I have a strong desire to prove myself. Perhaps one of my best and worst talents is my ability to disappear completely for weeks, months at a time and then reappear shortly after. I am shiny and new. I have a new hairstyle and new makeup and my clothes are clean and wrinkle free. And I talk fast and about many new things and I bake and drink (but not too much to cause worry) and go to parties and dance. Nobody asks me where I’ve been. Nobody wonders because I am fine! I’m thin (but not too thin to cause worry) and clean. Look at me, I’m great, so there’s no need to ask. No one ever wonders unless you tell them. Nobody will care if you’re actually okay as long as you give the impression that you are.
Sometimes I slip. I guess I’m not afraid to disappear, to die. I am careless with my drug use, I never wear a seat belt until someone brings it up. I tend to stay in bed all day if there are no other obligations pulling me away. I like to lie in bed watching movies, listening to music and the footsteps of my roommates outside my door, with the covers tucked up to my chin and a glass of wine perched between my index and middle fingers. No one to bother or expect anything from me. I forget to eat. I drink entire bottles of wine. The hardest part about being an adult is that you’re supposed to feed yourself and bathe and work; you’re just expected to do all of those things on your own.
The first time I disappeared, I was eighteen and I was a mess. My parents and I had not been getting along for some time so I packed a bag with cardigans and summer dresses and left home. It’s difficult to imagine that bad things can happen when the weather is so dang nice. I moved in with a boy that I had been dating for not much longer than I had known him and proceeded to fuck up every good thing remaining in my life. I stopped talking to friends, I called out of work sick too often, I smoked packs of cigarettes a day, I spent all of my money on things that I don’t even own anymore. I smoked weed constantly, I took acid, I took mushrooms, I did DMT, and ecstasy, anything I could get my hands on to distract me. I slept very little and I stayed up all night reading and writing feverishly and when I got tired I put my cigarette out on my thigh to wake myself up again, leaving a perfect circle of burnt flesh in it’s wake. When I ran out of vices, I made a friend who sold heroin. The months passed by in a daze. I threw up at work constantly, I was listless and pale, I lost weight, I stopped going out in the daylight. Pieces of balled up tin foil littered the floor of the room I shared with the strange boy who touched me but didn’t know me or even try. No one ever said anything. We began to sleep with our backs turned toward each other; two strangers sharing a makeshift bed. After almost a year had gone by, my parents took me back into their home. They fed my decaying body and gave me a bed and clothed me and sent me to a therapist that I could never be honest with and bought me an expensive haircut. I still had my job and my old friends decided to converse with me once more. I cut off ties from the heroin dealers and the addicts and the people I had known. I stopped dating the boy I never cared for. It was almost as though nothing had ever happened. My parents continuously reminded me of how incredibly lucky I was, so I just decided they were probably right.
Years later, I attempted my disappearing act for a second time. The love of my life and best friend gave me news that he was leaving. His parents were moving two hours away to Riverside, California and he was going with them. He didn’t have a job, he didn’t have a home, so he couldn’t have me. He could have gotten a job, he could have gotten a home, he could have kept me. But he didn’t because I wasn’t important enough. The first week that I went without him, I did nothing but cry. My family stayed away from my bedroom and my friends would call every now and then, but mostly they stopped after I stopped answering. I had been dropped and cracked and forgotten like a china doll. There is no novelty in a broken girl. Something that year just clicked on in my brain. I began counting the calories of everything I ate in a day, if I ate anything at all. I panicked and cried for hours if I consumed more that five hundred calories a day. I meticulously wrote down every item of food I put into my body. I stopped going to class and started sitting outside Moorpark College chain smoking and listening to my iPod while eating my allotted amount of baby carrots for the day. Instead of spending time actually talking to people, I would go to the gym and run on the treadmill for hours at a time in an over-sized sweatshirt and sweatpants. It did not help me that my parents purchased the gym membership that I chose to destroy myself with. They never wondered why I was skipping dinners, the complimented my choice to be “healthier”. The most strange thing to me is that my parents eventually found the notebook in which I tracked my intake and instead of expressing concern, they asked, “When are you going to begin exercising again? We miss when you had such a healthy lifestyle”.
There was one night where I made a choice to have dinner with a few of my friends. I hadn’t seen them in a very long time so I pulled myself together and drove them to the restaurant and ordered a meal and ate. I then proceeded to panic about the amount of food I had just consumed. The chatter in my brain became so loud, I had to excuse myself to the restroom to empty the contents of my stomach into the toilet. I came back to the table minutes later, my eyes slightly watering and everyone knew, but nobody spoke.
A year and a half and twenty pounds later, Kevin moved back and told me he loved me and suddenly (stupidly) my life was worth living once more. It was almost as though I had never been abandoned in the first place. He didn’t notice the way my bones lay awkwardly against him when he rested his head on my chest to listen to my heartbeat.
The third time I attempted to end it all was haphazard and disastrous. The weather became too cold again. November always breaks my heart. I got a new job after losing my old one. Instead of training me, my boss would give me prescription pain killers and muscle relaxers because once I told him my neck ached. He was prescribed them for problems and I learned how to fake pain to get what I wanted to make it through the day. My job became dull and arduous and I slipped into yet another period of my life where all I wanted to do was sleep. The drive to work was an hour long and I would chain smoke the entire way and stare into every headlight of every passing car and wonder what it would be like to veer into one headfirst. But I didn’t want to hurt anyone else in the process of my own destruction. I had friends over almost every night. They brought wine and beer and whiskey and rum and they drank as much as I did so I thought it would be okay. I spent the majority of my free time smoking weed and slashing my wrists in the bathtub while watching movies. One night I noticed my boss had left several of his pills in the office. I took them. I don’t know why. I pocketed them and left and later that night I ingested them one by one with a bottle of wine.
I waited. I laid down and slept, but unfortunately, my body rejected the poison and I woke up and vomited over the side of my bed before passing out again. The next morning I woke and I cried and I couldn’t move my arms or my legs and my head was a heavy rock stuck to my pillow. I had to call out of work. A few days later, I told my friend and all she did was buy me wine. I told Kevin and all he did was say that what I did was horrible. “That’s so dumb”, he replied to my sobs, without emotion.
I didn’t want to be thought of that way. I let it go. I moved on with my life and left my hometown. The breakup between us was so bad that I had to move to another city to get over it. The lack of interesting, caring people I knew hurt so much that I wanted to go somewhere where I could get away from everything and meet completely new people and be the person that I was without judgement from anybody. Judgement stung too much and I was too sad. I didn’t know what it is about my move, but everything looked and sounded and felt so good, like pictures and songs and air. I felt as though maybe i had been drugged or something, but everything was so vibrant then and just months before that everything was so bleak and blank and flat. It’s weird what being in a new place can do for a person.
I was so happy, but it felt undeserved. I was always waiting for something bad to happen. And when it did, I spent four days in bed. I was fired from my job. I was so afraid that I would have to move back to my parents’ house. One of the last things Kevin said to me was, “You’ll be there six months, run out of money, and have to move back”.
Those words resonated in my head. I locked myself away in my room and ignored everyone. Even the one who cared so much about me; the man I left my heart with. Vance noticed. He was the only person in all of my life who noticed when something was wrong with me and he didn’t take it lightly. He called me every day, he said he worried for me, he sent me photos of his blood. He bled for me. And when I realized that I wasn’t alone for the first time in my life, I called him and he listened to me. And I moved on. And I found a new job. And I stayed alive and I thrived and I overcame and I survived and I made goals and plans and had dreams for the first time since I was sixteen years old. I was alive.
Sometimes, I want to die. I know it would be easier to cease to exist. I know that people in my life would be sad, but it wouldn’t matter. I would be gone. There’s so much in me, though, that I can’t make sense of, both physically and not, and sometimes I think I should take an anatomy class to understand how everything works but then that would probably just make me think even more. The way things work and humans minds work is wonderful, there’s so much connected to everything but I feel like my synapses are always misfiring, I can’t say what I mean to say. And I think sometimes it’s worth exploring. I can’t wreck people or myself anymore. I need to get my act together. I need to chill the fuck out.