Last night when we held hands
I felt your heart beat so fast
and I wondered why mine
You know I love you but my
heart stayed steady, so the blood
in me stayed cool.
I liked your hand,
all warm and strong and wrapped snug
you saying you didn’t care about
I felt guilty that my heart
didn’t betray me like yours did,
like crime scene evidence
that my heart is broken, all the love
leaked out and staining
the cement and chalk.
I will shake with sobs
on the couch
in the office,
cover my face and
wish it were over.
I will build a pyramid
of used tissues in my lap
as my tears stream;
slowly working through
the questions, and,
I will leave thinking I am
too late— but you will call
asking for advice,
and I will pay this mercy
I will do what I can,
because I love you.
It’s all I have left,
Everyone laughs; it’s
then I feel that, though broken,
we might be okay.
Your face is red.
Transparent tracks of tears wash your cheeks.
A tissue rubs at your nose.
A dozen eyes focus in.
Not even a breath disturbs the silence of your sobs.
So young, little child, so young to be brokenhearted.
So young to feel this weight
and doubt that anyone can understand.
I am a pair of eyes trained on your agony.
No matter what we say to lift you,
I fear you have lost all hope.
These are things I tell myself when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, which happens about once on good days.
- You are invisible. People who look at you can’t really see you.
- Humans can smell fear. As long as you don’t act afraid, they won’t hurt you.
- Name off as many words as you can that begin with C but make the S sound. Cistern, circular, celestial…
- Notice people’s shoes.
- Count in Binary on your fingers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
- Don’t step on the cracks.
- Sing happy songs. “You Are My Sunshine,” “Danny Boy,” “Into the West,” “If All the Raindrops…”
- Make believe you’re someone else, someone who’s normal and happy.
- Hide in the bathroom until your brain stops humming.
- Crying in bathroom stalls is allowed. Just get quiet when other shoes shuffle inside.
- Hugging yourself is allowed.
- Don’t smile unless you want to. They can’t take that choice away from you.
- Don’t speak.
- Pretend you’re safe.
- This isn’t real life. Real life is much better. You’ll get there someday.
- There are other Maneys out there. They understand that people can get broken.