I have always been alone.
Take Kindergarten: I have little bits of memory, carved at the back of my mind from my first days of school. I can almost feel my six year old self reaching out, searching for a look of recognition reflected in the lights of other’s eyes.
There is the pretty girl with the dark bangs cut bluntly halfway up her forehead. There is the boy that all the girls chase at lunchtime every single day. I watch her eat french fries. I tell a joke. He rolls his eyes at me.
I go through my list of dreamy snapshots from that time and I can’t remember a single moment that I didn’t feel the crush of isolation.
Fast forward to seventh grade. My parents are in the last stages of splitting up and I cover my head with a pillow every night to muffle their screaming. My mom’s best friend has just died of AIDS. I decide to stop eating when I’m hungry to see how long I can let the acids burn at the lining of my stomach. At school I sit on a bench by myself with the heaviness of the entire world on my shoulders. I stay like this until halfway through the year when a group of grunge kids take me under their wings. One girl reads me stories she’s penned herself that involve a lot of knives and blood. Her rebellion is beautiful and it scares me. I keep myself closed tight but they still love the person that I am. I live through their creative expressions. They are artists and I am nothing. They will be my support by just being themselves, scribbling Nirvana lyrics on their jeans, and I will survive because of them.
Now it’s my first year of high school. My grandpa has just died and I don’t feel anything. My cousin dies and I don’t feel this either. My mother moves away and I am just fine. I starve myself, living off a fucked up diet of white rice an red vine licorice. I ditch my friends from Jr. High and hem my skirts at a length high up my thigh. The empty attention I get from men is the only thing that feeds the enormous vacant space in my chest.
It’s a month into my sophomore year and I’m pregnant. I decide I will be the best mother I can be and continue to go to school, tiny and round, with a load of books on my back. I get transferred to a “continuation school”(a nice sounding term for “school for knocked up teens and other fuck-ups”) and I get a job. My friends are around but who wants to hang out with a breastfeeding, tired as hell, mother when there are parties to go to and cigarettes to be smoked? I spend my days and nights watching Barney and playing card games with my boyfriend who does not understand me.
Here I am on my wedding day. I turned twenty a couple months ago. The father of my child has stuck around. I show my appreciation by giving up every dream I’ve ever had. We stand in front of all our family and friends and I pretend that this is exactly what I want. He is one of my very best friends, yes, but there is an entire sky full of possibility outside these windows that I am choosing to shut out. I am under the impression that there are only two sides to every question and that the question must always be answered. No one knows how I feel and that puts me at an even greater distance.
I am twenty-six. I’m a mother to three now and I make the most spectacular chocolate cake. My house smells like cinnamon and I fill it with warm colors. I sit at my window wishing that my children had a better mom because all I can think about is dying. I pencil half poems in my journal and cry into my coffee for hours at a time. I have friends who live scattered in other parts of the country and they tell me to keep on living. They tell me there are reasons to wake up every day.
It’s my twenty-seventh birthday and I am celebrating it by splitting up with my husband. I allow this to be an opportunity to dive head first into who I really am and come out to my family and friends. I freefall into the wildest, rawest depression I’ve ever known. I date women who get off on my naivety. My history is nothing to them. I am caught between two worlds.
Here is twenty-nine. I am about to move to Mexico with my girlfriend, my ex-husband, his girlfriend, and our kids. I have a feeling this girl and I are not going to last. I look back on the last two years and wonder what kept us together. I have changed and feel just under the surface of something amazing. I begin to see that I have always been alone and that I always will be. I start to peel back the layers of so much bullshit.
Now I’m thirty. I break up with my girlfriend and feel weightless. I’m a little shocked from the sudden unraveling of all that has kept me together and I stumble to find some ground. I see that there is someone I’ve neglected for quite some time. I decide to make friends with myself.
I am happy for the first time in my life.