- stop scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning. delete all the apps on your phone. (it won’t last, and you know this. do it anyway.)
- try to breathe, in and out until it fades to muscle memory. stitch your pieces into order. slowly.
- when you stab yourself with the needle, force yourself not to bleed on the fabric. get up, and go to the medicine cabinet. wash the blood off your hands.
- take your brain in for repairs, like a shitty computer, constantly needing to be taken in for repairs. you tighten the screws, you reset the hard drive, you bang the dust out of the keyboard, and know you’ll come back here next week.
- have a drink of water, ‘cause you can’t drown out this weight in your belly, but you sure can try. (dizzy on the tennis court, sick in the sunrise.)
- sometimes, depression feels like drowning slowly. sometimes, there are good days, and you gasp for air and you think you’re all right, until the next wave hits me from behind. but all this time, you’ve been floating in the sea. and there’s no land in sight.
- so try not to feel sorry for yourself. even when your life feels like a sob story in a youtube comments section. even when you’re drifting, and you’re screaming out, and no one comes to help you.
- go to sleep. tell yourself you’ll wake up early. save it for another night. ‘cause when you can barely breathe, you’ve got other things on your mind. and yeah, it sucks. but in the big scheme of things, it’ll turn out all right.
- call your friend. zone out. stare into blue light. take a bath and iron that twisty feeling out of your stomach. lie on the floor, exhausted and breathing.
- fashion a raft out of kelp and driftwood. it’s shitty, and haphazard, and it’ll only last a week. but it’s something.
When I was younger, I loved reading love stories. I was obsessed with them–arguably because I had absolutely no experience with real-life relationships. I think that made it better; like how movies about high school are always more fun to watch if you haven’t been to high school yet.
I thought that was where I wanted to focus with my writing. I was gonna write contemporary teen romances, because that was what I was really into at the time. About complex characters, who had usually been through it, who clicked together like little pieces in a puzzle, who made each other feel like all the stuff they had gone through was worth it. I still love writing those kinds of dynamics; they’re pretty compelling. And love stories were how I learned to write. It’s a little part of my roots, I guess. (Nope, nope, that feels really dumb to say as a fifteen year old, forget I wrote that.)
Anyway–I still love writing love stories. But at some point, I guess I just fell out of love with reading them; somehow it just feels different. Now, when I read these kind of stories, all I feel is sad, because… I just don’t get it anymore. Now I am a big, tough, scary teenager or whatever, whose biggest dreams include being able to afford rent and food without working a job I completely despise. I don’t know when that changed–I guess it’s really true, that thing they say about how growing up just means giving up on your dreams.
It was a lot easier to romanticize the idea of having a high school romance when I was in middle school and never left the house. But when you’ve actually met other teenagers, the idea suddenly becomes a lot less appealing. In romance novels through, it’s not all really about the central relationship–it’s about the characters both finding someone who helps them make their life better. They have friends, and dreams that come true, and challenges that are always faced and not always overcome. I think that’s really why I fell in love with them. I don’t need a fairy tale relationship. But I think everyone needs a family, someone who loves and supports them no matter what, whether that’s a parent or a friend, whatever. Someone who fights for you, against all better judgement.
I don’t think I’ll ever give up though. Not in my heart of hearts. I think I’ve just… gotten really jaded, as a way of protecting myself. Because I’m not where I thought I’d be right now, and I’ve messed up in a thousand different ways, and I tear myself down because I’m scared to be noticed. And also scared I’ll never be noticed. I think it’ll pass.
I think I’ll learn to be soft, some day. I hope I will. I hope even half of the things I used to read come true. I hope I get to fall in love, and someday I don’t spend most of my time worrying about survival. I hope I prove myself wrong, and I stop caring what other people think, I learn to walk through the hard days, and linger in the good.
Because deep down, I still believe in happy endings. Not the perfect Hallmark movie kind, where within an hour and fifteen minutes, our protagonist learns her lesson and lives happily ever after. But the real kind–the kind that you have to really fight for, the kind you choose every day. Joy and love, hewn by tired, dirty fists. I mean, I have to–I’d lose my mind if I didn’t.
to be opened when needed
you should write the poem
and stop scrolling through your phone while you do the dishes
or trying to eat your food with one hand
you should call your friends
you should listen to the butterflies in your stomach
and stop always doing as you’re told
you should get your shit together
listen to a lullaby
and cry your eyes out as you scroll through parenting articles on your phone
take a shower and get changed out of your work clothes
you should sing yourself a song
put on some heels
and dance around your bedroom
until you fuck up your ankle, and you fall to the ground
ibut t’s okay
you don’t have to be perfect
or try to make money off every single fucking thing you like to do
that’s what matters
you made it through another day
and in case no one has said so in a while, i’m really proud of you
oh tired soldier
oh crossfire baby
oh fighter girl
you’re not a weapon
you’re not wasted potential
with room to improve
so put down the mallet
put down the blade
’cause pretty soon, you’re not even gonna remember
what it’s like to feel this way
does it really matter how old i was?
and are we still doing this?
this stupid thing
where i will give you my silly putty heart
and you will weigh its innocence?
2000-and-something. i was soft
clawing my skin off in the counsellor’s office
’cause it helped me focus, or something
as she told me, told me, told me
that my brain was wired wrong
cyborg girl, can’t be fixed
lazy and reckless and cold
and what was i supposed to do with that? you know?
except in all honesty
i can’t remember what she said
and for all i know, she might have been a perfectly nice person
who was trying her best
but i do know is how it made me feel
like a scratched hard drive
the faulty cog in the machine
who hid under tables
who cried and cried and screamed
but i built up a callous, you see
and i learned a few things that year
don’t cry in the hallways
don’t make a mess
and above all else, just try your best not to feel
’cause then i will be normal
i’ll be happy; i mean honeycomb sweet
i’ll curl my hair
and and wash my face each morning
and if you play the ukulele
i swear i’ll sing along
you know what?
maybe the trauma made me better
maybe it smashed my head against the rocks
until poetry bled out; maybe it taught me
to pick my friends carefully
and keep going on
but i was a child
i shouldn’t have had to be strong
so if you’re listening
all the way back from 2000-and-something
that people hurt you
that you hurt yourself
cause you deserve good things
twirly dresses, bookstore gift cards
play-fights and daydreams
and raspberry hope
i know it’s hard right now, though
i know you trip over your circuits
i know you can’t stay in time
and i’m still working it out
but i do know:
that knife-wounds will soften
and burn marks will fade
and i am trying to be better
every fucking day
Is this becoming a series? Maybe. Probably. I don’t know, I really like this format, and also, writing this piece made me very emotional.
Lots of love,
someday, the dust is going to settle
and the scab will form
over the hole you tore through me
the tapestry of hopes you’ve torn to shreds
with your jaded fingernails
and walk away
someday, i’ll brush the dust off my cheeks
and do my hair all pretty
for no one at all
and maybe i won’t need to tear myself to pieces
just to stay awake
amd i’ll know who i am
i’ll walk onto a stage
i’ll speak clear, and loud
and if you’re lucky
you’ll catch me on the radio
wouldn’t that be nice?
and i could put two smiley faces in my email
like a heartless killer
or tell you to shut the fuck up
when you talk about your outdated opinions
as though you expect me to agree
i could live my life like an inspirational quote
and retire to the town i grew up in
with all my best friends, and the charcoal trees to keep us company
and it’d be all right, really
and i know that hope can’t be trusted
but maybe this time, i could let it walk me home
in the dark
hold my hand
and tell shitty patchwork jokes
that make me laugh hysterically
kiss me thick-skinned and old
and blow away like smoke