One of the hardest things in the world to do is to pretend to be optimistic and hopeful when you are in fact very sad inside.
There really is no other option, of course, no way out of the situation. You can't simply go around in abject (or at least openly abject) misery, giving in to the despair. Doing that leads you to where I was a year ago: your life in shambles, your grades in the gutter because you've stopped caring about anything, your parents suspicious and oblivious at the same time, your friends non-existent, and your thoughts ever lingering on the sweet dream of ending it all.
That is where bowing down to the grief takes a person.
With that understood, pretenses must be kept.
I have to go to work every day, have to smile, have to laugh at other people's jokes, and, of course, have to make jokes of my own. That's what's expected of me; I'm the zany one, the funny one, the eccentric kid who's always good for a rib. The truth is, though, that I don't feel much like kidding around.
The chuckles are hollow, and eventually meaningless. At the end of the day I leave the movie theater, go home, and am alone.
I have no friends.
I don't know why I'm making that confession, that embarrassing confidence, here on the Internet. There is something about speaking with strangers that enables you to pour your heart out in a way you wouldn't be capable of with those you know.
So I have no one. I have my family, those bound to me by blood. Beyond that I am left pining, yearning for a companionship that doesn't come. Certainly, there are those at work with whom I fraternize, friendly acquaintances who I feel familiar enough with to even hug.
It ends following the conclusion of my shift, though. Black Dress Girl has said that we should hang out some time. I don't know if it will actually happen. It very well could, and if it did a real friendship would probably blossom given our compatiblity.
The majority of my co-workers live in Western City, though, and I live in Mountain Town. I will go to the next employee premiere we have. It would be something to get me out of the house.
After all, as my brother Powell says, it's not that I'm not liked. Too often, circumstances have simply conspired to deprive me of the company I long to have.
What kills me the most is that things weren't always like this. I was once a very happy person, with many friends and an excellent support system. There was a time, as recently as four years ago, when I described my own life as "perfect."
Maybe that's why four years seems so long ago. It's really not that great a span, but it was so different as to belong to a separate world entirely. When I try, on occasion, to recall the last time I was content and enjoyed living, the last time I was really happy beyond a momentary distraction, my mind inevitably takes me back to four years in the past.
I don't live there, mind you, don't pretend that those times haven't ended. Still, I don't kid myself into believing that things aren't much worse now than they were at an earlier point. My past gladness, rather than giving me a refuge into which I can retreat, provides ample memories with which I am tortured as I dream.
We moved here halfway through my Senior Year of high school, something I regret now more than I did at the time it happened. Of course, it seemed okay then. I won a hard-fought victory against the school board allowing me to continue going to Rich County High School that I today recognize as having been a serious error.
I finished out my last year of high school at Rich County, was invited to several graduation parties, attended, and had a great time surrounded by my classmates. Then, however, came the double vise: within a week of semester's end, I found myself in a different town than the rest of my graduating class, where, to boot, I had never attended high school and so knew no one my own age.
In college I was...if not loathed, certainly openly disliked. My Freshman Year was an unmitigated disaster. In October of 2006 I actually came home from school one weekend and shaved my head, a stunt that a certain pop star would repeat several months later.
There must be something archetypical in that act.
One of the most difficult things about where I am right now is that the height of my anguish has long passed. I am not entrenched in suffering, haven't sunken into it the way I did in 2006 and 2007. Suicide is no longer one of the most comforting ideas to enter my head.
The worst had passed by the middle of last school year, but once it was gone things didn't return to the way I thought they should be. The absence of total abandonment, and my return from emotional collapse, did not equate happiness.
All it led to was a void, where full joy could not blossom but full sadness only occasionally raised its head. The bad bouts come and go. Sometimes I feel horrible, other times I merely have a dull ache. That ache never completely leaves me. There are days when I wish the horrendous despair on myself again, if only to sweep away featurless melancholy.
Last night that desire came to me.
It was around one in the morning, and I was preparing for bed. I'd come upstairs to clean up the kitchen quickly before going to sleep, and standing in the empty room I was seized with a sense of such awful loneliness that it made me want to weep. I turned out the lights over the countertop, rounded the corner, and headed for the stairs.
As I passed I caught view of our dog, Millie, sleeping on the couch. She's a wiener dog, small and very sweet, a loving thing, and in that instant I had a profound desire to pet her.
I tore the iPod headphones from my ears, walked swiftly over the couch (swiftly enough that I think I may have startled her), sat down, and began stroking her head. I just wanted badly, so badly, to feel the warmth of another living thing next to me, to feel loyalty and affection without any type of strings.
Sitting there, moving my hand over her short fur, I began to cry. I did not weep in any serious measure, mind you; I don't do that anymore. I think I cried myself out two years ago, a time in my life when I would wake up crying, go to bed crying, and spend half the day in between crying.
The shower in particular was a repository for my tears. It was perfect: warm, steamy, already wet, and with a lot of backgroud noise to conceal what I was actually doing. Some days I probably spouted more water than the faucet.
Ever since then, I've found it nearly impossible to get my tear ducts pumping. The critical release that that activity provides has been denied me since 2007, and often I find it maddening. I was thankful for the brief respite last night, but it was gone in a matter of seconds.
Then I just lay down, Millie at my side, and closed my eyes for a bit. Several minutes later I got up, wiped the moisture away, and went downstairs.
Before going to bed I performed my fifty crunches, a ritual I insist on adhering to regardless of how tired I may be. In times of flux (or what I pray to God is flux), I find myself clinging to my routine, the only thing I really have left to keep me stable. I must push ahead no matter what. If I didn't I'd probably go insane.