An entry for LKJSlain's writing prompt http://bittersweetreflections.xanga.com/
Faithfully, as he had every Sunday morning for the past 22 years of his life unless overcome with sickness, Brandon sat in the front pew of the church he'd attended since birth. And like most Sunday mornings for the past few months, he was too lost in thought to hear another sermon about gathering the flock to the good Sheppard. Instead, he found his mind numbly stumbling over static and useless thoughts, like an old time radio buzzing through the white noise to occasionally find an old forties classic. He was desperately preoccupied with his own inner and physical struggles, his insides physically in pain from the mental abuse he suffered unto himself. Not that he could help it. Diagnosed bipolar manic depressive when he was 16, he shied away from medications and instead decided to suffer it all on his own.
And he was alone. For all it was worth, he might as well have been sitting in any old sordid church building, abandoned after the flock moved on and money became too tight to keep the doors open any longer. And perhaps it would have suited him better, the grey layers of dust and vacant aisles matching the inside of his figurative heart. No one in this building, not even the God they all prayed to, could touch him.
The piano started up, startling him out of his reverie to find everyone standing, heads bowed, as the preacher asked for closed eyes and open hearts, inviting any lost sheep to the front to claim God as their savior. Sheepishly he stood and bowed his head, closing his eyes. But, curious, he opened them just a tad just in time to witness one of the children approaching the good pastor. She was probably around 7, and he'd only just started seeing her at church recently. She always came with her grandmother, and vaguely he wondered where her parents were. In her hand was a lollipop her grandmother had given her to keep her quiet and occupied during the sermon. The pastor bent to one knee and his face was solemn as he spoke softly to her. She nodded her head a few times before bowing it with a sense of purpose and repeating whatever the pastor asked her to say in order to accept God into her heart. Head bowed over that lollipop, Brandon was struck with how innocent she was, how ignorant of the ways of the world. Her head was not muddled by the complexities of the grown up world. And he found in himself a carnivorous lusting to go back to a time like that, before he was running from bill collectors and scrounging for the money to keep the lights on.
As soon as the pastor had come off his soapbox, Brandon was up and out the door, racing to his car which he quickly started, threw in reverse, and pulled out of the parking lot before any of the other church members had left the big white building on the corner. He drove ten miles over the speed limit until he got home. Still in his Sunday best, he went to the bathroom and began filling the tub with warm water. Grabbing the straight razor his grandfather had past down to him, he slipped, fully dressed, into the water. His eyes found their focal point in a royal blue sock that had escaped him this morning as he'd tried to pick up his dirty laundry before rushing to morning service. It hid behind the toilet, and he wondered how something so vibrant, something that stuck out so easily against the white backdrop of the bathroom floor, had escaped his sight. Brandon began to wonder... How had he managed to escape the good things in life? He was a decent, God fearing man. He did his taxes and worked hard. And introvert though he was, he was very good around people and always tried to make everyone laugh and feel better. And in taking care of everyone else, those same people had forgotten to take care of him. And thus, a vibrant personality was lost in the dull backdrop of life.
What was the point? He was a college drop out making minimum wage at a greasy fast food joint. He was mediocre at best at anything he enjoyed doing. And he was alone... Hot tears of anguish welled up in his eyes and he swiped at them furiously, embarrassed at himself. He was a joke.
He didn't look as he did. A violent hiss escaped from betwixt his teeth at the slicing pain. But when he'd done it, he braved a look. Red began to swirl in the waters above his wrists and hands, forming intricate patterns. A shame, he thought, that only he would be the one to appreciate the beauty in this moment.
She sat at her desk, staring blankly at the white screen before her. Her fingers were arced above the keyboard, poised and ready to do her bidding. But within her mind, a war raged on. Thousands of thoughts racing by so fast that she couldn't reach out and grab onto one. Or if she could, she'd get distracted by another thought and the one she thought she'd captured would slip away.
This mania was crushing her soul. On the outside she seemed nervous, distracted. On the inside she was screaming for relief. How do you explain a feeling like that to someone who has never felt it before? Everyone she tried to explain it to had an answer for it, a solution as if it was just the common cold. This was not just some common cold. This was a daily fight to remind herself her religion was right and that she was afraid of Hell.
Exiting Microsoft Word, she opened up the internet and began exploring. She started on blogs, searching for the tags "depression" and "bipolar". Soon she had several tabs opened up, and she was hungrily drinking in every word she read. The medical blogs made her sick, the ones that told you to "just smile and be happy", as if that were a legitimate choice for her, or as if she hadn't tried.
Taking a chance, she opened a new tab and typed in a web address she hadn't thought about in forever. When she had started this blog, she had given no one the URL. She had not tagged any of the posts. She had simply written, whenever she had needed to. And it had worked for a little while. But eventually she'd gotten tired of herself, and had left her words to rot, unheard and unread.
As she looked over her posts once more, tears filled her eyes and left glistening tracks down her cheeks, hanging from her chin for a moment before plummeting. What was wrong with her? She'd always been told that time make things easier, but this was not easier. She was still just as miserable. And even worse, she was still just as alone as she'd always been. People got tired of hearing her "complain", of hearing the same old sad song. And no one seemed to understand why she couldn't just flip the switch and be happy. More than once this realization had almost brought her to grab a bottle of pills and make herself sleep forever. What in this world was worth living for when the pain was so damnably unbearable?
Clicking on each blog post, she added tags like "depression" and "bipolar". Highlighting the link, she copied it and pasted it around the web, on other people's blogs, on her own blogs she had once used only for her short stories and poetry. And going back to the once secret blog, she opened up a new post and began to write.
"I've tried. I've tried so hard to overcome this, to deal with this disease without the use of medicine. When you can't talk to friends or family for fear of burdening them in one way or another, and you can't talk to a therapist because they think you're just some self-diagnosed whack job.... You realize just how alone you are in this world. Your life hasn't been fucked up enough and you're not clinically insane enough for people to take an interest in you or feel bad for you or want to make you feel better. You're just some depressed schmuck who just needs to get the fuck over it because everyone's tired of dealing with your shit.
Make something of yourself. Dear God, don't let this overcome you! No matter how bad off you are, don't be like me! Fight for the help you need and deserve. At this point, I'm just lying down and waiting to die. My existence is inconsequential to everyone except perhaps my mother, but what kind of mother doesn't love her children, anyways?
I want to say it gets better. But it doesn't. Not for me, at least. Life will always kick you when you're down. And whether you fight to get up or just lay there and take the beating... At least you're still breathing, right? This is not a decision. This is a disease. No one chooses to feel this utterly horrid. And as alone as you are, you're not really alone. Someone somewhere is feeling just as bad as you, and hiding the pain under fear of no one understanding. Though you might give up for awhile, don't stay down. Keep reaching out. Keep trying to find understanding. You're not dead yet, no matter how much you feel like you are. And if no one else understands... I do."
You're so pretty on the outside Oh so charming No one would suspect The monster Hiding quiet Just beneath your skin
But you can't see him Not like I do Like a schizophrenic second face You're completely unaware Of the terror causing me such pain
You're the victim I'm the monster And if someone has to lose It's better I suffer the misery So you can have your way Because regardless if you lose the battle You're taking me down with you And it's easier to be miserable When you're happy
Sometimes, she wore her hair up. However, it was not very often. She hated putting her hair up, and therefore would only do it in the privacy of home, when she was cleaning or simply too hot. "It makes me look like a boy," she'd retort when I'd asked why she didn't do it more often. And I could only roll my eyes and keep it to myself that she never looked like a boy, because I'd learned long ago that compliments didn't affect her; she was lost within herself and the pressures of her severe self loathing.
We were both kids who'd fallen victim to what our parents labeled a goth phase, but never fell out of it. Goth was our lifestyle, black was our signature color. But the difference between she and I was that she grew up long before I did, and that's what threw us way off balance. I was wild and free, doing whatever I liked whenever I liked, to hell with the devil and with her. But I loved her. I destroyed her, and I loved her. And I'll never look down on that part of our life and not regret ever other women I bedded that wasn't her those first two years.
She had a thing for tea, and was always getting me to taste whatever her newest find happened to be. She had no specific preference, and her collection ranged from the deep and comforting to the light and floral. For all her lack of money, she had this refined taste for classier things. Perhaps she was just born in the wrong time, too far ahead than the rest of us. The sound of an antique grandfather clock gonging the time is enough to capture her attention and bring a smile to her face. She appreciates things the rest of us take for granted, in this digital world.
She was so open, so ready to be accepted and loved. And her friends were affectionate and talked about masturbation a little too much, but that was okay, because we both know she couldn't please herself, and had no desire to. She had me, and she didn't want anyone or anything else. I was all she ever needed, all she ever wanted. And as much as she loved her friends, and loved feeling cool enough to have them, all she really ever wanted to do was spend time with me. And for all her openness, she was shy and unsure of herself and leaned on me a little too much to make decisions.
Her dreams were set behind a big desk in a cozy office with a keyboard under her fingertips and a screen full of words before her eyes. She uses words in the same way I use my guitar to speak the things my tongue can't stumble over. And when the weather is just right, outside and in her mind, the words pour forth like rain from the clouds or tears from her green eyes. She's not much for preaching, but she has a way of making you listen like your very soul is dependent on the next phrase that tumbles from that wild mind.
And I'm sitting here, watching her sleep and the easy rise and fall of her deep breathing, feeling ten thousand miles away from the love of my life. She's broken, my girl, and I made her this way. And we're both too stubborn and head strong for our own good. The foundation of our life was built on cracks and faulty information. The plumbing's not too good, but the electricity is going strong. And my heart is waging war on itself. I don't have a clue what's keeping us together, but I can't stand the thought of being without her. Something is here, something strong enough to keep us holding on through the worst storms. And I fear I'll keep fighting for this, even if it kills me. So I kiss her cheek, and run my hands over her tangled hair before running out the door to the factory, so I can try to make this life a little more comfortable for her and I. Because I'd do anything for her.