juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I've never approved of the message "it gets better" as a way of surviving suffering. It's well-intentioned, but it teaches that suffering must be borne rather than changed, that everything depends on the hope of miraculous salvation. It's a toxic message—and I say that because for a long time, things didn't get better for me. The more that I depended on the promise that they would, the more I suffered: from the mental health issues that surfaced at the end of high school but oh, don't worry, it gets better when you graduate—through the first two years of hell at college but oh, it'll be better at a different school—collapsing utterly when I transferred, and reaching the lowest and most dangerous period of my life. It destroyed my hope, to be constantly promised a brighter future and always denied it. And as powerful as hope is, its absence is stronger.

I don't believe in promising that it will get better, if you just live through this, last until then, and wait for everything to change. I believe in supporting people in the now. I believe in not waiting out suffering, but trying to combat it.

Which is all well to say, but the truth is that I spent so long hurting, depressed, and hopeless that not only did I no longer believe that it could get better, I was afraid that it would. The higher I was, the further that I had to fall. For years people told me that I was afraid to be happy, and the truth is that they were right—because if even hope could hurt me, then imagine the harm that happiness could do.

I'm happy now, and it scares the everloving shit out of me.

I just spent a long weekend visiting Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) up north. I met her family; I stayed in her house. I met Lyz ([livejournal.com profile] sisterite) on Saturday, for the first time since we became friends six years ago.

Each time that something like this happens, I'm certain that I'll fuck it up. I'll be quiet and boring, or desperate and self-conscious, and I'll definitely forget to say things and fail to be the engaging, intelligent individual that I purport to be. I'll be boring and boorish and awkward, and there will be no spark after all. There's such anticipation surrounding these things, you know—and there's always a fear, my fear, that it will turn out so mundane, with no magic at its heart.

And maybe that's precisely how it goes.

But I also gave Dee Persona 3, and I watched her play the first few hours, and we both loved it. I squeed to see familiar faces again (there are so many in those first few days, hiding in the background!) and she called me adorable. It's hard to give a gift of something that you really love, hard not to demand that the recipient love it too, hard not to fear they won't—but I think she can and will, and she's certainly enjoying it so far, and that's awesome.

Dee's mother is personable and kind and, even to misfit-me, comfortable to be around. Her brother cooks food to make the house smell like heaven, and baked chocolate lava muffins which were as good as promised—warm and delicious, crunchy outside and smooth inside, deep dark chocolate. Their cats are adorably strange, as cats will be; Casey the dog loves you, loves loves loves you from the moment you get to the door, and it is impossible not to feel wanted in the face of that love. Dee's mother's house is a gem, like something from a painting—everything so small and sweet, neat and precise, a triangle of light against the winter dark.

Lyz is beautiful in person—so vibrant, gorgeous coloring and fresh red hair, a rich voice and good sense of humor, a beautiful bohemian look and her umbrella had ruffles on it. I'd underestimated how lovely she would be—which is saying something! We ate remarkable flourless chocolate torte at Wild Ginger, which is saying something too because my tastes in that field are practiced and refined: chewy and dense with a hint of crunch at the crust, served with whipped cream (Chantilly cream, by the way, is just sweetened, sometimes flavored, whipped cream), and topped with crushed almond praline which to my surprise was the perfect delicate, crumbly, sweet counterpoint to the dense cake. (A+, would eat again.)

Downtown Seattle shined with rain and Christmas lights, and Dee and I shared an umbrella. (Washington flooded over the weekend from all that rain.) Pike Place was a new scent on the air each time the wind changed direction. Closer to home, Dee took me to a local used bookstore where the floor creeks and books are shoved into every cranny, where the paperbacks are a little warped and everything is refreshingly cheap. Driving out of town on Monday the landscape was still swathes of dim water, bare trees and yellow brush, and a shroud of creeping mist—and while it disturbed the train service, it was as beautiful as something in the best gothic novel.

And yes: I'm still nervous, and I will always be quiet and strange, and I forget to say things. I make poor eye contact. It takes a long time for me to get comfortable. I am mundane after all. These trips, these meetings, are too: just a few folk, in a place, together.

And outside of these incredible trips and meetings, my life is nothing special. I do nothing and contribute less. My mind's a mess, and it may always be.

But there is so much, these days, which is right.

Despite being awkward and normal and quiet, people still love me. Despite a strange and busy December, I can still have a beautiful holiday season. Despite it all, amazing things happens. Despite it all, they promise to happen again. Despite it all—

Despite being normal, imperfect, and scared out of my skin—

I want them to.

I went through long years when I wasn't able to be happy. I went through years when I thought it was impossible, when I was afraid of the very idea. But when happiness hits you this damn hard and unforgiving—when it hits me, like a bullet in the head—no matter how terrifying (and it is terrifying), it's undeniable too.

I love almost every Florence + The Machine song, and I sing them loud and find them so affecting, but every now and then I hear one of those songs—songs which I know by heart—as if I'm hearing them for the first time. I hear it deep down, and finally understand what it means—what it means to me. I listened to Dog Days Are Over on the ride up to Washington, and found it to be true.

This comes like a bullet, like a train, it hits so hard and scares me so much. I don't mean to exaggerate—I'm still normal, my life is still imperfect, and even this wonderful weekend was just a little trip up north. But even for a normal little girl there are apocalypses and revelations. These are mine. They are large and strong, and terrifying.

These days, I'm happy.

(And I never wanted anything from you, except all that you had and what was left after that too.)


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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