Trigger warning: This post contains a brief mention of abuse, mental illness, and anorexia.
You are not alone.
As someone who has spent most of my life alone, I know those words can be hard to grasp. That someone, another person with a world of their own outside of you, could honestly care. That the beautifully tragic emotions that ruin you could possibly be anything but unique. It’s a humbling and terrifying thought, being in the emotional company of another. And though I know just how hard they are to believe, humor me when I say they are true.
You are not alone.
I’m Anonymous, one of many. But I’m not anonymous, not really. For I, and my colleagues, mirror you. We’re not so different, the lot of us here at the keyboard and all of you looking at the screen. We have all fallen, been shot down, torn apart, forsaken, forgotten. Though we may have many pains in common, we also have one, blaring, bright truth among us that is the most amazing of them all. We are all still here. But we know life hurts, so we are here to show you that we all bleed the same color.
Just, promise me, you won’t forget the triumph we have in common, despite the tragedy.
The role which brought me here today is that of the high functioning clinically insane. But we all play many roles. So I not only come to you as a mentally fractured young man, but also to speak to you as a child of abuse, a pained raging atheist, a terminal youth, a perpetual outsider, an anxiety fighter, a recovered truant, a long time anorexic, and most of all, I come to you as my own worst enemy.
There are already similarities in the color of the blood that falls from my wounds to the puddles at the feet of my fellow writers here because really, truly, you are not alone.
I hail from a city of beauty, one with kind people and exhilarating air. It lights up at night under the stars and blossoms during the day under the cloudless sky. Perhaps you have a place like that of your own being painted behind your eyes.
I was raised Catholic, went to a private preschool-8 church school. It had glorious stained glass windows, priests with eyes that wandered as much as their hands, and very distinguished groups of students that kept us separated and in our places in the social hierarchy. In my class there were two groups: myself and everyone else. Money was what divided us, myself a scholarship student of a low income background, and them, the children of politicians who had elevators in their mansions up on the butte. Though the specifics may be different, I am far from the only one who was painfully aware of what role money played in the world at a young age.
I know very well, the pit that forms in your stomach when the topic comes up. Growing up in a world where money was the strongest point of contingency in the family, I am very weird about it now. Receiving a gift makes me feel guilty, I calculate the price to the wage to know how much of their time was traded for the material item in my hands.
Just putting that into words causes me unease.
Apathetic to the world, I spent my recesses in the classroom, switching between reading the Bible and the dictionary to avoid the assault that was sure to befall me if I ventured to the playground. A good Catholic boy for my entire life, I hadn’t really thought on it much. But I do remember the exact moment a question, as if an intrusive force in my world, spiraled into my mind.
What if God isn’t real?
It was mid-step one Monday morning sixth grade year after leaving the chapel. I froze, overtaken by terror, for I feared that a lightning bolt was going to strike me down for my insolence. It was that moment that tore my world down, that moment that changed and shaded every thought that followed. Soon I was an outsider to a world I once belonged to, a stranger to those around me as I stood in a crowd at church. Their chants, songs, and prayers started to hurt my ears, their views began to frustrate me.
I do try to speak carefully of this, because I know I am somewhat outnumbered in my beliefs, or lack thereof, here. But if you are like me and know what it feels like to suddenly be poisoned by the wine, to choke on the sacramental bread, to be suffocated by the incense, and to fear the witch-hunt, I stand with you.
If you believe in love, not a book, you are not alone. Even if you’re full of rage, hatred and pain toward a religion, you are not alone. It is frowned upon, to proclaim your pride in your godlessness, even though those who have God can go on about it all they wish to. I understand the frustrations, the anger, the pain and fear that comes with facing a nihilistic view. I can’t say that the scars from my wings catching fire have faded much, even nine years later. But no matter where you are in your fall from grace, I am with you.
I was expelled from that private school after sixth grade. Since my fall, I became a truant. I missed more days in my public school time than the ones I attended. Falling ill, family troubles abound, I definitely lost my way. So if you are trapped in a maze of questionable choices, I stand with you, calling out from the other side to help you through.
Because trust me, there is a way out.
Out of nowhere, I was given the life altering chance to attend early college, and from there I cleaned my life up. My family still would prefer me to stop breathing, I was ‘going to hell’ for the way I loved, and each beat of my temperamental heart felt a little more rickety than the last. My life was clean, but it was a tad dark. I didn’t think things could really get much worse.
So being the prideful, cocky, Slytherin that I am, I tempted the fates.
I dared them to shoot me down.
And sure enough, they did. A sleeper agent in my mind, it awoke and destroyed the world I knew. Falling to a mental illness felt an awful lot like losing my faith. It changed everything. And that brings me to today, the day I sit at my desk, my music so loud that it garbles the voices and the endless yelling of my family in the background, writing this.
Dear the mentally fractured,
Dear the children of abuse,
Dear the godless,
Dear the money fearing,
Dear the terminal youth,
Dear the endlessly apologetic,
Dear the lonely,
Dear the anxious,
Dear the delinquents,
Dear the anorexics,
Dear you, your own worst enemy,
You are not alone.
And I mean it.