She wakes up with me every morning.
As I force my aching body up, slowly removing one leg at a time from beneath the sheets, she playfully pulls me back down under the covers. Her embrace is magnetic; too irresistible to break free, despite me wanting to. I let her win this battle and decide to lay awake with her for a little longer.
“I’d rather stay in bed,” she whispers to me, “than face the day anyway.”
I nod in agreement.
45 minutes pass and nothing has changed. That’s it, I mutter. I need to get up before it is too late to get ready, then too late to go to class, and then too late to take on this new day like the courageous and confident woman I am. She chuckles at my own little moment of self-worth and heroism. As if I were actually doing something that made a huge impact on the world. As if I were important enough. As if.
Regardless, I still need to get up.
Accomplishment #1: Getting out of bed.
I make my way to the kitchen. I prepare breakfast for two, her and I. We eat, and when we are done, she lures me back to the bedroom. I strongly consider going back to sleep with her. I go to the bathroom to wash up instead. She hates being alone, so she follows along.
Accomplishment #2: Not going back to sleep.
I turn on the sink and watch as the water trickles down my hand. I notice the light flickering in the room, bouncing back and forth like a seesaw. I am reminded, only for a fleeting moment, of my childhood. I smile and reminisce for a minute. All I see is a giant blurb of memories I seemed to have successfully stuffed away in storage, only opening the boxes when an undoubtedly insignificant event causes me to, like the light flickering in my bathroom. .
“Do you not like looking at yourself in the mirror?” she asks.
Suddenly, I am brought back to reality. I am 18, not 8, despite my wishes otherwise.
“What?” I ask, puzzled and slightly annoyed.
“Well, I noticed that you haven’t looked in the mirror at all this morning. Why is that?” she asks again.
That’s a strange question to ask someone. Only she would notice something so petty like that. It’s none of her damn business really…the truth is, I haven’t liked looking at myself in the mirror for as long as I can remember, but I’m not going to tell her that.
I glance to her again, shrug my shoulders and reply, “I don’t know.”
She paused, and for a while there was silence. She doesn’t like it when I don’t answer her the way she wants me to. She often times loses her temper with me.
“Look at yourself,” she says to me. Her long fingers make their way to my chin. I resist the pressure of her hand. I refuse to look in. I don’t want to. She begins to squeeze my flushed face. “Look,” she says again, a bit more irritated this time.
I still refuse.
She always overreacts…
I feel her fingernails begin to bury themselves deep into my skin. Anger radiates from her core. Her lips touching my ear now, she utters to me, “If you don’t fucking look at yourself in this mirror I’m going to bash your head into it, do you hear me?”
Yes, I hear her. I hate this. She overpowers me and thinks that she can tell me what to do and what to feel… I know she just wants what is best for me. She wants me to see myself for who I really am. She may lose her temper, she may be abusive, but she’s right. She’s always right and even though I don’t want to, I should listen to her.
I unwillingly accept her command.
Accomplishment #3: Looking at myself in the mirror
I peer into the mirror at my own reflection, staring at nothing but my groggy eyes. Tears bubble up and for the first time I notice how vibrant the hue of my eyes become when I cry. I like it. I like the look of them.
“Tears?” Her cynical, mocking tone makes me want to vomit. “How pathetic are you? You cry at your own fucking reflection.”
Of course I am crying. You’re yelling at me, bitch!
I do not speak. I do not contend. I just stare at my glossy eyes through the mirror and pray that she’ll shut the fuck up.
“Good. I’m glad you’re crying. That’s for not listening to my command the first time. You listen to me! …How are you supposed to face the day like this now? All upset with puffy eyes. How are you gonna explain to everyone why you were crying this morning, huh? You’re such a loser. Lucky to have me though, despite the fact that I’m the only one you have… I don’t even know why you’re going in to class today anyway, it’s not like you have any friends. You’re not even good enough to be there in general. Haven’t you seen your peers? They’re obviously better than you. And they always will be.”
I take in every word she says to me like a dagger to the heart. The more she says, the deeper it sinks, and I begin to believe in her words.
Weakness #1: Trusting in Her
I managed to do my hair, change my clothes, and put makeup on all throughout her morning rant. Just when I think it’s over…
“Now do it,” she demands. I look to her in dismay. “Cut.”
My eyes grow wide and it’s as if my lungs forgot how to breathe for a moment. I muster up what strength and courage I have left to shake my head ‘no’. I can’t cut myself. Who will I be if nothing but a ‘cutter’ at that point; a desperate, shamed person who is forced to self-harm in order to feel just an ounce of anything, even if it is just pain.
“Cut. Scratch. Slice. Pinch. Do anything to your fucking skin because you deserve it.”
Because you deserve it.
I consider all the possibilities, outcomes, and consequences of this potentially fatal decision. Leaving this Earth on a blood-stained tile floor with the scissors laying close by. How terrible it would be for someone to find me this way. How awful it would be for everyone to find out I killed myself.
I may be vulnerable and weak right now, but I can’t let her make me feel this way anymore. I won’t.
“No!” I roar in her ugly face. “I don’t want to cut. Why can’t you understand that? Just leave me alone!”
Accomplishment #4: Not self-harming today
Exhausted, I storm out of the bathroom and sit down on the edge of my bed, more tears streaming down my face. She follows and sits next to me. She sighs and I can feel her apologetic stare in my bones.
My comeback shut her up for about a total of 10 seconds.
“I’m sorry!” she wails and embraces me yet again. She sobs on my shoulder and begs for my forgiveness.
I’m numb by this point. Her black and white personalities give me such whiplash I don’t know what to think anymore. How can I trust her?
“I went too far this time,” she says meekly. “Please forgive me. It’ll never happen again.”
I lay down on my back, gazing up at the ceiling, thinking about all that she has asked me to do for her. It’s always for her. She curls up next to me.
Forgiving her gives her the power. It’s like a bad chain reaction. Like I’m falling down an endless hole, forever plunging further away from the surface. The more I forgive, the further I fall…but it’s something about her. There’s comfort in our routine. Yes, she may lose her temper. Yes, she may be abusive, but she’s there when no one else is. She would never leave me, and I’d rather have her than no one at all.
Filled with reluctance and sorrow, I somehow find the words to muster up, “I forgive you.”
She smiles at me. “Thank you. You’ve been through enough today. Just relax, close your eyes, and take the day off. I’ll lay right by your side the whole time, I promise. How does that sound?”
And soon the colorless walls fall black and my mundane routine is over. I’ll sleep yet another day away, trusting in the one person who puts me down relentlessly. She has me convinced that I am broken and that she is the only one who can fix me.
She is my friend. She is my depression.
Special thanks to Alessandra Ortiz for this short story. You can find more of her work on her blog and Instagram.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
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Reblogged this on Ortiz and commented:
Thank you so much Paul for posting my short story on your blog! The stories you post on “Dear Hope” inspire my own writing and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my voice with a wider audience. Please read my short story and remember to follow my page! xoxo