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The system is rigged for people like us, not because the world should cater to us but because the world doesn’t believe we deserve to exist. The world doesn’t believe that these invisible wounds and emotional cancer deserve the same level of care and attention that the physical counterparts would require. From our financial systems to the social services that are supposed to help keep us afloat, every single one is designed to keep us on our knees. Heaven forbid you don’t have the financial means to protect yourself when these things happen. If you end up in poverty, too, then it’s game over for a lot of us.
Poverty keeps us waiting. Waiting in lines, waiting for applications to be approved, waiting to see a specialist who might be able to help. Waiting in droves, waiting forever, always with the high possibility that we’re just not bad off enough yet, and we must go back to the start and try again. As for me, most days, I’d rather just lay down and give up. For the first few years, it was fine, but after a while, you know how the song will end.
There’s an irony to this downward spiral, isn’t it? This current that keeps dragging us down to the bottom. This upside down world where the worse you are, the worse you’re going to get. Good for you if you’re not that bad off yet, because if you slip even an inch, the backward slide might become uncontrollable. After that, there might not be an escape for you.
I want to write this so that I remember what it’s like to be poor. Because when the highs come, and oh, they are so high, I forget what it’s like to be down there. I forget the pain, and I let go of the ledge, and when I’m falling, i think that I’m flying. Finally! Weightlessness, at last! Nothing but nothing holding me down, and there’s nothing that I can’t accomplish.
And then the bottom reaches up to meet me, and by then it’s too late.
I try to keep back the edges of the thoughts by staying neutral. But somehow I end up slipping too far back and end up in depression. The inertia overtakes me, and wild horses couldn’t drag me back up to feeling again. A gate closes anytime one of those bats tries to beat its wings at me. “Have a shower. Fill out this form. Call this person back.” And the sentries say, “No. We’re barely holding on as it is. That’s going to be too painful. Be gone, and don’t bother us again.” It doesn’t matter how big or small the task. Everything becomes impossible when the neutral becomes the darkness.
Right now, I can feel the sadness and desperation like a bag over my head. It’s hard to breathe and I don’t know which way is up. I know that there is an up, that there is a way I should go, but I don’t even know where to start. This is fatigue. Not quite exhaustion yet, but a few more days of this, and I’ll be where I was last week. At least I didn’t wake up with a headache like I did yesterday. Last night I laid in bed, unable to sleep or escape my own thoughts, yet so tired that I couldn’t get up to do something else. That’s insomnia, and it makes everything worse.
Thoughts fall through the cracks of my mind before I can put a name to them. Before I even know what they were supposed to be. Like so many aborted fetuses, abandoned without the chance to form into productive entities, I can’t hold on to the mutilated forms. I had a thought, and then…
The thoughts are like hot bees in my head sometimes. Flaming bees that get into every space in my body. Sometimes I don’t even know where they came from, but they still tell me things that I should know are not true. They tell me things about the people around me. It’s a rage that can only be dampened by avoidance and distance, and so going to work becomes impossible. Having close relationships becomes a death sentence. It’s all I can do to look them in the eyes. Because I know I should be grateful for whatever it is they are giving me. Affection. Work. A roof over my head. Food in my belly and a safe, warm bed. Yet the people closest to us seem to be the ones with the most permission to hurt us. Never mind when we’re the ones doing it to them. The thoughts won’t let that reasoning through. The people we are most dependent on for whatever affection or practical support we need are the ones most likely to betray us. Without fail, these are the one who hurt us the most. And yes, sometimes, it’s because of us. Deep down we know when it’s our fault, even when we don’t want to admit it. But sometimes we know that we didn’t deserve what happened to us, not at all, yet we are powerless to voice this, because in doing so, we become the villains.
The people closest to us are the ones most able to take away our voice.
The people who do the most for us are the ones who insist they should therefore be beyond reproach, that our undying devotion and esteem are their due. That any objections or questions are a symbol of our ingratitude and iniquity, that our protests delineate our own villainy. They do so much for us, how can we complain? How can we speak against them when they’ve had it so much worse, and they wish they could be us?
Like a caged lion, these wingless ponderings pace. Then they morph into confusion, then outrage, then hopelessness, then outrage again. We are trapped, but to try to use our voice is to shoot arrows into our own hearts. These people who, despite everything, we really do still love. These people that we still don’t want to upset or anger, no matter what they’ve done to us. Especially when things aren’t as bad as they were yesterday. Especially when, technically speaking, they didn’t actually do anything to us. And so the waves come over us, over and over again, and we hurt others as we try to stay afloat, and soon, we become someone else’s jailer, too.
At the core of it all, we are trapped. We are held captive and powerless to chance things, and all we can do is whither away and die. Blown about by endless winds that bash us against rocks, all we can do is try to curl up, stay numb, and defend ourselves when something gets too close for comfort. What more can we do, until this existence passes over us and we are finally free?
This emotional bondage, whatever the cause, isn’t something that is easily overcome. I write now from the ledge. Hanging in there, but so exhausted that things could go either way. I’m up out of the pit for now, which I’m grateful for, but I don’t have any hope for tomorrow. All I have is today, and right now, and knowing that I’m not strong enough to do much more than the bare minimum. But I did it. And more than that, I kept going when that was done. Even though I am still plagued by those bats, I’m writing, and it’s helping. I’m giving each activity that I put on my to-do list a try. And when things get too frustrating, I back off, and tell myself that I’ll try again tomorrow. And I move onto something else, instead of giving up. I even did a care cycle a bit ago, when my mental health first aid kit has been collecting dust for months.
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13