Ghosts of Suburbs Past

 

Originally published in November 2014

Once upon a time
This place was beautiful and mine
But now it’s just a bottom line
Barely comes to mind
But ever after was mine
-Marianas Trench

 

Every time I go home to my parents’ house, it’s a battle to retain the progress I have made with my mental health.

The last time I lived here, I was blissfully (by my current standards) in love with someone who I now haven’t seen in more than 6 months, who I miss more than anything. And I had friends who I loved and who I hoped loved me. So every time I go home, I’m reminded of all of that, everything we did and everything we didn’t do.

Being here feels like I’m struggling with three different versions of myself – the happy one, the devastated one, and my current self. I’m okay. I’m not as happy as I was, but I’m okay.

I try to limit the number of times I come home – lately it’s been about once a month – because of that, and because I feel like I don’t belong here. I feel like everyone who is now gone from my life took this place away from me.

But that’s not fair. I grew up here. I’ve lived here longer than some of them did. And I would never want to live here again but it is still my home – one of them.

I lived here long before I fell in love, long before any of the ghosts that haunt me now started to follow me around.

And just like I’ve learned that they don’t get to tell me who I am, they don’t get to tell me where I can go, either.

I’m probably always going to feel anxious when I’m here, I know that. The anxiety is more of a result of the stress of me trying to manage the intense sadness I feel than of actual fear. But I hope that I can lessen it to a point where it’s more subtle, easier to deal with.

And you know what, sometimes you just have to let yourself cry. I get so anxious with all of the things that I feel that I don’t want to be feeling, feel like I shouldn’t be feeling, that I’m terrified of expressing them, thinking that will automatically lead to a breakdown. But crying for one night doesn’t automatically equal a breakdown.

Ultimately, the reason why I never truly fit in here is because I feel too much. Every single one of my friends either just didn’t appear to HAVE feelings or hid them most of the time. Although there were a few exceptions, we weren’t the kind of friends who could cry on each other’s shoulders. Any time someone expressed emotion (usually me, though I learned fast to stop doing that, or my ex, which is why we got along so well) it was frowned upon and that person would be kind of made fun of.

So I guess now, crying or feeling anything intensely makes me feel more like the loser that I’ve been taught that I am.

But like, come on. I’m still in the grieving process. I should just be glad that I’ve come this far, because I thought it would never get better. And it has gotten better. Now I only end up crying a few times a month, whereas it used to be every day. It was a long-ass relationship, and I’m allowed to be sad about it for a long-ass time. If that’s how I feel, that’s how I feel. That’s okay, as long as it doesn’t run my life. None of my former friends have gone through anything even remotely similar to this, as far as I know. I can’t judge myself by their standards.

All I know is that I’m going to try my very hardest to stop looking around in paranoid fear every time I go out in public, feeling scared that I’ll run into someone. I may not ‘belong’, but I have every right to be here if I want to be. And it’s not my fault that I don’t belong. It’s theirs. There’s nothing actually wrong with me; there probably is something wrong with them for being closed-minded.

I’m taking back this town. My memories, my beautiful memories, are all I have now of everything I lost, and so even though it is difficult for me, I never want to forget. I have to make a conscious effort to be here. I can’t let a fear of ghosts chase me away.

It’s a constant battle, one that I’m legitimately scared to fight, but I will fight and this time I will win.

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