Ten Days

Sixty-one days ago,
there was an explosion of excitement.
It stretched clear across the Atlantic from the US to the Netherlands.
It hasn’t waned.

Now,
in just ten days,
there will be another explosion of excitement.
This time,
we will be face-to-face.

I still remember the first time I saw your eyes light up,
catch the glow of your monitors and sparkle with amusement.
You were far too pleased with yourself,
watching me blush as you took advantage of the inner foreign language nerd.
Bastard (I know, I know; not born out of wedlock).

I still remember the first time I saw you laugh at the squeak and following, “Fuck off.”
You almost died.
…Though you did, and still do, generally do it to make me happy,
don’t lie and say it isn’t for your own amusement, too.

I still remember the first time I watched you squeak and swear with a gentle murmur of your first name,
a snap comment,
and a shit-eating grin on my face.
Though I, too, do it mostly because I love you,
I admit I find it highly amusing.

…I still remember the first time I saw you look at yourself and tear yourself to pieces.
I still remember the literal pain I felt as you simultaneously tore me apart,
stripping away every one of your strengths,
leaving behind only imperfections.

I still remember the first time I saw you roll your eyes at me as I did the same—
parsing the strengths from flaws,
tossing the strengths aside,
the mountain of failures, and imperfections remaining.
I still remember the first time I actually watched you call me a hypocrite,
spitting back that goddamn psych fact on perception.

We’re still a couple of hypocrites,
for multiple reasons.

No screens this time.

In ten days,
I will physically touch you,
tackle you to the ground in the middle of a busy airport,
kiss you,
and laugh as D yells, “FIFTY SHADES OF GAAAY,” so loud your family hears it back home.

In ten days,
I will drag your jet-lagged ass back to the car,
hand you an energy drink,
and grin.
“Wake up, klootzak. GMT -5. Only 14:00. We have shit to do.”

In ten days,
your American adventures will begin.

Buckle up, bitch.
D and I are driving—
you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Ik hou heel veel han jou, beertje.
I’ll see you soon. 

If Only I Had the Balls To Send This to You

Sisi,

I’m sorry I was pushed off onto you from the time I was just a baby. Being born of different fathers, our age difference of ten years made it easy for mom and dad to make me your responsibility.

You babysat from the time I was walking. Mom and dad, being nurses, got paid more for taking the graveyard shifts at the hospital. They took the extra money and gave you the baby at 6:00 P.M.; you gave me back at 6:00 A.M. when mom got home.

I ruined your teenage years. I’m sorry. It’s no wonder we were so terrible to each other for so long. You were angry and frustrated, and I retaliated. It wasn’t unjustified. I don’t hold a grudge, there’s nothing to forgive, and I love you for being mom when mom was gone.

You protected me from the fighting—scooped me up, ran into the nearest room, and kept me close while be both cried and shook until the yelling and sound of… whatever the fuck was breaking… stopped. You were a protector, a parent, where it wasn’t your place to be.

I was a little asshole, too. I wasn’t particularly appreciative of the things we did together, what you did with me, for me, when I stayed with you. I can’t ignore that fact. And I’m sorry for that, too. You loved me then, still love me now though despite being such a nuisance for so many years. A mother’s love, as cliche as it may be, is what I’d say you gave to me.

When you moved out, got a place of your own in the city, you saved me from spending nights alone in our parents’ house. I still believe some weird shit happened in there. I remember it clearly, and I know you do, too, even if you deny it 15 years later. You kept me from being alone and scared at 8/9/10 years old. Spending nights with you playing games, watching movies, play fighting… I can’t and won’t forget that. You had an apartment, and eventually a house, with your boyfriend at the time.

He was a brother to me. You two were together for six years; from 5-11 years old, you two were a second mother and father. I remember giggling, finding it funny when people asked, “How old is your daughter?” when you took me to the mall to see a movie, or took me to eat, or had to drag me along for grocery shopping or something. That only proves my point.

…I will never fault you for getting the hell out, moving to Texas from our home state, Missouri, to get away from the screaming, the emotional abuse, …sadly, what a bastard my “brother” had truly been, and a bastard your step-dad/my biological father is/”was”.

You never left me. You just did the smart thing and got out. I was 11 years old. That’s when I was alone in the house. Sure, I was afraid for the first couple of years, definitely developed a few unhealthy coping mechanisms in the meantime, but I grew to love the peace and quiet. I was highly displeased when dad was off work.

…Even when I called you, freaked the fuck out and alone in that house that did weird shit (day or night), you answered the phone. You sat and talked to me, calmed me down, as long as you could before you had to go to bed, do something with your now-husband, whatever.

Even 1,000 miles away…, you had not abandoned your mother-like duties to the literal baby sister you’d raised. You took me to theme parks, Disney on Ice, Laser Tag, bowling. You disciplined me when I deserved it. You apologized when you were wrong—something mom and dad never did. We did things like a family would—you, N, and I.

You tried to “police me” in terms to style and shit, like mom did. Again, trying to be a mom, even when it pissed me off. I never listened, just like I never listened to mom. “Pick your battles,” as you both said. …Though you like to pick more battles than mom did.

Now adults, we hang out, go to lunch, lounge around your house, do “adult-y” things. You have two kids. O is three, K a year on the 10th of July.

And yet…, I can still come to you for help, for advice, where I know mom would blow up, or get smug with “I-Told-You-So’s”; I know you’ll be there to lend an ear and give honest feedback.

…Sisi, I’ll never call you by your first name; it’s just weird. Maybe it’s fitting though. It’s a theme. You never call your mother by her first name. I couldn’t say your first name as a toddler, but… shit, I think “Sisi” stuck for a reason.

I’m sorry for being a little shit growing up. I’m sorry for saying the fucked up things I did as a teenager—for being so cold, not coming around when I should have, disappearing family the when we’d moved down here when I was 16, and never really truly returning. The mental disorders are no excuse for that.

You’ve always been a protector, loved me unconditionally, …been “mom” where our’s has failed. She’s not perfect, put up with a lot, taken a lot from dad, but you shielded me from what you could, when you could, from the both of them.

I hope you’ve forgiven me. I hope to god you can focus on our relationship now, at 22 and 32, as it’s much better than it’s been. If not, I hope I can do something to make it up to you. I hope you will someday

~Jessie

What Do You See Now?

What do you see in me?
Think about it.
Root it deep into your mind.
Have it?
Good.

Keep that in mind as I ask you this:

What do you see in me as I see what is not there?
As I watch objects morph into the unimaginable?
As I see people, auras, creatures…, monsters… slink around you,
genuinely frightened for your safety,
often unaware that these things are not truly there?

What do you see in me as I hear the sounds of the skeletons in my psyche’s closet?
The growls, groans, screeches of demons?
The banging of the fists of the abominations trapped inside my closet—my mind?
As I’m hunched over my desk,
hands over my ears,
tears in my eyes,
desperate to just make it fucking stop?

What do you see in me as I stumble through those days detached from our world,
entangled in the gnarled woodwork of my own?
As I glide hazy-eyed, affectless, with an inflectionless tone that typically carries more peaks and valleys than my mood cycles?
As I give laconic answers?
Or disjointed pieces of sentences being forced together from different puzzles entirely?

What will you see in me when I don’t remember any interaction we had during those days?
When I only see where the pages have been torn from the book of my life?
When I’m aware that those days happened, but have no written pages as to what exactly?
When I have only photographic glimpses from the damaged film of my eyes’ camera?

What do you see in me when you hear the word, “antipsychotics?”
Do you think, “Psycho,” “Crazy bitch,” “Nut job?”
Or do you pity me?
‘Poor thing…,’ ‘To have to go through that…,’ ‘She’s so young…’?
Can you sympathize,
being one of the poor bastards having experienced the same thing,
your opinion likely unchanging?
Or, lacking similar experience, do you think nothing different,
whether it be positive or negative?

I can almost guarantee it isn’t option three.

If you somehow find out,
and it is,
…thank you…

I Just Want You to Understand, Mom.

Mom,

“We’re medical people; we don’t understand all of that.”

The same response over and over when I try to tell you what it’s like to be rapid cycling bipolar I. To have Borderline Personality Disorder (that you denied for four years). To have a rare neurological disorder triggered by stress that even you doubted was real at one point. To have Generalized Anxiety Disorder despite having it yourself. To have been actively and passively suicidal since the age of 14, though I’m not now. You’ve even been telling me that I’ve been ADHD since the age of 13.

But if it doesn’t involve medication, you refuse to stop and listen.

“We’re medical people, your dad and I; we don’t understand all of the therapy and psychology stuff. We took that years ago in nursing school.”

Tch. Dad’s a recovering drug addict now. A changed man. Now an “expert in therapy” after a year in NA. He “knows everything”… and nothing at all.

You can’t stand to be around me for more than a couple of hours once or twice a week when I’m manic.

When I’m depressive.

When I’m in the middle of a conversion disorder episode—stuttering, the right side of my body dysfunctional, just losing chunks of time, having dissociative seizures, my vision tunneled, my hands not working well enough to even type.

When I’m having crippling anxiety attacks that leave me locked in my room, crying and shaking, or just shutting down completely and avoiding all work entirely.

I’m scared shitless, but you ghost on me because I’m “too stressful” to be around anymore with my mental health, my school stress, my work stress. All of my stress.

All of my past mental health issues have been too much, and you didn’t allow me to get the proper diagnoses to get proper treatment. “They’ll follow you for the rest of your life; they’ll label you. You’ll never be treated the same.” I finally told you to piss off and got diagnosed when my meds stopped working. Just depression was acceptable. You were diagnosed with depression; it’s okay to be clinically depressed. That’s “normal.”

You’d know about treating patients differently though. You do that to your own with psychiatric histories. Or you did, until karma bit you in the ass because your own kid was so borked in the head. You stayed with an abusive husband.

You’ve gotten meaner as you’ve gotten older, and the longer I’m around you, the meaner you get. I see you once or twice a week, sometimes every two…, three weeks. You’re sweet, loving. You tell me how much you miss me. You hop off my ass. You’re the “safe parent” I grew up with, even if you were meek and submissive back then. …Even if you’re defending dad now, comparing him and I despite him refusing to take responsibility for his behavior. Stockholm’s Syndrome. I swear.

Now, you just don’t listen. You don’t try to understand what I go through every day. The medication changes and side effects. The therapy. You know the medical bills because I’m still a student, on your insurance. You just don’t know what I deal with; you think you do.

“I’ve been doing that for years; buck up bucky. We’re all crazy. Just keep going.”

“Well, xxxx happened to me, and here I am.”

“You don’t have cancer; it could be worse. This won’t kill you.”

You have no idea. J literally saved my live. The friends I’ve made, all the way in Europe, thousands of miles away, have picked up your life. J, my Dutchie boyfriend, has been there for almost nine months now. He’s learned about every disorder, handled every manic episode when I become so erratic, so ragey, so spastic. HE takes care of me, from 5,000 miles away, where you can’t 30 minutes away.

Where are you? I appreciate the financial support; I need that despite hating the fact I rely on that through school. I don’t want it, but I have to have it. You’ve ghosted on me though when I’d needed you most.

Not that our household has ever been known for emotional support. Maybe that’s why I’m such an angry jackass now. At 22, an early-onset cynic.

I just want you to understand what I deal with on a daily basis.

You think you know. You don’t.

Tell me what it’s like to stop breathing normally, to wheeze and choke, just because psychological stress completely borks your Central Nervous System.

Tell me what it’s like to go without sleep for 61 hours, sleep for three, and go without for another 54 hours feeling completely refreshed. Snapping at friends, starting fights with your boyfriend over nothing… and fighting to control that manic brain but just losing the battle in the end.

Tell me what it’s like to vacillate between loving and hating your closest friends, reacting irrationally emotionally despite knowing it’s too much, to feel abandoned when you know damn well that person is still there (unlike you and dad)…

I could go on, but you’ve stopped listening a long time ago. I’m wasting my breath. I’ll be back for Sisi, Ollie, Kellan, Damon…, but when I’ve got my degrees, I’m out. Everything’s going well with J. I’m peacing out to the Netherlands. I’m staying. Don’t expect to hear much from me. I’ve tried to have functional relationships with you two.

I’m done. I can’t do it anymore.

I still love you, but you’re getting more and more toxic with age. For the sake of my mental health, I have to detach completely, and for good.

~Jessie

Would You Read This, Dad?

Dad,

I’m wondering what’s going on in your head anymore. I’ve moved out for college. I don’t see you much. I’ve asked mom, but she doesn’t really know anymore either. You’re still married. It’ll be 24 years this year on October 1st, together for 25 or 26. You’re… different… now though.

As of January 2016, you’re clean. We never knew you had a problem, and it was never a specific substance, nor illegal substances. You experimented as a teenager, but many do. You were just an all-around asshole growing up.

Your brain has been fried by the drugs. You’re more inert than a noble gas. You don’t stand up for yourself much anymore when you were once an angry jackass with an explosive temper. You’re quiet, wandering around in the landscape of your own warped psyche, lost in thoughts of… only you know.

I want to know what you’re thinking. I want to know what I can do to make you proud. I want to know what I can do to MacGuyver some kind of relationship with you. What we had growing up was superficial and brittle; it fell apart over the years and has long fallen to dust and blown away in the wind.

As much as I tell myself I’m fucking done trying to rebuild a relationship with you, that mostly-dead, five-year-old Jessie is still alive. By some miracle, she’s managed a weak pulse. Seventeen years is a hell of a long time to keep breathing with no hope. …Maybe it’s because we’re so damn stubborn.

Mom once told me you were a different person before you two married, before I was born. …Did that man die because of me? Mom thought she was too old, but you wanted me. You were 25 and mom 36 when I was brought into this world. Was I mistake? Did you realize you’d fucked up when you looked at that black-haired little jelly bean wrapped in a Minnie Mouse blankie?

Most of me despises you for what you did to me, to Sisi. She’s your step-daughter, and you still managed to mess her up to some degree. What you did to mom, too. God, did you goof big time there. More so than me, and you borked me pretty bad, too.

That little girl though… She feels like she failed you. She hates herself for that. She feels like you hate her.

In the back of my mind, I can always hear, “I want my daddy back. Please, just tell me how to make it better. Daddy, what did I do wrong? I can fix it. Just tell me how. I promise I’ll make it better.”

It hurts 22-year-old me. I just want her to let go and die peacefully. …But she’s a bull-headed fool…, just like me.

..That five-year-old misses you, dad. She wants you to come back. She remembers the softball games, sitting in the truck and playing the Question Game, listening to songs that she plays in my mind on repeat, sitting at the ICU nurses’ station and you shooting packets of sugar at her with tourniquets or spraying her with foam hand sanitizer with your coworkers. You laughed. She did too. I can see the grin on her face even without closing my eyes at the memories.

She watched the concerts we went to when I was older. She liked that. She wants that back. It was fake, but it looked like it was real. She pretends it was real, and she wants it to be real if it comes back again.

Until she gets it through her thick skull that it’s just not happening, that I’ve tried time and time again, I’m forced to continue. She doesn’t understand that you’re not coming back—that the person you were before I was born is dead, and the blip of that man she saw one night before you got clean was merely a ghost of the past.

So here we go again. Round… tch, 500 (?):

How can I fix this? How can I get through that barrier and into your mind? How can I find you and truly talk to you? Find that common ground we once had? Get you to really talk to me again? How do I re-connect with you before it’s too late?

Guardian Angel

My guardian angel isn’t in heaven.
She isn’t dead,
nor has she ever been dead.
She is very much alive,
and she lives about 15 minutes from me.
…Barring traffic doesn’t suck…

She doesn’t wear white robes garnished with golden sashes.
She doesn’t have glowing feathered wings.
Her hair is not white blonde hair, her skin not pale porcelain, nor her eyes a shimmering blue.
She wears torn jean shorts and printed t-shirts.
On rare occasions,
a pantsuit, but only when absolutely necessary.
Her hair is ashen brown and her eyes the color of milk chocolate; her skin has seen the sun during each season but bears no evidence of burn.

Hell, she wouldn’t get into heaven given the bible’s stringent rules if either of us believed in that,
which is bullshit.

My guardian angel is a 22-year-old college graduate with a business degree.
She’s a goddamn weeb,
she swears a metric fuckton,
she games,
and she works her ass off
…even for the assholes that don’t deserve it.

She is a mama bear.
Don’t dick with her cubs [read: her close friends].
You’re asking to get rekt.
(Seriously, don’t do that; I’ve seen the outcome.)
She’s a protector,
a giver,
a lover,
but also a fighter.
That last one is important.
Don’t forget that shit.
A grave mistake you will make.

Above all else,
she is my best friend.
If I could be half the person she is,
accomplish half of what she has at our age,
I’d like myself a hell of a lot more.

I love you, dude (#NoHomo ;D).
My dear Pseudo-Homo,
I owe you so much more than some stupid poem,
but I suppose…,
it’s a start.

Seventy-One Days

One week ago,
there was no countdown.
There was no excitement.
There was no talk of, “When you’re here…”
Now,
there is.

In seventy-one days,
I will pick your sleepy, jet-lagged ass up from the airport.
Here, only 22:30, 12/07/17.
There, already 06:30, 13/07/17.
I only get more excited as the days creep by.

In seventy-one days,
I will quite literally tackle you to the ground in the airport,
just settling in for the night,
and jolt it (and you) awake with the squeak of your name.
Your fellow passengers will likely look at me like I’m insane.
Fuck ’em.

In seventy-one days,
I will finally find myself locked in your embrace,
face buried in your chest,
(tall Dutch jackass),
and exhibit feminine, bitch-like behaviour involving tears of joy.

In seventy-one days,
after one-hundred-ninety-three days of unconditional love and support,
I will kiss you for the first time.
I will tell you to your face,
“Ik hou zo veel van jou…, mijn beertje,”
with a shit-eating grin on my face.
And I will love every second of it.

In seventy-one days,
I will sit in the back seat with you as you drift in and out of sleep,
speaking softly to you.
I will run my fingers through your hair,
a stupid grin on my face,
through the entire hour and a half car ride home.

In seventy-one days,
I will drag your tired ass inside,
put you to bed,
and shortly thereafter,
lay down beside you.

In seventy-one days,
I will drift off to sleep at your side,
in your arms,
and sleep peacefully…
for the first time in a long time.