I sat back driving my mother’s car and tried to memorize Willie Nelson lyrics by playing them on repeat.
I wanted my heart to break so I can feel something other than what I’m feeling now.
I returned a book to the library wearing work clothes. I wanted to have read the book I put in the slot. I’m returning a bit of my soul with this. I should’ve said that.
I told myself I wasn’t going to open my mouth today. I was going to speak in short and complete sentences. I wasn’t going to make mistakes and sound like an idiot.
I waved my hand in front of my laptop screen in the dark to watch the silhouette blur, to find something to watch.
Mom told me I have steel underneath they haven’t found yet. She told me if they can’t see my value that’s their problem. I’m not sure, no I’m not, not ever. I guess, I’m sure about being not sure though.
Is that what it’s going to be like? In the middle of whatever I’m doing, I’ll think I could have been doing this with you? I’ll think, I could have gone with you. I’ll think, why didn’t you ask?
She said she could tell from my writing I was confused, I think she may have used the word discombobulated. She’s right, though I’ve never thought of it in those terms.
I can know it’s there, I can watch her say it, I can know the words coming out of her mouth are false. They are hurting me. and I can’t stop it. Then she hugged me, and I couldn’t tell her not to touch me. I am not to blame for this. I am not to blame. She can’t put this one me. It’s not mine.
I’m crashing again, aren’t it?
I have to keep telling myself, this is not me, I am not here. So I can keep going. I am not here.
I had a conversation with the parts of my brain that give me opinions. I am crazy. This is not me. I can do this and it will not affect me, because I am not here. I feel like I need the magic key, the if I could just key. But he’s not here, and I can’t find him. He wouldn’t understand anyway. I’ll sit here and cry with the rain, like I always do.
We are ourselves only when we forget. It might only last a minute, but I’ll forget I’m not supposed to slouch and rest my boobs on the table. I’ll forget not to toss my head back with my mouth open and laugh. I’ll forget not to point my finger at the person across the table. Then realization will come, like remembering two steps after I walk out of the house I’ve forgotten my keys. I’ll say, “wow this isn’t like you.” It’s so sad to recollect, I’m not being myself. I have to sit up straight again. I see the same self-catch in my brother. He’ll let go for a moment, and be the little kid I remember who used to eat mashed potatoes with his fingers and not be self-conscious about his bulk. He’ll tell me a story he hasn’t recognized as embarrassing or inappropriate. And I love him for it. I have to be careful, then, to keep him in that crooked-shoulder state, and not become my mother. She would make you remember instantly. “It’s so nice to see you smiling again.” That’s what she’d say.
It means, I can’t control when I get to be myself. I can’t consciously turn the filters off. What happens when I don’t turn the filters back on? I think that would be the true test of strength in myself. If I ever became confident enough to not hold back my tongue, oh God the filth would fly. It’d be fun to watch, from a spectators standpoint. I would be a god to myself.
My mother is powerful.
She can’t lift a dresser though.
She’s sharp, but she can’t make you bleed.
She gives you the blessing of guilt.
I am so blessed.
I wanted you to be perfect.
The best in the world, for me.
I wanted to have someone who fit.
I guess I just thought you did, because you talked to me.
It seemed like you were talking just to me.
But you’re human again, and far away,
And I don’t know how to fix it.
God, I want you to love me. I’m so disgustingly selfish.
I’m at peace with my two front teeth.
I don’t have an even line smile,
It’s bumpy and crooked
And two are chipped from, well, it’s a funny story actually.
I am not a straight and narrow person, nether are my teeth.
I got a little bit of money from my Dad.
I was so excited. I need so many things.
Then I was sad. Because I can afford one of the things I need.
Shorts, new necklace, socks.
I don’t have enough money to buy morals.
I have to shut off the part of me
She says this is wrong, what you’re doing for money.
But I don’t have a choice. I always feel trapped.
Trapped into taking other people’s money.
Stuck into graciousness.
Make I statements.
Don’t insult the other person.
Address the issue with respect.
Outline the precise nature of the problem.
Kill me now, please,
All this hubbub because we have to be nice.
This just sucks.
I cry in the car on the way home from work.
It has become my blue chariot of peace.
It flies between two hells on the highways.
I walk into the second and hug the emotional torments who call me daughter.
My biggest argument tomorrow will be with myself,
And how to exit the needle nest
To make vain for someone else.
When I’m overcome with emotion,
I spout cliché,
Not my own words,
My own words take so much longer,
And seem lesser,
To the apologetic blank mind of the moment.
I wish I could make myself smarter,
Faster. So I could tell you what I felt right then,
And not have to wait for this thing between my ears to settle and explain itself.
I thought I could understand everyone.
I am wrong.
I do not understand the humorless.
I cannot comprehend their pride.
Are they nervous?
You cannot live with yourself, if you cannot find your weaknesses ironic.
I do not understand.
I think, you have no soul, if you do not find humor.
Why does she scare me so much?
This woman I know.
I cannot do this. I can’t.
But, see, I don’t have the ties of family,
I don’t have, I must do this for the kids,
That makes it harder,
Having no one to work for,
It makes it harder to stay.
Because I’ve always run, shied, hid.
And somehow, where I am, responsibility means exchanging your heart for a timeslot.
I’m always going to associate with the worker over the boss.
Even when I’m old, and know people who started this thing when they were young, and became heads of companies, with fancy names and hair cut styles.
I’ll find myself on the side of the picket who values people.
I always will.
I’m mourning the loss of the boss in me.
I’ll never make that much money. I have too much humanity, and middle child syndrome.
I read somewhere, I think, that if you’re poor when you’re younger, you’re more altruistic. I think we were poor. I’m not super sure.
But we’re union.
I find my family values where I can and take them for their linearity. You don’t side with the mighty against the powerless.
I know that. And when I see myself starting to look for positive black numbers in excel sheets,
And avoiding how much people need to see bits of themselves in other humans,
I think, maybe it’s ok I’ll never be somebody.
I thought I’d share more of what I can’t get out of my head.
I dropped a hair tie on my sleeping dog.
I won’t ever be good enough for myself. And that will forever be my fault. Fault fault fault.
I read a story of someone who’s had a worse life. I want to say his pain ached just as much as mine, but I feel like his was worse, and mine nothing. But I don’t want to discount another’s pain in any way, even if it’s my own.
My raised, watered and planted religion only grows to make me feel guilty for what I have.
We lived off their charity. Once a week, I met them. There are very clear should and shouldn’ts I came to understand quickly. I get angry at people who do what I couldn’t and feel no remorse. They should have to feel what I felt. They paid for our house and our food. But they saw it as duty, those generous farmers. The generous farmers who listened to sermons. I find, I cannot explain this to my half-brother who’s never had to fall asleep cold – what it is to be dependent and indebted and guilty somehow too, for thinking what you shouldn’t.
She told me she couldn’t ask for help from Mom because she was the successful one. You leave me in the hall, sister, when you mistake me for someone else. That one hurt me so much, I wanted to cut her right back. Tell me how stable you were when you couldn’t function without a man who thought you the best he’d ever know. Ask me how many calls me and Mom traded about getting you help.
I ripped a hole in my favorite pair of jeans. I buy men’s jeans, more room in the thighs less room in the back, and my hips never fit in anywhere.
We measured ourselves for statistics class. I fell in the middle of the ringing bell. I was so scared I’d be there forever. Brown hair, brown car, brown walls, uneducated woman who had children and become more census data influx.
My body mourns my passing age with new sad surprises everyday.
I remember the way I felt, more than what happened. I remember the story you told me. The mcrib event sequence about shamrock shakes and cheap local pork. I remember I hated sitting alone, but I wasn’t in the right head space to sit next to a stranger.
I get asked for directions. But not really ever bothered. I’m pretty enough to look cared for, but not beautiful enough to be noticed. I’m ok with this.
I made up an excuse to talk to you.
I’m terrified, petrified, you only like me because you have to. I asked someone to walk me home, and no one would look up from their computer. I asked where they all went, and they said, “oh weren’t you there?” They all leave me. Or is that the child of divorced parents aged 1-3 during the split, talking?
Guys, guys, are you seeing this? I’m actually keeping to my schedule. I just cannot believe it. It is, in fact, unbelievable
Come on, preserve my sanity, I dare you.
I bet you could break me if you wanted. So do it.
You’re so close already.
You think you’re my life line, what’s holding me here.
I am more than what you see between my hairclips and my shoelaces. I have to be.
I have to be something more, because
I’m not sure, but it’ll be unsatisfying as hell.
I don’t know what to do with myself, or what it is I think I might be feeling. So I’ll go buy something. Or, maybe just think about starting the car, to leave, to be free, to run. Run in my car, and buy something, to feel better.
I thought this an hour ago, and I’m still here. And still here.
If I could show you how I felt, I would clap till my hands turned to ground beef.
But I don’t know what to say.
So I’ll say what I always say to you, which is hedged bets and a plastic mold of a heart.
I screwed up a bit. Not a lot. Just a little.
And I’ll be agonizing over that for the whole week,
I’ll get distracted and really mess something big up,
But not care, because I could have prevented this whole catastrophe in the first place.
My goodness found a stamp.
It peeled off the backing and wrote an address.
It mailed itself to someone who was a bit better and felt a bit more.
She must have realized she was talking down to me.
She must have processed who she was talking to.
She can’t be that cold, but wait who am I talking about.
I memorize songs, so I can keep track of time in the shower.
I think the same train of thought so I can reorient myself.
I count my fingers when I can’t breathe.
She spent so much money. Just all in one go, no problem.
I have to be careful where my twenties fall.
I can’t be loaned out later.
I hate that she doesn’t have to worry,
And doesn’t have to keep track.
I met a boy who wore a purity ring.
It took too much strength not to make fun.
People must hate me, always sarcastic that one.