I remember sitting in the back row of the class in fourth grade, since we were seated in alphabetical order, and the picture that I drew with my Mr. Sketch markers was smearing. I remember moving the wet ink around on the paper, making swirls and seeing what tie dye like designs I could make. The bell rang, and my other classmates ran out the door for recess. I remember sitting there, rubbing my fingers on my pants to get rid of the inky evidence. 

Mrs. Mix came over to see what I was drawing, took a sharp breath and knelt down by my desk. She lifted my chin and and asked why I was crying so hard. I didn’t even realize I had been, just that my paper was wet and I liked the way the ink got runny like watercolors. She asked if a classmate had said something – she knew that the other kids picked on me – and I shook my head. She asked if something was wrong at home and I simply shook my head. Nothing was wrong, I simply couldn’t stop crying. She helped me clean my hands off, and let me go back to drawing, because I didn’t like going outside for recess. I never got picked for kickball anyway.

I remember my mom coming to pick me up after school, which was a rarity since she was always working. She talked with Mrs. Mix for a bit, then took me home. She said that I’d be taking a few tests at school soon, that it wasn’t something to worry about. That it was an IQ test, because it seemed like I was bored in class and could finish any assignment much faster than the other kids. I used to be smart.

The tests took all day. There were so many puzzles I had to finish, math questions, spacial awareness, ink blots, memory games. It was fun. Plus it got me away from the other kids, which was a nice change of pace. I could actually use my voice and say anything I wanted or came to mind. The woman that administered the test said I did well, and that I’m quite good at spacial awareness. I remember smiling, because it was nice to hear something positive from an adult that wasn’t a teacher or my family. Maybe I wasn’t as stupid as I was led to believe.

I never knew what the point of that test was until recently. Upon going through a box of papers from my parents estate, I found old report cards, newsletters from school, homework assignments on which I was praised, band and volleyball programs, and a report saying I had symptoms of Asperger’s and dysthymia. Explained why I always had a special class separate from my classmates with someone I could talk to about why I didn’t fit in or understand why I was different. 

I was officially diagnosed with major depression when I was in high school after I tried to commit suicide. I remember my mom waking me up in a panic and making me promise I’d be okay. I could see how ashamed and embarrassed she was, how she didn’t know how to help or find someone that could. Or afford it. It was then that I became good at hiding my feelings. I didn’t – and still don’t to this day – want to be a burden to anyone. 

It wasn’t until a traumatic abusive relationship that I went into therapy. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror without wanting to break it. After my tumor diagnosis, I fell into a severe depression. The only thing that got me through it was bottling my feelings and pretending I was normal. As every therapist has taught me – fake it til you make it. 

I’ve never made it. But I got good at convincing myself that I had. I’m a master at feelings deception.

After my parents died, I was forced back into therapy. Labeled with complicated grief disorder. Another label, another bottle to fill and hide away in the cellar.

I have cases of bottles with labels, each containing emotions too damaging to me and the world around to release, in my cellar. But the temperature gage is making the bottles unstable and I’m scared what’s going to happen. 

What happens to over pressurized bottles? Do they slowly leak or do they explode?
Will they shatter everything and destroy what’s all around, or will they simply make my fingers blackened like my Mr. Sketch drawing?

I hope for the latter, but overwhelmingly fear the former.

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