“I slept with someone else.”
And the tears than come, warm and wet and separated from my otherwise-happiness, two years later, related to something unrelated. Sometimes when I cry, my face puffs. Other times, the tears come and go as gracefully as the tears of a movie star’s. At a summer camp, a boy once told me that I cried beautifully because my face didn’t look all weird afterward.
But I do have those puffy-face crying times. Rarely. In my room. In the shower. Over the oatmeal I make in the morning. It’ll come back like a slap in the face or the cold front that sweeps through the three-street town of Columbia.
A disdainful admissions office worker. A university official who won’t budge on an unfair rule. A surprising and unsettling text. A fight. A happy moment. Being around friends and being internally floored by the fact that they simply showed up and that they care.
Like trying to navigate a lake on ice skates as the ice on the lake is melting. A small crack somewhere and my stride is thrown off. The imminent water rushing under the ice weighs me down and pulls me to the ice, to the dark water that I can’t see but I can feel.
The sun is shining but I’m so close to the ice that even though I know there’s sunlight on my body I can only feel the cold.
Maybe it’s the winter. Seasonal moodiness. November blues.
It’s been close to two years and for a while I thought I was okay. I was okay. I had everything I wanted. Everything.
And yet it still came. The lightning bolt. The slap in the face. A cold winter wind on a warm fall day.
Disliking the afternoon hours. Sleeping too much. Being riled up too easily. Belabored breathing. They are all signs of the inner beast that I have fought off with the flimsy cardboard sword and shield of academic credits, a regular workout routine and a penchant for denying my problems.
“Your problems are not actually problems.”
They are not problems. It’s hard to tell yourself to get over it. Some people may say it’s unhealthy. Some may say the suck-it-up mentality is the only way to do it.
I don’t know what I think. I think I know what it’s like, maybe with a mouse’s portion, to be a soldier living in society again. To feel disconnected. To not care about anything. And to not know why — and being frustrated most of all by that.
Maybe it’s sucking it up and maybe it’s doing something about it. Wake up at 6 and read. Anything. A book. A newspaper. Write a blog post about the depression you’ve had that seemed to start after the break-up with a boy who cheated on you but really transformed into something more than post-traumatic relationship blues. Self-doubt. Hate. Negativity.
Becoming blue-blooded instead of red-blooded.
I am exhausted and I am tired and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. But I’m mainly exhausted with being blue-blooded and being internally negative because it’s just a method I’ve created as a defense mechanism. It’s time to read and write and stand up from the ice that being splashed and slammed underneath by the black water. Stand up from the ice and feel the light and skate around the cracks.
No more guilt and criticism and hate and only realization of the good things. Find the red blood and feel it course through my veins. Stick in the needle of adulthood and tough skin and drain out the toxic blue blood. Read for half an hour. Cry, but cry and then write. Or cry and then eat that whatever thing you want to be and don’t feel bad. Take the 95% essay and pin it on your wall. Succumb to your will and admit when you are too overwhelmed. Do something for yourself.
Forget the bright day when you were sitting in the coffee shop, looking at a father and son drink coffee (for what was probably the son’s first time), and hearing those words. “I slept with someone else.” Five words that changed a course. Changed a person. Made a person better. Different and maybe a little bit more sad, real and scarred, but alive.
Accept the love that you have found in the last two months somewhere else and in the last six months in your own town. Actually play the harmonica. Listen to the radio. Make your bed. Every morning. Keep making oatmeal.
Realize that life is made of cracks and so are you but cracks are the only way that light can come in and go out. Accept the light and the cracks and the scars and the broken branches that are scattered among your intestines and your throbbing heart and your brain and your bones, jump into the cracks and add window panes (no shutters) to help guide the light a little more, and live.