The third post in The Anonymous Project is long, and it is challenging. Triggers include suicide and depression. Please be respectful of our participants and use common sense in your responses. Thank you.
She played with the bus fare waiting with the herd of people for the 5:15pm bus home. Looking around she noticed them all, worn from the day of pressures and stresses that everyone faced. Hair that in the morning had sat so perfectly, now pulled back into ponytails. The glow in people’s faces was gone: the colour almost disappearing into a greyness of death. This was the world in which she lived: a world with nameless people who rode together to a nameless place, on a bus driven by the nameless driver.
The bus pulled up and people shoved to get on first, to get one of the few remaining seats to rest their tired feet. Sighs resounded from those left standing in the smelly heat of after-work-stress. She gripped the pole looking around wondering if the world she saw really existed. Did that man really smell or was it just a haunting memory? Did she smell it because she remembered? The smell of stale-morning-after alcohol mixed to pipe tobacco. The memories returned. Forcefully they fought their way into her mind and she felt paralyzed. The bus continued on, no one flinched. No one knew her pain. She began to give in and then a small child looked up and smiled a toothless grin at her.
The innocence caught her off guard: the pure happiness that had never been infiltrated. She wished that she could remember that time: A time when happiness was not something that had to be searched for and never found, a time when happiness even existed. When innocence was untainted, things were different. The world was a safe place then. Not like now, where hurting was everywhere. The child smiled again, and she fought hard to keep from crying. She wished for that back. The time back when things were simple and she didn’t hurt constantly. When she knew what love was…when she was loved. The child looked up again, this time giving a small giggle that would make the hardest criminal feel happy. Today would not be the day she decided; not today.
Curled up on the couch she lets the silent tears stream down her cheeks. Refusing to wipe away the tears as if moving was a monumental task far too difficult for her to undertake. The music played in the background. The lyrics spoke to her yet made her fall deeper into her depression. There wasn’t a real reason for it. She could blame it on anything under the sun. Blame everyone but herself; but the truth was, she didn’t know how to be happy, feel good about herself, love herself, or even care that she was alive. The pain was too real. Not just mentally, but physically. Every breath hurt, every smile felt like a lie. Yet she went on, hoping beyond hope that one day things would change or that she would get up the courage to no longer have to exist. Either way, the existence that she knew was going to change. How it would change was the only mystery.
Alanis Morissette’s CD played in the background echoing her internal struggle:
How to lie to yourself and thereby to everyone else
How to keep smiling when you’re thinking of killing yourself
How to numb a la holic to avoid going within
How to stay stuck in blue by blaming them for everything
She muttered under her breath, “Eight easy steps huh? It really will take that many? Eight whole steps to teach me something that I’ve known how to do since I was young?” The tears flowed faster, followed by quiet sobs of desperation as she took another sip of her wine hoping that the pain would soon melt away. Pinky-swearing that she would not mix sleepers and alcohol again was a lie; but so is her life, so did it matter? The cloud that she craved began to form: the cloud that made everything so foggy that none of it existed. The hurt was gone, the painful thoughts were gone, the flashbacks that made her shake like a frightened dog. It was too much: she fell silent dropping the glass to the floor.
She awoke and peeled her face from the cushion of the couch. Looking out the window she watched as the sun rose. People were just beginning to move on the street below. Her head spun and she went to the kitchen looking for coffee, sweet coffee, the dark drink that would make everything better. The spinning stopped and the throbbing ache began. She sipped at her coffee letting it sooth her. It was the only comfort she would know. She looked at toast and gagged. After brushing her teeth, to hide the smell of acidic vomit, she started out. Another day, another reason for someone to yell at her for something that probably wasn’t her fault. But what did she care? She liked being yelled at. It helped in a way. Made her feelings validated. She believed that she was no good and worthless so what did it matter that half her phone calls told her the truth? That is what it was anyways, the truth: she was a worthless, no-good bitch just like they said. Throwing up once more she pulled her hair back and put on the smile that everyone expected of her. She filled a paper cup of coffee for the road, not a travel mug as she would need to get rid of the evidence of her caffeine habit before getting to work. Who would have known that a company could be a family?
Dull faces on the bus stared blankly ahead waiting for their stop. Hers came and she jumped off pondering why the bus driver always stopped just ahead of the stop so that there was no curb to step onto. The sounds of trucks blared past as she waited for the light to turn. She loved the walk. No one really understood that. It was a time when she thought of nothing. Her mind was completely blank. The only noise she heard came from the passing trucks on their way to different destinations.
She opened the door to the office.
The phones knew she arrived and began ringing before she even turned on her computer. She quickly answered people’s questions and began going through her e-mails. There were 17 new messages waiting. She read each one; half of them unreasonable requests, the other half complaints about something. Dear Lord! I didn’t smash your plates before sending them and you are the only person who complains so deal with it!! She began to write back an e-mail that would surely get her fired but stopped. More coffee, coffee, she searched for more coffee.
Deep breaths she thought as she stirred the cream into it. Calm down, calm down, calm down, she hiccupped softly and hid in the bathroom. Nothing she did was ever right, or good enough. Even what she did do right was not right enough. It was all she had. There was no other purpose than work. If she wasn’t good at this, then she wasn’t worth anything. She put her heart and soul into that job. It was her only purpose at the moment. The only thing that made her not a burden.
She came home that night needing to drown. That calm feeling, shallow breaths and quiet peace. She searched the medicine cabinet for something to use. Muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication, it was all there, all collected over the years from doctors who were willing to give quick fixes. The pretty pink ones she said out loud as she took the bottle and fumbled with the child proofing. She swallowed two, and then went to the kitchen looking for a drink. She knew it was stupid but did not care. It honestly did not matter to her anymore, being dead, being alive, there was not difference. She was dead already.
The pills weren’t helping and she began to panic. The only thing she could think of was stopping the pain, stopping the flashbacks from happening. She looked through the kitchen drawer for something that would work: something sharp enough to cut without much effort. Pain kept her mind blank. Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think…the blood slowly dripped down her arm and she fell to the floor crying. No one knew the secrets she kept. The pain that she felt that kept her weak, scared, and alone. What had she done?
She cried for her pain, she cried for being weak, she cried for the death of her soul, her happiness, her person. She couldn’t cry out to anyone. This was no one’s problem but her own. She could never burden anyone. She knew that she tried to reach out but would never admit what it was that she needed so badly. She honestly believed it not possible. No one would love her, hold her, tell her that she was safe. She knew she wasn’t and she didn’t expect anyone to lie to her.
Someone once told her the truth, as brutally honest as it sounds, it was the most comforting thing that she ever heard. There was the possibility that the pain would never go away. Maybe it was more chronic; something that she would have to deal with her whole life, something that would reoccur regularly until she one day gave in. It comforted her to know that maybe it wasn’t her fault that it kept happening. That it wasn’t a tragic flaw that made her too weak and that was why it kept happening. Now that others were not there to hurt her she continued on.
Hurting herself was the only comfort that she could find. It was how she could cope. Pain meant that she was still alive, breathing, feeling. Without pain she left nothing. Without pain she felt dead, numb as if nothing existed. No one could help her. No one could truly understand the pain that she was feeling, and truthfully, everyone who cared was so far away; so out of reach. And, she tried her best to push them away. No one could hurt her if they couldn’t reach her. She feared love because love meant eventual rejection.
She fell asleep on the floor of the kitchen. Cold blade still gripped in her hand. The pain was never going to end because she could not let it. The only alternative to pain was death; and death scared her. Coldness was all she knew: all she would ever accept.
She cried that she woke up. She never had the nerve to end things, but could not help wishing that they would end. She was nothing more than a chicken. Too chicken to ask for help; too chicken to end her suffering. She existed just to exist, no more, no less. She left for work, carrying with her the smile forced upon her and the weight of her secret sorrows.