brave face

i used to run myself weary

used to dream of all-nighters and self-loathing

to some darkly academic beat

i used to fantasize about statues built in my honour

about going down in history

i used to ruin my teeth

while i chewed up rocks to dust

and sometimes i still feel the rush

slip down my spine

want to stay up ‘til 3am and wake up at 5

’cause then i bet you’d be so proud

you’d sing me a dance and you’d destroy yourselves

to my apocalyptic glow

i used to want it with all my heart

exhaustion and glory

i used to wear a brave face like a trophy

take pride in bitterness and pain

and now i am tired from years of running empty

now i can’t help but dream of stupid things like gentle kisses

on foreheads with no motive in mind

like brownies and dumplings and secrets to keep

now i lie on my bedroom floor

trying to differentiate between depression

and just wanting to sleep

’cause i miss simple things

i can taste them on my lips

i miss peppermint tea

i miss courage and panic

burning out like matches

i don’t recognize the person

i see in the photos; her manic grin

her aching back

but i want to keep trying

i want my brave face back

her

i’m worried about her. but then, i’m worried about everyone these days. she’s been acting strange. laughing loud, and not saying much on long phone calls. i think she hates me. i think i did something wrong, read over old text messages, rearrange broken letters into siren song.

and it never makes sense, but when did anything, honestly? when did i see the world as it was, without my scratched-up glasses from seventh grade. so i say i’m sorry over and over again, because i can never gauge my damage until it’s too late and i’m sorry for that, too. sorry i say it for all the wrong reasons, and don’t know how to talk to people when it’s personal. when it actually means something this time.

i’m worried about her, because i’m worried about everybody. because i like to pretend i’m supergirl sometimes, that i can just snap my fingers, and make it all better; and soak up pain like a sponge. because maybe if i save them enough times, the little kid in my mind will stop throwing tantrums; drawing on the walls with crayons and searching for a way out with desperate abandon.

but there isn’t one, honey. and sometimes i worry that she’ll be stuck in there for the rest of eternity. sometimes i hate her. sometimes meeting her eyes makes me feel guilty. sometimes i think i’m perfect, and i’ve got this, i don’t need anything at all. only to break down two months later on the carpet. scream, and cry when no one’s home.

because you see, i’ve learned over the years how to put my feelings into little jars and boxes, stack them up on the mantle. learned to keep going, even when it hurts, until i can’t feel much of anything anymore. and at any given moment, my brain is in ten different places at once, and sometimes the eleventh is just buzzing static, but sometimes it holds catastrophe. and i’m terrified that if i look into pandora’s box for so much as a moment, i’ll never recover fully.

so maybe that makes me a coward. or maybe it just makes me human. maybe i’m going to hell, maybe the facts don’t care about my feelings. you decide, honestly. because i’m here, right now, for better or for worse. and the clock is ticking.