It makes me laugh that I originally titled this thatloudgirl. Maybe I was, when I had ideas and jokes and stories to draw people in, to make them interested in getting to know a mediocre-looking hick who got her laughs lazily. I don’t feel very loud at all now. In fact, I don’t feel anything at all now. Here is what I do in a day:
I wake up with with greasy hair and a body that looks like it was sculpted from cottage cheese. I try to shower the gross off, but my hair still dries flat on top of my pin head. I look in the mirror and vaguely remember the potential I used to see there, which is hysterical when you now resemble Tilda Swinton with the flu. I take a pill to make me function and a pill to keep me from killing myself and I drink a glass of water in a living room full of friends. In the past, I would traipse upstairs in last night’s makeup, knowing I had a room to entertain and a damn good story to tell. I think that’s how I made my friends. I can’t think of another reason they would favor a know-it-all with an irreverent attitude toward everything except her own intellect. They’ve reminded me many a time that they made a mistake in doing so. I feel so far from everything. I don’t feel like I have emotions anymore, how can you have something from nothing? There’s a difference between pet snakes and dogs. Dogs genuinely feel love for and loyalty to their owner in a real, I-have-a-cerebral-cortex kind of way. Snakes simply shift between being content and being distressed. I feel like a snake in this way. I can feel content when watching trash reality tv with my housemates, but I don’t feel happy. I use that word to my friends and my parents to give them some hope that the old me is coming back, that the Ethel people were once proud of might resurface soon. Good things happen, I complete tasks, I earn good grades (knock on wood) despite my mental instability, I get praised for good work in my endeavors, and I feel content. Those little moments move me from a dark place to a slightly lighter one for the duration of a car ride or a phone conversation. In those moments I feel content. I express it as happiness because it’s similar, and only I can really apprehend the distinction between the two, as it occurs in my brain. I can differentiate between them so easily because I knew happiness intimately for a long, long time. Part of me thinks this mental unraveling is just fixing a karmic imbalance in my life. My youth (my high school, early college) was just about as blissful and exciting a time as one could have. I rode that wave of self-confidence and insurmountable optimism for as long as I could, until I found myself flung off course and drowning. I think what did that to me, ultimately, is my realization that I am way more of a hassle to have around than a contributing force, An old friend once told me that I made people feel better about themselves, that I brought people up and showed them genuine appreciation for what made them them. I remember being so flattered by this comment, and I think I did once have that effect. Now it’s the opposite. Now I’m the one people avoid at all costs because I’m either focused on studying and thus no fun to be around or I’m being too loud or too dramatic, too this or too that to be anything but a nuisance. I think this all came from growing maturity and self-awareness. In college, surrounded by beautiful, talented, hilarious people, I’ve noticed just how “almost but not quite” I am. I’m almost but not quite pretty. I’m almost but not quite funny. I’m almost but not quite smart. I’m an empty person. What constitutes me is absolutely nothing. Any grit or tenacity I once had has been washed away. I try to say uplifting things to my parents, to give them indications that I’m on the up and up. I put one foot in front of the other and pretend like I have somewhere to be. I sit and write study guides and papers and turn them in one after the other day after day, and I realize how stupid this all is. Why am I getting my parents to pay this much money for my education when I will ultimately disappoint everyone around me? I was a mistake. I needed some notch to be turned up or others to be turned down because as I am I’m as good as dead. A philosophy student with good grades, ratty hair, and a flock of girls far more beautiful than she is is not something the world needs more of.
I know where you think this might be leading, but I can’t act on any of these impulses. That doesn’t mean I don’t consider the quickest way to do it once people leave the house. It doesn’t mean I can face a razor and know I won’t turn it on myself. It just means I can’t do it to my family. I am kept alive by them and for them.
Another factor that literally plagues me is that I am always sick. Every two weeks I face a new sickness that barely affects my housemates while rendering me bedridden for days. I’m so sick. I know something’s wrong. I read an article about what a dog does when it knows it’s about to die, and I related to the dog. I’m probably about ten year premature, but I just have a feeling that much of my life will be avoiding death in a hospital bed. I am so sick of being sick.
So there you have it, an empty girl with nothing but a house full of girls and the occasional call from my mom to keep my wheels churning, albeit slowly. Are there moments when even the smallest obligations make me want to slam my head in the door of my car repeatedly? Yes. Are there still nights that I stay up staring into darkness with tears pooling under my pillow? All the time. Is it still bad? Yes.
And I’m honestly not sure I’ll come back from it.