Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way?

Tag: depression

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Were you happier before or after you had children? Does correlation imply causation? Are you really happy or do you just think you should be? Am I really happy or just afraid of seeming ungrateful? Do you complete me or will I never know what that feels like?

He’s never had to fight to be heard so he always assumes he should be. If he can’t win the argument he’ll simply deem it is over. He acts like walking away is the rational adult thing to do, and when he’s ready to make amends, I’ve been quietly seething in resentment and chosen my hill to die on.

I didn’t know it was possible to have this many fights about nothing. I’m so tired of existing in this perpetual state of purgatory. Some days it’s not just failing to be on the same page, some days I’m not sure we’re even reading the same book. Some days I want to erase him from my story altogether and start over. Try again. If only it were as simple as hitting refresh.

When I get complacent I start to look for creative ways to self destruct. Happiness is the enemy, then you have something to lose. I’d forgotten how to love without one foot always out the door. Always watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When do you intend to fall out of love with me? I’d like a memo please, add an alert to my calendar. Maybe we could have a zoom meeting about it? Schedule the break up like one of your conference calls. Be efficient about it, leave a five star review.

It feels like we’re stuck in a warped simulation set to boring dystopia mode. Some alien child created us for a social studies assignment and forgot about us after handing in his report. Or maybe Earth is the universe’s version of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. We’re the trashiest reality show in the galaxy and aliens have been laughing at us for eons.

Most days it all feels futile. Chasing a lost dream that only ends in heartache. It’s never a question of if your heart will break, merely when. Does he leave you with a splatter of youth left, a chance to recoup your losses? Or do you grow old together until one of you gets to plan the other’s funeral? Write your vows and obituary at the same time, be efficient about it.

He says he loves me but I don’t believe him. The more he repeats it the more I convince myself it’s a conspiracy. Mostly it doesn’t feel like we’re together because we love each other. Most days we’re together because it’s better than being alone. Mostly he says what he must to tick the boxes. Most days I let him think I believe it too.

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My happiness came in fleeting bursts. It was superficial, forgettable, insincere. I didn’t know whether it hurt me more that he couldn’t see it, or terrified me that he might.

I was dissatisfied, but mostly with myself. My stubbornness, my imperfections, my undoing. My inexplicable need to sabotage and destroy any semblance of stability. I could never make myself believe that he loved me as much as he said he did, even as he was saying it. I felt alone, even when he held me. Especially when he held me. I felt empty, maybe because they’d left wounds too deep. Or maybe I was always hollow to begin with.

I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that I was wasting this life, this precious, exhausting existence. That every minute I spent feeling ungrateful would come back and haunt me with poetic justice. I never deserved any of it, and sooner or later it would be taken away, which would be unbearable, yet inevitable. I was angry with him for not understanding me, even though I didn’t either. I was regressing, and anger was my defence mechanism. I wanted to be heard even when I didn’t like my own voice.

I fell apart at the last wedding I attended because I had been uninvited to another. Not just unceremoniously removed from a list of invitations, but permanently barred from an entire life. She knew better than to leave him with access to relationship poison, they were ready to remove therapy from their budget and progress to the next phase of suburban paradise. I locked myself in the bathroom stall and sent a drunken message that would never be read. Or perhaps read and deleted to avoid incrimination. Or perhaps read and elicited only annoyance. Everyone had moved on while I let myself be haunted by a kind smile more than a decade old. I could never keep enough good people around to make me better. You could never love me enough to stay past the bad weather.

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Let’s be serious, our generation never grew up. We never had to. There were no wars for us to fight, and we tried not to think too hard about the ones in faraway countries we’d never visit. It was irrelevant, it was nothing we had any control over, so why bother with upset? #War would never become trending. Don’t waste your pixels. Our understanding of starvation extends only to a delayed UberEats delivery, and we treat the mildest inconveniences like life ending catastrophe. Our lives revolve around the same first world problems and petty grievances, intermittently interrupted with the latest shiny object within our budget.

Our parents think they had it hard, or at least harder. Some become resentful, bitter that life wasn’t as kind on them as it was on us. They know it isn’t fair or right to feel this way, but that doesn’t stop them from muttering under their breath “…back in my day…”. You wish they had the decency to keep those thoughts to themselves. They don’t care what you think at all, you petulant child. They belong to the generation that believes emotional trauma builds character. They credit themselves for every achievement in your life but your failures are your own to bear. Don’t you dare burden them with disappointment.

Misery loves company only because it’s so damn lonely. I want you to understand my suffering, I have to make sure it’s equally devastating, or you won’t begin to comprehend my pain. But the world’s changing too fast for us to keep up. Round and round we go, we tell the same stories with new faces who distract from familiar, predictable conclusions. We go anyway. The devil’s in the details.

But you can’t escape the nagging feeling that you’ve drifted from the proper path. It’s like pressing the wrong key in a video game and knowing you’ll never get to the ending you wanted, that you worked so hard for. But you’ve come too far to start over, so you settle for second best. Before you know it your entire life becomes a series of second bests. You settle for less, then less, until you’re an empty shell of wasted potential. You spend the rest of your life convincing yourself that this is enough, and if you’re lucky, you’ll believe it.

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Exordium

Despite our bitter dissolution, I can’t deny that he once saved me from myself, and I will always remain grateful for that brief respite of unexpected kindness.

We met under peculiar circumstances. I was lost, certain only of the fact that I must be damaged goods, and desperately searching for anything to prove otherwise. He saw me drowning and reached out a hand, for no other reason than he had been walking by. He had kindness in him once, on that day, and the days that followed, perhaps I simply used it all up.

It was only intended to be temporary, and neither of us knew what to do when we grew accustomed to waking up together in the mornings. I suppose he bit off more than he could chew, and I was still greedily clinging to him for breath. He was always a realist. I should have known then that he would cut me loose if it meant saving himself.

Falling

It was both gradual and all at once. One day we woke up and smiled at each other and that was the beginning of the end.

We were smitten, obnoxiously attached like codependent Siamese twins. It was overbearing and mildly irritating even to friends, but we were too enamoured to care. I believed him when he said “I love you”, despite all evidence to the contrary. I had been so deprived of affection that those words were enough at the time. I let my imagination fill in the gaps. I was too infatuated to see past his carefully calculated responses. He did the bare minimum to maintain us and I was all too eager to pick up the slack. 

Melancholia

My depression wasn’t the only battle, but it was enough to cripple our already fragile foundations. He convinced me to stop taking the pills and felt his own acute despair when his presence proved to not be enough.

It was the lack of purpose, the grind and pressures of university, the constant procrastination and guilt, my repugnant inability to change. There was so little hope,  and he remained the only constant. That must have been unbearable, but he never complained.

The more I believed love could save me, the more he wanted to run. He would never have admitted to it. He never wanted to be unkind.

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I can understand it now, in hindsight, how appealing she must have been. All gentle smiles and grace, an undisturbed childhood and a mother who could compliment without degradation.

I was barely enlightened enough to be in denial, only irredeemably naive.

The more I craved for him to choose me, the more repulsive my desperation appeared. It’s bitingly sardonic that the only thing that might have saved us would have been walking away, but I wasn’t strong enough then.

It wasn’t a lesson I ever wanted to learn. If you’re lucky, a blessed childhood can heal all life’s trauma. If you’re unfortunate, you’ll spend your life chasing the ghosts of your past.

 

 

 

 

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Do you know what it’s like to wake up one morning and hate the life that you’ve built? A life that so many would envy, a life that some would trade in a heartbeat, a life that perhaps you never deserved to begin with.

The skillfully curated library intended to enlighten your guests to all your class and wisdom. Wallace’s Infinite Jest sprawled open on your bedside table, your chances of actually consuming it growing infinitely smaller with each passing day. No one actually reads books these days, who has the time?

The carefully selected catalog couture stashed neatly in your walk in closet. The grossly overpriced stiletto heels that only a true masochist would fathom walking in. The unethically sourced blood diamonds that satisfies the darkest parts of our selfish nature, the feeling of having won something in this trivial game, of having the upper hand in this meaningless excursion. Petty excuses for a petty existence, self serving because we no longer worship deities, we think we are Gods.

We used to know our place, back when only Emperors wore jewels and gold threaded embroidery. In this age of spin we’re led to believe that we too, can have a chance to experience life as royalty. If not for a lifetime then perhaps a month, a week, a day, an hour. A billion dollar industry designed to make you feel content with what is otherwise a mediocre existence, a mild inconvenience to this planet at best.

Have you ever woken up one morning and no longer recognised yourself? When did the fine lines sink in around your eyes? How many bottles of expensive creams in french labels will it take to erase the tiredness from your soul? When did you grow old? Did anybody notice you were gone? Will anyone notice if you don’t return? Do you fantasise about leaving it all behind? Being dramatic just for once, packing your bags without leaving a forwarding address. It used to be easier to disappear, when we didn’t have devices and accounts that tracked every movement.

I am wary of being called ungrateful, of inviting unpleasant superstitions. But I am so very tired of myself, of what I am becoming, of every day that passes and the days yet to come. I fear becoming a caricature of myself, of withholding my affections for purpose, of a love held together by mutual convenience and bitter compromise. You keep pushing me to be a better version of myself, sometimes I wonder if you ever liked who I am to begin with. I keep chasing your approval and losing myself in the process. I fear when you’re done with me, there’ll be nothing left.

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Why do we love the sunset? Do we admire the colours or do we cherish what it represents? Another day, you’ve survived another. There are days that are easy and there are days when you lose the fight. There are days you breathe peace and days that you’re lost to the storm.

I should have kept quiet. I should have seen the signs, known what was coming. I’ve seen love like this before, I’ve tasted the bloody roots, I’ve left a mark or two. He remembers every bit of nightmare I put him through. Our addictions were never as problematic as our affections for each other. In this twisted world you can be proud of specific substance abuse. You could mistake it for achievement, you needed to reach a certain level of success to have these sorts of problems. Only the poor are degenerate alcoholics. When the whiskey is top shelf you can hide behind the facade of good taste.

Whenever I lose a friend I find myself wondering how they would feel if I were to die in an accident the very next day. Would they regret not picking up the phone? What if they never have a chance to speak the truth? Suddenly I find myself filled with a perverse sense of satisfaction at the idea of denying them that opportunity. I fantasize about having the last word.

But I don’t really want the last word. I don’t like to let go of people. I still believe that there is meaning to be found in this world. So I find myself extending the olive branch, time and time again to those who may not deserve it. I let myself get hurt over and over again by those who have let me down before, on the off chance that this time it might be different. Because there is always the perfect possibility that it could be different. I let my crippling depression and my never ending optimism compete for control, and I am accustomed to losing the battle. I have my scars to prove it.

But I love you I love you I love you. I could never let you go. You break me but I can’t walk away. I am shattered and yet I am still. Be the sun, be the stars, be broken but unbent. Be the song, be the wind, be the rose and the thorn. I have loved you, I did my best.

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There’s a part of me that believes depression isn’t real. It’s all in your head, he said, and I believed him. Those pills don’t really work, it’s all just a placebo effect, and the side effects outweigh the benefits. Depression is cowardly, it’s laziness, it’s an unwillingness to take action to remedy an unwanted situation. It’s selfish, self indulgent, childish procrastination, a reluctance to move into adulthood, to deal with the real world, a crippling tormenting fear of reality and responsibility.

There’s a part of me that knows depression is real. The part of me that equates depression with a time in my life when I was cutting so much that I ran out of skin. The part of me still covering up scars from 7 years past and dodging questions about the ghastly wound on my thigh. “Oh, I don’t really know… I was stupid back then.”

I never wanted to blame my bad behaviour on depression because depression was me. I was desperately unhappy but I smiled at everyone. I was lonely but I refused company. My grades were falling so I cut more classes. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and I became increasingly unpleasant to be around. It’s funny how something invisible can be felt with such gravity. It was like I could dampen the spirit of a room just by walking in.

I recall lying in the hospital bed, my leg bleeding, freshly stitched up, and my mother looking down at me with a confused mixture of anger and disappointment. She demanded to know “what the fuck do you have to be depressed about, I’m the one who should be depressed to have you for a daughter”, while the Doctor looked at me apologetically, having finally understood why I didn’t want to call my parents.

There’s a part of me that believes it was my fault, because depression is only debilitating if you let it be. Depression makes you feel like you made the choice. You chose to stop seeing your friends. You chose to not hand in that assignment. You chose to pick up the knife. You chose to let your boyfriend cheat on you. You pushed him away in the first place. What was he supposed to do, not sleep with the doe-eyed 21 year old who could actually hold a conversation?

Depression doesn’t just make you forget what happiness feels like, it makes you forget you are capable of happiness at all. It was never a low hum or simply background noise for me. It was deafening, it demanded all of my attention. It would start from the moment I woke up groggy and tired and continue until 3 am, as I lay in the dark, counting down the hours I had left to recuperate, growing ever more desperate as time ran out and I was still unable to trick my body into sleeping. Depression never let me rest, it wanted to be heard. It took precedent over my friends, my family, my dreams, my future. It became the only thing that held me together while I fell apart. It was the scapegoat for my mistakes. It was my enemy and my salvation. It was something I could fight, something that could be fought, and that made all the difference.

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Everything is perfect but I feel terrible. I have everything I need, but it’s not enough. I see the world through rose tinted glasses and there are moments I want to blow my brains out.

I’ve started smoking again. The narcissist in me trying to find the romanticism in dying young. Drinking more whiskey hoping that will make the words pour out, finding there is none because once again I’m empty. I find people strange. I find myself stranger. I want to be alone but I can’t stand being lonely. I want to be loved but I’m never good at it myself.

What could be more sobering than kissing someone for hours not out of passion but because they’re there? What could be lonelier than three tangled bodies out of sync? We try so hard to be close but the distance is louder than anything else.

When we’re young we drink to forget the pain. As we get older we drink to remember it. Those moments of excruciating agony that we thought would make or break us, are now the only moments worth remembering. When the high wears off and you realise you’re far more sick of pleasure than of pain. The pain is the only part of you that still feels real. It’s the only thing that reminds you you’re still living.

I suspect for the most part, writers simply enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice. They want an excuse to hold a voice recorder and wander around the house speaking out loud to themselves and not be called crazy for it. This is why solitude brings out the best in artists. Only when you feel safe in the knowledge that no one is watching you, can you create something you would share with a million strangers.

We throw around euphemisms and attempt to disguise our narcissism as a yearning to be heard, to feel understood. But the truth is we’re simply selfish. I just want your attention. I want you to hear my story, understand my grief, my pain. I want you to know my mistakes and love me anyway. Love me as I am, forgive me for all my transgressions.

I am as stubborn as they come. I refuse to change, even when I know it’s good for me. I can hurt you and love you in the same breath. I will save you only so I remember how to break you again. I know I am the type to leave people, so I am terrified of being left. I think the worst of everyone, because I am the worst of them all. I’ve said goodbye before, I know the words. You look into my eyes again, you hear them say ‘stay, stay, stay’.

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I remember when he never loved me. This was before we had met. He was just another nameless boy who existed at the same time as I did, but our lives never collided. He kissed many girls but he never loved them back. They all loved him. He thought he loved one, or at least he really really wanted to. He wanted to so much that he had her name imprinted onto his ankle, in case he forgot to love her. He never forgot, because he never loved her.

I remember when he always loved me. This was the first time I sneaked into his bed and told him I couldn’t sleep. I could sleep, everyone sleeps eventually. But he knew what I really meant. He put his arm around me and that was the beginning of every bad decision we ever made together. Every secret smile, every sordid kiss, every sinful night that ended with messy sheets and knotted hair, I remember. He remembers too. He hadn’t planned on loving me, but he started waking up in the mornings with a smile on his face. He started saying ‘good morning’ like he meant it. He started to prefer coffee the way I made it. He always loved me and he didn’t know how to stop. Love can be dangerous, he knew this. I never knew this then. Now I always know.

I remember later, when he never loved me. This was when my head had gone bad again and I could no longer see the sun. I started to draw red lines all over my body and I was never pretty, I was always sad. He started kissing other girls again and it was easy because he never loved me. He felt trapped but too trapped to tell anyone or do anything to free himself. I learned it is possible to be tangled together with a person yet still feel lonely. We kissed each other less but when we did, we left bruises. When he finally found the courage to be worse at lying, I slit his throat and buried him under the sea. It was easy, because he never loved me.

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I wanted to remember all the shades of the ocean, my reflection in the waters, the feel of the wind on my skin, the music that mimicked our heartbeats. I wanted the moment of absolute content to last forever.

I wanted to believe that for once, nothing was missing. But I glanced at her eyes and saw a sadness that broke the peace. I felt an emptiness seep through her that no amount of laughter or substance could appease.

She asked me what else is there to do when you’ve lost your way and the light which used to guide you home shines no longer. She told me she danced to his heartbeat and now her feet no longer touch the ground, every step feels like torture. What do you do when you find yourself alone again and you don’t remember how it happened. When memories begin to play tricks on you and you wonder if you were ever happy. When time begins to chase you and you forget who you’re running from. She whispered through crooked lips that it’s hard to smile when he’s not here to hold me. She said it hurts so bad I’m always on the verge of crying. She looked up and smiled the saddest smile I had ever seen.

What do you do when you lose your soulmate except watch your heart get broken over and over again every single day and you ache to hear his voice but you’re terrified of listening to the words you’ve saved. You wonder whether he’s in a better place but you curse every deity you know for stealing him early. You tell yourself everything happens for a reason but easy comfort isn’t comforting. You blame yourself for not knowing how to move on, and you blame him for not letting you. You feel his ghost following wherever you go, you hope he never leaves.

What can you say when the words I love you feels like a knife to your heart and every “it’ll get better” or “you’ll be okay” feels like a twist in your wound. How do you wave away empathy how do you explain that nothing makes the pain go away and you’d do anything to reverse time just to see his face again. She climbs back under the covers and clutches his old tshirt like a lifeline and I watch her bleed and bleed. I tell her darling, in time, all wounds heal. She whispers yes, but in time, all scars ache.

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I’m not talking about the cute sort of depression they try to describe in poetry. The quiet classy dignified soft buzzing in the background, a monotonous bland boring sort of sadness that you can try to amputate with Prozac.

I’m talking like the kind where you’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and every cell in your body screams at you to jump, and when you’re better you forget how close you came to taking the leap, and you never bother telling anyone because you don’t want them to worry or judge you for being so out of control.

I’m not talking about the angsty teen who has barely experienced life but think they have nothing left to learn from this world because they listened to too much punk music, and their parents refuse to listen and even when they do they just don’t understand.

I’m talking about the kid that opened up the safe and brought the gun to his head and came so close to pulling the trigger he still sees bullets in his dreams. The kind where you start drawing red lines along your arteries until you run out of space and your skin forgets to heal and the scars begin to grow layers.

I’m talking like the all consuming, self indulgent, utterly unreasonable urge to say goodbye forever by not saying it to anybody. I’m talking being unable to write any notes because you don’t really know what to say anymore, and you lost all your words as the red seeped through cotton.

You don’t know how to explain it because when you’re better it seems so far out of reach and the last thing you want to do is grab it. But when you’re in it you can’t see any light. Your whole universe is blurry and you forget all the reasons for existing. When you’re in it it’s no longer a whim or a feeling but a deeply ingrained uncompromising truth that this is all a cruel jape and the joke is on you and you alone, and the only way out is out.

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Perhaps I am still waiting for an apology. Maybe some unreasonable, idealistic side of me still yearns for closure, maybe we never really ‘get over it’, no matter what we tell ourselves. Maybe you’ll always feel that familiar ache in the pit of your stomach when our song comes on, no matter how much you want to forget me. Maybe every time I think I’ve really forgotten the sound of your voice, your laugh, your lecturing monotone when you’re reading me poetry, it all comes flooding back at the most inconvenient of times, and I’m forced to retrace your footsteps back to our beginnings. Do you remember it too?

I used to blame you for being older but none the wiser. But age turns out to be a tricky thing. As children we’re told to expect steady improvement, but as an adult you very quickly discover that growth no longer comes naturally. It’s actually disturbingly effortless to remain stagnant, and society will cater to all your childish wants as long as you cry loudly enough.

The older we get the more we’re forced to accept the flaws of our predecessors, as we uncover more unsavory truths about ourselves. How imperfect, how selfish, how cruel we can be. How our own illogical stubbornness drives us to fight relentlessly until there’s nothing left to win, but still we refuse to move on. You realise your parents had no clue what they were doing, just like you have no clue now, and you start to envy them for how far they’ve come, you start to fear how much progress you still have left. You’ll search everywhere for some kind of manual only to find that you’re alone in this, and everyone else is just as terrified. Some are better than you at pretending, and you resent them for this.

So you hunt for a connection, some spark, any sign that there’s some grander purpose to your existence other than the day to day tortures of small talk and paper shuffling, and the thousand other mundane tasks that make up your seemingly meaningless life, and you pray to whatever might listen just so you can stretch out some thin hope in order to not fall apart every morning. But that emptiness inside of you that you choose to sedate with religion or drugs or whatever else works, it never goes away. And God, it’s getting harder and harder to keep living.

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‘Do you not like me sober’?

She wanted to ask but the words were glued to the back of her throat and she couldn’t cough it out. So she lit another cigarette instead and watched the smoke swirl around them, filling the air with toxic fumes.

It takes precision to kill yourself slowly. It takes discipline to commit to socially acceptable suicide. It’s like a traditional sort of depression, the mild kind that people can ignore without feeling guilty. Common and predictable, easily manipulated with medication, and doesn’t end with a noose or a gun shot. No one will ever discover her corpse and say it was a tragedy. They will have seen it coming. They will say she deserved it.

When her body is laid out in the coffin and her legs don’t quite fill it out, they will say that it’s a shame she didn’t try harder to stick around. When the scars on her skin become conspicuous under the fluorescent light they will mutter that she was weak, that she succumbed to the worst type of regression. Self harm is selfish. Self mutilation, a childish renegade form of indulgence. Her inability to cope with reality, her distorted view of the world, her disillusion, her mistakes, her failure to be.

No one will discuss the drunk boy that raped her when she was 19 and too scared to say no. No one will mention the boy who told her he loved her only to cheat with her best friend. No one will understand why it was easier to hurt herself than to hurt them back. No one will question the absence of her family, their anger, their disappointment in her unnecessary existence. Their bitterness will be justified. No one will make excuses for her.

But her smile. They will remember her smile. The way her eyes would light up, the faint lines around her mouth, her charming grin, her girlish giggle. They will remember the way she could brighten the room with her laughter, the sound of pure joy. It’s hard to imagine how someone clearly filled with such happiness could possibly contain such grief. Maybe that was the problem. Every experience was so exaggerated, every emotion so raw, so incompatible. The pain had nowhere to go, so it consumed her.

He will remember the way she used to look at him, like he was her whole world, and he was. She didn’t know how to love only a little. All the ways she understood him that no one else ever could, all the words they never said, but felt. It was true, he didn’t like her sober. He loved.

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This is how the story goes.

We have dinner and drinks at the same restaurant you take all the girls, but I pretend to feel special, I know how to follow the rules of your game. You compliment my dress and I laugh at all your jokes to make the date proceed smoothly. You ask about my childhood and I tell you it was uneventful, it was fine. I don’t tell you my parents were never home and I still struggle to make dinner conversation because I never had the practice. By the time dessert arrives, we’ve slowly gotten to know each other, but not accurately. You kept your dirty little secrets to yourself and I did my best to hide my crazy. We both spend the night pretending to be normal, and I smile when you kiss me good night. I think I might like you. This is the beginning of the honeymoon phase.

In the next three months I become the centre of your world. We watch all the movies we saved up when we lacked the right company, and annoy all our friends with excessive PDA. We go for walks on the beach, we watch the sunset together, I get used to holding your hand. A few months later we give in to our cravings for intimacy and I get used to falling asleep with your arm around my waist, I learn what it is like to feel safe. We incorporate our mutual quirks into a flawless morning routine and you start to drink coffee even though you prefer tea.  This is how I fall in love with you.

Sooner rather than later you start to learn things about me that you don’t like. You think you might be bored with me but you’re not entirely sure, so you don’t say anything. I start to get tired of your childish antics when I discover that charisma alone isn’t enough to sustain a healthy relationship, but I don’t say anything either. We’re not quitters. We tolerate each other, we fight over menial things and sometimes we don’t even know what we’re yelling about but damn we get good at making each other angry. This is when I learn to resent you.

We continue to celebrate the same anniversaries but without the same enthusiasm. We kiss out of habit not affection. We fuck, but you think about other people. I don’t think at all. My depression creeps back and I become even more distant, not that it really matters, because these days you don’t want to talk to me anyway. Kitchen knives disappear and you find them in the bathroom drawer but you don’t want to know. We’re both exhausted. You argue with me about the validity of depression as a mental illness, I double the dosage of my pills. You loathe weakness, you start to hate me for being miserable. You start to hate yourself for not knowing how to make me happy. This is when we know it’s over.

We try to sit down like mature, rational adults and have the awkward conversation. We should have said things like “it’s not you, it’s me”, or “I love you, I’m just not in love with you” etc. We could have lied and said “let’s stay friends” even though we both know we were never really friends. But we didn’t fall out of love at the same time, and so there was bloodshed. We leave out the important lies that would have sounded better, and scream the truth at each other till we run out. Just to be safe, we yell some terrible things we don’t really mean and never take them back. We think about each other in the years to come and wonder ‘how the fuck did I let that happen’. This is the closest you’ll get to an apology.

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The first time I went to your apartment neither of us expected me to stay the night. I ran down to the convenience store and picked up a $2 toothbrush but left make-up stains all over your pillow case. When I woke up, a part of me panicked when you weren’t around, but you came back and handed me the best coffee I’d drank in months and the taste lingered long after I drained the cup.

Since you’ve been gone, I sit alone in my room, hands wrapped around myself tight, no mascara stains, no foundation masks, and I’m wondering if her skin feels the same. I wonder if she knows how to move to your rhythm, are you in sync? Does she know you hate it when she messes up your hair, does she kiss you the right way? Does she taste different or does she remind you of me anyway? Does her hair smell like girly shampoo or that strange coconut brew I left in your bathroom on purpose? Does she put bubbles in your bath, and does her laughter remind you of the ocean?

Since you’ve been gone, I’m not so picky anymore. You know, loneliness has a way of nipping that fucker right in the bud. I settle for strangers who know how to sit in comfortable silence, and when they joke about hurting me I almost wish they weren’t empty threats. These days when I think of your smile it reminds me of summer dreams and wildfire, loving you was the most exhausting fantasy. I bent and I twisted and I shed my own skin but none of it was ever good enough, I was never what you were looking for.

Since you’ve been gone, I’m trying harder to be a good person, you know I’ve always wanted to be a good person. But you and the rest of the world keep reminding how much easier it is to be selfish and mean. Cruelty is how you stayed alive, we’re both survivors, and if that’s the string that held us together why did you blame me for falling? I’m not waiting for an apology and I don’t expect anyone else to pick up these pieces. It was vanity, it was weakness, I was narcissistic enough to believe that if I unraveled in your arms you’d be kind enough to catch me. I was trying to prove a sorry point, but all you saw were tears and blood. You’re not coming back this time; there is not enough skin left for you to love me.