Day One.

I feel space. Space between my hands, space beneath my chest, and space inside my head.

I feel blank. Like my universe is a piece of work that has been left dead for years.

Why am I here? —April 18th

They brought me to a sanitized room devoid of any color or life. The walls seemed to move in closer as I made my way towards a window framed with white bars separating me from the rest of the world. My arms hugged around the scratchy blue scrubs given to me. It was too late for me to walk around and get a grasp of my new surroundings, and the nurse already came by and turned off the lights until morning, so I laid on the single bed they made for me and waited. I stared at the ceiling for hours and listened to the clock ticking until birds snapped me back from the blank void in my mind. I wanted to stay in that void until it covered my body and killed the demons tearing my thoughts apart. I felt as though my mind was sentenced to death and this empty room acted as a purgatory until my fate was decided.

“Here for your check-up.”

A nurse with a stocky stature and stubby fingers checked my vital signs and told me the schedule for this morning. Vital signs at 6, breakfast at 7, and my first visit with the psychiatrist at 9. She wore pink scrubs, slightly similar to the blue scrubs they gave me, except hers had an assortment of cats on her shirt, and she didn’t seem uncomfortable in them. She tried to sound cheerful with her small-talk, but I had no reason to say anything to her. I was too exhausted to put sentences together, and continued to watch her mouth move incessantly in her one-sided conversation.

I don’t remember when she left or what she said, but the window told me it was getting closer to 7. The sun began to piece together bits of light through the white bars, and I heard feet shuffling outside my door. Everything was white here. White-washed walls, white sheets, white tiled floors, white sink, and me. I felt anxiety bubbling up in my stomach at the sight of it, and pushed myself out of bed. This room felt like the space in my mind and made me feel trapped in solidarity. I can’t stay here.

The pink nurse, let’s call her Pam, left the door open, so I put on hospital socks and peeked out of the doorway. The hallway had several doors like mine sketched across both ends, but no one was there.

How many people are trapped in these rooms? What if it’s just me?

I walked down the hall and found two rooms opposite of each other with tables, chairs, and a TV. A man with a grey unkempt beard, checkered pajama pants, and a maroon shirt, stared blankly at an old episode of Law & Order. He didn’t notice me at the doorway, so I decided to sneak back to my room before he did. I felt cold and didn’t know what to do with myself, and the blank look in his eyes gave off a familiarity I didn’t want to be a part of. Pink Pam caught me before I reached my door and motioned to a trolly with plastic trays.

“It’s breakfast time. Go to the dining room and I’ll have your food ready.”

Dammit. Never mind.

The grey bearded man’s name was Mike. He didn’t say much, but the nurses seemed to know him well, and tried to strike up conversations with him as they handed us breakfast. One other tray was left at the table adjacent to Mike’s, but there was no sign of movement in the hallway. Is this person exempt from eating cafeteria food?

The food tasted bland and reminded me of high school lunches. High school. The thought of school sent a chill through my body and I tried to shake it away, but I couldn’t.

The dining room twisted into long hallways with tin lockers, black and white checkered floors, and blank papers posted on pieces of cork board. There was one door left open at the end of the hall, but it seemed to stretch farther away from me as I walked closer to the doorway. When I found myself at the entrance, my stomach dropped, but my body remained static. Paintings of trees with red, blue and yellow dripped down canvases lining the wall across from me, just how I left it. My desk had papers and folders organized in alphabetical order with sticky notes posted on the computer for tasks I needed to complete throughout the week. The whiteboard listed assignments due for next week, and displayed a quote from one of my favorite authors for the start of each morning:

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. –Soren Kierkegaard

Then tell me what reality is, because this doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t be here. I can’t be here anymore.

My feet moved involuntarily towards one of the student’s desks and I noticed a blue spiraled notebook had been left behind. I took it, and started flipping through the pages one-by-one, but every page was blank. I moved towards my desk, and noticed all of my papers and sticky notes were blank. My fingers fumbled for the drawers, and they met me with the same blank pieces of nothing. I turned to the whiteboard and found that all of my notes had been erased into stark white, and felt something grip my heart and pull me down. I looked up at the walls and only saw white–no paintings, no pictures, no posters. Everything was gone. I was being erased at each movement I made. Fear jumped out of my skin and I felt my body grow lifeless. I closed my eyes and tried to bring everything back, but the white permeated the corners of my mind and took away my only pieces of sanity–

“Hey!”

Shit.

I opened my eyes and saw Mike staring at me over his tray of powdered scrambled eggs and pieces of bacon.

“Hey, you.”

I stared at him with a confused look on my face, but said nothing. My body was shaking and I couldn’t concentrate on what was happening.

“Hey.”

Mike continued to repeat the same phrase over and over to the point where I felt annoyed, but I couldn’t form any words to say to him.

Finally, he stopped, took one look at my food, and nodded at the untouched carton of orange juice on my tray.

“Do you want your orange juice?”

This began the first of many conversations I would have with Mike. Left over pieces of shitty cafeteria food. The nurses seemed to decide for us when we were finished, and started taking our trays away, but I handed Mike some OJ. His eyes lit up like I had just given him a birthday present. His reaction reminded me of when I worked at one of the nursing homes as a teenager. We played banana bingo every Tuesday, and it is just as exciting as it sounds. You get a bingo, you get a banana. If we didn’t have bananas, the old folks would become furious with outrage and demand for their treat. It’s no joke there, you can never come underprepared or you will have people staring knives into the back of your neck. I wonder if Mike likes bingo as much as he likes his vitamin C.

Pink Pam noticed I hadn’t touched my food, but she didn’t say anything. This phantom person never showed up for breakfast, but I overheard one of the nurses say “Jenny” was suffering withdrawals, and needed more medication.

Mike shook his head and looked over at me.

“She’s having a hard time. She’s been here for two days.”

I nodded at his remark and watched him reach for the remote to the TV. He didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t talk. Strangely enough, I felt some of my anxiety lessen as we sat there watching reruns of criminals getting caught and thrown into court.

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies…

My dad loves watching reruns of this show. I used to get up around midnight and eat bologna sandwiches with him while he watched old Law & Order episodes. Olivia Benson seemed so badass. She got shit done, and knew how to shut men down when they objectified her or made some off-handed comment. Dad was also pretty entertaining to watch because he got emotionally involved with the characters. He would talk to the screen whenever the story took a turn for the worse, and give me the play-by-play. He claims watching an episode of SVU gave him the knowledge he needed to save a little girl from drowning at a pool a few years ago. Thanks, SVU.

 

 

(Going to write some more later)

 

 

 

 

Messy

I am a mess.

 

My mind stops working and my words start falling

Out of my mouth like the clumsy ramblings

Of a middle school girl who doesn’t know

How to talk to boys yet.

 

I feel the corners of my mouth move involuntarily

When I look at you and see you smile.

Fire brushes my fingers when I touch your hair

Or hold your hand

And feel warmth creep up my body,

But I know I am holding onto borrowed time.

 

I am used to being the one leaving–

Jumping from state to state like a nomad

With no sense of place,

But my movement hits pause while yours hits play in a new city,

And I am met with this restless uncertainty

That settles over me as days grow shorter, nights longer,

And sleep fades away.

 

I don’t want you to fade, so I’ll keep my eyes open

And concentrate on the soft lines of your face

And the crooked way your mouth grins

As if you’re up to something.

 

I’ll trace my fingers over the parts of you

That give me warmth, comfort,

And a space to fit my body in some part of the living.

 

I’m going to miss walking with you while the city falls silent

Beneath old stone buildings and bell towers.

 

I’ll miss the ramen noodles with karaoke

And late night movies that went on for hours.

 

I’ll miss this span of time between the spaces of your fingers,

but I like this piece I get to have for now.

 

And when now turns into then,

I’ll remember the moments

When I listened to your voice in a city asleep.

 

Alone

I am alone

In the streets of a foreign city

In the night when the people empty

Out of this place

I am not home

In these pieces of broken places

In my mind where I feel wasted

and lose my days

I find a bottle and let it fill me with

dread and fear

while blackened vision kills the feeling

so I can lie here

On the ground next to glass and trash

And abandoned lifeless things

I see myself in reflections of

abandoned buildings

So I die to myself

Every time I close my eyes

I try to accept

the parts of me that lie

But I won’t let go

Of the dark beneath my eyes

And I can’t say no

To the voices in my mind

I am alone

Just Existing

Everyday I ask myself,

“What am I doing with my life?”

And sometimes… I feel fear when the words escape my mouth–

Like they are running into the unknown,

Quickly being ripped away from me

Without giving an answer to the emptiness I am left with.

I meet a crisis everyday.

I ask myself when this anxious feeling will end

So I can begin again,

But I haven’t found the solace yet.

I haven’t discovered relief from the questions.

Today I ask myself,

“Am I a part of the living, or am I closer to death?”

Suffocating

This isn’t what I asked for.

I asked for freedom and confidence to open my hands and catch promises,

But I feel crushed by a suffocating loneliness that bids me to go to bed.

My eyes close and I let the darkness fall in on all sides,

because I realize I am afraid of myself.

I am not content with sitting up at night, listening to music,

Writing in a bed made for one person.

There’s this empty space beside me, cold and unloving,

Reminding me of a time when it was filled.

Now I’m filled to the brim with emotions,

Holding my face in my hands,

Wishing he was here to listen.

But I am quick to forget how it felt when he listened.

He listened to speak,

So he could tell me the image he wanted my body to portray.

He pulled me into his world and eclipsed mine in a blanket of

Black and white devoid of any of the color I created.

So I trade a warm body for solitude,

And tell myself I am strong, and I can be strong alone.

The Lack of

I have a block in my mind that weighs the rest of my body down

Until I am buried beneath the ground

Blinded by my apathy and self-doubt.

The block causes build up in my brain with random strains of words

That mean nothing–

It only cause my nerves to stay in the past tense of things

As I replay days over and over again

Until I feel sorry and sick

From my remembering and retelling of stories that have ended.

I don’t want any part of this collage of faulted thought,

But I can’t erase my mind block.

It overwhelms my ability to remove the piece stopping me

From moving forward–

So I am cursed to relive dead end passages

As I sink farther beneath the beginning.

The Breaking

I lost my voice when he told me about his past–

Past lovers and pieces of body parts that weren’t mine

Phrases that didn’t seem to fit

The small hands I held out to hold his face

And look into his eyes–

the color of earth and life

That seemed so far away from me.

He didn’t keep the memories I let burn into my skin

Whenever he touched me.

He didn’t need the words I gave him

Or the fire I kept alive when we came together

Beneath warm sheets and heartbeats

When I let him in.

He didn’t see me breaking beneath the weight of

Sharp words and heavy images

That imitated someone else,

And he didn’t see me leave until I told him I had to go.

My heart had left weeks ago, but the only part of me he noticed was

My body.

Skin and hollow bones waiting for blood to flow

And wake me up again,

But I came to an end and felt my bones break the frame

I let him see.

A frame I built to keep him looking at me,

Before my image fell apart,

And left us both with nothing but

The Breaking.