We begin, crying. As infants, the absence of language fills our lungs with sound. We speak in gibberish, wail in code, our eyes filling with unnamed feeling. The very water we need to survive, gliding off our cheeks; what we give-up to feel.
As we get older, our too-tiny frames are the wrong size for our feelings. Little boys whose fingers tap drum solos into desks and girls who fall in love with every kid in their class at least once: kindergarten love notes for the ones who could write love songs with the energy in their forefingers. Kids who run away from home to the park, or under the dinner table, anywhere but their room with their books and their socks and their teddy bears---where things are supposed to make sense.
Once we've braved adolescence, it's supposed to get easier. Our bodies have grown proportionally to our lungs, our toes, our hearts. We are supposed to have learned how to navigate feelings, forge healthy relationships, communicate; ask for the things we need--replace whines with words. We've learned how to be appropriate. That How are you? is less an opportunity to share and more a formality.
But some days my emotions are bigger than my body. I have been known to cry in meetings and to take life too personally. Some days, I can hardly breathe.
In some ways, I might be regressing: I used to sufficiently hold myself together. I was always always always always okay. Especially when I wasn't okay at all. But the facade has cracked and I'm much harder to hold together these days. Instead, I surround myself only with the people I don't mind seeing me a little bruised and I do the best I can.
Perhaps it's an improvement; to be more human. To acknowledge the parts of you that ache instead of brushing past them. It's an exercise in mattering. Some days, I revert back to the one-who-wants-you-to-think-she-has-it-altogether but starting something new is humbling. Reflecting can drive you crazy.
I bake less cupcakes, although I wish I didn't, and take shorter showers, even though the monotony of the water used to be my favorite place to think. It's amazing what becomes of our fingertips when we exchange coping mechanisms. I am hard on other people but always harder on myself. In time, I have become self-deprecating. An online survey asked if I was the person other people might call for advice and, even though I knew the answer was yes, instead--I took five minutes to silently berate myself for not being the person I listen to. Why aren't we kind to ourselves? I wish I knew.
I have students who admit they are not their own favorite person --because they aren't done yet. Their parents, they say, are more fully baked. I keep waiting for the moment I have it altogether and maybe that will never happen. Or maybe I'll miss it, in the waiting.
So much is good and so much is terrifying and I spend too much time focused on the things I cannot control. Angry at them for forgetting the facade--for cracking under the pressure.
I wrote here, today, for the first time in months just in case someone was listening. I aim to be a good listener but I hope someday to believe I am worth listening to. When I speak, my sentences begin and end in apology--suffocating the words in between until they're gone.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.