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Weight of Living, Pt. I

        I consume pain and suffering and damage. I consume darkness and it consumes me, even as I force light from my skin. I am a firefly, a paper lantern, a bulb that blinks on when you walk past and flickers out when you leave. I consume other people’s heartache.

        Five years ago, three things happened. First, I had to swallow a diagnosis. They showed a video in my high school Freshman homeroom class about depression. It was the kind they abridge to make the disorder more palatable. They didn’t talk about how you can’t shower or brush your teeth, how you won’t eat all day, the irritability, the fatigue, the hopelessness. What they did talk about, though, sounded like me. I probably cried in class because that’s what I always did. So I told my mom, met with therapists, ran in tears to the counseling office every few days, found a psychiatrist. I started in the direction of something better, some vague notion of greener grass, unaware that over the next hill was a labyrinth. 

        When the second thing happened five years ago, I had to stomach anger I had never seen before. I felt a friendship rot in my hands. And, in a final lunge toward being understood, I made a decision. I told her the nature of my misfiring brain and she shattered me. My diagnosis consumed me. She was permitted a seat on the sidelines, but I had to experience this merging in the abyss of my own mind.

        After the third thing happened, I no longer wondered what a sun feels when extinguished by a black hole. I watched my reputation crumble. A division swept through my friends and I sensed eyes on the back of my head everywhere I went. I couldn’t figure out how they never noticed the knife between my shoulderblades. Instead, they devoured the story she fed them. Unstable, dramatic, weak, off, unhinged, disturbed. I became the image of a person. She forced my face into a mask she’d drawn and no one noticed I was caving in behind it. I still hide the welts where she branded me behind a battered shield sewn together from pieces of a former confidence.

        I consumed the advice to make peace, and then her laughter. I consumed dismissal, empty instructions to forgive, invalidation, convoluted dreams night after night after night. I absorbed the ugliness around me and wallowed in it.

        Today, five years later, calling myself free would be deceit. I have since surrounded myself with joy, trust, love, healing. I have consumed and retained all of these things. But like poison, like venom, trauma is difficult to expunge.

©Kaylee Schuler

Listen to the song I chose for the title:

Listen to the playlist inspired by my head-house:

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