I was a smart, happy kid. Strict parents, but happy. I loved high school, and I was relatively popular: For good grades and fine arts, mostly. I didn't date much (hadn't figured out I was gay just then), I had good friends, and knew I was going to go to college.

Then my mom got sick, and she died two weeks into my freshman year of college. We buried her on 9/11. I don't remember chunks of that day, and that's probably for the best. I didn't know she was going to die. Cue feelings of abandonment. And suddenly I couldn't get out of bed to go to class – so I just laid there for days.

I was the strong one in the family, so I took care of everyone else. It took years and years to get exhausted from that. But in the mean time that I wasn't dealing with my grief, anxiety came. Crippling social anxiety paired with panic attacks, bouts of weeping, and feeling numb and cold and useful but not loved. All from the girl that kept it together – for everybody, all the time.

I sought therapy and was medicated, but that baseline of pure sadness and hopelessness and worthlessness never went away. Didn't matter how much I drank or how many drugs I did. But they made the pain go away – for a little while at a time, at least.

It's been almost 13 years and I'm back in therapy now after a nearly week-long disappearing act I pulled over Christmas that scared my friends and family. I cry in my sleep sometimes. I take pills when I shouldn't sometimes. But while I have a couple of people who listen to my troubles (and I truly love them for it), I feel like a burden to them. It's a terrible spot to put somebody in, to have to deal with my shit and the fact that I can't get it together. They've got their own shit and feelings to deal with.

I don't believe the voice that tells me this is a liar: "They'll only cry for a little while. They'll miss you, but they won't have to feel obligated to deal with your shit. And you won't have to feel like this forever. It can be over."

I know people love me. But I feel so broken beyond repair that I actually and truly cannot feel it. I hear them – I do. But my brain won't let my heart feel loved. It's been broken too long.


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