Note: I wrote this a few months ago during a bitter bout of depression. I never sent the letter to my friend, and looking back at what I wrote, I’ve realized just how much my thoughts and feelings have changed.
Dear Eva “Lemur” Vander,
Okay so the reason why you are not getting a handwritten letter is because I am too lazy to pull out a few sheets of paper and, with my lack of sleep, it would probably be safer just to type. I miss you every single day. Every morning/afternoon/night, before I go to work, I see your smiling face from my wall, my bookshelf, and my refrigerator. Seriously, I have no pictures of my family, but I have 7 or 8 of you around my house; it’s that big of a deal ^_^. I also apologize ahead of time if I make you cry. I don’t get a chance to write so this is going to be one hell of a letter, I have some things I need to talk about in order to get my thoughts together for my book, and they involve you so I wanted to talk to you about them.
So I spoke with you yesterday, today? I seriously don’t know what day it is actually. I was told it was Friday, but I am still hung up on the fact that it is December. It’s been 5 months since I came out to Iowa, and it seriously feels like a year. It sucks what happened out here, but I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like about myself, as well as made me take a hard look at my own skill-sets and problem solving. It also taught me how to keep myself going without a safety net. I won’t lie; I was terrified for a long time. I never realized how protected I was when I was in college. If I had an issue on campus, G—- or N—- would swoop in and save the day. Out here, it was me, and I know I could have handled it all a thousand times better, but I let my emotions get the better of me. Cest la vie.
It sucks, because I know I damaged a chance for a blank slate out here, but what can you do? I’m learning. What I have come to find out is that my filter that I had when I was in NY (you know, the one where it took you 3 weeks to just hunt me down, and another 2 weeks to pry my mouth open about all the crap I was dealing with), so does not exist out here. I tell complete strangers everything and it is quite disconcerting.
I think it’s the lack of sleep, it makes me loopy.
I’ve been working my ass off on my blog, in-between naps or during my now infamous bouts of insomnia. When you finally have a chance to chillax you should check it out. It’s like a little gateway into my mind.
BTW my insomnia here is ridiculous. My boss at Old Navy knew the minute I walked in the other day that I had not slept. It was kinda hilarious. My co-workers take turns guessing how much sleep I actually have. Oh and I met a girl out here who is from Jersey hehe we both lament on how much we miss the East Coast.
I never thought I would miss the East Coast. It might just be because Iowa gave me a quick kick to my ass the second I drove into the state (seriously I survived NY for 24 years but Iowa gives me trouble wtf?). But I miss the forests, and the valleys. I miss the Hudson River, and the smell of the cities. I miss Albany. It truly is a pretty city. New York is a beautiful state, even though the government and the people are slightly insane (you know it’s true don’t be shaking your head, don’t even think of rolling your eyes at me either ^_^).
My other friends have been hurting me lately when we talk, (warning, we be getting into some serious talk right now. I need to talk about it though and you are one of the few people I can be brutally honest with without you screaming at me for being selfish. I started to seriously get into writing my book. ) They keep telling me to just come home; they will put me up until I get back on my feet again. Don’t get me wrong, it is tempting. I mean NY is familiar, and I would have a safety net and be comfortable, but I almost have a violent reaction to the thought of running home. I think I’d feel like a failure, and I just can’t seem to get anyone to listen to that. I mean, I know I wouldn’t be a failure, but I would feel like one. Sure I didn’t get to do what I set out to do in Iowa, but at least I tried dammit. But their constant pestering is actually hurting me, because I don’t know how to tell them how I’m terrified of being stuck in NY forever. How I’m terrified to end up like my high school friends, working in Wal-Mart and wrapped up in drama and bullshit. Terrified that I won’t amount to anything. Terrified that I will wake up, and be 30 years old, and working a dead-end job 50 miles from where I grew up, with a wife and kids. I know that isn’t a life to sneeze at, it could be a fulfilling life, but I want to see this world. I want to travel, and not just for vacation, but literally immerse myself in a new community. Although I’m not really doing that in Iowa right now, but seriously…there is nothing here.
I think it drives me nuts because I have to choose every single day to live. I’m scared that when I reach 50, these issues I’ve been having with depression and all that crap won’t be gone. But I get angry at people who just accept their lot in life. I can’t accept the fact that my life won’t amount to anything. I’m scared to disappear from this world without leaving some kind of mark on it, without making some kind of difference, because I never got to see the difference I needed when I grew up. There was no one talking about suicide and cutting and being depressed without a reason. Sure there were books, but they never made me feel better. I want to change that. I want to help people, save their lives, because every day I have to save my own. I have to convince myself that I have a purpose here, that there is something in this world worth fighting for, worth living for.
I got lucky. I didn’t kill myself in high school because my brother would find me, and I couldn’t bring myself to be that cruel. My brother can be a jerk sometimes, but he is one of the gentlest people I know, and I would have killed that part of him if he found me dead. I think some part of me knew that I would hurt people if I killed myself, and I didn’t really care if they were mad at me or sad. But I’m not a murderer, and I would have killed my brother. He’s too beautiful for that to happen too.
When I got to college, especially that final year, you and G— and C——- and N—– fought against me every step of the way to keep me going. I know I tell you all the time that I love you, but I sometimes forget to tell you how much you have truly impacted my life in the short time we have been friends. I truly wanted to die that year. I was so tired, and the shit I was dealing with wasn’t worth the fight, and I was just always hurting. I was screwing up left and right, and I just wanted the noise in my head and the pain in my chest, to just go away. The first time you called me after I disappeared, the phone was lying on the bed next to me and I saw that it was you, and I just watched my phone ring until it went to voicemail. I listened to your message, but I didn’t really hear it. I just heard your voice, you sounded a bit unsure and concerned, and I just remember rolling onto my side and crying. I just wanted to close my eyes and never wake up.
I don’t know what you were thinking about when I disappeared. I don’t know what anyone was going through at that time honestly. I don’t think I could ever believe that my disappearance made that much of a difference in the world. I mean, it still went on. People still went to class, the world kept turning, and all I did for 2 weeks was go to track practice and sleep. I should have failed my courses, I did not go to class whatsoever, or maybe I did but I wasn’t there mentally. When I saw you the day I decided to go to Morgan’s class (the man could make Hitler giggle, c’mon now, even in my deepest depression I wouldn’t willingly miss that man’s class) I panicked. When I looked up, all I wanted to do was do an about-face and run, but the next thing I knew you were hugging me. I mean we almost literally walked into each other, I know, but I wanted nothing more than to blend into the scenery and have you pass by without you ever knowing I was there. I don’t know why, I mean by that time we had become close, but not the lay in bed for a few hours just talking about our dreams and fears ridiculously close that we became after I resurfaced. When I felt you wrap your arms around me I almost collapsed into you; I hadn’t felt warmth like that in weeks and it wasn’t until you hugged me that I realized just how cold I had become.
I think you told me how worried you had been and I think I promised to let you know what the deal was, but that I was heading to class or something. It’s ironic how that chance meeting meant so much for me, and all I can remember is how scared I was that I wouldn’t be able to hold myself up after your hug. It was that night that I called C—— up, around 10pm, and told her that I needed help, that I wouldn’t make it through the night if she didn’t get to my apartment as soon as possible. It was the first time I ever reached out for help. It was a weird chain of events. It was Monday I think, that N—– made me stay at her house because she was scared to leave me alone, it was Thursday when I saw you, and Thursday night when I saw C—-. That night my mother came to campus and took me home.
Honestly, I should have been committed. When I got home, I curled up in my room with my cat, and slept. My mom kept me busy, but at night it was all the same. Just me in my head. I know I came back to school well-rested, and was able to pull myself together enough to finish off with a bang, but I don’t think I ever quite recovered from that experience. I know I scared the hell out of those closest to me. It was the first time in almost 10 years, that anyone noticed that something was seriously wrong with me. The first time someone spoke up was my friend Chrissy in high school. She called my mom up because she was scared. Her father/step-father I can’t remember the details, had committed suicide, and she recognized the symptoms in me that he went through. I was able to convince everyone I was okay, but after that I stayed closely guarded.
There are people in this world that have had it worse than me hun. I feel like an asshole for all this drama, even though I can’t stop it. I feel like the biggest asshole on the planet for putting you all through that. My now ex-friend Jess called me up last year, telling me how she just wanted to kill herself and that she should just do it, and I freaked out. I called the cops on her because she hung up on me. She got angry at me because I had the Ohio state police (she lives in Ohio) hunt her down, and I contacted her family. I stayed home from work that day and just sobbed. I was so angry at her for putting me through that, and I realized that I put the people in my life through the same thing. Tina once said to me that I should just kill myself and get it over with, because she was tired of wondering if she would come home to find me dead, and I wondered just how many people in my life thought that way; that they were just waiting for the phone call that I was dead. Were you? Was G—-l? Are you guys still waiting?
I re-read the paper’s I wrote for Jeff’s class, and I miss the girl who wrote them. She was hurting, but a part of her felt like she was finally able to heal, and I don’t know what happened to her. I just feel so tired all the time. I’m tired of fighting. I feel like I’m just going to stress myself into an early grave, and it’s annoying. It’s annoying to keep all of this bottled up inside, when honestly I just want to lie in bed and never move again. It was so much easier to give into the depression, to let it run its course; to cut and be self-destructive, because I knew that people would leave. I knew people would give up and walk away and it made it easy. My family was oblivious because they didn’t want to deal with the truth that I was not okay. I was alone, and it made the self-hatred and rage easy, because I knew that people wouldn’t care beyond the superficial “I’m so angry at her, why didn’t she ask for help” bullshit. I mean, I knew my family would be hit hard, but after everything with my father, it was ridiculously easy to walk away. I was just so angry, all the time, and I didn’t know what to do anymore.
It was so easy, and then ya’ll shuffle into my life and made this all hard. That day I sat down with you in the honor’s lounge, and told you what I was feeling, was one of the hardest days of my life. I was afraid you were going to get angry at me, that you hated me for putting you through that drama; that I was being selfish. I could barely look you in the eye, instead I felt myself shut off. The words sounded monotone as they echoed in the small room that usually held obnoxious laughter and carefree smiles. As I told you about whom I truly was my phone went off. Remember? You took it from me after I read the text message and texted back for me. I didn’t realize it right away, but that is when I started to cry. I tried stopping, but you didn’t let me. You told me to cry, to let go. You were crying with me, as my phone sat on the desk.
Do you know I still have that text? It was from G—.
“This is your advisor speaking. You are beautiful, you are strong, and you have important things to say…”
You replied that you were a friend of mine, and that you were with me and that I was okay. Remember G—-‘s reply?
“Had an off feeling…friend of Faith…take good care of her. She is a child of the universe (she’ll know).”
It was from Desiderata, a poem that G—- had in her office and gave to me when I returned back from my meltdown. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the entire poem…I still have it with me. I read it when I forget to appreciate the warm reds and purples of an early morning sky, the sounds of rain hitting a roof…when I forget the sound of my own laughter,
Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
I wish I always live the way this poem entreats me to live. I worry, and plan, and plan again, and have more worry and vexation. My heart hurts every day, and I panic because I can no longer tell the difference between my mind causing me pain, and an actual medical issue. Then I laugh, because here I am wondering if I’m going to die from some disease after spending so much time debating whether I should slit my wrists or hang myself. I find it wholly ironic.
But I doubt you do, although you do know how twisted my humor can be, I mean I did ask you if we could send our suicide letters to Santa.
I miss you, every single day I miss you. I miss taking my weekend vacations, and driving up to your house and laughing and eating with you. I loved how it was never a big to-do when I came to visit. I would sit and watch TV while you cleaned, or cooked. I would play with Bo-bo, and Gus-Gus, and laugh as you put on your gangster rap station. You are the whitest girl I know, but you love your gangster rap and it amuses me because you are tiny, and white, and so not from where I grew up. I would sit on your floor while you did dishes, and we talked about everything…or nothing. I loved the silences the most, did you know that? When the conversation would naturally die and we just existed in the same space. Boyfriend would tell you to entertain me, and we both just shrugged, because it wasn’t necessary. You would go to bed at 9pm, 10 if you were really pushing it, knowing I would be awake until 4am, and yet you didn’t care. You didn’t care because that was our friendship. You knew that I didn’t need you to live. Our friendship wasn’t one that started from need, it started from want. It started that day when the Nargles attacked your shin, and we both smiled at each other at the ridiculousness that poured out of my mouth. You knew that I would still be there when you woke up. You knew that Boyfriend and I would spend your sleeping hours talking and blowing things up on your ridiculously large television screen.
We just knew each other…we had bonded over things many people never would think to bond over…papers, and pizza, and crazy Honors Directors. We bonded the day I admitted to you that I wanted to die, and you told me about your mom, whom I miss just as much as I miss you. One of my favorite memories is her driving us to Kingston, and us singing 80’s and 90’s songs terribly off-key and just having a blast; when she bought me all those clothes and you had to tell me not to cry because I didn’t know how else to handle kindness like that. Do you think it’s crazy that one of my fondest memories is of you telling me I made you feel like shit because I had made some offhand comment? I waited for you to drop our friendship, but you simply said I made you feel crappy, and I sincerely apologized. And we were back to laughing…
You taught me what it meant to make a mistake, and to truly be forgiven, because our friendship meant more. I think many people don’t understand our friendship…because let’s face it we are an odd couple. But who else would I watch Land Before Time with? Who else would I crawl in bed with (and I say it this way because it sounds dirty and it makes me giggle) and talk about the things that hurt the most in our worlds?
It’s been 3 years. C—- is a sister to me, G—- is my confidante (and voice of reason), N—- is still my Jewish Mama…and then you. My best friend, my truest friend. My most ruthless friend (I still can’t look at mayonnaise the same way thank you very much). You are never afraid to tell me the truth, you call me out when I’m being stupid and childish, and you wake me up by throwing pillows at my face or by loudly eating a bowl of cereal next to me while I slept. Anywhere else that would be creepy by the way, but I think you knew that those weekends meant more than just hanging out. I bared my soul those weekends. I hated leaving.
And now this letter is 6 pages long and I have more writing to do. I hope to send this soon, maybe before Christmas before I get to see you. I’m coming back for a little while. Notice I didn’t say home. I haven’t found it yet, not the physical place yet. But I found a home within those that are finally in my life to make it better. I found a home within your heart. Thank you for making room for me.