Together, in theory, but alone in thought

Like muscles breaking down from intensive exercise, our partnership aches as it grows stronger. So, too, the fibers of Us pull apart and back together, each struggling to find enough slack to tug, to challenge, but never to pull the other over the line. Eyes full of hurt, leading to raspy throats filled with anger, to tears of sadness, to regretful self-doubt; the isolation of shame. Eventually we end up in bed, silent and together, but somehow so far apart and so alone.

The tired frustration runs rampant through my mind as I attempt sleep. A dull, constant aching underlying all my ruminating thoughts and I listen as you drift off beside me. The cat curled by my feet matches the cadence of your snores, nearby a fan is blowing softly, a nighttime of white noise is filling our mock studio apartment. 

Moments of joy still find their way to us as we navigate this hazy new territory with no maps and little guidance. But each new challenge presents us with fear, vulnerability, and occasional failure. Attempts to speak from a place of love, respect, and trust are well-intentioned but often feel implausible. 

The air is cool and I wrap myself in a sheet and handmade quilt, and despite your back to me I turn to face you, to hear the soft breaths escaping your lips as you finally allow yourself some comfort. With a slow exhale I remember that forgiveness is not condonation of hurtful actions, but a reminder that it’s okay to move on, when ready. And, I think, you’re someone for whom it is worth it to move on, when ready. We will rest, forgive, struggle, and together, we will grow strong.

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9 – 5

Energy is an interesting thing to try to define when you’ve worked 9 hours on 5 hours of sleep and overall you’ve been awake for 17 hours today.

Exhaustion is a tricky thing to try to explain when you only receive one 15 minute break during your workday and even when food seems appetizing at first the appeal soon fades and you are left with bruised neglected fruit and half a cup of room temperature coffee.

Feeling more stuck than you ever have in a relatively dead end job for a nasty company is a difficult thing to express because people just ask “but don’t you have a bachelor’s degree” or “why don’t you just go back to school to get your master’s” because they don’t see your bills every month, they don’t understand that you’ll be 60 years old before you’re debt free and that as it stands you can’t spend more than $50 a week on food for yourself and the friends you choose to feed because they wouldn’t be able to eat otherwise. 

Sore feet and legs and a nervous stomach, a sensitive esophagus, and teeth that haven’t been professionally cleaned in years: the decrepitness of your body, though it is only in its late-20s, remains a mystery to those who don’t understand the stress and frustration and terror of this unsteady venture into adulthood. False stupidity is all they see; you are just another young customer service agent in the retail world for them to chastise. 

It’s difficult to smile at them, as they yell about $0.50 off coupons that don’t even apply to the items they’re purchasing. But you do it anyway. You’re not really sure why you still do. But every night you cry about it, and every morning when you wake up, you lie in bed before work and you ask yourself “is this job really worth it? Is this life?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

medicated, but self-aware, or

It’s because the medications are “get[ting] further away”, is what she says, daily, to describe her newly disruptive mood swings. Coworkers, close friends and strangers alike thusly have a newly found urge to step quietly around her, lest be the recipient of an unexpected outburst. Her raised voice, the volume of her condescending tone, a face filled with disgust; she remains oblivious to it all. How is it that self-awareness has seemingly disappeared alongside her prescription medications?

failure

Trying; in every aspect of my life. When the feeling of incompetence begins to pull me under, I have to wonder, is it me or is it them?

Struggles

Guilt and shame grip my wrists tightly; pinning my arms to my side. They whisper harshly in my ear: “why are you so selfish”? Their breath is raspy, stale like hot wind, and I struggle with the implications. My feet can shuffle ever-so-slightly but essentially, I am trapped. Fear reminds me that going through the motions will not suffice forever and eventually they’ll catch on. Stuck between wanting to give up and the guilt that forces my hands to continue to do the work; I am left, simply, lacking in motivation or wellness. Emotions shift from hour to hour, every few minutes or maybe even seconds. They scream and cry out to be heard, they demand to have their childish needs met. Physical health deteriorates at a rate unseen. Restful sleep is rarely achieved by a mind that sees horror every night, and a soul that shrivels with the pressure of feeling so many things at once. Nutrition is lacking and sensitivities in every regard restrict ability to function in daily life. Depletion, exhaustion, misunderstanding and mistakes, shame, guilt, and fear: this is what life has become.

or not?

Lack of food or lack of sleep, maybe, but more likely lack of emotional coordination and lack of self-worth. Paranoia builds walls of skepticism, leaving only peep holes that distort reality through their convoluted lenses. It lends credibility to belief, but a belief based on untrue visions is false nonetheless. There is no solid ground on which to stand, no rock bottom on which to land. Uncertainty creates quaking and shaky floors do not provide stability.

depression

Crying every night isn’t so bad. Wet pillows do not compare, however, to the aching skin pulled tight over clenched muscles. Sleepless early mornings translate into late-afternoon naps; exhaustion pulling thoughts deep into truly bizarre nightmares, only to awake with a start hours later with no recollection of turning off the alarm. Work becomes a 40-hour-a-week struggle, socializing turns nonexistent. Relationships with roommates and boyfriends and best friends crumble. Attempts to rebuild are hearty but the foundation is no longer strong. Lots of tears all around. Communication is no longer a natural habit. Buried in bed, covered in blankets, pillows surrounding in an embrace not found elsewhere; this becomes the habitat. Sustenance? Perhaps some crackers, two bananas a day, vitamins when they’re remembered. Lots of water but sometimes just caffeine and sugar. Are there other ways to keep going? Sheets that haven’t been washed in months. A floor covered with clothes, both dirty and clean, mixed together in a conglomerate of uncertainty. Were there no roommate, surely the trash would still be piled, the used tissues pouring from every bin, covering most surfaces unused. Fast food bags filled with half-eaten containers of fries, greasy napkins, and the ketchup packets that will never be utilized. An apartment depleted of care, motivation, inspiration, or dedication. A heart, broken, and a brain, struggling: searching for the momentum to keep moving on.