An empty house and a full head of emotions

Perhaps it was the perfect storm; the day before Mother’s Day, less than a week before my surgery, just two days after receiving a job offer for a management position. There was just a lot going on in my head. Until I woke up Saturday night in a puddle of my own vomit, so drunk that nothing could go on in my head anymore.

That was a low point for me. To be completely honest, maybe one of my lowest points. Even in my prior days of being a blackout drunk, I never found myself passed out on the floor laying in my own vomit. And to make it worse, it was the woman who took me in who found me. Everyone saw me, her husband, her younger son, in one of my worst states. But I didn’t feel the shame until the next day, because that night, I was too drunk to feel anything other than the urge to pee.

I thought I was handling myself quite well, considering. I had a few crying moments throughout the week, a few brief fits of rage whenever a Mother’s Day commercial came on TV. But it was all controlled, it left as fast as it came. We had a game plan for Mother’s Day. I wasn’t going to spend it alone. I was going to go and spend time with their family, a welcome distraction to me. It was going to be okay.

But I guess it wasn’t, and I knew it that night when everyone left the house to celebrate the oldest son’s prom. I was grieving.

It wasn’t grief about Mother’s Day or failing health or anything that one would assume would be the thing to grieve over. It was a grief I had been feeling for weeks now, only growing the more time I spent here, in my new home, with a new family. A grief I was not prepared for. A grief I never expected.

As the days go by here, I see everything I never had as a child. A safe home free of violence, two parents that love and care and support and talk to their children, children who have freedom to eat when they’re hungry, to leave the house when they want to leave, to do the things I never had the opportunity to do until now. But I am 31 years old. I wanted these things when I was a child.

And that day, as I watched the family come together to celebrate, I could feel the emotions come up again, I could feel the loss of my childhood smacking me right in the face. I wanted that. I wanted my family to be happy for me. I wanted my family to dress up and take pictures and celebrate every event with me. I wanted to feel special, as every child should feel, as every child deserves to feel.

That was my tipping point. The grief flooded me, along with all of the anger and anxiety I had already been feeling about everything else, my emotions took control. I hid in my room, trying (and failing) not to cry and ruin their night. Because I knew it wasn’t about me. I didn’t matter, in this moment or in others.

And then everyone left. An empty house, and a grieving, angry, emotion-ridden me. I didn’t want to feel anything. I cried and I cried and then I felt nothing at all. Like a switch had just turned off in my mind, with each gulp of vodka I drank, it washed away the emotions until I felt nothing at all.

But I wasn’t thinking straight. Instead of stopping, I kept drinking and drinking, even after the feelings were gone. I drank most of a 32-ounce bottle of straight vodka, not even thinking about how it was going to affect me, not even caring that my heart had barely been working right even when I was sober.

For a brief moment, when I first fell to the floor and realized the severity of how drunk I was, I contemplated taking my bottle of pills and ending it right there. I knew if the alcohol didn’t kill me (and that amount very much could have, even without my heart condition), the combination would have been certain death. But I couldn’t do it because even though I didn’t care about myself in that moment, all I could think about was this family finding me dead. I couldn’t do that to them; I had already done enough.

So I ended up laying on the floor for hours, in misery, painfully vomiting nothing but phlegm and bile because I hadn’t even eaten food that day. I knew they weren’t able to lift me. All they could do was make sure I was still breathing and not choking on my own vomit. Hours later, I was steady enough to make my way to the bathroom and pee

Hours later, I was steady enough to make my way to the bathroom and pee. I looked at myself in the mirror. Hair a mess, broken blood vessels on my face, a rash from laying in puke for who knows how long. I did this to myself. And this is now how the family saw me. The shame started to settle in

The shame started to settle in. I woke up in the middle of the night to clean my mess, but I knew there were some things I wouldn’t be able to clean up, for myself or for others, things that could not be forgotten.

I lost a lot that night. And there are some things I wonder if I will ever be able to get back.

Happy Mother’s Day, Self


Dear KJ,

I know it hurts your heart. Not just every Mother’s Day, but every day you wake up. What is written on your heart is pain, left there by the woman who was supposed to be your mother. I’m not sure that pain will ever go away. I’m not sure she will ever even acknowledge how much she has hurt your heart. But that’s okay. You realize it. You know it.

I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. But you’re still standing, broken-hearted, without a mother, but still very much alive.

The things in this card are things your mother should have taught you. A hug should have never been painful; it should have been full of love and care. But you have that now. It may have taken long, but now you have people to hug you without the pain and the hurt, rather with the love and support you deserve.

I know you still feel weak and lost. You are still trying to find your way in the world. Your mother should have taught you these things, but she didn’t. She didn’t know how to be a good mom. But that’s okay. You are learning now. You are starting to trust people. It’s not at all like she told it was, You can trust. Keep trusting. You may have had a late start, but you are making your way. You’re doing it, even without her. You had to build your own foundation, with the help of others, but it’s getting so strong and solid and stable now.

You taught yourself how to be strong. You had to in order to survive. And you survived. You stood alone most of your life, when your mother should have been the one standing beside you, it was just you. But you still survived. Because you were born with a strength that could never and can never be taken away. That strength came from within you, and now you are sharing that strength with the world. You are so so strong.

You had to learn ways to survive that no child should ever have to learn. She wouldn’t let you be successful, but look at you now. You’re in graduate school with a 4.0, you’re a successful writer, and most of all you are a beautiful person inside and out. And you did that all on your own.

She did not teach you kindness, only cruelty. Yet somehow, some way, you learned how to be kind, you learned how to love. You didn’t need your mother for that. You have others there to support you now. You had (and have) yourself. So many people have been touched by your kindness. Listen to them. Remember when Sarah told you how you were so intelligent and so caring and so kind, even when you came from a place where none of those things existed? It’s the truth. You did that. Somehow you did that.

You spent your childhood having no one care about you, having no one believe in you. But you cared, and somewhere deep down, you believed. That’s why you kept going. That’s why you tried to stay alive, even when it was so much easier and so much less painful to die.

There are angels on this earth. You are one of them. I’m sorry your mother wasn’t. You deserved that angel. You deserved that mother. But even though you didn’t have it, you did it yourself. You became your own angel, your own teacher, your own believer, your own mother.

You deserve this as much as anyone else. Love yourself. Celebrate the mother inside of you that you had to be when no one else was there, when she wasn’t there. You were your own mother. You helped yourself survive, through love and care. Remember that.

Love,

KJ Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day, Loretta


Dear Mom Loretta,

I wish this card was true for you. But it’s not.

Instead of taking your children to new heights, you knocked them down on the ground and left them there, suffering. Instead of giving me opportunities, you took them away from me, because you never wanted me to be any better than you.

You never gave me dreams; you gave me nightmares. Every day of my childhood was a nightmare, in living and in sleeping. My only dreams were those of being saved from you, until one day I realized those dreams would never come true. So my dreams became wishes for death…the only way out from you, my own mother.

You never gave me support, you took it away from me. You stole my life from me. Every time you beat me, burned me, raped me, tortured me. You broke me, physically and emotionally. You took away any support I had, What mother does that to her child? What kind of woman molests her own children and then goes to Church the next day? What kind of mother tells her child she is worthless, evil, nothing? That’s not a mother. That’s barely a woman, barely a human.

Your gift in life to me was never love; it was and always will be pain. Because no matter how hard I try, I can never fill the hole in my heart where my mother should be. I deserved a mother. I deserved support and love and dreams and care and life. But you stole that all from me, for 29 years I had nothing but pain and hopelessness.

I know you wish that I was dead. I know you believe I deserve those gravestones you sent me. But I don’t deserve to die. I deserve to live.

You took away nearly 30 years of my life already, you stole it all from me. And you’re still trying to take it from me. You blame me for everything, for your husband’s death, for your isolation, for your tarnished reputation. But that’s not my fault. It never was and never will be. It’s your fault, but you will never see it that way.

I’m not sure if it’s all part of your game or you’re so disillusioned that you don’t understand the gravity of what you’ve done. But I can’t change who you are. I can’t change what you’ve done to me.

You are a criminal, a rapist, an abuser, a narcissist, a sociopath. You are nothing. You are the evil and worthless one. It was never me. You just made me believe it for so long that I couldn’t see the real worth inside of me.

You may have broken me, you may have stolen my childhood and my innocence from me, but you did not steal my strength. It stayed with me, and it still does.

I am a caring, intelligent, beautiful, loving, funny, strong, amazing woman, full of worth that you will never get to see. It’s a loss for you, whether you see it or not, it’s not my problem anymore.


Changes, Part 3

The last of my major changes is in my career.

Last Friday was my last day at work. I am currently, aside from my writing gig, unemployed.

I realize that may seem like a bad decision to some, considering my financial situation is quite dire.

But I had to make a decision between working at a job I love and living somewhere safe. I ended up choosing the later.

It was not an easy decision in the least. I got that job just weeks after running away. My coworkers were the first people I really interacted with, the first (and in many ways, only, for a while) people I got to know. They became more than just fellow employees and coworkers. They became my family, and that is something they reminded me of quite often.

I believe I was meant to be there. I believe I got that job for a reason, among all of the other jobs out there, the other offers I had, I somehow ended up with a group of the most accepting, hilarious, and caring people I could have encountered. That job was my escape from the chaos I was living in. That job was my social life. It was more than a job to me. But I knew I had to leave it.

It wasn’t just one thing. I realized months ago that I was becoming less and less able to do my work. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I got the work I needed to get done, done, but it was taking a toll on me. I had no energy, And as my health started deteriorating, it only got worse. I ended up using a wheelchair at times because I was too weak or too dizzy to walk around. There were many times I had to hide in the bathroom or in the corner of the backroom because I was in too much pain to keep walking.

I knew eventually I was going to have to make a change. It just came a little quicker than I thought.

When everything happened with my living situation, I had to make that choice between my job and a home. With everything else that had already been happening with work, and the consistent chaos that seemed to follow every living situation I got into, I made the decision to leave my job and take the safe living option.

As I said, it was not an easy decision. I cried in the days leading up to my final day, and I cried even more as I hugged my coworkers before I left that last day of work.

I jumped to the conclusion that by leaving my job, I was also leaving the people in it. But I then realized that I was leaving the job, not the people there. These people will still be in my life. I can still talk to them. I can still visit. That part of my life is not gone, it’s just different.

I considered getting another job. I actually interviewed and got accepted for a full-time position. But then I realized I would only be putting myself in an unhealthy situation. I was (at that time, and still) ending up in the hospital every few days, still passing out at random. It didn’t feel right to start a job and put them at risk, so I backed out.

For now, I am taking a break. I am focusing on school and on my writing. I’m resting for the first time since I was a teenager. And most importantly, I am focusing on me and my health, following up with doctors, and trying to get to the bottom of what is wrong with my heart.

In the end, I guess it was a good decision. The hardest ones usually are.

 

Changes, Part 2: Matters of the Heart

I wish I could say I knew what was going on with my health. Since I last wrote, things have only gotten worse, and answers are very few and far between.

My tests revealed a stenosis in my left shoulder. It was enough to explain some of my symptoms, but not all of them. It didn’t explain the passing out or the dizziness. It may have explained the difference in blood pressure, but aside from that, something else was going on, but no one knew what.

As I sat in his office, I started to feel it again. The feeling I have trouble explaining. It starts as a tightness in my chest. My head gets heavy and I start to get dizzy. It feels like a grand effort just to keep upright. I remember him telling me I didn’t look right. He asked me if I was on anything (insinuating drugs, which I don’t blame him for, because he does know my history). I couldn’t tell him what was going on. I just told him I was tired. I told him I’d be okay. If I had just been able to tell him in that very moment what was going on, maybe he could have helped me better, because what has followed since then has been a series of concerning and frightening events.

I couldn’t tell you the exact date, though I could look through the growing pile of hospital papers I have acquired in the last several weeks alone because of this. I was sitting in group at PHP. I felt the pain in my chest. I tried to focus on breathing, but the pain wouldn’t go away. My heart was fluttering. My head felt weird. Dizzy, empty, full, I can’t describe it. I remember sitting in the chair after group unable to move. A few people walked by and asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t answer. My body was so weak, I could barely speak. I remember the therapist sitting in front of me asking if I was okay. The next thing I remember, I was flat on my back on the floor confused as fuck.

Apparently I had passed out cold right out of the chair and onto the floor. All I could do was apologize. The therapist was there, the nurse, and the psychiatrist. They checked my blood pressure and pulse, and both were way too high. Not my normal at all. It felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I tried to calm down but all I could was panic. I kept telling them I was fine, but they had called 911 and I ended up being rushed to the emergency room.

I remember the paramedic checking my blood pressure in the ambulance and it came up extremely low; 60/40. He asked if I felt okay. I told him I’m fine, I’m just tired. My usual response, you know. He figured it was just a bad read. He didn’t know any better. He didn’t know all the times my blood pressure readings were so extreme the nurses and the paramedics just assumed they were “bad reads”.

The hospital did blood tests, a CT scan, x-ray. It wasn’t a heart attack. But they couldn’t give me any answers. They listed it as dehydration, and told me to drink more and make sure I was eating enough. I could give them that. I probably wasn’t eating enough.

So I made an effort to eat more. I ate a granola bar for breakfast. I bought a snack for between group sessions at PHP. I hoped this all would stop if I just ate more.

But it didn’t stop. I got that feeling again. The chest pain, the weird feeling in my head.  I sat in the nurse’s office in fear that I was going to pass out. She checked for a pulse and could barely feel it. She checked the other side and noticed an irregularity. Not only was my pulse slow, but my heart was skipping a beat. She felt it again and it was still the same. The total opposite of what it was when I passed out before. Instead of my heart racing, now it was barely beating at all. They called 911, and I ended up in the hospital once again.

This time was no different. My blood tests were fine. No heart attack. I stayed bradycardic, but otherwise they weren’t concerned enough to keep me there over night. I was discharged once again with no real answers.

I think the nurse and psychiatrist at PHP were as frustrated as I was. The nurse asked if I could have the hospitals send copies of my EKGs sent to them, so I called up both hospitals I was in and they quickly faxed them over. The psychiatrist noticed something in both EKGs that no doctor or hospital every told me. There was an irregularity in both EKGs, which no one ever addressed and everyone seemed to ignore.

And as if twice weren’t enough, it happened a third time. I was within group and got the pain in my chest. I tried to stay calm and sit through group, but it became increasingly difficult to focus. The woman sitting next to me asked if I was okay, because she said I did not look good. I said I was fine. I didn’t want to go through this again. I just wanted it to go away. But it didn’t. I hesitantly got up to go and ride it out in the bathroom, hoping the pain and dizziness would pass. The nurse saw me on my way there and she knew just by looking at me that it was happening again. I told her I was fine, but I don’t think she believed me, because when I made it out of the bathroom (still no better than before), she and the psychiatrist made me sit down and she took my pulse and blood pressure.

And there it was again. I had a weak pulse, and my heart would skip beats, just like before. I told her I was fine. She kept asking if I was having chest pain and I didn’t want to answer, because I knew if I said yes, she would call 911. The psychiatrist called my cardiologist (who happened to be on call at the hospital) and talked to him directly. He told me to come straight in. Another hospital visit, just days after the one before.

This time wasn’t quite the same story. The doctor came in and told me I had an arrhythmia. He explained that something was off in the part of my heart that controls how it beats, but they just weren’t sure exactly what the problem was yet. They were checking for AFib and put me on a 24-hour monitor right away. Finally, here was an answer. Not a full answer, but certainly better than dehydration.

But it wasn’t a cure. I was still passing out. One morning on my way to work, I passed out as I was closing the front door to the house and fell down stairs of the front porch, sliding down until I hit my head on the concrete. I woke up after 10 or so minutes, I don’t even know. My only worry was getting to work on time. With a scraped up head and bruised up legs, I managed to make it to work on time. I told myself I was okay. I said everything was fine. But it wasn’t fine. My head was pounding, my eye was swollen, and I apparently couldn’t say a coherent sentence without slurring my words. My supervisor was worried I had a concussion so he sent me home. All I could say was I was sorry.

That wasn’t the last time I passed out. Last weekend, I collapsed on the front porch during a retreat for my support group. They called 911, but I refused to go to the hospital. I’m sure the paramedics weren’t happy with me. I told them my list of problems: a stenosis in my left shoulder, heart arrhythymia, tachy/brady, irregular blood pressure, COPD. I told them I’ve been through it enough to know I’d be okay. The hospital wouldn’t do anything for me anyway but have me rest.

I’ve passed out at home (that time, at least, on a carpeted floor). I’ve come close to passing out in work, at stores, even walking across the street. It’s gotten to a point that I’m afraid to go anywhere because I don’t know when I’m going to pass out, and I don’t want to be alone if and when it does happen. Almost every day now, I get the pain. It’s unpredictable. I sit, I lay down, I try to relax. Sometimes it passes quickly. Sometimes it passes after an hour. And sometimes I pass out. It’s a lottery, and I never really know what result I’m going to get.

It’s frustrating not knowing any answers. I fear that in some way, I will end up like my father (who had heart disease which eventually killed him). I don’t have diabetes, I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have high blood pressure. Yet somehow, I ended up like this.

I spend my life sitting in waiting for that feeling to happen again. It feels like your body is fighting against you, like your heart wants to quit (literally), yet something kicks in and makes it start going again.

How symbolic.

Changes, Part 1

I realize I haven’t written in a long time. There are reasons for that. So much has happened within the course of the last couple months that I am not even sure I can adequately cover everything.

There have been some major changes in my life. My housing, my health, my career…everything is different now. Some for the better, some for the worse. And it hasn’t been an easy journey on any front.

I’m going to start with one thing at a time: housing.

When I first started PHP back in January, it was clear from the start that my living situation was going to have to change. They were concerned about my mother knowing where I live and reaching out to me. They were also concerned with things going on within the home. I told them it wasn’t a big issue, that I could cope just as I had been for some time now. After all, I was no longer living in hell, so I saw any place that wasn’t there as a huge improvement.

As the weeks went by, it became apparent that my living situation was a big issue. I couldn’t sleep, despite being on an extraordinarily high dose of Trazodone. There were a lot of things going on which I won’t go into detail about, but it made the environment a safety issue for me. My therapist at PHP made it clear I could not progress in treatment while living in that environment. They insisted I go to a women’s shelter quite a distance away, and I refused. I told them I would find something, anything as long as it didn’t involve living in a shelter.

And at the very last minute, I found my way out. I found what seemed like a safe place to live, with safe people, in a safe neighborhood. A whole upstairs to myself. Sure it was old. My room didn’t have heat. Another didn’t have electricity. There were holes in the wall and it was falling apart at the seams. But it seemed safe. Without any thinking, I wrote a check and got my key. I was willing to do anything not to live in a shelter.

I was okay for a couple of weeks. Nothing extraordinary happened. Then the landlord said he needed a security deposit (something he said he didn’t need at all when I paid the first month’s rent) in a check written out to him personally (he was not the owner of the building). Something didn’t sit right with me. Then the next week, I came home from work to find out there was going to be a man moving in to one of my rooms upstairs. I googled the landlord to find out that he was a convicted felon who owed over $30,000 in restitution.

I was starting to lose my hope again. This was not the safe place I envisioned it to be. This was turning into a nightmare. Still, I told myself, this is better than hell, this is better than where I was before. I isolated myself in my room, just as I had done before. Hopelessness increased, and I wanted to just give up. My therapist at program was concerned and asked if I could stay with anyone for a few nights, just to keep myself safe. I really didn’t know anyone outside of work, and I was afraid to be a burden on someone. But somehow, I mustered up the courage to ask if I could stay over for one night, and that person said yes.

I don’t know why things worked out the way they did, but it turned out to be a good thing that I wasn’t home that night. I received a call that night that the landlord had moved a homeless man into my bedroom while I was at work that afternoon. My things were removed from the room, my artwork torn off the walls and put in the hallway in a giant pile, like they were meaningless. These were things that meant so much to me, thrown together like trash. Fighting broke loose, violence and threats ensued, and it was definitely not a safe place for me to be in. Just hearing what was happening over the phone was enough for me. All I could think was what would have happened if I was home that night, how things would have turned out. But I’ll never know, because somehow I ended up in the safest place I could be.

I didn’t know what I was going to do. I tried to block it out and tell myself it was all going to be okay, that I could deal. I didn’t go to PHP that following day because I had a cardiologist appointment. My therapist called me that afternoon while I was at work to see how everything went. I mentioned the situation at home the night before and I could hear the concern in her voice. She told me I could not return home, that it was not safe for me anymore. She called me back with the contact information for an emergency shelter a few towns away.

I sat in the corner of the backroom at work in a complete emotional meltdown. It was less than one week into the month, I had just invested all of this money into a new place to live and now I was going to end up in a shelter. I had nothing left. No money. Nowhere to go. No hope.

I found an angel that day. I’m not exaggerating when I say this person literally saved and continues to save my life. I didn’t end up in the shelter. They took me into my home, bought me what I needed, fed me, and supported me and have continued to do so even as I have nothing to give back in return.

I was able to go back to that home and get most of what I needed out of there. My clothes, my shoes, my books, my computer, my bed. I came in to find some of my stuff in the hallway and I wanted to cry. My bathroom was a mess, brand new shower curtain torn off the rings, feces all over the toilet. It was all a disaster. We grabbed everything we could fit in the truck and left. Just once, I thought, I wanted to be able to move somewhere without it being a runaway situation.

But I am safe now. It’s been nearly a month and I am with people who I can trust and who support me. I don’t live in fear. I can sleep at night without having to worry about anything. Although I am out all of the money, my security deposit included, and am struggling financially just ot get by, I will figure things out.

I found a home, and that’s what matters right now.

Loneliness

I’ve been crying a lot this past week.

It’s hard for me. I’m someone who needs to prepare just to go to a routine doctor’s appointment. And now I’ve been faced with regular appointments and hospitals and tests. It drains me.

It’s been a waiting game these last few days. I went to the hospital Thursday for my CT scan and ultrasound. For two and a half hours, I pushed my anxiety down far enough to get through each test. I didn’t mind the CT scan. I couldn’t see what was happening — not knowing in the moment was comforting.

The ultrasound was another story. I could hear the sound from the blood rushing through my arteries. I could see the red colors flashing across the screen. Red was good. Sound was good. It meant that the blood was flowing. But then as the tech went further up the left side of my neck, the sound dissipated. The loud rush turned into the lightest whisper of sound. The red color flashes were blocked by blackness. Something didn’t feel right, but no one could tell me anything. You have to call your doctor.

I managed to make it out of the hospital with a brave face. My therapist had me commit to calling a support person after the appointment, and I’ve only been able to trust a few people there closely enough to reach out to them. I walked over to the coffee shop and called the nurse. She didn’t answer, so I left a voicemail. I’m not even sure entirely what I said, but I know I started out with “I’m sorry” and ended in my usual “I’m okay”.

She called me back ten minutes later, and I hesitated to answer. I did answer, but as soon as she asked me how I was, I started to cry. I was scared. She asked me to tell her what happened but I could barely make sense. I remember her saying you can’t change it now, it’s done, you can’t change anything.

I wanted to change everything. I wanted to rewind my life to a point where I never had to feel pain or know sadness, or sense fear, a point in my life when I had no problems. But that point has never existed.

I went to work later that day and ended up crying again. My boss asked me how the appointment went and I just cried. I don’t understand. I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have high blood pressure, I don’t eat junk. Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand. I’m scared, and I don’t understand.

In that moment, she comforted me. She said it was okay to be scared. She said she’d be scared, too. She wanted to be there for me, through the surgery, through whatever I needed. She told me to call her this weekend just to talk if I needed.

But I never called her. Even in the moments that I found myself overwhelmed with fear, sadness, and loneliness, I couldn’t pick up the phone and call her. Why? This woman was genuine in her offers of support. This wasn’t the first time she has been there for me. She took me in on Christmas when I had nowhere to go and no family. She made me a part of hers. But when everyone gathered together to take the family photo that night, I sat out. I’m not part of this family. I felt like an intruder. A welcome intruder, but an intruder none the less.

And I still feel that way. I can’t call her because I’m intruding. I’m bothering. I’m being a burden. It’s a barrier I still can’t seem to break down. She has her own family. All of these people I know have their own families. And I am not part of that. Even the people at PHP keep telling me they are there to support me, but I can’t do it. They have other things to do, other people to support. I don’t matter. I am KJ, party of one.

The hardest part of all of this hasn’t been the appointments or hospital visits or the anxious wait for answers. It’s the loneliness that exists through it all. It’s going to appointments alone. It’s sitting waiting rooms alone, looking around and seeing others with their spouses or older children or friends. It’s laying in a hospital bed and staring at the empty chairs beside it. It’s the uncomfortable silence that occurs every time someone asks for an emergency contact. There is no one. No spouse, no children, no parents, no siblings. I am alone.

It’s times like these that remind me how alone I am. I should have my family by my side at my appointments. I should have a mother to hug me when I’m shaking in my bed at night because I am so afraid of what else could be wrong with me. I should have my father’s shoulder to cry on. But none of that exists, and it never will.

I cry alone. I shake alone. I worry alone. I bear the pain alone because I’m so afraid to share my burden with anyone else.

My tears are not from sadness. My tears are from loneliness.

I don’t want them to drown me.