This is how I feel about a lot of people right now.


This is how I’m afraid I’ll feel one day. I don’t yet, but someday I may.


I like helping people, especially people I care about. It makes me feel better, for a variety of reasons: My friends’ happiness makes me happy; it reassures me that I’m a good person; I no longer feel like I’m trapped in my castle, unable to feel the rest of the world, unable to understand or sympathize or make a difference. Every time I’m able to make someone smile when they’re sad, it erases a little of the frustrated rage at never being able to protect anyone. Every time I help someone keep going, even if I only make the tiniest difference, the world becomes brighter. The future becomes brighter. My hope for my friends becomes brighter.

It wears me down. Of course it does; how could it not? Life wears you down, one way or another. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. My life is filled with joy and ease and peace. I’m lucky. I have options for my future and love in my present. I have so much. I’ve had my issues, like everyone else, but I was lucky to have them all be inside my head. The world wasn’t actually attacking me; I just had to learn to deal with the harsh, dangerous, crazy thing we call living. I do recognize that my life is blessed – well near perfect – and I do know that I don’t have anything ‘real’ to complain about. I’m not trying to belittle myself, don’t worry. I’m just.. apologizing, sort of, for all the fuss I’ve made over little things. They felt big to me.

I’m grateful for all I have. Truly I am. And all my life, my parents have taught me that when you have something in any abundance, you have to give it to others. Good fortune isn’t meant to be jealously hoarded, but shared with as many people as you can reach. Finally I’m old enough to try, and I’m trying as hard as I can.


This song used to make me cry.


My mom doesn’t get it. Or maybe she does, but she can’t stand seeing me in pain any more than I can stand seeing it in my friends, and it makes it hard for her to see why I need to do what I’m trying to do. She doesn’t want me to give of myself so much that I don’t have enough left of me to live my own life. I agree with her, but I don’t want to stop giving of myself. I have to find the balance, yes, the lines I need to draw between my life and other people’s so that my life won’t drown; but I don’t want to draw lines that are too thick just because I don’t know yet what I’m doing. I’d rather draw lines that are too thin.

Pain is a lesson, if you let yourself learn it. It’s like falling down. When you’re little, you run around at top speed, tiny legs hurtling you forward as fast as you can go, until you fall down and skin your knee. Then you wail at the top of your lungs as if your whole world had ended, because you’re not used to the pain. Fast forward a few years: now when you fall and skin your knee, you get up and keep running. You’ve learned to cope with the pain.

Parents want to protect their children from every pain in the world. They all have different ideas on how to do that, but most of them are forced to recognize that sometimes you have to let your children fall down and get hurt. A lot of knowledge and wisdom can be passed on from parent to child, but some lessons need to be learned from falling down.

I’ve stopped telling my mom about my friends’ problems unless they’re so big that I need to get them out immediately. I’ve stopped telling my sister. I never told my dad much, but now I say even less. It’s an automatic response, I guess: if sharing what’s going through my head makes them and me more unhappy than happy, then stop.  It feels like a very teenage thing to do, though I don’t know if it is. It leaves me with fewer people than ever to talk to.


Sometimes it feels like this song takes what I’m feeling and wraps it up, like thread wrapped round a bobbin, so it’s no longer messy and confusing and impossible to deal with.


I don’t want to be rescued. I don’t want to be saved. I’m not in any danger, and I’m not trapped. I’m not suffering any more than I choose to. I just want someone – someone who knows, who understands – to give me a hug. To hold me while I shake with held-back sobs, just for a little bit. Not give any advice, not tell me what I need to do or how far I can go or that I have to stop. Just hold me. I just want someone I can go to who believes I can do this, that I’m strong enough and smart enough to do this right, and who will give me a hug. That’s all I need right now. A hug.


Sometimes this song calms me.






My Grandparents

My grandparents are coming over today. They’re staying in a hotel, which is best for all of us considering we don’t have beds for them or even that many chairs to sit in, but they’ll be here for a week or so.

I haven’t seen them in a long time, so I miss them. But I also feel kind of awkward about it, because… well, it’s awkward.

My grandfather is quiet. He’s very intelligent, too, but he doesn’t love children as much as my grandmother, so I didn’t get to know him as well when I was younger. I want to know him better now, but I don’t know how, so I’m shy around him.

My grandmother is – eh – a very forceful woman. She’s very intelligent, but she also always wants to be the center of attention. If you say something she doesn’t like and doesn’t want to respond to, she will go temporarily deaf. If things are not done the way she likes, she will either complain or get a terse expression on her face – one of long-suffering disapproval. I don’t actually have to deal with her much – I don’t have to deal with her unpleasant side, that is – because my mom has always shielded us from her. But lately I’ve tried to shield her a little in return, give her a little relief. Pay her back, as it were.

Then a few years ago I lost all respect for my grandmother in one night, and I haven’t quite been able to get it back. This means I have to watch myself around her, because I might easily lose my temper and snap at her. I feel bad for being useless to my mother, though; if I’m like this around my grandmother, I can’t promise my mother some time off while I talk to her, not for long. And I really, really don’t want to get into a fight with her. It would end up being bad for my mom more than for me, which isn’t fair.

And the two of them bicker constantly – my grandparents, that is. Actually, it’s just my grandmother constantly nagging my grandfather about something, and he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t appear to mind, and sometimes you can see that they still love each other. It’s odd, but it’s their way.

I should be happy to see them again. I should be feeling bubbly with anticipation. Instead I don’t feel much of anything.

Other People’s Families

How do you defy someone else’s parents? How do you stand up for someone against their own family?

It’s not like I have any right to do so, after all. I know I have no business telling other people how to raise their kids. But sometimes they drive me mad.

My Mao-friends and I are going to have a sleep-over and Harry Potter marathon this Sunday. And now, all of a sudden, Midnight can’t come. Her dad has been in the hospital – nothing critical, I am given to understand, just a small problem – and has just come home, and she herself says “There’s no way he’d let me leave two days after his return.” Implied is the much more straightforward “There’s no way he’d let me go.”

She said earlier that she would be implementing a grand master scheme of deception to ensure that she could come. Apparently her father’s return ruins this plan, and now it’s hopeless. I don’t like that she had to implement such a scheme in the first place. It’s not her whole family that’s difficult, she says, just her father; but she was going to deceive people if she was going to come. I don’t know the details, but still – that’s not right.

I will never be the one to encourage anyone to lie to their parents. I think I did it once, by accident, in ninth grade – it just sort of slipped out – but I am opposed to doing so on principle. Still, sometimes the temptation is so very, very great.

And while I would face down any number of bullies, teachers, principals, generals, presidents and kings to defend my friends, I cannot face down their parents.

I have another friend, Shard, whose mother is . . . She drives me crazy. Every time I go to Shard’s house (and I’ve been there often), her mother compliments me on my grades and berates Shard for not getting better ones herself. She says things like “Maybe it’ll rub off.” She scolds Shard for not offering us something to eat, for not knowing how to cook, for not studying enough, for spending too much time on the computer, for everything. I can’t stand it! Everything within me screams against just standing there with a sour little smile on my face as I just let someone abuse my friend like this. I want to answer her back word for word, I want to rail at her for not only not supporting her daughter in front of her friends, but actively putting her down in front of people who are important to her! How dare she!

I’m not saying parents shouldn’t rebuke their children for egregious behavior, or for not making sensible choices in life. But I was raised with the notion that a family ought to present a united front, and that my parents were and always would be my staunch defenders against the slings and arrows of the world. It’s a large part of who I am today, and I am more than adamant that parents should support their children and encourage their self-esteem, not tear it down.

I try to avoid Shard’s mother when I can. Shard has noticed, and I’ve told her it’s because her mother scares me a little. It’s true that she’s very overbearing, so Shard believes it. I don’t know if she’s guessed the truth – that I find it unpleasant to be around her mother, because I have to be polite to her no matter what she says about Shard. I refuse to agree with any of her such statements, and I end up frequently belittling myself to counterbalance her denigration of her own daughter. Conversation with her is tiring.

Because I can’t say anything, and I know it. I want to go on being Shard’s friend and seeing her regularly and such, and that won’t be possible if her mother dislikes me or thinks I’m a bad influence. So I have to just grin and bear it.

Midnight says that it’s not possible to live in her house without lying. She says it’s hell now that her father is back. What am I supposed to do with that?! What am I supposed to do to fix that?! Why can’t I fix it??! It’s not right. I should be able to make life easier for my friends. I shouldn’t just be sitting here, hating that she lives like this and wishing I were the kind of person who hits things when they’re mad, so at least I could release some tension that way. Aaargh. Why is it that no matter how ready I am to stand up for my friends, it’s never that easy? Why is it I can only offer comfort and support, when what I want to offer is a tongue-lashing of the run-away-crying-for-mommy-and-doubting-your-own-fundamental-philosophies-of-living kind? Why don’t my friends just have bullies I can eviscerate, instead of complicated family problems I can’t meddle in? Why does it have to be so hard?