Idiot. Why did you wait until last minute to work on your paper? It’s spring; you should know better by now!
I shake my head.
You don’t have time to worry about what you did. You were stupid, now, get over it. Stop being such a baby.
I return to typing, but more thoughts flood in.
How pathetic can you be? You’re worrying about not finishing your essay in time to get your precious twelve hours of sleep. You don’t need that much sleep, idiot! Most people barely get six hours a night. You’re just spoiled. Suck it up, butt. Some people don’t even have a loving family. You don’t have any real problems; there’s no reason to be such a whiny brat. Just shut up and keep working.
I clench my jaw.
How can you even tolerate being placed in tenth grade when you’re so mentally challenged? You can’t even do simple algebra. What makes you think you’ll be ready to graduate in two years? You’re such an idiot!
I don’t even have to look up to know that Zeke has begun his hourly ritual of obsessively licking the ground. I can hear his sandpaper tongue scrape against the carpet; I feel a crawling sensation on the back of my neck as the sound of slobbering moistness fills the room. I know from experience that this sound is the precursor for vomit. And I hate vomit.
Please, no, please don’t. Please stop, please be quiet.
I tense up, my whole body quivering.
Please stop licking. Please, just stop.
I can feel my heart rate quickening and I try to focus on my paper, but once again I’m distracted by the incessant squishing sounds of my dog’s licking.
Please stop, please quit, I can’t do this, please, just stop...
The word rips from my mouth in a screaming sob. I press my hand to my mouth. I didn’t mean to yell, but the words had already escaped me.
“Just... stop. Please.” I force myself to speak quietly, suppressing another sob. “Let’s go outside, huh?”
I set my computer aside, grab my phone, and stand up, still talking to Zeke. “I’m sorry, buddy. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. You did nothing wrong, you’re just getting old and in a lot of pain, and I’m sorry. I’m a lousy excuse for a human; I’m just a pathetic piece of garbage. I’m the one who should be punished here.” I motion for him to follow me. “C’mon, buddy. Let’s go outside.”
We make our way to the back door, and I pause before unlocking it.
You’re the one who should be punished.
I examine the door, setting my phone aside.
It’s not heavy, only about twenty pounds, but its exterior consists of several inches of steel and it’s endured thirty years of severe weather, so it shouldn’t be damaged too easily.
Nothing can be as damaged as you are.
SMACK. I examine my palm, which is now stinging from the impact.
Good, I decide. I deserve pain.
I turn my attention back to the door, this time throwing my whole body weight into a punch. I wait for a crack, for any indication that I’ve succeeded in truly hurting myself, but I’m too numb. I can’t feel anything.
I need more pain, I think desperately.
I grasp the handle, but I can’t see it through the tears blurring my vision.
You’re so messed up. You’re beyond help. Even if anyone wanted to help you, nobody could. You are hopeless; you’re so worthless that not even God can love you. You’re less than nothing. How can you feel unloved when everyone tells you how much they love you? They’re deluded, of course, but not as much as you are. You’re the one who should be dying, not Zeke. Why are you still alive?
“What am I doing?” My voice is a broken whisper. “This isn’t normal.”
You’re insane, that’s what you are. You need someone to knock some sense into you. Too bad you’re so pathetic nobody wants to help you.
The door comes back into focus, and something clicks in my head.
Nobody’s coming to save me. I’ve got to knock sense into myself.
I tighten my grip on the handle, lean back slightly, and then swing my head forward as hard as I can.
WHAM. My nose aches, but it’s still not enough. I need more momentum.
I fumble with the door, unlocking and pushing it open. I begin to step forward, but I lose my balance as Zeke surges out the door.
Right. I forgot I was letting him out.
I step out onto the patio and exhale.
Come on, stupid.
I yank the door towards me as I swing my head forward once more, and I blink. Suddenly I’m crying, and I can’t see straight. I hold on to the door, but it’s not steady. I sink to the ground, still blinking, yet I’m not blinking, my eyes are wide open, but the world keeps fading, and –
Suddenly, I am very, very high up.
Though my sight was fading just moments before, I now have perfect vision. I’m thousands of miles in the air, yet I can see every blade of grass in detail. I see the top of a house, and to the side, a girl. She’s tiny from where I am, but somehow, I can still see her green eyes clearly, down to the gold flecks around her pupil. I have no idea who she is, but she’s crying so hard I can’t help but want to give her a hug. I want to hold her, comfort her, tell her how loved and valued she is. I want to sit with her, tell her that she has purpose, that she does make a difference in the world and it’s a positive one. I want to express all the love and care I have for her, yet I see she’s overwhelmed with hopelessness, and suddenly, I’m angry.
Who hurt this girl? Who made her feel like she’s worthless? Who put her in so much pain that she feels like death is her only option?
I’ve never met the girl. I don’t even know her name. But I love her. I love her so much, my heart aches for her. I know the pain she’s going through, I know death isn’t the only option for her, and I’m willing to love her no matter what happens.
I blink again.
That’s me, I realize.
I’m the girl on the ground. I’m the girl who, though she felt unlovable and hopeless, was loved greatly anyways.
That love for her wasn’t from me, though.
How can I love myself when I was ready to kill myself moments ago? I hate myself, still.
Yet, somehow, someone’s love filled me for at least those few moments where I was not myself.
That’s how God feels about me. That was God’s love for me.
I take a breath, and the world comes back into focus again.
I’m sitting on grass. Absentmindedly, I pluck a blade out of the ground and hold it between two fingers, examining it closely. The detail is the same as when I was thousands of miles in the sky. I look around. The world looks no different than before, but somehow it feels more welcoming.
I am loved. Maybe I can’t accept it completely. Maybe it’s difficult for me to understand. But it’s enough to pick me up, get me back on my feet. I grab my phone.
I’m ready to let people love me again.