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?

Three-Hundred-Thirty-One Days

The building pressure along several faults finally forced the slip.
Ravines split pale earth wide open;
vermillion rivers rushed forth from each canyon,
converged,
flowed downstream with the pull of gravity.

As one large mass,
it slowed.
Akin to jelly,
it crawled to the ocean.
Eventually,
it dumped into the ocean,
dispersed,
immediately followed by the aftermath of the secondary and tertiary waves of destruction.

When the ground stilled and the dust had settled,
the stains of the disaster were slowly washed away with the rain.
The cracks in the ground filled with the crimson goo unable to escape,
now solid,
forever more scaring the soil.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
The last round of earthquakes had stopped.
The pressures of the plates had eased,
but built again.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
New craters to heal,
lighten,
fade from the landscape.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
Only thirty-four days shy of one year earthquake-free.
Three times prior,
they’d returned.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
No warning.
The faults just slipped.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
Again,
dealing with the aftermath.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
Why did the earthquakes always return?

Set Sailing By a Scotsman Singing Sea Shanties from Afar

Shoved onto the ship and pushed from the shore with only a foot and a shit-eating grin, they were swept away by the rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean. They laughed and shook their heads. “A joke,” the two agreed; however, the pair soon discovered there were neither lifeboats nor paddles. The ship lacked a captain, a crew, a steering wheel—they were the sole occupants of the free-floating vessel. The joke quickly faded, and soon, each found themselves ensnared within the other’s grasp.

She was baffled. He struck her like a bolt of lightning—jolted a blackened, long dead heart to bare even a weak pulse. How? And…he? She…wasn’t…She was dumbfounded, in shock. The thought hummed in her mind, growing, until she could hear only the screams of the emotions she tried to smother—an art she’d perfected over the years that had now failed her. She could only spit the words silently in hiding, where he would never find them. The screams dulled to a tolerable, growling mumble once more. She could think, sleep, breathe again, even if the secret scribblings of frustration and fear tugged at the back of her mind both in and out of consciousness. What she did say came off as she they had first agreed upon: a joke. Or rather, she thought. Those short weeks passed, and the screams returned, consuming her entire being. Each breath, each movement, each waking thought and remembered dream, those buried words moved closer and closer to the surface.

Their exchanges were no longer a jest, their tones no longer playful, their smiles no longer teasing. They were genuinely sailing together. They were far from the shore, long past seeing it even on the horizon as the sun set behind them. Many kilometers away, they had unknowingly drifted into deep, pitch black waters. Once standing on opposite sides of the ship, they came to stand face-to-face. And with one, particularly powerful wave, shaking the massive boat to its very core, she stumbled into his arms.

She lifted her eyes to meet his, reading a warmth in them meaning nothing more than, “The joke has long been over,” as a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. And slowly, she smiled back. Her eyes lit up, catching the flicker of the shining stars above. Her confusion had been ripped away by the recession of the powerful wave that had pushed her to him. Her mind had calmed. Complete silence. She only murmured a soft, short response:

I know.

Again and Again

When you first said,
“You make me happy.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
could some pessimistic,
worrisome,
neurotic,
clusterfucked,
disorganized,
self-loathing,
son of a bitch like me make you happy?

I ask why,
remembering every time you tried to be optimistic,
tried to tell me,
“It’s going to be okay.”,
keep me from losing it,
only to be shut down—
remembering each time looking in the mirror,
seeing the jagged,
gnarled,
wounds that have only physically scarred,
thinking of how it will pain you to see those for the first time.

And yet here you sit,
sighing to yourself though with the same jovial lilt in your tone,
still saying,
“You make me happy.”,
again and again.

When you first said,
“I’m the lucky one.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was once more,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
are you the lucky one?
You put up with the tangled,
frayed,
fucked up little ball of crazy that is me.
You put up with the breakdowns,
the ASI,
the PSI,
the mood cycling,
the periods of unresponsiveness,
because I just… shut down.

I ask why,
remembering every night of silence,
every morning of sleepless panic,
every tear I’ve shed,
every tear you’ve shed at my own fault,
every medication rollercoaster,
every manic high,
every depressive low,
every mental break,
every frantic call,
every anxious question.
So tell me,
why are you the lucky one?

And yet here you sit,
chuckling a “For fuck’s sake” under your breath,
still saying,
“I’m the lucky one.”,
again and again.

When you first said,
“I love you.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was still,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
could anyone love… this?
A broken,
angry,
tired,
empty,
scarred husk of a… human being.
Am I human?
Who am I?
What am I?

I ask why,
seeing every character flaw,
looking at every physical imperfection,
remembering every shitty thing I’ve ever said,
ever done,
to you especially.

And yet here you sit,
shushing my protests,
still saying,
“I love you.”
again and again.

However,
you can’t shush me permanently,
Schat.

So, no
You make me happy.
Before you,
genuine smiles and true laughter…
Those were but long faded memories.

So, no.
I’m the lucky one.
Before you,
I hadn’t known what love was,
or what it was to be loved.

So, no.
I love you more.
Before you,
I was a lifeless,
shell of a creature,
merely going through the motions—
but you were a jolt of electricity,
striking a cold,
dead,
black heart.
You did the impossible:
you got a pulse.
You showed me that I am,
in fact,
still human.

You make me extraordinarily happy.
I am the luckiest person alive.
I love you very much.
Please don’t ever forget that.

~Little Bird

You Are

You are a massive fuckwit…

for even thinking that you are not good enough.
I should be,
I am,
the one,
thinking this,
saying this to you.
Every.
Single.
Day.

You are intelligent.

Not smart enough for psychology?
Really?
Then why do you know my tells?
How did you learn them so quickly,
and through text even?
“I’m not trained.”
I, however, am in training,
and it looks like you’re learning through osmosis, love.

You are a kind soul.

If you weren’t,
our paths would have never crossed.
We’d be running parallel,
never intersecting,
never tumbling to the ground in a head-on collision,
and never deciding to hang around and talk,
even after making sure the other was okay.

You are a patient man.

You, one of the few, picked up every shard of a broken woman,
piercing,
potentially venomous,
without a second thought.
And when she hurt you,
when those shards pierced your flesh,
drew blood,
more than once,
you smiled.
You held on.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
The woman cried;
you took every fragmented piece of her for who she was.

You are the better.

“You deserve better.”
You fucking muppet.
Your words were a punch straight to the chest;
I couldn’t breathe.
“Why?”
I asked.
Two reasons you gave me—
I shut them both down in four minutes.
I would have only needed two had I not been typing.

You are my better.

I’d never found my better here,
because it is currently seven time zones,
5,150 miles,
8,288 kilometers,
and an entire ocean away.
They say every person has their perfect match,
a single person out of 7.4 billion,
and what if we’ve found our’s?

You are too good for me.

How did I,
some angry,
shattered,
defective,
little ball of crazy meet you?
Capture you?
And somehow,
despite making you bleed far too many times,
keep you?

You are my better,
and for reasons I have yet to comprehend,
I am your better.

Usstan che dos.
愛してる。
Я люблю тебя.
Te amo.

~Little Bird

Just a Little Bit of Happiness

“Do you even know what he looks like?”

You really ask me that?
Honestly,
I thought you’d be happy for me.
For us.
You know what I’ve dealt with,
lately in particular.
I can’t just have this little bit of happiness?

“He’s only seventeen.”

And just who the fuck are you to judge?
Twice your age,
not that it particularly matters,
but playing petty games even?
You’re to blame too, you know.
I told you as a friend.
I thought we were friends, anyway…
I just want a little bit of happiness.

“That’s some serious long distance.”

Really?
Fucking really?
Sure,
you two aren’t quite as far,
but you aren’t particularly close either.
How many miles?
Cross country, yeah?
Goddamn hypocrite.
I need just a little bit of happiness.

“I thought you weren’t into guys…”

Ever heard of fluidity?
I’ve had so much trouble,
so much fucking trouble,
with my sexual identity—
had to defend it to my mother for ten years.
And here,
someone who dares call me a friend,
tries to shatter that?
I deserve just a little bit of happiness.

Don’t take your problems out on him.
Don’t spit your acid,
mess with his head,
cause him astronomical amounts of pain,
confusion,
suffering,
because you refuse to face your own fucking problems.

Don’t call me a chameleon,
accuse me of “blaming my pills”,
not taking responsibility,
calling me my fucking father.

I will have just a little bit of happiness,
and you will not ruin it because you cannot find your own.