I have a problem, don't I? I hurt myself constantly, I belittle and mock myself. I torture myself psychologically, and increasingly physically.

Some see how I can endure as a sign of strength. They don't know why; they don't know what I've done to myself. I've internalized unloving voices who inflict pain and say it's for my own good. Sometimes I can speak up, push those voices aside and allow myself hope. Even then, the sound I make is so small, so timid compared to theirs. And all too easily silenced by the nature of the world.

"Don't hope, don't love, don't open yourself up. It'll just be like the last time," they say.
"See? We were right," they say.
"You do not deserve such things," they say.

When I am hurt or confused or broken, I can only nod my head and agree. It becomes so much easier to wash out the colors of the world. Gray backgrounds, muted foregrounds like the pages of my artwork.

"How stupid of me, I should have known it was a mistake," I say.
"No, it's better to stay away. It's easier for everyone," I say.
"Better me than them," I say.

So goes the filling of the reservoir, the cistern where I keep all the things I abandon. Pains and miseries neatly stockpiled to give others the impression of a working human being. When the levy becomes too much to sustain, I sequester myself to locked and private places. Tears change meaning; no longer a sign of something wrong, but the only means to endure.

"It'll be okay."

"It'll be okay."



"It'll be okay. It doesn't hurt at all."