Before I start writing, I have to tell myself I can go back
And change the first line to make it better,
But first I just have to get it all out.
I re-read something I’d written and I sounded hollow.
This must come from working for my rent.
I sounded trite, and sounded like I was trying to be fancy, and stupid.
I sounded stupid. I always sound stupid.
My panic attacks are coming more often.
I’m always haunted by that phrase I read somewhere,
It said that many mental illnesses establish themselves in people’s early 20s.
I wrapped a bandage too tightly around my finger and felt claustrophobic.
I wanted to call an old boyfriend and tell him I don’t think I can do this anymore,
I’m breaking, I’m cracking, I need someone to talk to. But I didn’t. See? I’m still fine.
This one was minor and lasted less than ten minutes,
But I knew it was coming beforehand.
I felt trapped because I didn’t have enough room to walk and my finger bandage was too tight.
I didn’t have a panic attack on the plane.
I tried very hard.
I asked him what he wanted me to do with this.
Then I flexed both hands and held them over my collarbones.
“This, this, isn’t mine. It’s yours. It belongs to you,
Whatever it is.
What do you want me to do with this. What do I do with this?”
Will I always be covering up for my accent?
Will I ever have a home?
Will I ever fit in?
Will I ever not wish I was in the past?
You have what you want right now. You’re married. By some miracle you seem to still like your husband – the bigger miracle being he still likes you. You are getting a degree doing what you want to do. You like where you live, you like the groups you have. Be depressed. Because you have everything you want and it’s not enough. Go for it. Embrace the dark, head-in-oven holes of despair. Think of sunshine as absence of the moon. Dream of sleep, and hope that sleeping lasts forever.
But, for the love of God, stop pretending you’re happy. You’re not; I can hear it in your voice. It’s fine. I like you better angry and caustic. You’re more fun to talk to. Let loose that vitriol so confined, that pure disgust of everything, it makes me laugh. It makes me love you for more than just our common mother and father. I won’t call you a type. I won’t compare to you an actress on that show I like that sort of reminds me of you. You are you. I know the you when you’re not covering, furiously sewing that deceptive quilt of “I’m okay.” You have greatness, right there.
God, be depressed, but do it like you used to do everything else. Flare it up. Shout it, scream at it, in its totality. Say, “I’m so depressed I can’t think of a reason to get out of bed today.” Say, “it can’t be that hard to hold my bladder for that long.” Complain with your whole soul. Be sad. Let yourself be sad. Stop trying to make yourself better. There’s nothing wrong with you that’s not wrong with all the women in the family, (you know exactly what I’m talking about, that sharp lack of compassion for failure, accepting that we know we can destroy anyone we know with just a couple sentences) we’re all horrible people. Cuddle with it. Know it.
Stop telling me how good, fine, and well, you are. Tell me instead of how miserable you are. Tell me how the universe will never know you. Tell me how you’re scared to be forgotten after you die. Tell me all the awful things you hate about gossips, then tell me all about the horrible people in your office. Be brave with your hatred. Be brave with your depression. Yell at me so I know you can still feel. Please? It’s so much more fun to have someone to be funny-honest, cutting mean. Frank conversations on death and sugar skulls make me smile. You make me smile better when you let yourself be. Turn off the flashlight, and smile in the soul-eating, teenage lack-of-future, this can never get better, Miyazaki black goop of our minds.
I will pass it onto another generation. My daughter will have an eating disorder in her teens, because of something I said. Then she contemplate suicide, and have to see a counselor, and I’ll be helpless. I was so close. She’ll be closer. Her avalanche is worse. Her building is taller. Her car won’t hesitate to swerve. Her knives a bit less scary. Her bathtub waters a bit safer. Her pill bottles on a lower shelf. I can’t do that to another human being. I can’t create something knowing the pain I’ll pass down. I can’t.
I can try. But it won’t do any good. I’ll have to watch all my mistakes go down a line, in order, knowing it’s my fault. I could have prevented it. I can’t. “Oh you could try.” He’ll say. “I’m sure it won’t be that bad.” What are the odds I’ll have a daughter stronger than me? I can’t create something to die. I don’t love me enough to duplicate what I’ve been through. I’ve seen it pass already, grandma, to mom, to me. I can stop it with me. That’s my choice. Not yours.