She sat by herself at the familiar coffee shop downtown, gazing out the window, sipping an iced caramel latte. Her favorite part was the drizzle of caramel that swirled over the top. The sun occasionally peaked through the clouds and made it’s way to her tattooed skin. Her dark, wavy hair, with tints of red, glistened in the light. She had an array of sticker-filled Apple products she couldn’t really afford spilled out on the table in front of her and a to-do list a mile long; but she couldn’t steal her gaze from the world outside. Nothing in particularly interesting was happening, but she found herself wondering about the passerby. Where were they going? Were they happy? Do you think they struggle with mental illness too? Are they stressed, worried, or anxious? Are they in love? Are they a genuine, kind person? A young lady passing by with a well-loved and curious mutt made her shyly smile. She sighed, thought of all the things that needed to be done, and checked her phone to see how much of the day had escaped her. 3:26pm. A text on the screen read, “I love you and hope you’re having a good day. What are you doing?” She was doing a million things and also nothing. She was restless and wanted to go. She didn’t know where she was going, but she was bound and determined to get there.
(in no specific order)
- Earn my Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees, then maybe a doctorate
- Rescue many more animals
- Adopt a child (maybe 2)
- Start a nonprofit
- Fix America’s healthcare system (or at least start)
- Reform America’s for-profit prison system
- Advocate for decriminalizing drug use/possession
- Advocate to release all non-violent drug offenders from prison
- Advocate, advocate, advocate!
- Build my dream home
- Improve education
- Publish a book
- See my art in a museum
- Have my photography published in a magazine
- Finish getting all of the tattoos I want
- Have bright colored hair
- Meet Bernie Sanders and thank him
- Learn sign language
- Read all the books I own
- Own a business with my life partner, Tanner
- Learn yoga
- Learn a foreign language
- Scuba dive
- Wear a black wedding dress
- Meet with a psychic
- Have a garden
- Learn to love myself
- Advocate for the use of all renewable energy sources
- Make wine
- Visit the Murder House from AHS (it’s an Airbnb, ya know)
- Figure out my religious beliefs
- End racism
- Be a barista
- Make the world a better place
I could go on and on with this list until I actually die. This will be interesting to look at in years to come.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I haven’t felt the need to write lately, mainly because I feel like no one cares what I have to say. But tonight, I have that heavy, anxious feeling in my chest as if words are slowly filling up my veins, and if I don’t let them bleed out, then I will undoubtedly explode.
There are so many topics, sentences, and questions flowing through me – how do I pick out what to write down? After months upon months of nothing, why is this happening now? Words often flow through easier through my veins when I am in a state of depression, so my mental stability comes into question. I know I have been feeling more down and emotional lately, but surely my body realizes that I don’t have time to fall into a state of depression. Right?
Time has made a habit out of making the loss of a loved one easier. Time, this time, has failed me. It has been two years, three months, and six days since I lost my father. The longer he’s gone, the more of my life he’s missing, and the more it hurts like no pain I have ever experienced before. I can feel the emptiness swell through my body like a disease that eats every ounce of energy and happiness that I have left. Mannequins enjoy life more than I do sometimes.
I earned my Associate’s Degree (although useless, it’s still somewhat of an accomplishment), graduated with honors, on the Dean’s List, and a member of two National Honor Societies. You weren’t there, and honestly, I didn’t really want to be there either. I transferred to the university that I swore I’d never go to. I got into the Social Work program, and I’m a member of a couple of organizations. But I haven’t been able to tell you that. You haven’t been able to tell me that you’re proud and that you love me.
That’s what hurts so deeply, Dad. My life is moving forward without you in it. Some days, I want to just stand still. I want to quit, go back to bed, and never wake up. I want to be where ever you are. You are supposed to be here, at least until I’m done with school and get married. No twenty-four year old should have to lose their father. I’ve thought I was an adult since I was a teenager, but losing you was a harsh slap in the face. I still need my daddy, so come back. Come back and guide me, love me, and show me all of the things that I still need to know.
I live in two different realities:
- Depression, anxiety, sadness, irritability, anger, swollen eyes, exhaustion, migraines, aches, and pains. Nothing is worse than the sound of my alarm. I dread the thoughts of simply existing. I lack motivation. What is the point in all of this? Why do I stretch myself so thin all of the time? Why do I try so hard and care so much? We are all going to die anyway.
- My passions overwhelm me and I have too many things I want to get done. I am ready to start my day with a shower and an iced latte. The weather is beautiful and I want to sit outside, feel the sunshine, and listen to the birds sing. I feel my depression awakening, but I’m able to put her back to sleep. I put my anxiety back to bed as well. I’m able to overcome my negative emotions and everything is okay. I am going to change the world for the better.
To those who don’t struggle with mental illness, I may seem like a manic mess. To those who can relate, they know that this is a normal part of life. To outsiders unaware of my internal struggle, they would never assume anything was wrong. I seem like a ‘normal’ person. Some days, I even feel sort of normal.
My veins no longer feel like they are going to explode from the accumulation of unsaid words. Self-care is important, necessary even. Writing is self-care for me. I am still learning to love and respect myself.
Time. Everything takes time.
Time heals all wounds, except for this one
As time goes by, I feel more empty
The longer you’re gone, the more my heart aches
The longer you’re gone, the harder this is to take
Time isn’t on my side this time around
The longer I have to miss you, the harder it is to remember your familiar sound
I miss the scent of your white cotton shirt and the warmth of your chest as I lie my head to the sound of your beating heart
Your heart that no longer beats is now just a memory
Time can’t heal this wound
Time can’t give you back to me
I feel sick to my stomach and faint of heart
I think of what I’ve lost
I wonder how I’ve kept from completely falling apart
Life is a journey
For some, that journey is hard and cold
Every time I seem to get warm, it starts to snow
Some people are gone due to death taking it’s toll
Some people are gone due to life’s changing roles
Whether taken from the earth, or just from my life, you remain forever in my heart
Whether you are floating in heaven, or walking in a nearby park
If I don’t have you, then I think of what I’ve lost
After completing my fifth twelve-hour shift in a row (as an in-home caregiver), I drive through rumbling booms of fireworks to get home. I walk in the door, greeted by my meowing cats, and fill out intake paperwork for my doctors appointment in the morning (hopefully to figure out why I feel like a pile of walking shit all the time). I go upstairs to my mother’s domain (I moved in last year to care for my father with dementia before he passed away December 1st) to get a burrito to take with me for lunch tomorrow. As I ask her where she put them, I get yelled at for no logical reason, as usual. “Why are you so angry?” I ask. “I’m sick! Like you give a shit anyway!” Okay, wait. “Mom, I just got home a couple minutes ago and you know I care; why are you mad?” She replies telling me to just go downstairs and try to get some sleep through all the noise outside (she knows I can sleep through nearly anything). If you don’t know me, then you have no idea the amount of shits I give about my mother. If you do know me, you know that I would do anything in the world for my parents (God knows, and everyone else, that I did for my precious father before he left us). If you know my mother, you may ask yourself why in the world I try and make the most miserable woman on the planet happy; I ask myself the same question. I cancel plans with friends (most importantly my amazing other half) because she likes to dominate my time. Note that I always work 50 hours a week, often more. I still live here because she’s codependent and I’m not sure she would be okay living alone. I refuse to move or go to school somewhere out of town because I refuse to leave her. I refuse to live my life the way I’d like because I try to appease her, because I can’t stand the thoughts of upsetting her. So like I give a shit, right? I bring her flowers to brighten her day, and I always fix the flowers in a vase. Why? Because if I don’t, she gripes that I shouldn’t buy her flowers that she has to fix. Apparently cutting fresh cut flowers that are given to you is a burden. Who knew. But no, I don’t give a shit. I took care of her when she’s had surgery. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands, everything, all while also taking care of my bed-ridden father. I spend my days taking care of sick and elderly people. I spend my days cleaning out potty chairs or changing dirty adult diapers. I clean, cook, and do laundry for people who can no longer do it anymore. I listen to adults, with fear in their eyes, as they talk about their next round of cancer treatment. I have the same conversation over and over again with people who have dementia. I clean wounds, wipe bottoms, wash hair, and dress people for a living. I’m in school pursuing a degree in social work, focusing on geriatric and memory care. But no, I don’t give a shit about how people feel. I want to spend the rest of my life making people feel safe, loved, warm, clean, healthy, and worthy all because I don’t give a shit. I go to bed often crying myself to sleep because of how devalued my mother makes me feel. I go to bed feeling like I’m a terrible person, even though I know I’m not. I go to bed wondering if she realizes that no matter how she treats me, I’ll always take care of her. So, no, mom.. I don’t give a shit. You’re right. I give a lot of shits about you and I always will.
As I look into the night sky,
I think of you.
Are the Heavens up above?
Is it just endless blue?
I ask, if you can hear me, to summon a shooting star
to shoot across the night sky, so that I know that you can hear me from afar.
Looking up, hopeful, I wait for my fiery sign;
but, to my disappointment, nothing catches my eye.
If you could hear me, my sweet father, I know you’d show me a sign.
In this moment, yet again I wonder, if there is an after life.