trigger warning: anxiety, mention of addiction, low self-esteem, slight mentions of self-harm, mention of suicidal thoughts
perfectionism. somehow that word always makes me think of buddhism. or confucianism. like it’s some kind of religion you subscribe to and by religion, i really just mean that every time i open a door i immediately see forevers with no warranty or return policy promises doomed endings and beginnings and happily ever afters all smashing together like the start and end of a universe but it’s all too much to fit inside my chest and yet it continues to unfold inside me and i’m not even trying to stop this massive tidal wave from descending i’m not trying to fight the rip tides that sometimes reach for me and perhaps this is why i run away inside like cinderella from the ball every time you look at me. perhaps this is why the words that stumble out of my mouth seem to jump and shiver and freeze; the ropes of pain shooting through me. perhaps this is why i used to love middle-grade fantasy so much: because in the end, all the scary things always die and the characters are ok and the characters are ok the characters just go back to their normal lives and you no longer have to feel like your heart is beating so hard it’s going to leave bruises on your self-esteem no longer have to recall embarrassing memories spilled like bloodred dye across a sheet of white fabric every vein in your body pulling to freeze. because everything is all right. perfectionism feels like looking in the mirror and brushing your wet hair until it’s divided into perfect neat columns like your whole body is an excel spreadsheet because i am scared you won’t love me if i don’t look perfect addicted to drinking in that moment when i almost feel pretty scared you won’t take me seriously if i don’t look perfect scared i can’t live without something to fiddle with so i don’t fiddle with the stay parts of my own skin scared life is only a contest tangled up in the clack of my keyboard keys my demons have the keys to me because i just left them out in the open like my feelings were public domain drawings of maps i just entrusted my whole heart to strangers because i am desperate for someone who recognizes me but just because you happened to be there at the right time just because maybe you smiled or something maybe you tricked my fickle mind into believing in you when there was no real reason to doesn’t make you worthy. so i didn’t realize you were planning on taking down my system starting with the functional state of the thoughts running through my brain and ending with my ability to breathe. breathe. breathe. in out. in out. in out. in out. in out. heartbeat continues to stomp into my self-esteem like maybe if i beat it up enough times it won’t be there in the morning. i hate this. i hate that everything comes at a cost. i hate how i am driving myself off the edge because i don’t know where else to go and i have to go somewhere i can’t sit still anymore and i’m not sure where the edge even is, but i know it’s getting closer and closer and closer. i know it’s not the same thing butthe sound of the vacuum cleaner makes me want to cry because it only sounds like me running my hands over the surface of my heart examining every single atom for a sign of cancer or dirt or pain or wrong or— scrolling back through the waves of emotions and text messages and confusion and certainty and devotion until i find your diagnosis so we can compare all the parts of us that fell apart while we weren’t looking and be together in what feels so much like failure. where the nights used to feel like parties with only one person but that doesn’t matter because the music is blasting now it’s only a foggy kind of collapse into sleeping. sometimes people talk to me like i’m standing at an airport waiting to register my baggage. like they care about me, but mostly they just want to see me fly. and i don’t fucking care in that moment about the places you describe. i don’t give a crap about all the perfect lines i will write because i was never writing for perfection. i was never writing to be professional. i was never writing to be normal. i was writing to tell the truth. i was writing for you this person right in front of me who listened long enough to believe i existed somewhere all the way across the world. i was writing for the thoughts in my head that will destroy the rest of me if they aren’t held in check. i was writing for the hope that there is someone out there who feels as alone as i do. someone out there. i was writing for two people who are actually able to understand each other. i was writing because i thought i could fill up all the hollow hidey-holes woodpeckers have chipped away at in my heart and turn them into retro hotel rooms that only last as long as you need them to. my words are shards of glass that were never supposed to be polished but you handed me a jar of polish and i never really said no and i never really said yes and this is how you become buried in the locker-bay-hubbub of other people’s thoughts. you handed me a pressure washer and so i tried to to carve all the scars off of my body but mostly i’m just bleeding trying to slap band-aids over top of my skin as fast as i can hoping the scars will feel prettier next morning. hoping i can be eight years old again when all of this was. i was writing for the people who couldn’t get it through their heads that i have feelings. i was writing for the monsters that needed a chance to howl rather than tearing down the walls just for a day. i was not writing to go away, i was writing to find somewhere that lets me stay a while. i was not writing for perfection, but i am standing here right now letting my shoulders collapse not knowing what to say or do not knowing what to tell you. i wasn’t writing for search engine optimization and scheduled posts on friday and learning how to market with social media. i was not writing to slam a filter like a muzzle you’d put on a dog that can’t stop barking. i was not writing for any of this. my heart was not beating for sandpaper self-criticism whitewashing all the colours away from me. my heart was not beating to constantly battle against the feeling that i am drowning. but maybe it doesn’t matter, because somehow i ended up here anyway. because perfect was the first mountain i ever climbed, and i know you want me to, but i can’t lie, because it is so beautiful. from the top, the world will unfold outside of you and suddenly all the worry is a hot air balloon, and for a second, it lets go of me, and the freefall no longer seems scary and there are wings on my shoulders and i do happy dances at the bus stop i sing on the alks alone because i don’t care who’s listening, and this is why i can’t stop. this is why i don’t eat at lunch time because i’m too scared of what you’ll say to me. this is why i beg you to notice me. this is why i want to run away. that mountain is where i give myself altitude sickness my lungs starting to shrivel like raisins but on purpose. i am addicted to how it feels to finally rearrange all the words and call myself good enough and i hate it but i do it it’s a dance i know and so therefore i will never have to be scared of it even though the reason for my success will and is becoming my destruction. even though every smile makes me bleed but only silently. even though this is the disease that runs in my family tree. even though it feels some days like my dna is trying to kill me. so today i cup my life in my palms and wait for it to drip. drop. drip. drop. away. wondering if there’s anything i can do to make it go faster. wondering if i can make it stay. beleiving i know painfully that other people would call this a waterfall. other people would call this hate. other people would call this love. other people would call this a broken mirror of a girl who never learned what the difference was. other people would call this functional. other people would call this beautiful. other people will make my body burn itself up before reassembling in the soothing way they tell me to let go already like i am nothing more than a baby. other people’s words hit the metal armour of my skin and bounce back again. other people’s words hit the ravine that sprouted years ago between all the different sides of my soul they wouldn’t understand what it feels like to be so dehydrated that the water does not even sink into my skin anymore it only pools and then floods. pools and then drowns me, coming on slowly and then rapidly. they wouldn’t know how to ride the waves and swim through the currents like i do. they wouldn’t know what it feels like to hurl yourself in intentionally. they wouldn’t know the twinge in your gut driving off cliffs gives you. they wouldn’t understand how it can be possible to see so much beauty in the world and yet not be able to stop correcting controlling reigning rewriting it. they wouldn’t understand. so i’d scream. i’d scream so loudly i’d fall onto the concrete of the sidewalk the sky rapidly closing like a tent when you pole the poles out of it and the whole illusion comes crashing down on top of you but in the first second, it’s warm to me.
mental health, poetry about mental health, poetry about teen anxiety, poetry about anxiety, poetry about pressure, poetry about stress, beautiful emotional poetry, you’re not alone, poetry about self-esteem, poetry about pain