There are heavy coals rolling in my stomach, blackening my gut. I think my heart is beating, but it feels like a hum, and my blood is fast with adrenaline, warning me to acknowledge fear.
I am not fully conscious yet. This is how my body wakes me up. My eyes are still closed, but I am coming to and awakening with slow self-awareness. My cheek is on the old, deep pillow, arm under my head with an angled elbow jutting out. I read once that depressed people tend to sleep in the fetal position on their left side, and I think about that when I wake up, because that is how I always find myself.
I used to just cry. Cry over how deeply all the sadness was breaking my body down before I had a chance to think, but I had moved into a stage of anger. I hated this. Before my eyes could open, the first thought, the first breath, the first word was always “Fuck...” and I would think of all the injustice in my life, all the unfairness at how this was playing out, how cruel this world, these people were, to leave me with a heart hurting so badly for so long.
I reach my hand out behind me to look for my phone. My arm is shaking with all the tensity of having awoken to the nightmare of another day of life. All of myself could sense all the hours and minutes in the day that I was going to have to live through today. One day was enough to be weighted with as it was, was trouble enough, burden enough. I could only dread to live through the day I woke up in, and to think about even one more, was too much. My alarm wouldn’t go off for another hour and a half. But the sun was bright, my body alert, and my mind was an uproar against itself. There was no chance to go back to sleep.
The dream I awoke from was still swirling down the road out of memory. Someone had come to me, someone faceless whom I loved, and told me "Today is the 2nd. What have we been doing all this time? I realized it was the 2nd and that I should do something about this already, I can't wait any longer. Let's fix it."
It's true, it was the 2nd of the month. I had gone to bed the night before, tense and upset, back and forth on my bed, thinking about how tomorrow was the 2nd. That's all the dream came from. It was nothing. It's not like things would actually get fixed today, now that it was the 2nd. That wasn't an omen. It was leftover delirium.
I lay there, screwing my eyes shut, forcing my mind to take on nothingness, and trying to redirect them every time the heartache pierced. What came to mind were the dusty fragments of a Bible verse I had memorized at some point in time, something like His blessings are new each morning, or We awake with the promise of a new day in the morning...
I don’t know where they’re coming from, but they’re wavering at the front of my skull. I want to scream. I want to yell and take swings at someone, anyone accountable for making promises like these that don’t come true, that offer hope and peace and instead leave me hot-faced and exhausted in the morning, even if it were God Himself.
I toss and turn and a few hot tears come out before I sling my heavy legs over the edge of the bed and put my head in my hands over them, and cry. The act of getting ready has become too much. The thought of my day has become too much of a burden. To take the train, to show up to work, it all meant I needed to have a hold on myself, that I would dress for work and show up on time, do my tasks and not cry at my desk and disappear for unaccounted hours at a time. I was only marginally clearing this hurdle, after weeks of falling short.
I used to lay in bed in the mornings and dream, even if they were dreams I couldn’t have, and be optimistic about all the things that hadn’t happened in my life yet, because they were sure to come, and the possibilities of their unfolding felt numerous. Now it cut so deep, the most fleeting of thoughts would drown me for hours because... well because it was never sure that they would come, and I had already cried out all the hope that was in me.
I stand up to head to my bathroom. I can’t take the silence, because my thoughts become too loud, and my life too paralyzing. Talk radio would be distracting, but their fun jobs and good moods would piss me off and make me throw the radio out the window, so I put on my own music, which is only a mixtape of heartache. Anything happy makes me want to shatter my mirror.
I leave my apartment late, now irritated. I wait on the crowded platform only to hear that the next train won’t arrive for another seven minutes. I hate this goddamned city. When the train comes I have to squeeze onto it, through the obnoxiously inconsiderate crowd that doesn’t make room, that huffs and puffs and slides their hands too closely against my body. The train moves slowly, stopping every few feet and I want to rip my headphones out and scream that it should JUST! MOVE! but instead I exhale in rage, fume in my head, and silent tears wash away my already smudgey makeup.
The sight of my building, that awful communist-looking concrete box and all that was inside of it, made me wonder what the point of my life was.
The only two hours of solace I received during the day was between 9am and 11am. I would get a cup of coffee, a soothing medicine, and put in creamer, usually hazelnut, and that made me feel happy for a moment, the way chocolate and Starbucks made me happy for the fleeting thought of them. I would stir my coffee languidly as the computer started up, and then spend the next two hours pretending that I was relaxing before the work set in, just checking the news, The Onion, The New Yorker, some blogs of friends and other favorite sites that either inspired or humored me. Then I would put in headphones, because I couldn't stand the silence around me.
By 11am, I had accomplished all that I would accomplish for the day. No one gave me work. No one asked how I was doing, or when I would be taking lunch. I could really leave whenever, and sometimes I wondered why I bothered coming in. Many people would have loved to collect a free paycheck at the freedom of a computer, considering our lives are run on them in and out of the office anyway now. But it was demoralizing. I still felt guilty when I ventured too far into the interwebs. I couldn't get any sense of life or creativity into my brain. All I felt was how each moment I was closer to death, and I spent it sitting here, atrophying in the brain and body, thinking this was a job. This was my life's work. I wanted to rip my hair out. I thought I might spin around, screaming until I dropped to the floor in a pile of anxious bones and unkempt hair.
At lunch I had nothing to do, no one to see, and no appetite to eat. The thought of food made me retch entirely. My stomach was still full of coal dust, achey and queasy, and I never desired anything to eat at all. It was an hour outside, just as bored and directionless as the morning. I would take double the Ativan to calm myself, because the afternoons were worse.
The afternoon was Gchat. When I logged in, so often that now I couldn't not log in, though I would prefer not to pull at that thread, but it would mean completely breaking down, letting go, giving up. Then it was four hours of tension, of analyzing all the color dots, of talking or not talking, wondering why things were taking so long. Of knowing my life had been reduced to this, and how much I absolutely despised it.
Toward the end of the day, those who had stuck with me through my one-word-answers of a conversation (a sure change, a sure slight since the winter when she was bubbly and fun and full of life!) sometimes invited me out for the evening. Did I want to try a new bar, go to a restaurant opening, see an exhibit, or walk in the park? I never did. I couldn't stomach having to go out into the world around someone and have to pretend to care what they said, or what they were talking about. To not be selfish and just cry about me and my own life. To pretend I wanted to be hanging out with someone and listening to how Steve Madden was out of their shoe size, or couldn't decide where to take a vacation this year, when all today I contemplated the pills I had in my purse and what combinations could just end this all. I didn't want to go out and have to be responsible for being a decent human being, something I could not be accountable for at that time.
I would go straight home, cursing the subway and its riders all the while, and march straight to my apartment. I could curse under my breath if there were people walking into the building the same time as me, taking the same elevator as me. I just wanted to be ALONE. I didn't even want to fake a smile or a "good evening". It was all just too much, too fake.
In bed by 6p, I queue up the Netflix, pull up my cup of ice cream and Vicodin, and start the ritual to end the day, until the next day. The less I am around for my life right now, the better. The next morning, I know, I will wake up to a blackened stomach and a smokey heart, and so much anxiety that I will have a little less strength to deal with tomorrow than I did today. But for now, I take the Vicodin first, then start in on the ice cream because it makes me happy, and turn on Mad Men to distract me until the Vicodin kicks in. Soon, so soon, I won't be dwelling on how unhappy I am with everything in my life, and certainly not thinking about how many hours there are left in the day, how many more hours left of chance, hoping that he is going to call me, or text me, because today is the 2nd and he can't wait any longer and isn't it time we do something about this? And as I redirect my thoughts, I am full of self-loathing that I have come to such a state of disgrace, of shame, of cowardice, and yet I can't find anything in my soul to bring me back to life, any sort of hope to prove that there is any chance at all that this will ever change for me.
I didn’t say it was a good story.