3AM finds me an empty girl in an empty parking lot. Tears glaze my dull stare as I inspect the true weight of the black booklet in my hands. I store all of my goodbyes within its pages and then tuck it away under my pillow. I fall asleep each night with the tips of my fingers always on the edge of its cover—somehow, it’s a comfort to me. It’s a back door, an emergency exit that makes this life feel a little less like a trap—it eases my suffocation.
Christmas has just passed, and I could swear that the Earth has never hosted a harsher winter. The New Year is rung in while I am at home with a ringing head and trembling hands. There is some storm brewing in my gut demanding action, the black book at my side is screaming for my attention—but there is still one last dying spark in my shattered heart, crying that it was never meant to be this way.
And just as I’d begun to believe that everything true to me had long been drained away, determination rises hot in my chest. The black book is in my hands, and I am tearing out page after deadly page, weakly proclaiming through gritted teeth and beneath floods of tears that I will not live to die.
In the place of death, I write myself back to life.
I fill pages with the names of people who love me, things I have yet to see, places I have yet to visit, adventures I have yet to play a part in, feelings I felt once and desperately want back again. I make lists of lives I have yet to live.
I sing these lines as a lullaby to myself as I fall asleep that night. When I wake up, it is to the same fearful world I’d just left. Only now there is one small flicker of hope in the midst of the murk; I have found something to fight for.
There is a girl up there, in my head, somewhere—trapped beneath a thick cloud of depression and insecurity. She is screaming for help, and I will not desert her.
At first, therapy feels like being passed from room to room just to sit in chair after chair in the same position of shame and judgement, and I start to wonder if I shed more tears in the parking lot of psychologists’ office buildings than I ever did over my decision to die or my decision to live.
Soon, though, I find the right room.
There are flowers and incense and a machine that plays the sound of rain and pillows and a window that lets in just enough light to remind me that the day is still continuing on outside.
There are still times when I’m certain it does me no help at all—sometimes I still turn to drinks at night just for the sleep and self-harm just for the release. There are old voices in my mind that still need weeding out, always holding that I am broken straight to my core, rotten in a way that no one can cure. They whisper that I must remember who and what I am—we must be realistic here, dear; don’t get too optimistic, dear—but I respond that I do.
At the rise of every false claim made against me by my mind, I take to the walls. I scribble “beloved” and “precious” and “daughter” in every color and across every space I can find until my heart finally begins to accept them as words that belong to me. When my mind tells me I am alone and unloved and unworthy, I write down every person who would take my call if they got one and console myself with the sight of each letter.
When that voice swells up in false narration, dares to drag me down, spitting out insults that were born in someone else’s mouth, I scream until I sob that I will not be made into anything other than what I am. I will not be the actions taken against me or the pain of another soul; I will not be the names they have called me or the things I cannot control.
I take my head in my hands and tell myself gravely that I must never forget—every particle of the universe has been rushing forward in anticipation to meet me here. Every atom of the stuff that makes up every star is the same beautiful stuff that also makes up all of my parts.
I am beauty, kindness, love, and patience. I am every good thing. I am whatever I choose to create within myself, and I choose to go after the light.
Beneath all the dark and the grit, there is a girl fighting.
Breaking her out—being OK—it will take time.
But I am worth waiting for. And this life is worth fighting for.