atlas and i

helplessness is the feeling i get when you don’t reply with more than one word answers for an hour. when your eyes don’t shine, when you won’t even look at me eyes cast down and brows creased. helplessness is like when i want to teleport from my bed into yours because it’s midnight and you feel as far away as the moon in the fucking sky and i can’t do anything about it. from my bed i stare at my screen in the darkness and i hope, fuck, i hope you’re not hyperventilating i hope you aren’t trying to isolate yourself. disconnect plays like a broken recorder in my head. god can you not, can we not, i’m right here i love you. i can’t help you though, not unless you allow me, and even then it’s still mostly on you. how i wish it weren’t

 

helplessness is feeling like a fish in a fishbowl like you can’t even swim you might drown but you’re a fish so you live on. as a human you need air but you have too much as you hyperventilate and fuck no don’t cry. don’t try to make yourself feel better though, no, don’t count to 5 don’t feel 4 things, don’t smell 3, don’t hear 2, don’t. or do, you’ll still be miserable.

 

helplessness is the feeling i get when i feel like shit but i want to feel better. helplessness feeds on boredom and my headache. it’s letting everyone down because you hate it, i can’t fix it when i feel like shit, and everyone else expects more of me. helplessness is when i know i’m not letting myself feel better, when all my worries and all his worries play in my mind like a black and white movie. helplessness is knowing i can feel better but not knowing when i’ll get the energy to finally do it. it’s knowing i’ve spent all this energy feeling like shit. where’s a fucking wall i can smash my hand against when i need one?

helplessness is knowing he cares and it makes you feel guilty but that is so wrong, you know how fucked up it is. but you still cry and you still wish to be shot out into the sky because you don’t deserve this — but yes you do. worse he doesn’t deserve this but he couldn’t care less because it’s not about that — of course it’s not.

 

and helplessness is when you want to crawl in bed, but what good would that do because the thoughts are still in your head and your headache is so strong you’re far past just needing sleep. you also don’t want to be alone, but being with others especially some takes so much fucking effort you might as well give me a paper cut in the worst spot.

helplessness is after an entire day you’ve stirred those thoughts in your head and you just want them dead, you don’t even care if they end up in heaven or hell as long as they’re gone. and long as you can smile and you try to feel something other than tired, and, oh so fucking helpless. as long as when we talk i don’t feel like crying, i don’t feel like teleporting into your bed, i don’t feel like i’m living the same thing over and over and over again and i can’t stop it, or worse i can’t bring myself to stop it.

 

sometimes i try to prevent helplessness. i know it’ll happen soon and so i put my foot down and i make some plans. i build a fort and get some armour and i’m ready. but as soon as the adversary comes, i’m crashing, burning the bridge to hell with all my thoughts. my armour was just leather not diamond. you never believed you could fix it but, god did i want to; maybe i built that bridge just so i could feel like i did something, as if i’d prepared myself. but you prepared yourself for disappointment even though you didn’t mean to. it made you want to punch a wall and you didn’t want to fix it, didn’t know how not to set yourself up for more disappointment. it’s not inevitable unless you make it.

instead build bridges so that together we can fix it and even though it’s still mainly on me that little bit of support might make the world fall off atlas’s shoulder. instead of being atlas, you carry me and the world and i am the one who makes it weightless as we work together.

 

helplessness is when you know you’ll need someone’s help but you don’t seek it because it’s on you. but that phrase has been playing like a broken telephone in your mind so now it means you’re all alone. you don’t remember it meant you can do this but you need to work on yourself before i can help you. how could you remember, how could you forget. you see his face and you know you’re not alone, but god, do you want to because then he couldn’t see you like this, because then he wouldn’t be so frustrated by your misery and by the fact that you let it be.

let it be is how i’m supposed to let misery be, but he means let it be like a chair you fix when it’s broken — let it be a problem you can fix. something you try to change and you have confidence, you know that he knows that you know that it’ll be helpful. not like a balloon you blow till it pops and fuck here come the burning bridge. i’m not helpful to myself even though i want to be. i let it be till he’s the one pulling me to a mirror – look at you, acting like atlas. you don’t need to, you can fix that broken recorder.

 

a couple days pass and rain comes and you feel the way others feel when the sun is out. you’re not seeing the burning bridge and you don’t feel like atlas anymore – instead you see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s beautiful like his face as he drives you home in the dim lighting of the streets. you see clear as if your glasses hadn’t been scratched and the colours reflecting his face in the streets are distinctly alluring.

it reminds you of the stars as you two sit in a field together and feel the wind. suddenly the stars seem farway because you feel like your feet are set down and you can move steadily. there’s no repetition in your mind, no need to count 5 down, no need to feel guilty. let it be.

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Why I have a Lack of Social Etiquette these days (or, the Absurdity that is a Student’s Mentality)

It takes me a while to remember that the world doesn’t stand still while I’m studying. It doesn’t stop because I have too much work to complete, and not enough willpower to go to extra lengths to do it properly. By properly, of course, I mean, with more preparation. It doesn’t stop when I’ve my books and stacks of papers and two binders around me and suddenly, I happen to have a two minute break (which is really just me walking into the kitchen with no aim, or going to get a ruler or some more supplies) and it’s not really a break, but hey, I’m not staring at a sheet of paper that has nearly illegible writing with creased eyebrows.

Sure, there are nice moments. Moments where I catch myself humming along to the music on the radio behind me, or when I finally understand what the hell I’m supposed to be doing – you know, those nice rare things. And then there are not so nice things where it’s an ungodly hour in the morning and I still have work to do, or I’ve spent hours at the table surrounded by book and I get to class the next morning and just deflate and blank out, brain gone, abandoning me in the dimly lit classroom.

Then again, there are both sides to this issue. And I get that the buried in schoolwork one isn’t ideal, but the other could be said as sounding better than it truly is. But that’s debatable.

I tend to forget about time passing  even when I’m farting around with absolutely no care in the world. Oh, missed lunch, damn, I’ll just have it right now because I can. In those instances, there are no brain farts, there is only simple forgetfulness and lack of moderation on productiveness, if you will, of time passing. But that’s the thing, I guess. While time passes in this sequences, there is no rush. You’re simply there.

And though one could argue that all good things come to an end, and this sequence traditionally does when it gets colder outside, I don’t really see it ending, not until you’re buried in enough work that you never ever have time to not think about time passing. I think it kind of just falters in patterns of say, five days when you don’t have a load of work that comes with having seven or more classes every ten months.

Back to forgetting time as it passes, I think it’s important to note that life goes on as these things get completed. The list of work gets checked, but more gets done too. You have two or more meals a day, you see friend for perhaps fifteen minutes while you aren’t listening to your teacher. Said teacher makes jokes and for a few seconds you feel better about the fact that as soon as you get home, you’ll pull a textbook out of you bag and lay stacks of papers around it and stay there for the next three or more hours.

And then, you have little interruptions. Dinner. A phone call. An email to send or reply to. Shirts to fold. Sauce to cook. Books to pick up. These might not seem convenient, but admit it, you can feel the weight and the tension releasing itself as you back away from that bloody desk of yours. Well, at first it kind of seems like your blood is boiling because you need to get this work done, but hey, while you’re completing those seemingly inconvenient tasks (in between the panicked watch-checking) you do feel relieved after this “break.”

Yeah, school’s a bitch. It drains you. It takes up so much bloody time. It’s reminds you you’re fucked while you’re getting ready for bed on Sunday. It plays with you; bad grade here, good grade there, awful grade here. It rips you away from old friend you haven’t seen, from social sites that you used to use for talking to said old friends (and you now use to look up local news and talk about the mount of homework you have to other irritated classmates).

Here I am thinking, man I wish next week I’m not going to so much as glance at this textbook, I can shove in under my bed or in the depths of my skinny locker for once. Maybe I’ll see my friends for more than fifteen minutes. But hey, I gotta get back to work, so I can’t even spare time to think about that right now.

Moments to Remember While Losing Hope: Part I

20h13 – Six Hours Into Gathering  

I get up, unsure of what to do with myself. My palms are sweaty, my head hurts and my mind racks. I feel very selfish. I should be happy to be surrounded by talkative, enthusiastic friends, but instead I worry about being in the background. About the impression this freak out gives them. I excuse myself for the fourth time in the last half hour, sighing as my mumbling is only acknowledged by one person.

In the next room over, I lean on the wall, closing my eyes to calm my thoughts and my breathing. Panting, I run my hands through my hair. I don’t need this. My battery may be drained, and I may feel invisible, but I have to ride it out for the next hour or so. After my breathing regulates a bit, and the tears have dried, I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water and some yogurt.  

When I come back into the muggy space, my eyes dart from person to person. On one couch, Lily, Ryan and Colin sit, playing video games and trash-talking each other over what appears to be the sound-effects of the game, though it only sounds like vibrations to me. On the other side, Ellen, Rose and Dean sit. Rose and Ellen take the entire couch and Dean eyes me from his seat on top of Ellen. I avert my eyes, sitting on the edge of the couch beside Colin. As I look down, twiddling my fingers and fiddling with the hem of my shirt, Ellen squirms loudly enough that the ground shakes and I know it’s Dean’s way of getting my attention. I try to resist his determination to get me to follow his gaze, but am awarded a huge grin when my eyes meet his.

He waves me over, and I take a seat on the edge of the couch as I had before. Ellen glances my way with a concerned frown, but I shake my head, smiling reassuringly. She nods, turning back to Rose. They continue to read and laugh at stuff on Rose’s phone, and Dean looks at me, smiling and making funny faces in an attempt to make me smile.  

Eventually, I offer a shy quirk of the lips. He laughs, taking my hands in his. I shift to face him completely, and his smile widens. I watch him as he brings my hands to his face, kissing my knuckles briefly. I chuckle as my fingers run against his jaw and his hold on my hands loosens even more. Dean smiles as I bring one hand to his neck, running my fingers through the hair there. My other hand stays at his face, brushing his sideburns as we watch each other.

He gets up and I follow, shifting with him as he brings us to a stance that suggests we dance to the background vibrations that are music coming from the stereo. I scoff, smiling slightly as he starts to sway. I hug him, hand coming to his neck again and he laughs, squeezing me to him. Used to to his closeness and crushing hug, I only shake my head and chuckle as he sways more widely. The music is not slow dancing music, or music either of us particularly enjoy, not that I can make out many of the vibrations, but I move with him either way. Dean laughs when he feels my fingers draw a pattern on his neck. Force of habit. The swaying stops a bit as we stare at each other. He pulls a face as my eyes narrow and he chuckles.

I sigh as my confidence is brought back slowly. He notices the freed tension and rubs my back, squeezing my shoulders. I laugh as he abruptly turns, and we dance some more. I twirl as he watches me, and he laughs as my elbow pops loudly when my arm extends. I wince, smiling when he gets concerned. I hum quietly and he sways and twirls as our roles are reversed. I laugh as Dean almost slides and trips because of his socks, and he pretends to wrestle me back into a dancing stance. He raises an eyebrow as my expression falters a bit, and I sigh. He nods to himself, rubbing my back again. My eyes shift under his gaze, and he sighs. Our eyes meet again as he hugs me closer, and I chuckle. Dean bites his lip as my smile falters again. He rests his forehead on mine, swaying wide and quick until a laugh bubbles its way up and I grin at him. He smirks in his satisfaction and I rest my forehead on his, sighing as he laughs quietly.

Dean stays at my side for the rest of time, holding my hand and sharing his food as I watch the video games from my comfy stop on his lap, and my thoughts stay on the memory of his smile as his forehead touches mine.

What Now, Fear?

In the car after a conversation I’d been dreading all summer, I stared out the window in an attempt to calm myself. Papa cleared his throat, staring into the road quietly as if to give me time for myself.

Papa’s attempt at casual conversation had ensured that all my worries regarding school came to the surface. School was something I worried about, and the future was something I tired ignoring with near success. University was not something I wanted to talk about, certainly not when I still had at least two years left.

In my vulnerability, my worries about this school year flooded my mind. Left with only a sense of panic, I tried to calm down as quietly as possible. Papa was still focused on the road, and I hoped I would be able to clear my head without making things worse.

My eyes watered as my frustration got the best of me. Clenching my jaw, I let some of the worries surface, keeping a steady hold on my emotions. I figured I could get past these thoughts if I processed them a bit, hoping my irritation wouldn’t make it harder. I fished through the pile of unanswered questions in my head, sighing as I attempted to focus. I was worried that even with the added experience of working for a mark, my Maths grade would plummet. I was worried that I’d be too stressed to do anything other than schoolwork. That path would only lead to more stress and isolation, and I didn’t need that either. I was worried my father wouldn’t trust me to do my work, even if he’d seen my potential last year. I was worried I would have the same time of anxiety every weekend as I had the last two years.

These things – scholar anxiety, isolation, stress – didn’t help me much, but there was something worse. Worse than stress and isolation, you ask? Yes. Fear of boredom, fear of feeling alone. Every weekend, I get up, and I feel like I have nothing useful to do. I sit around, stuck on how useless I feel. Being bored only makes the thoughts in my head grow louder, makes the anxiety get the best of me. Boredom comes if I don’t feel useful, or if I can’t seem to stimulate myself. It’s a cycle of sorts I’ve been attempting to avoid for a long time now.

Every summer, I become panicked over the simple idea of having two months off. It’s like one big, giant, horrible weekend. I have to find something to do, or else the anxiety will creep up, control me. At the beginning of the summer, I’m too busy wondering what the hell I’ll do with myself to worry about anything else. Most of the time, the only other ay these thoughts are introduced is if the summer’s ending. Then it’s no longer summer I have to worry about; it’s every weekend from then on.

I think about how vulnerable I get, and one simple sentence explains it all. It’s sad really. Sad that I’d rather be tired and drained and unsocial because of school, than have nothing to do around family. It’s sad that I cower behind school and books and TV shows to cover the fact that I can’t handle boredom and mystery.

Yes, this – all this crap – came flowing through because of casual discussion about the future, but that was the thing; the future is never a casual thing.  I had no reason to be angry with Papa; it wasn’t like he would have known. I could only be thankful for the fact that when I tuned back into reality, he was still staring ahead. For once, instead of wondering – making me more anxious and embarrassed – he pretended not to notice, trusted I could handle it. Took a leap of faith to hope that someone so scared could indeed console themselves.

A Messy Graph About Us

Every time your name is mentioned, my stomach does a flip. This is mostly because I don’t know if we’re still friends. Everything about you has been in the dark for a while now.

I stopped trying, to see if you would respond by initiating conversation on your own. And since you haven’t, it shows you really didn’t put much effort to it in the first place. My effort seems useless now. I feel as though all that time was just me making a fool of myself. My constant anxiety about whether everything was okay only ended in the abrupt halt in our – apparently false – connection.

On a bad day, I might blame myself a little while I cuss at you under my breath. On any other day, I recognize that both sides are at fault, but you certainly did nothing to change the path that things followed. At first, I was focused almost more on how to change things than anything else, but that only seemed to drive you away more, for some reason. Apparently, my attempt at rebuilding something I felt was lost only meant the loss was more deserved. I was at fault because I was naive enough to want to preserve and protect something that had been lost a long time ago.

Whenever I think about you, one of two things happen; I become bitter, and I play the blame game. Even though I’ve established that there isn’t a point to putting blame, my mind still seems to think it is a necessary component on how to settle things. The bitterness is obviously accompanied by remorse and anger, with a touch of frustration, whereas the blaming is only assisted by confusion and irritation.

If my point in settling this was to avoid confusion and pain, I’m having issues with why I still feel something. I suppose in my denial, I refuse to accept that as human, I must feel at least something. And that denial says I don’t have to settle what I’m feeling, but the logic in me always does it in a torturous process that includes pissing myself off.

Either way, I can assume that we will not be talking unless we are in a room full of other people, and it will be tense on my part, and you might be a little oblivious about my internal debate because I hate conflict, so I will have neglected to mention the fact that I have officially cut ties with you without your consent.

 

In the Meadow – the Making of a Memory

I sat in the meadow, smiling to myself. For the first time in a while, I felt comfortable being completely alone. My whole life, I thought that going somewhere where my spirits were lifted was something I should do in the company of others, of people I could trust. By the time I was a teenager, ‘trust’ had changed to ‘treat like family’.

And perhaps, the word family had been romanticized to mean something better than friendship, something that would be around forever. It meant I could trust them to be courteous and to have those same feelings about me.

Maybe it was the idea of good company that made the trip better, made it feel less lonely; but now I could see that being alone wasn’t a bad thing, and being in good company didn’t have to make a great place better. I had good memories of being here in company, but surely I could make nice memories on my own.

 

In the meadow, the grass was tall. There are some green meadows with pretty flowers and trees surrounding it, but not this one. The particular meadow was filled with tall yellowing grass, hardly any flowers in sight. I sighed to myself, reaching for my left ear. I closed my eyes as the noise level dropped. There, I thought, that makes being here even better.

The weight of the aid was something I got used to quickly, but the noise was different. Everything felt louder. Too loud, even. The echo eventually stopped, and it felt better, but I didn’t get used to the clarity and loudness until later. Sometimes even now, I felt better when it was out. I couldn’t hear the world, and I was okay. I often felt like nature, the city, and almost everything really, would be more peaceful if I couldn’t hear it. I couldn’t hear my five siblings bickering in the background, or the cars rumbling past as I sat at my desk. Silence was something to appreciate. I felt that way before I got the aid, so one could only imagine how much more strongly I felt about the idea afterward. Sometimes, the aid was around my ear, but not connected. That way I could feel the silence, appreciate my surroundings more.

 

The meadow was quieter now without the ‘artificial hearing,’ and there wasn’t the loudness of the wind around me. When I first got the aid, background noise was almost all I heard, shooting directly at my ear. I got frustrated with the lack of control I had between background and foreground noises. As everything else, I got used to it – tuned it out even.

The lack of noise almost made me sleepy as I closed my eyes again. The sun shone, and every once in a while, it passed over my closed eyes, brightening my black vision. Around me, almost all I hear is the rustling of grass wisp of wind and the birds. When the nearby flap of wings shattered my thoughts, I opened my eyes. The sky was greyer, but the sun shone from behind the clouds. Everything looked darker, but I could see just as clearly. A few meters away, a bird whose species I didn’t know watched me. I sat up, breathing in deeply. My hand comes up to touch the grass and I felt it shift under the wind. I resisted the urge to laugh as it tickled my palm.

 

I wondered what this would be like if the city was nearby. Whether airplanes would interrupt the quietness of the wind and birds, whether there’d be more people in the clearing. I imagined being completely deaf, without birds to listen to or buzzing bugs to hear. I watched the grass shift under the wind’s the current, shivering as the chill hit my back. Wind picked up for a minute and I lay down to watch the sky, ignoring my hair as it obscured my vision whenever the wind hit. Memories of getting used to the aid filled my mind.

My first time in public, downtown. It was far too loud.

My first time at a family gathering, while it was still very echoey. That was disorienting.

My first time at a restaurant. Also very loud.

My first time in a meadow. There were a lot of chirping birds.

Conclusion: it was damn loud and weird.

I remember, everyone thought my hearing was normal with a hearing aid, but it was still weaker. Especially at the beginning, where it was mostly echo anyway. (“What was that,” I’d ask. “I don’t know, you’re the one with the hearing aid,” they’d answer.) It wasn’t normal, just better – more compatible. Instead of thirty and eighty percent, it was eighty in both. Sure, I could hear a conversation that wasn’t in the same room a bit more clearly, but so could everyone else. Sure, I could hear someone approaching me, so I wasn’t as jumpy, but everyone could too. Sure, I could hear music coming from a different floor, but I’d never been able to beforehand, while everyone else could.

 

Comfortable on the yellow grass, I felt like I should fall asleep. Like I should forget everything. Like shutting off my brain would be best at the moment. At least I wasn’t bored, I figured as I got up. I plugged the aid back in, closing my eyes to welcome the more prominent sound of birds and crickets. Stretching, I looked around; the meadow was calmer, less windy. The sky was darker, but it didn’t look like it was going to rain. I walked around, breathing in the fresh air. At least there was fresh air, nothing that would cause a claustrophobic panic attack. I scoffed, sighing – even with the fresh air; this place is still way too open. I didn’t like large spaces either, especially not when I was alone.

I kept walking, looking back from the sky to the yellow grass moving beneath my feet. Far away, as if I was in the center, I could see the entrance to a forest on both sides, but behind me and at the, horizon was open space. I suddenly felt like running until I regretted, it lungs burning. Here goes, I thought, sighing. I’m going to stay in this meadow for as long as I can. I will not think, but I will run. I am free.

Freedom was best served warm.

A Pathetic Excuse for a Sheep

As you sit in the darkness of your room, you wonder to yourself, why now. Everything was fine a few days ago, but new thoughts were introduced today. When the thought gets introduced, it doesn’t leave until you do something about it.

Usually, that something is what you’d call harsh and impulsive, but maybe that idea is based on the guilt that comes with your actions. Actions which you know have been marinating in your mind for weeks before they are liberated in the easiest way possible – that is not to say that the liberation goes smoothly.

You wonder whether your actions are even truly based on your interpretation of something that comes before them. Or whether those interpretations are even correct. You feel as though they aren’t. That thought makes you uncomfortable. How easily manipulated are you?  You question bitterly.

You think of the instances where others have frowned at your kind actions, “You’re too nice,” they say. You feel as though the word ‘too’ implies easy manipulation, and wonder whether your kindness is something that makes people think you are naive. Or whether they lie to you because they think you can’t handle the truth. Scowling you grit your teeth, holding in a scream.

How much more of a doormat could you possibly be? You question, irritated now. If you are a doormat, and people are truly the way you have just established, you are worth just as much as you thought you’d be, you realize. If guilt and kindness go hand in hand, then you are the perfect instrument for someone seeking their own way. If you disregard yourself, so will others. Not everyone is nice, in fact, most are not, you think to yourself.

In the dark, your thoughts are louder than they should be. Even as a whisper in your mind, they seem awful loud. What did you expect? You’re a sheep, you tell yourself bitterly, slamming your fist into your mattress.

As your thoughts become a bickering battlefield of insults and bitter conclusions, you close your eyes in attempt to shut the voices out. You lie there in the dark, eye closed, hoping to fall asleep before you have deal with facing anyone. If only you could actually fall asleep like a normal person, a thought interrupts your attempt to fall into a drowsy state until you fall unconscious.

Sighing to yourself, you shift positions so that you can create a false mind block. Go away, assholes, you think to yourself, hoping you will be alone in the dark once more. The dark is easier to face than your insufferable thoughts, sadly. You close your eyes, hoping to wake up a long time from now.