This story is by Darci Ward and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I try my best to be a kind person, friend, sibling, and daughter but all my efforts are for not. No matter what I do or what I say, it’s never enough. If I make one mistake, they all turn their backs on me. It’s made me afraid to get close to people. We say all the time that we don’t care what others think about us; but I think deep down, being isolated, forced to only hear the negative comments, the hate speech, and the mocking, can break a person at their core.
You feel inadequate, defective, and worth throwing away. I am suffocating silently in the confines of these four walls with no one willing to reach out and pull me from the suffering. I made this room of glass, allowing me to have solitude but remaining uncomfortable. I can see outside, hearing the words in the shapes of weapons hurled at these glass panes.
At first the words shattered my glass box. They pierced my flesh, wounding my body with the hate they’re laced with. The broken shards of glass in the form of my own insecurities and self-doubt cut my skin, leaving more wounds. I built thicker, stronger glass, not easily shattered by the words of others. I thought I had fixed the problem, but I didn’t. Instead of piercing words, I ended up with their hate splattered all around me. I could no longer see outside of my four walls. Now I had to see those words all around me; when I woke up, went to bed, even in my dreams there they were, reminding me how useless and bothersome I am to the people I thought cared about me.
The fragmented shards of my insecurities and self-doubt still litter the floor. The expressions on the outside can no longer reach my body, but now every time I read one of them, I stab my wounded body with one of those hate-laced shards from before. It’s funny, the isolation and hate from the outside hasn’t physically harmed me more than the emotional harm I have inflicted upon myself. Never allowing the wounds to heal, because things always get worse, even if they seem to get better. I can’t handle that kind of letdown, my heart won’t be able to handle it. I’ve barely got it together with tape and band-aids.
So, I repainted over their words. The glass is black now. If I can’t see them, then I won’t be harmed or reminded how pathetic and annoying I am. I am alone. I sit within the confines of these four walls I built to protect me from cruel judgements that live just beyond them. Instead, I have trapped myself within a black box of my design. With nothing to do but wallow in my failures as a friend, daughter, sister, and person.
I do not know how long it’s been since I left this place. I piece together the broken fragments on the floor into bigger structures of my growing insecurities and self-doubt. They are morphing into my own demons, helping them to develop into self-loathing and hatred. My body is weak, and the cuts are getting deeper by day to supply these demons with nutrients. Funny, I am what they need to survive, but with every passing day I am one cut away from ending my existence. I have come to peace with that though, it’s not like anyone on the outside will miss me anyway.
Then it happened. A pinhole of light pierced the black abyss of my box.
When was the last time I’ve seen the light of day? I’m afraid of what you’re doing out there. Who are you? Why are you wiping away the black that’s shielded me from the cruelty of the outside? Each day you show up with your rag and continue to clean my barrier. You never complain when I bash my bloody fists against the glass: screaming at you to stop. You just smile at me with eyes that emit patience and understanding. The days have started to pass. Soon I wait for you to come, and you do. Your voice is compassionate with words that are calm and reassuring. There is no malice or intent to harm hidden behind them. I say little, paranoid at what you want from me.
Finally, the day has come and you’ve removed all the black I had cocooned myself inside of.
For the first time, unfamiliar words were written, painted beautifully with every stroke as if every letter was a precious gift. They aren’t black words. Each one is a different bright color. I am here, you matter, and it’s okay. They confuse me. Someone truly cares about me. Me? This is a foreign language. I’m trying to make sense of it. Every day, you write something new, something loving, something reminding me you mean no destruction. You only want to end my loneliness and suffering. You want nothing from me except: friendship. Now the walls splashed with a rainbow of encouragement and perseverance have slowly become comforting.
I read the words every day until you arrive. Do I deserve this? Someone who doesn’t stare at me with disdain or pity? For so long I’ve lived believing that I will rot in this room alone, in this deteriorating void of a “life”, with my demons draining me of everything I am. Gently, your knocking on the glass brought back my attention. Has there always been a door here?
You’re pointing at a doorknob; now I see this door that never was before. And it’s locked from the inside. I could have left this box anytime? My hands are trembling, even so I am reaching for the knob. You’re writing again, this time on the door: You can trust me because you’re not alone anymore. I feel my demons spitting their acid like fears into my ears, but I want to trust you. I want so desperately to hold onto this. I don’t want you to leave like the rest or turn on me. I’m petrified by that more than I was when I built this box.
So, I opened the door.
The glass walls splintered, eventually shattering around me. Hysterical and shaking, the commotion of fleeing demons and exploding glass stopped me where I stand. Was this a mistake? I haven’t noticed you walking through the glass, allowing my jagged insecurities to cut into your feet. Was this a mistake to let you in here? Suddenly, the warmth of your embrace hugging my body brought me back, yet again. I’m crying? I can’t stop the tears flowing down my face. You’re just standing there, letting me cry my muffled agonizing screams into your shoulder. For once, someone cares about me. This was no mistake.
It’s taken some time to clean up all the broken words from the floor. My demons are still biting me from time to time, but with you by my side I am getting better. You have helped me to stop isolating myself into these self-destructive shells. Instead, you showed me how to take those broken shards, paint them stunning colors, and display their beauty. You have helped teach me we are all broken and we all have demons ravishing our minds and hearts; but with people who love you, they are easier to conquer.
Thank you for being my friend and accepting all my flaws, insecurities, and pain. And thank you and for shattering that black box I had trapped myself in.