I’ve felt the weight of broken men against my chest. I’ve watched as they cried until they had nothing left, collapsing into my arms and letting me guide them into a rocky slumber. I’ve steadied the shaking hands of terrified children. They were small, but the fear in their eyes was big, and it threatened to swallow us both whole. I let my heart break in silence, doing my best to give those kids every ounce of my warmth, never letting my smile waver, because that was all I could do for them. I’ve touched the bruised faces of women who did nothing wrong. I’m only trying to help them, to clean their wounds, but it’s hard, because no matter how slowly I raise my arms, I can see their spines clinch, their eyes narrow, and even the weight of the air around us becomes a mass of chains, so I can never have a delicate enough touch to give these women even a moment of peace. And I’ve watched my own life collapse from the pressure of wanting to only save others. I knew where I was heading, but I was determined to save them, at least one of them. If I could save even one of them, I could have saved myself… I know I could have done it, I just needed that proof… but maybe that’s why I couldn’t do a damn thing for any of them, because I was never sincere. I wanted to save them, but only for my own selfish reasons. So of course I couldn’t help them. So of course I’m still breaking. It all makes perfect sense. In the end, it was all for nothing. Everything I did was for absolutely fucking nothing. I should have known better… I shouldn’t have fucking bothered… I should have trusted in my own judgement and saved myself this pain… I should just fucking die.
Sleeping in is a luxury far removed from my reality. My bed still calls to me every morning, giving the utmost effort to hold me down. But this isn’t an act of kinship with my sheets, rather my sheets are hellbent on smothering me into nothingness. I’m laying facedown, surrounded in a sea of tumbling cotton, and every attempt from my lungs to dispel the CO2 coating my throat is pushed straight back down. In a matter of seconds, the warm air I’ve been swallowing has become a solid mass of fiery coals, cooking my flesh from the inside out. The only chance for relief would be to welcome the idea of sleep, but I know that with sleep comes dreams, and my dreams have been sifted time and time again until I was left with but a single scene. That scene also haunts me while I’m awake, but when I’m awake I can numb my feels through things like work, drugs or alcohol. In my dreams I can’t leave my own head, so it hits me full force. And it hurts. God, it hurts so fucking much. I know it’s just a dream, but it still breaks me. Every night it breaks me, and I’m forced to put myself back together in the morning. I have responsibilities, so I can’t waste any time. I know I’m not putting things back exactly where they should go. I know I’m ignoring my crumbling edges. I know nothing will get better for me if I don’t stop living like this. But this is all I know. This is the only way I know how to stand back up.
You bare your teeth to the pavement,
And a heavy throat rumbles
Like jagged thunder.
It’s not yet time for the fireflies,
So you are left with chewed fingernails,
Coffee kisses and limestone skin.
The Moon is calling you,
Because you are a tide,
Slowly spreading your cerulean
Towards the edge of creation,
Only to be pulled back, back,
Back into the shifting brine.
The words rise from the walls of my lungs in a rush of warm breath. I can feel them, every syllable, every tiny edge they have etched into this heart. They brush up against my teeth, and my tongue feels awkward in my mouth. I don’t want to stutter, but these sounds have no patience, and my lips are pressured open in a way that ensures an awful start. But my eyes, they have found something worth all of the attempts my life can produce, if only to make sure my conviction, my feelings, are crystal clear. My body finds it’s balance as my heart, that felt sure to run away, is suddenly still, as if to ensure that erratic beating won’t drowned out my words.
It’s only a few seconds of my life.
It’s not guaranteed to be forever.
It’s only 3 words out of millions.
It’s not guaranteed to be reciprocated.
It’s only one complex emotion in a sea of similar sentiments.
It’s not guaranteed to lead to a happier life.
It’s only another person.
It’s not guaranteed this person is the right person.
Right here, right now,
It’s forever for the seconds before and after.
It’s 3 words that tell my entire story.
It’s one emotion that tells the rest of me who I am, and who I will be.
It’s not just another person. It’s her. It’s only her. It was her yesterday, it will be her tomorrow, and it will damn sure be her, standing in front of me, whom I let these words loose for.
You have me, all of me, my darling.
~I love you.~
“You say that it hurts to be alone, but you are the one pushing aside your phone when it lights up, ignoring every invite from friends and family to go out or come over. You aren’t making an effort, so can you really say that being alone hurts?”
~It’s not being alone that hurts. I know I’m making this, a conscience decision, and it’s that feeling of giving up on me even when others haven’t that feels so Goddamned awful.~
“So it’s being self aware that causes you so much pain?”
~I can see that I’m not alone…that I’m not at rock bottom…but I feel like I should be. After all that I’ve done, and all that I haven’t, I’ve earned loneliness.~
“But being alone isn’t something you just decide for yourself. When you make that decision, you are making it both for yourself and those who want you in their lives.”
~And I want to say it’s the guilt, the unrelenting feeling of failure, that keeps me making the same, selfish decisions over and over and over…but no…that’s simply an excuse. I can say I don’t want to hurt others all I want, that it’s my desire that they all remain happy and healthy without me, but the only truth that matters is I am ignoring what they want to satisfy my own desire for punishment. And that guilt leads me further down this rabbit hole, cycling again and again and again AND AGAIN! IT NEVER ENDS, I JUST KEEP ON WANTING TO LET OTHERS DOWN, TO GIVE THEM A REASON TO HATE ME, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, TO GIVE ME SOMETHING FRESH TO HATE ABOUT MYSELF! SO IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT MY REASONING IS! IT DOESN’T MEAN A FUCKING THING! IT DOESN’T!!!...It doesn’t matter…I’m picking self-hatred over their happiness…and nothing could be more disgusting than that…~
“…You want to hate yourself…that’s what you want? You want a reason for everything that has happened. You want meaning, because otherwise, what was it all for, right? What were all those nights spent doing laundry, desperately trying to wash off those dark red streaks for? What were all those days spent in a haze, throwing up regret only to purchase another bottle on the way home from work for? What were those nights spent sitting in the shower, fully clothed and freezing, watching as the blood tinged the water red, unable to take your eyes of that crimson river, what were those for?”
~They weren’t for anything. I already know…they weren’t for anything…if they were, then I would have found it by now.~
“That’s not the answer.”
~It’s my answer.~
“That’s not your final answer.”
~It’s the answer I came to, after using up all 3 of my lifelines, and having 2 choices in front of me, A or B. And I picked C, because I didn’t want any fucking chance to walk away…~
“But you’re still walking.”
“You’re still walking, and breathing.”
~The pills are starting to kick in, so breathing might become a bit more difficult here in a few minutes.~
“You’re still walking, and breathing, and living.”
~This…me…I’m not living; This isn’t fucking…You idiot, you fucking idiot…this isn’t…THIS ISN’T FUCKING ANYTHING!~
“You’re still walking, and breathing, and living, and screaming, and crying, and falling, and failing, and breaking, and cutting, and overdosing, and..”
~AND FUCKING NOTHING! I AM FUCKING NOTHING, NOTHING BUT A PATHETIC WASTE!!~
“…And you are still hurting, and loathing, and running, and..”
~JUST SHUT IT, SHUT THE FUCK UP, SHUT THE FUCKING HELL UP!~
“…And you are still here.”
~…why am I still…~
“Isn’t that really what you want? Not reasons to hate yourself, but a reason to live?”
~I don’t deserve something like..~
“Funny thing is, nobody asked you if you deserved it! Nobody asked if you wanted it, and nobody will ask you to give it back! It’s not fair, and it’s messy and difficult and maybe it’s not going to end up feeling like it was worth it at all! But YOU ARE STILL HERE!”
~It’s a joke…all of this is one big fucking joke.~
“Maybe. Maybe God hates you. Maybe God thinks this is funny. Hell, you might even be the main character in some weird, God produced sitcom, and the entirety of the Heavens are laughing at your expense. But none of that matters. At the end of the day you are still here, right here.”
~I’m only here because I’m too weak to pull the trigger.~
“And that’s still a reason.”
~Not a very good reason for living though, huh? I’m to much of a piece of shit to end it, so I just keep dragging my feet all over creation.~
“It’s not a stellar endorsement, but it’s a starting point.”
~It’s not the reason I want.~
“Meaning you don’t just want any old reason, but you want your reason to live.”
~…I’ll never find it.~
“But you’re still here, so you must not have given up completely, right?”
~I’m 99% there, at the end.~
“One out of one hundred. One out of one thousand. One out of one trillion. The odds make no difference. You still have the chance, a chance for a chance, a chance for that chance to dream.”
~…it still hurts…so much…~
“I know, I do, trust me, I know.”
~…I don’t have the energy to save myself…~
“But you have the energy to take a shower, and brush your teeth, and crawl under the covers. That sounds like a pretty good start, right?”
~It could be worse.~
~…will you stay with me?~
“…For a long as I can.”
~Thank you…I hate being alone…it’s so cold…~
“Just get some sleep, okay? Tomorrow will be here before you know it.”
~I don’t need tomorrow to come…but it will come anyway, right?~
“You’re starting to learn.”
~…please, don’t leave me…~
“…Get some sleep, okay?”
~I don’t want you to leave…please don’t make this goodbye, not again…~
“…It’s not a goodbye, just a goodnight. Goodnight Taylor…and sweet dreams…”
Breathing in these embers, my esophagus melts like candle wax, and these things I need to get off my chest remain buried in my lungs. They fight for a release, so they worm their way through my veins. I can feel them crawling, a sick itch beneath my skin, sending my sense of touch into disarray. I need relief from the fire that is boiling in my blood, so I’ll treat my skin as bark, carving out chunks of crimson comfort..
Some people bruise really easily. My Mom is like that; she once just slipped walking up the stairs and her entire forearm was a mess of purple and red. I remember because I was about 9, and seeing that freaked me out. I was crying and screaming and running the the phone, ready to dial 911. But my Mom caught me, and when I looked at her face I saw that she wasn’t really hurt at all.
“It looks worse than it is, trust me. I’m not hurt, I’m just fine, you don’t have to cry. Come on now, Calvin, you weren’t even the one to fall, so stop crying already.”
I had a habit of crying whenever anybody would get hurt, and probably more so when that anybody was me. I hated seeing other people in pain, and I couldn’t handle pain at all. I was a terrible batter because I was scared of getting hit by the pitch. I always backed away as the ball was thrown, and pitchers just gave me outside pitches I couldn’t reach. I refused to watch boxing matches, thinking they were cruel and inhumane and that the people making money off of such events were just monsters. I didn’t find things like guns and swords cool like other boys my age, and I didn’t like roughhousing with other boys my age.
This didn’t make me a social outcast though, not at all. I was funny and smart, so people always wanted me around. I made studying easy, and never had to wait around for a partner for any projects. It was like that from elementary school through college; I was always the same, reliable guy.
And I got over my aversion to pain. I found that boxing was more an art than a brawl, and saw guns and swords as some of the coolest things in the world thanks to videogames. I overcame my fear of being hit and became a decent baseball player, and I even found out I can rough it out with the best of them, although I was better at taking the hits and not so good at dishing them out.
I also found out I wasn’t like my Mom, I didn’t bruise easily at all. I took plenty of nasty falls during baseball seasons, but it never really showed. I picked up Soccer and backyard football and doing stupid, dangerous stunts on dares. I broke a wrist, ran into a fence and broke my nose, fell out of a slow moving car and lost most of the skin below my right kneecap. But it always seemed like I avoided the worst outcomes, and those things never left me with bruises to stare at in the mirror.
I’m a college grad, living the office life, using my Excel skills to produce some really insightful pivot tables. I play tennis now instead of baseball, but I’m still the funny, smart guy at work. I play video games still, and I watch boxing, and while my Mom hasn’t fallen down any sets of stairs recently, the new dog she convinced my Dad to get is bigger than she is, and while she was out walking him he pulled her down chasing a cat, and she sprained her ankle. Of course she refused to believe it was sprained and avoided the doctors for 3 days, until her ankle was so swollen she couldn’t get her socks on. So not much has changed, even after 18 years.
And wouldn’t you know it, I still don’t bruise easily! Nope, it’s not easy at all! I mean, I can take a hammer to my forearms, day in and day out, and barely be able to move my wrists, but no bruises! I can punch my stomach until I force myself to vomit, but no marks are there to worry about! And while the cuts obviously can’t not leave a mark, they are all located on parts of my body nobody has to see. My upper arms, chest, thighs…well, the point is they don’t have bruises! They take the punches and hammer blows, the backhands and mini-baseball bat like they are nothing, so that’s still the same.
And I still hate watching other people in pain, and I’ll cry about it and wish the world could exist in a state where nobody had to ever feel pain.
And I still can’t handle pain. So I cut and punch and beat and break every inch of my body, day in and day out. Because it doesn’t hurt. And it helps me to forgive myself, just a little bit, and makes this pain so much easier to live with. So I have to keep going. If I let up I know the pain will become to much, and I’ll end up dead. So I have to keep it up.
Someday…this body will give out, and even though I don’t bruise, I know my body isn’t invincible, and it will break. The only question for me is will my body break first, or will this pain drive me to give up sooner? It’s hard to get out of bed every morning, but it used to be hard because of the pain, and now my body is about 10% of the reason why. I wonder how long it will take to get to 50%. Or 75%. Will this pain win out before I get to experience that? What state will my body be in when I finally die?
So, some people bruise easily, but that doesn’t mean they are weak. Some people don’t bruise at all, but they can be the weakest, most pathetic fucking things on this planet, huh?