship with anyone.  I have several friends organizing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign once again, and I eagerly await that beginning, but until then, I spend nights by myself.  Not that I mind this – an introvert at heart, and unwilling to open myself up, I don’t want people bothering me.  The occasional meet-up with the close friends I left behind – or that left me behind, and I do not try to keep up – is all that I need to maintain the sense that I am moving through this world with someone at my side.

But my relationship with my boyfriend has been shaky, through the stress of work and school, the balance of both, and finding free time for each other.  Plus, and I say this with heart, we are both stubborn as hell and we tell each other about it, and fights that should only last a couple minutes turn into hours when we forget how much we love each other and how to speak without being cruel.  These fights have planted a seed of doubt that terrifies me.  I know I want to be with him forever, but we cannot stay this way forever.  We must get better, or fall apart.  It’s something we are both working on but change is no easy thing.  I wish everything would fix itself, but that would be too easy.

My family life, as well, is nonexistent.  Before the move, I was in constant communication with my grandmother, who lived below me, and who always brightened my day.  Since then, I have sparsely spoken to her over the phone.  My sister texts on the occasion with strained messages and awkward conversations.  My father is busy in Virginia with his sick wife and new grandchildren, a fact that I don’t blame him for but with that I could change.  My mother texted me two weeks ago to ask if I was coming to Thanksgiving, and hasn’t spoken to me since.  She’s busy with her new boyfriend, and I do blame her for that – a story I won’t bother to get into, but which basically involves her constantly and consistently replacing her children for her latest boyfriend.

Jon’s family is happily stepping up to the plate, though I do not know why they like me so much.  I can only hope that they will accept me into their family eventually, and I will know them like a family.

Under these daily things is the fact that I feel like I have no time.  I’ve wanted a tattoo for months, yet I have no time to schedule the appointment to go get it.  I’ve wanted to begin writing.  To buy new shoes.  To clean the house and do laundry.  To go food shopping.  To get my car fixed, or decide to scrap the piece of shit for good.  But what have I been doing with my free time?

Nothing.  Wasting time.  And, paradoxically, sleeping, when I feel that I am too depressed to get anything done.  On these days, even feeding myself feels like a chore, even when I am ravenously hungry.  I want to eat my feelings as well, and, as always, there’s no time to go to the gym.

It is as though my body has deemed me too worthless to help itself, all while trying to lift itself from the terrible rut.  In the process I am losing my mind.  I shuffle between all of these things, wandering, waiting for a passion to strike but never edging myself to that point.

I have heard several ways to help myself, and some things sound like they will work.  I want to make a list of the promises I want to keep myself and I hope they do not turn false.

  1. Write.  Write every day.  Write in the best notebook ever bought.  Start writing the novel you have brewing in your head.  You can do it.
  2. Fix your resume.  Apply for jobs.  Follow up with those jobs.  Feel successful.
  3. Don’t stall.  Fix your car.  Get a tattoo.  A half hour of free time is enough time to get everything done in the day chore-wise.  Don’t be lazy.
  4. Don’t stress about money.
  5. Forgive the people you hold grudges against.  Forgive Jon in particular.  Remember how much he cares.
  6. Try to maintain a relationship with someone, or start a new relationship.  Maybe you can find some writer-friends.
  7. Put your all into school.  What you will do with life will come later.

Writing this post is my first step.  My admittance of my feelings, the ravenous guilt that comes along with them.  This is my pledge to changing who I am, and how I act.  A pledge to becoming the person I want to be.

My hope is that it will be that easy.

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This Time

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You waited until I awoke.
Then quietly-
You never told me.
I knew then the guilt slipping.
It was nothing wrong, nothing
To fear.
But still, the promise broken.
You weren’t angry.
Rather, you accepted-
And now my fear.
That you will learn not to love me,
That you will learn I will hurt you.
And soon, no one waiting
Quietly for me to wake.

How Do I

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I lay in the dark, with my phone light keeping me company. The website I browse isn’t interesting, but it’s better than the dark itself, better than thinking of you, in the next room, doing whatever you’re doing.

And that is the problem, right? In my mind you’re looking up pictures of her, texting her. At the very least thinking of her. At the very least planning ways to hide her from me, when I go to work or go to school or fall asleep in the comfort of our bed.

Dear phone, do not let this darkness press in on me.

He’s watching an anime now. Hard to tell which one. I wonder how many girl’s bodies his eyes are scanning, and how little I am on his mind. I wonder if he thinks I am sleeping or if he knows I wait for him to come back to me, and relishes the torture.

He wouldn’t choose to torture, right? Wouldn’t force me to feel sad, wouldn’t make me angry on purpose.

At some point I drift to sleep, because I wake up to his arms wrapping around me and a breathy sorry in my ear. How do I make him understand that I feel alone? Do I tell him that I don’t want to be kissing, I need him to hold me and comfort me and tell me things will be all right? Do I start that fight? How do I comfort someone when I need him to be sad, mad, to realize what he’s done?

For the first time in my life, I want to be alone.

Dear phone, do not let this darkness press in on me.

The Empty Feeling

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Sank into my chest in the dark.
I could hear you in the next room,
humdrum activities,
glowing in the television light.
Silent and angry and glaring at
the face you think is mine.

I know what is happening-
somewhere between trying to be fine
and trying to be happy
and letting go of the wrongs
I didn’t take time for myself.
No healing-
jumping without wings.

Do I hurt you?
You with the long face, quick to anger,
or forget myself?

We Could be Happy

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At first I made excuses to myself. Those were not his headlights. He would be at work for another hour at least. And we just talked on the phone. He would have said something then.

The windows were open. I was cruising a steady 55 on the highway. Getting done work at midnight meant a relaxing drive home in the cool fall air. But the headlights were closer and over the steady thump of the bass I could hear the engine grinding, growing louder, ever closer.

I looked behind me. Headlights only. Then they were gone, covered by the back of my car. I saw the cross necklace he left hanging from his rear-view, swinging wildly, before the force of his bumper colliding with mine pushed me forward.

I yelled something wordless, mostly shocked. His headlights came into view. I imagined a satisfied smile on his face. I could see it now, the way his lip curled around the edges.

He was speeding up again. I sped up more. There was nothing to do but confront him. I jerked the steering wheel right and slammed on my brakes, coming to an abrupt stop on the shoulder. He parked his car on awkward slant, tail pipe sticking out across the lanes but nose blocking the only route forward. He never turned off his car, but he threw open the door and marched up to me.

I didn’t dare to open my window. The words would always be the same. Why were you talking to him. Why weren’t you texting me. What do you mean you need friends you don’t need anyone else but me. How can you be lonely when we have each other. You’re being stupid. What was so confusing about that. I know what you’re going to say-just because I don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you don’t have a side. I know I’m being mean but you deserve it. 

I blinked hard. He was pounding on the glass now. He was shouting loud enough for me to hear him. I was at an advantage – if I backed up quick enough I could turn around on the road and lose him before he could follow me.

“I’m not listening to you,” I whispered.

I threw the car in reverse and spun as fast as I could.

Anything less would be worthless.

The Broken Promise

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Your words were sharp. Quick.
In and out before I realized I was bleeding.
Gone and shaking, and I wasn’t breathing.
The tender spot still left in my heart.
You found it. Found it.
Forever I remain your plaything
in my weakness.

Is this what love is?
Complete the mission, seek, destroy,
target locked and loaded?
Open up to be cast out –
Wait. Wait. I started again.
Forgetting all my promises
in my moment of emotion,
in my blindness to devotion
of nothing, what, my pride?

And inside, something died.
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Web of Protection

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I weave this web of my skin.
A golden strand for hope
And a white, imperfection.
Though the sun’s fingers threaten,
And I, constricted, squirming,
Feel the delicate heat, a warning.
One green strand for peace, but look-
It weaves throughout. The red
Of angry disposition. The blue
Of silent simmering summer nights.
Alone and quiet, beneath the twisting wreath
Of myself and all of myself.
A piece of soul to wear on the outside
Home unnoticed. Here, crouching, desperate,
I weave another strand.