Trigger Warning: Contains references to depression and suicide.
To the very committed people who have loved me quietly despite my ups and downs and darknesses and distances, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being there, when I know it would have been easier not to be. Thank you for letting me fall back into your arms and your frequent-contacts lists and your lives in general after I have been away for whatever reason.
Sometimes I tire of people. Sometimes I will seem cruel and unfeeling for my distance. I never initiate contact with anyone. You will always be the one to start the conversation, to ask me to dinner, to ask me about my day. You have always had to come by my locker in the morning, because I was never about to break my daily rituals and stop by yours. It wouldn’t have been all that surprising if I just never had anyone, or if people dropped like flies from my social circle at regular intervals from underappreciation.
But some of you stuck. Some of you recurred. Mercury, Norma Jean, Rain Man and yes, if we’re really honest, even Miss Elisabeth–no matter how many times I let you slide, no matter how many weeks or months you were neglected–another text always arrived eventually. Another invitation always came. Even if you couldn’t handle me at my worst–fuck that overused Marilyn Monroe quote–you were always willing to pick me up again when I got closer to my best.
I don’t consider that being a “fairweather friend” so much, because when I am depressed or swinging wildly or just feeling antisocial and I withdraw, I’m not reaching out. I’m grateful for the level of forgiveness I’ve been lucky enough to receive from some of my favourite people.
Deep down, I have this fear. This persistent, nagging fear.
“If you knew this was what you were signing up for when you met me, would you still have signed up?”
I think about this in reference to Tom Sloane a lot, knowing that before me, he was with someone with far more severe (from what I understand) mental health issues. I carry that knowledge in the pit of my stomach on my worst days, not wanting to be a dragging liability, a dependent, a crazy ex-girlfriend waiting to happen. Not wanting to dig rifts with my random bouts of distance or to carve hurt into him with my sudden anger. Not wanting to be crazy, and not wanting to seem like I’m trying to stir sympathy instead of real affection.
Obviously the former is easier than the latter.
It’s easy to build yourself flawed on purpose, on top of the flaws you were born with or grew into. I am trying so hard to get out of this trap where I imagine myself the victim of some terrible struggle beyond my control, some illness sapping my life force but only in romantic and beautiful ways. I am trying to focus on the heroics of my life and on the overcoming of, not the succumbing to.
Sometimes I do well. Other times I don’t really get out of bed. Still other times I drink a lot of tequila and cry and try to punch my boyfriend and lock myself in his bathroom and open all the drawers looking for pills to swallow to kill myself but find nothing but his roommate’s heaps and heaps of beauty products and oh sorry Tom Sloane, I didn’t tell you about that part, did I? But I remembered it in the morning and I remember it now.
Sometimes I do well, and other times I don’t.
Sometimes I am happy and cheery and witty and creative, and I am all full of stories and jokes and spin around happily on sidewalks and smile at strangers and my most loyal friends are reminded why they chose me in the first place.
Sometimes I’m not and I can’t and I don’t.
Those times fill me with this Big Fear that I won’t be able to hold up my end forever, that people will tire of me, that they will stop needing whatever it is that they need from me at my best and stop putting up with me and coming back to me after I have been at my worst. That I will make you rue the day you got yourself mixed up in this terrible business of caring about me.
But the track record is so good so far, you guys. I love you to pieces, friends who have been with me for years on end, and I am working on holding up my end of the deal because this can’t be and shouldn’t be a one-way street. Whenever I am up, I am here to love you and listen to you because it’s what you deserve, and I aspire to treat you with the same unconditional kindness you’ve treated me with.
I hope that the older we get and the longer we stick together, we can learn to overcome the hurdles of distance and damage and learn to handle each other, to hang onto each other, even when we are at our darkest and most distressed. We have all grown up messy and ragged and strange, and we are under no obligation to love each other neatly.
Hold my hand even though yours is all sweaty. Wipe your nose surreptitiously on my shirt while you cry and I’ll pretend not to notice. Send me your contradictory crazy texts streaming your raving-mad consciousness into my phone and we can pick them apart together. I know full well you’d do it for me.
I don’t regret signing up for this, no matter how messy it gets.