by Ariel Douglas (27 October 2016)
What do you see?
My smile? My fidgeting?
What do you hear?
My chatter? My rambling?
What do you feel?
My energy? My intensity?
What do you taste?
My passion? My emotion?
What do you smell?
My perfume? My mouthwash?
You see my drooping, blood-shot eyes
And assume I stay up all night
Watching TV shows or YouTube.
You believe that I spend all night
You hear my laughter -
My constant chatter,
Loud and verbose,
Can be heard from down the hall.
You feel the energy radiating off of me
And the way I am magnetically drawn
To everyone around me,
Assuming that I’ve suddenly developed
A clingyness that will simply not be
You think that I’m just that way
And you try to avoid it as much as possible.
You taste my emotion in the air
Shining out from me like toxic radiation
And the passion in every word I speak.
It scares you
And you are afraid of me;
Creeped, weirded, freaked
Out by me.
You’ve decided to send me away.
My perfume penetrates the air
And you don’t understand why I can’t
Use more moderation
And take into consideration the fact
That it’s obnoxious.
I brush, floss, and rinse my teeth
At least twice a day-
You know I practice good hygiene.
Do you see it?
My involuntary looks of sadness
When I think no one is paying attention.
Do you hear it?
The subtle waver in my voice
Every time I begin to speak
And the nervous quality to my ever ready laughter.
Do you feel it?
The ever present charge in the air around me
As I wage a war within my mind
Trying to remain myself as the
Presents itself again.
Do you taste it?
The fear of rejection and pain
Permeating my every interaction,
Plaguing my thoughts as your words
Echo through my mind.
Do you smell it?
The sour sweat of one who is
Struggling just to hold on
And keep moving
And hoping that maybe, just maybe,
Tomorrow will be different.
You see it, but you don’t recognize the signs.
The signs of the silent torment
That I do my very best to keep hidden away
From the eyes of those from whom I seek
You hear it, but it annoys you.
You just wish I’d shut up
And stop making you think about things
When really, all I want
Is for someone to recognize me
As someone who matters.
You feel it, but you ignore it.
You attribute it to the stress that you
And everyone around you
Is going through
And never realize
That it’s so much more than stress that
You taste my fear, but you don’t understand it.
You’ve never been where I am,
You don’t know what I’m going through and
That is not your fault.
You smell it, but you don’t realize what it is.
This is the war I am waging
Trying to stay human,
Keeping to a routine so as not to fall
Back into the deep pit I’ve found myself in
So many times before.
You never see
When I rush to shut my door behind me
And lock out everyone around me.
You never hear
My sobs in my room all alone
Fighting for control and hope.
You never feel
The howling empty abyss in my chest
Lurking for my moment of weakness.
You never taste
The bitterness growing in my mouth as
The long hours of the night drag on.
You never smell
My gasping, wretched breaths
That are too few and too far between.
Those bags under my eyes aren’t
From homework or reading or knitting,
Those bags are from staying out of bed
So the darkness will not be able to take hold.
Those forced, loud, obnoxious giggles
Are actually a cry for help
A mask that I am trying to build in order that
I don’t push you all away,
But it’s a mask that has an opposite effect
Of its intended results.
My hugs and need for closeness
Is not a clingy, needy girl dying for attention,
But a scared, lonely girl
Desperate for affection and support
In this battle.
The salt on my lips from the tears in my
Bloodshot eyes are from my inability to speak
And express what I’m going through.
My trashy aura is me trying
To keep a grip on my life,
To maintain appearances,
To manage what’s going on inside
That is too consuming for me to worry
Too much about my outside.
I can’t let you see
The true terror and loneliness inside
I can’t let you hear
What I’m really thinking
Or what’s really going on.
I can’t let you feel
What I’m feeling,
Because it would break you
And I’d lose you - I know,
You’ve warned me.
I can’t let you taste
The ash that has become my food
And the bitterness that spices my
I can’t let you smell
The rotten stench of the black hole
Inside my chest that wants to
Suck me in
And never let go.
I put on an act,
A show, for you.
I hope you’ll buy it,
But I know you won’t.
I say what I think you want to hear
(And I’m almost always wrong)
Or as much as I can
To keep it all from crashing down
In front of you all.
I hide my fear
And my pain of rejection from you
Because the last thing I want
Is for you to decide that I am too needy
And too much work
I try every morning and every night
To wash away the bitterness,
But it refuses to leave me.
Like a parasite,
It clings to my thoughts and my desires
Darkening my mind
In a dreaded way.
I cover up my desperation
Keeping it hidden
Washing it away under the warm streams
But knowing that it won’t leave.
I’m fighting for control,
But I feel I’ve no one to support me.
I’m begging for help,
But I’m too afraid of losing you.
I know that I can’t do it on my own,
But I need someone to remind me
To turn to the One who can.
Because even as I type these words
I feel myself slipping
Into a swirling, black vortex
Ready to rip away
And throw everything that I am
And everything that I aspire to be
Into the trash.
So what am I to do
When who I truly am
Isn’t what you see?