On the outside, I’m functioning. I walk, talk, breathe and speak like the rest of the people in this world, but on the inside, I’m curled up in a dark corner. I haven’t moved an inch from my rusting, dingy post since last fall, and every time I think I might’ve slayed the dragon within, it finds a way to pull me back in. It speaks to me in a low, coarse tone, expanding the shrill fear that is embedded in my blood. It furthers my sick belief in the validity of my insecurities, and then, I am stuck. I am left rocking back and forth in the corner of my mind while I smile and wave politely at the onlookers from here to those beyond. But on the inside, I’m drowning and sinking in an ocean of doubt and self-hatred, and it feels so…good here. I’ve cried sordid tears of blood for years, and over time, those tears have formed a batch of their own, forging the self-destruction that was created at the hand of my own knife. So really, this is all I know. I might even call it home. I often wonder what life was like before I allowed my brain and my innocence to crumble under the tyranny of my weaknesses. When did I stop fighting the good fight, only to go to war against myself? I’ve called to the gods of the world begging for a life other than mine. Perhaps a bird who is unrestricted by all other than the limits of the sky. Or maybe, a shoe, or a pair of eyes to see the beauty in all things dreary, ears to hear the music in all that has been silenced. If just for a moment, I could not be me, perhaps I’d understand how I allowed the demise of my soul. Everywhere you look, there are magical words of wisdom and encouragement that are supposed to raise you up from the ashes of a hypothetical death, make you shiny and pretty, and then send you off into the world to be brand new. A “new you!” they say. What they fail to understand is that when you’ve squelched your own light by choking it with the darkness residing within, there aren’t any amount of adjectives and verbs that will make you love yourself. There isn’t a step-by-step guide on how to wake up every day and not want to die. Just once, I want to look at myself and be grateful for my existence. I want to relish the accolades that I’ve redeemed rather than be misunderstanding of how a person so emotionally and mentally distraught could be worthy of such things. Ah, and there it is. The truth has spilled out. I am completely unworthy and undeserving of life and breath, but for some reason, I am still here. There is a war going on at the top of my staircase, and a small child looks on with glassy, hopeless eyes. She gazes at the filth before her and understands that life will never be the same. And right in front of the gun-toting, blood-stained monster, she kills herself before it killed her. Knowing she’d never win was more than she could bear.