I didn't want to write this. I had to write this.
Everyone tries to tell you that they understand what you're going through. That they went through something like it, that they knew someone who was the same as you, or whatever.
But here's the first fact of life: No one ever knows what you're going through.
Not even people who have experienced the exact same thing as you have. Even they don't understand for the simple fact that they are different people than you. And they never will be able to truly understand because no one, not even identical twins, process information in the exact same way.
We are all different. We are all individuals. No two of us are alike.
At least that's what they tell us, right?
I remember when I first stopped believing in God.
Up until that point, I had done my due diligence in a religious town with a religious set of parents. I had tried everything I could to believe. I had gone to church each weekend, said a prayer before eating my evening meal, and had prayed for my grandmother as she lay on her death bed. In fact, this last event had made a believer, back in the late fall of 2007 when her organs slowly began killing themselves, one by one by one. I made a vow to be a good person for the rest of my days so long as she was allowed to live. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and the next morning, everything stopped, and she woke up. She was still a vegetable, but she was alive.
God was so good.
He gave me a great life, with great friends. I loved my family. I loved my school. I loved being in theatre. And I gave it my all, despite everything that went against it. I did not resent my family for resenting my passion. I did not resent my friends for going farther than I ever could. I smiled and kept going on. I was a good person. And God was good.
August 24, 2008. That's the day I stopped believing. The morning before, I had woken up to a voicemail from my best friend who'd been having some mental health issues. The voice mail was four seconds long, but it haunts me still to this day.
If four white walls in a sterile room could make a noise, that's what it would sound like.
Four seconds of this.
And that was it.
She would not answer her phone all day. Her mother would not answer her phone all day. No one knew where she was. I didn't think much of it. She was often in hospital visits for hours on end.
The next afternoon, my mom sat me down on the couch. And she told me the terrible truth. My best friend was no longer around. That morning, she had taken too many pills. And she was gone.
And all I had left of her were those four seconds of sterile silence.
I couldn't understand. I had been a good person. I had sacrificed so much of myself to her over the past year with her health issues, and had made sure to always be there for her. And yet she was gone. Everything I had done, was for absolutely nothing. It was as if I didn't even matter.
She was dead.
So was God.
But no one prepares you for that pain. And no one tells you that it will last years longer than you had ever dreamed.
If I could describe the feeling of depression, the best one I could come up with would be this: It's like laying in your bed in your room, with the large window wide open. But you're turned away from it, and instead staring at the world outside through a large mirror. It is the perfect reflection of the world that goes on outside of your door, but it is only that. A reflection. Backwards. And you are in your room staring at the window on the wall showing you the life that you are unable to lead. And all you want is to turn around, and open that door, and join in. But you're shackled down.
That's what it feels like. At least to me.
But the thing about depression is that it's not always there. There would be times, years on end, when I would be outside the door, enjoying life for all that it was. But the other part about depression, is that sometimes, when you're least expecting it, you go lie down on your bed, turn around, and stare at the mirror again. Back and forth. For years on end, it doesn't end.
But I'm not one to break a promise. I still had to be a good person. That motto got me through the rest of my days. The thought that maybe if I continued to be a good person, give all of myself to the people around me, that maybe, just maybe, I would be enough. That life would grant me an award.
If I tried hard enough, one day my selflessness would give me what I truly desired from the world. An end to the nights in my bedroom, crying as I stared at the window.
And so I gave everything I could to those around me.
I loved with more than my whole heart. Most would say that that's impossible, but I just about went into debt as I maxed out the amount of love in my heart, always giving more and more. More to my friends. More to my family. More to the people and the things that mattered to me. I spent many nights sleepless throughout the rest of high school because I was busy giving so much, trying so hard for the people around me. This girl was having problems in school so I would do everything to help her. These friends in a relationship were struggling, so I did everything I could to keep them together because only I could see what they were truly meant to be. I had friends in three different groups in school, none of whom associated with one another, and so I would spend my forty-minute long lunch breaks walking from one group to another, checking up on each of them, giving all of myself that I could for that ten minute period before I had to go check up on the next one.
That mirrored room threatened to drag me under for so much of those two years. And no one even knew. Not my parents. Not my friends. No one asked or cared enough to figure out why sometimes I just couldn't be around people. No one called to ask me how I was. I doubt that even my closest friend had any idea how close I got to drowning myself in the bathtub on more than one occasion from the years of 2008-2011, or could see the faint scars on my legs and arms that have faded with age and cream. I gave everything I could for the people around in the hopes that one of them would give something to me. Selfish and selfless, all at once. The living anomaly.
Sometimes I would get a few thank you's. Rarely. Once in a while someone told me that they appreciated what I had done. That occurrence was even more rare. But never someone asking me how I was.
In early 2011, I felt myself waking up and spending the majority of my time outside of that mirrored room. I was happy with life, with my job, and my friends, and with the new college I would be transferring to in the Fall. Everything, for once, was going completely right. But what was the real reward?
In the first weeks of April, my father came home telling me that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Within four months, he was gone. If God hadn't been dead to me already by that point, he sure as hell would have by then.
Less than two weeks after my father passed away, I was moving to Southern California to try and start a new life at a new school. The majority of days were spent in my literal bed, in my dorm room, hearing the raving college life going on outside of my window. Some nights, when my pot head roommate would leave the window open as she went out to her newest rave, I would stare at the sky as I sat in my bed, and saw it move before me, in a kaleidoscope of colors.
But I persevered. I gave everything I ever could over the years that followed. Loved my friends so much that I sacrificed them over myself. Would stay up late with them, help them through their problems, and pay my own price for it the next day. Whenever encountered with the opportunity, I gave all of my heart to someone who I thought had been deemed worthy of it.
And time after time I paid the price.
Time after time, I told myself that I needed to stop giving my heart in such a way. Of giving so much of myself. But how does one change who they are?
All I've ever wanted to do was make a difference in the world. Back in the eighth grade, back when I first started writing, and I read The Diary of Anne Frank, I knew that I had to be as great as Anne had been. That I had to be as selfless, and that the one thing I needed to do was make a difference in the world.
It's difficult to decide what kind of a difference I would chose to make. Surely, I would be no one near as great as Anne. She changed the world for years and years to come. But I wanted to change at least one person's life. I wanted to be enough for at least one person. It's a difficult thing to describe. My goal, should I continue on the desire to become a novelist, is that I should publish something that change the world, either to a whole group of people, or to one person. I want to write something that would inspire people like me to want to be a better person, who also wants to make the world a different place and so on and so forth.
It's hard to keep up this goal when faced with such a selfish world.
Time after time, I give up so much of myself that often I forget who I am. It's true, I don't have much going on for myself. An attitude, humor, and a heart. And I'll give it all up to anyone who I cross paths with.
What else is there to me?
Nothing worth bothering about.
The world has no time for people like me. It chews us up, swallows us whole, and then spits us back up. People will take anything from you that they can get.
They will take your attitude, tell you that everything about it is wrong and that you need to change. "You're too negative, the world is so much brighter than you want it to believe."
They'll take away your sense of humor, tell you that you're hilarious, but it's not appropriate. "You're too cryptic, it's too negative, it's too dirty. Keep pretending to be something that you're not."
And then they'll take the last thing you have, your own heart. "You give it up too easily, guard it with all you have. What's wrong with you, why do you refuse to let people in?"
What am I left with after the whole world has taken everything that I have? Who am I without any of this? Who was I to begin with?
People often wonder why I hate people. Why I don't trust the world around me. But it's as they're all selfishly taking pieces of me, telling me that I'm wrong, that I need to change. That I need to pretend to fit into this little box of expectations of me that they have and that's the only way that I'll be happy. That if I pretend long enough, then my smile will become permanent and I'll have no worries for the rest of the day.
They just don't understand.
I hate the world because I give so much of myself to the world around me, and yet it continues to disappoint me. The world continues to force me into the box that is the mirrored window room, shackled down to the bed. And all I want is to be released from this box. All I want is for someone to show me that they're not like the rest of the goddamn selfish world.
Because I may not know what I am, but I know what I am not. I am not selfish.
I cannot think of one instance where I have ever done anything solely for me. I can't even make decisions on what movie to go see, because I think of what if the people around me want to do something different. I've been miserable on my own birthday because the people who are around to celebrate with me have obviously been forced to do so, out of guilt for me doing the same to them, as I'll go to them whenever and for whatever they could possibly desire.
I am not selfish, and yet the world treats me as if I were such. It denies me the few things I desire in this world. And I take it. I let the world give me it's best shot, and I persevere, still trying to be a good person in the world, still giving everything I have to the people around me. Someday, I will find someone like me, I promise myself.
There has to be someone out there who understands me.
Anyone out there who understands me at all.
I know deep down that I am all alone. The problem is with people like me is that we put on a face and pretend to be people that we aren't. We blend into society, and it's easy to look ourselves over, glance past them, even though they understand us completely. What would it be like if two of these people were to encounter each other and see the other for who they really are? The two most selfless people in the entire world.
It might collapse, I feel. If the two most selfless people in the world were the only two people in the room, they would be forcing themselves upon the other, trying to help them in any way that they can. Except, that's where the problem would arise. One of them would be forced to be selfish, but because of that, they would be denying it, try to force the other to be selfish. The world would implode, because the selfless people would be forced to be selfish, and then maybe, just maybe, the world might continue as normal, but one of them would be left alone because the other would give in.
And then that selfless person would be left alone again. I might be left alone again.
It's amazing how much the threat of a mirrored room will keep me going. It's amazing how much my own guilt will keep me going too.
The thought that if I stop being positive for even a minute, my whole world is condemned. The fact that I'm sorry not only for sharing my feelings, but for having any at all. Selfless people have feelings too. I have feelings.
I wish that all this time when I would comfort those around me had even bothered to ask me what my feelings were. And for all the times that they had, I wish I hadn't felt so guilty for wanting to share them. And so I push them down, because I don't want anyone else in the whole world to feel even one-tenth of what I feel.
It would simply be too much.
And so I hide them, and I hide myself.
It's true what they say, sometimes you can give so much of yourself that you don't know who you are at the end of the day. The me that I know is the person who gives so much of themselves. And I'm ok with that. I would much rather be a selfless person and give every ounce of me that I possibly could, even if the world is a terribly selfish place. I can take it. I'd rather take the pain than see anyone in the world I know go through something similar.
And so I wait in fear of the mirrored room. I live in fear of being shackled down to my bed once again. I live in fear of having no one at my funeral. I live in fear of dying alone. I live in fear of living life for myself.
Because I do not live for myself. I live for those around me.
Lately, I've come to the conclusions that maybe that has to change. That maybe I should spend some time trying to figure out who I am, rather than trying to change the world, one person at a time. Perhaps that I should try and not be a liar every day of my life, and start to show my emotions, and become selfish. That's asking a lot from me. In part because that involves changing every thing about me that I have ever known. But also because it requires me to face myself.
And in this time, I've attempted to find something close to religion. Perhaps what I need to do is find God again. All these years I've still been praying, but rather than to anything in particular, I pray to my Dad. I've been praying that my dad will help me through these times, and make everything work out for me in the end. If there's anything I've ever aspired to be more than to be a person that makes a difference, it's to be as selfless and as forgiving as my father.
And that's something about me that you'll never know unless you ask. Because when people say that they understand, they never truly understand. They'll never know that the grief of my life has turned me from religion to family, and to be a selfless person in a selfish world. No two people are alike.
I am as changing as the kaleidoscope colors of the sky.