My Dark Creature At a young age I remember holding a blade against my wrist. I remember hating myself for not being able to take the next step. I remember the tears flowing down my cheeks as I tried to rationalize what I was doing, but I was nine and rationalizing was not something that came easy to me. All I could think about was who would find me after and at the time that’s the only thing I think that stopped me. Three years later though I no longer cared who would find me because I had convinced myself that whoever did wouldn’t care, but still I couldn’t push the blade deep enough. I did however get to a point where I could cut to the point of pain. I have had this dark creature with me for as long as I can remember, sitting on my shoulder whispering sweet sicknesses into my ear. For a long time I could ignore it, put on a fake smile and brush it off for a short period of time. But each time I brushed it off it only grew bigger and then jumped back on pulling me down harder each time, destroying the smile I had so carefully designed. I always assumed everyone else had their own special creature weighing them down. I assumed nobody mentioned them because that was the proper thing to do, so I never mentioned mine, pretending as though death wasn’t a constant whisper in my ear. Then as I grew up the creature died down a little as I made real friends. At times they would show me their creatures, showing me it wasn’t an uncommon thing to have dark thoughts, showing me I wasn’t completely alone. But I never realized that their creatures were so much different than mine. Don’t get me wrong, their creatures were bad and nothing to just brush past, but their creatures were not mine. Their creatures did not tear them apart every second of every day. They, I feel, got breaks from their creatures while mine was a constant weight that would pull me down into a ball of tears every night. While I did not get a break from my creature, I pretended that I did. For as long as it had been on my shoulder I had learned to build my life around it. I had learned to strengthen my smile on the really bad days, I had learned how to act as though it wasn’t there so no one got glimpses at it because that’s what I thought I had to do. That’s what I thought everybody did. That’s why I think I’ve become so good at looking past people’s negativity, because I understand that it wasn’t them it was their creature that made them have their bad days, so I would befriend them instead of push them away as everybody else did. I just assumed nobody wanted to deal with their own creatures as well as somebody else’s but I always wanted to help because I knew how bad creatures could be and I never wanted somebody to feel the way I did. Then around sophomore year of high school I slowly realized that this creature on my shoulder whispering these sicknesses into my ear was not something everyone dealt with. It was something I had to deal with, but the creature did not like being recognized. In that realization my creature only grew bigger, but now I was staring it right in the face and it shattered me. I had for so long tried to ignore my creature that I never realized how huge it had grown. I had never realized how much it had taken from me. I had for so long put on a fake smile to keep it at bay, but with my realization came the death of my carefully designed smile. I could no longer make myself pretend to be OK because now that I had looked my creature in the face it demanded to always be seen. I had built my life around hiding my creature but now that it was out everything else in my life crumbled down around it. I turned to anything that could subdue it but that only made things worse. I turned to the real friends that I had made but when asked to face my creature they turned away. I turned to my family and they caught me but that didn’t mean they understood or knew how to deal with my creature, but they tried and they stayed and they were there for me. The loss of my friends though sent me tumbling. I didn’t know how to explain to them the reason for my actions or the way I was treating them. All I knew was that I needed them, but they weren’t there. Not really. I kept thinking it was all my fault. I kept thinking that if I had only hid it better or said something sooner or done something different I could have saved my friendships, but I was not the one that destroyed them. They made their decision and as much as I needed them they still left me. And I can’t say how much that hurt that the people I had always been there for, the people who asked me to help them with their creatures, the people who I felt were like family to me left me when they saw my true creature. I don’t know their full side of course; there could be so much more to this story, but I’ll never know it because they chose to “take a break” from me and they chose not to talk to me. I have to respect those decisions no matter how much they hurt me. How could I ask them to bear my creature with me? My creature is a part of me, a part that’s not going away anytime soon. I guess I just thought that real friends would stick through the hard times, but then again how can I ask them to? My creature is not going away. Not easily. I know I have a lot of hard days to come but my realization is that my creature, no matter the pain it’s caused in my life, is so much better than my fake smile. It is so much better than hiding it. It is so much better than pretending it’s not there. Because even though it’s grown I can now stare it down. I can now speak to people about it and they can help me. I can now go to the people I know will stay with me through it all. I have figured out a lot about myself by staring down my creature. I have learned my path in life, I have learned who is there for me and I have learned that I can be truly happy with myself. And even though I may not be there yet I can finally see a light because my creature is starting to shrink, not fast and not a lot, but it is. I hate my creature so much but I know now that it is not always going to be there. So to the friends I’ve lost and the people I’ve hurt and disappointed: I am so sorry but I am not the person you used to know. That person wasn’t real. They were just a carefully designed smile. But the parts that mattered, the happy parts where I wanted to be with people, where I wanted be there for people, where I was actually giving glimpses of the real me, are still there in me. So I am no longer the person you knew but if you would like to get to know the new me, the real me, I would love nothing more than to be with you again and show you who I really am.