Back into the corner, breathe in. Anger, fire. It burns in your veins. It’s unfamiliar, and comforting. You’ve been here time and time before; the same thing day after day, but it has never made you feel like this before. It’s a welcomed change, and it confuses you. Looking up, you wonder if you ever even knew anyone that’s surrounding you.
At first, you never noticed anything was wrong. It seemed like everything was normal, subjectively speaking. They all seemed nice enough. They cared enough. And even if it was never what you imagined for yourself, it was enough. You gave up on feeling truly happy a long time ago, but you were content. You were okay with what you had. It wasn’t perfect and things didn’t fit as puzzle perfect as they did before. This isn’t then, this is now and now is enough for you.
Sometimes you would notice little things. Minute details that no one else seemed bothered by. Either they didn’t notice or you were the only one who felt that something was off, but you still didn’t know them all very well so you kept your mouth shut. Maybe it was just you. You have a different background than them. They grew up in another town and they have all known each other a lot longer than they have known you. For them, maybe this was the normal. You didn’t want to cause waves. You were content, and content was good. If the seeds of unease had been planted in your stomach, well you’d push those feelings down just like you always do.
You had been fighting for so long. Fighting for what you thought was right, fighting for what you thought you deserved, fighting for those that you care about, but it always seemed to bite you in the ass. It was easier to just let things slide, stomp down the building anger, bitterness and resentment, head down and hold your tongue; the world started turning a lot smoother. You just grew tired of fighting and the longer you bit back your every instinct to keep fighting in the name of keeping peace, you just forgot how to. After a while, you wonder how you managed to keep fighting as long as you did.
Slowly, bit by bit, things started slipping out of control. Every tiny piece breaking so quietly, so unobtrusively, that you barely even noticed. Every time you thought something was wrong, you just told yourself that it was all in your head. It was just you. Don’t bring it up. They will all look at you like you’re crazy, and it just isn’t worth it. Things aren’t perfect, but they are all just so nice and they seem to care; you don’t want to put a voice to your idle thoughts, lest they start to think of you differently. They didn’t seem to be as okay with you when you fought; when you voiced your opinions. They seem to like the calmer, go-with-the-flow you. You have to admit that you like the new control you have over your previously too potent temper. So you keep ignoring the little signs. It just isn’t worth it to fight.
The world keeps spinning, days blur into one another. You know you’re complacent and you keep convincing yourself that this is enough. You’re content. You don’t go to bed crying, temper consuming you, heart beating out of control with excessive adrenaline-induced energy, the urge to run until you can’t breathe anymore, with enough frustration burning through your nerves to singe anything you touch, you don’t have that anymore. The calm that the absence of it all leave, it’s strangely soothing. You’ve never felt this calm before and while you have made peace with many of your demons, you don’t quite feel at peace with yourself. You continue to ignore the growing unease. You’re content and that’s enough for you.
Things continue to break apart and you feel the pressure building inside you. It’s a torrent of confusion and warring emotions. You’ve gotten so used to suppressing your thoughts and feelings that everything swirling inside you just seems like ghosts of what they once were. Every once in a while, a taste of the fire you used to be so familiar with surfaces; it feels like you can breathe again, and a part of you feels whole again. That scares you. You tried so hard to not be that person again, the one who wanted to burn down everything around her in retribution to every perceived slight. You never want to be that angry, volatile person again. You’ve worked hard and now you are so amenable and docile that they all think your stories of who you were before them are a load of shit. They don’t outright say it, but you can see it in their eyes. You don’t take it like a bad thing; you’re proud that you have changed so much that they can’t imagine you being that person that you were. And it’s good. It’s still enough for you.
It continues to be enough. Head down, keep quiet, life goes on. Then one day you bump into something, look up and you wonder where the Hell you are. You wonder who these people are that you spent the better part of two years hanging around with every single week. You look at yourself and you wonder who the fuck that person is that’s staring back at you. Deep from the pit of your stomach, everything you have been keeping under lock and key surfaces. It feels so, so good and hurts you in all the right ways. It’s confusion and passion and anger and agony; it’s everything you didn’t know you missed and everything you never thought you’d want to feel again. And you do have trouble trying to reconcile who you were with who you are as the two finally mix. It feels like a part of you is finally waking up. You realize that you were settling; settling is never going to be enough.
You feel selfish and you hate that. You want to keep quiet, and you really are trying to, but now you can see the cracks, all the broken little pieces. How it has gotten so bad without you realizing it is beyond you. Everything seems so decayed and forced that you don’t know how you could have been fooled into thinking that everything was okay. A little thought runs through your mind, weird and oddly fitting in a sense. They were like a puzzle. All the pieces fit in the beginning, but over time, with age, the pieces warp, the colors fade. It still fits together for the most part, maybe not as well as it once had, but it’s still enough that you can pretend nothing has changed. Eventually time damaged the pieces too much, aged and different than they were at the start, but you still keep trying to force it because the memories of what it once was are good and you aren’t ready to give that up. It’s so broken beyond repair, but your nostalgia keeps you pretending. They can keep pretending but you can’t anymore.
You aren’t quite sure how to go about things. You realize that even though they seemed to care, they really don’t. They don’t know you; they know who they think you are. To them, you are all the pieces of their opinions that they put together of you until they truly believed that, that was really you. To them you are nothing but misconstrued ideas of the person they wanted you to be and the person they don’t like. It’s funny in a way; it’s almost laughable that you can spend so long around the same people, but you know absolutely nothing about them and they know nothing about you. It isn’t for lack of trying. You did. Try, that is. You tried to be their friend, tried to get to know them but they were always sidestepping and giving you just enough to think you were becoming real friends, without ever having to actually give you an inch. And you, you didn’t even know that you lost a huge part of yourself in trying to fit in with their broken pieces. You lost something that you now have back and you aren’t even sure what to do with it anymore.
You have been without your fight for so long that now that you have the will to do so back, you aren’t even sure you really know how to now. It’s an odd feeling. You want to call them out for all that they have hurt you, but you aren’t even sure they know what they did. To them, all of it was normal. To them, that is what friendship is. And you can’t fit your head around this warped idea of what care and love is supposed to be. You want to scream at them, make them see where you are coming from; make them see that something isn’t right. They are all falling apart, and they don’t even realize how badly they are hurting each other. They have gotten so used to their own pretending that they truly have no idea who any of them are now. They grew up without realizing how far they had grown apart. You don’t know if you want to be the one to bring it up. Despite it all, you do care about these people that you barely even know, and you don’t want to hurt them. Even though they had hurt you so deeply without you even knowing it, you can’t stand the idea of opening your mouth and telling them. It would cause a huge fight, and getting everything off your chest might just not be worth dealing the final blow to bring everything crumbling down. You can’t help but to rationalize what they did; you don’t know what will happen if you were to voice your thoughts, it would make things real.
You stay in your corner, taking another deep breath. You look around again before pushing away. Anger, frustration, love, hatred, empathy, fear, desperation, caring, desire; it’s all welling up into one big ball centered in your chest. And then you bolt. You run, because staying still isn’t even close to being an option anymore. You don’t know what you are going to do, just that you need to do something because things can’t stay the way they are. You don’t want to hurt them, as much as a part of you does, but not doing anything is just hurting you. That can’t be an option either. You may have lost the sense to fight for yourself, and you might still be trying to figure out if you are still something worth fighting for, but you know that you gave and continue to give your everything to them, and you don’t deserve to be hurt.
You still don’t know if you will ever know how to feel truly happy again. You aren’t sure if you’ll be able to find the right balance between the two halves of yourself. There are so many things that you just don’t know and aren’t sure of, but you do know that this type of content if slowly killing you, and you don’t want them to be the things that finally bleed you dry of everything you built your confidence and self-worth on. It isn’t your time to give up on yourself and suddenly, enough just isn’t enough anymore.
Contributor~ Amanda Zober