I intend to not wake up tomorrow
That would’ve been a good farewell note. I’ve been tempted for a few nights to leave this on my Facebook wall, perhaps wait for a few minutes for the trickle of reactions and alarmed messages, or if none came, just let it be and at once be done with everything. I still remember that knot I had learned to do when I was 21 and couldn’t find a reason to live.
In the mornings, I am notorious in my family for being the last one to rise. For the past weeks, I’ve slept late, not because of work or the papers to write for my online classes, but because I was either busy convincing myself that I am all right and worth something, or crying in bed because I failed to win this one argument with myself which came up just as I was about to call it a day. I once told a friend there might be something wrong with the wirings in my brain. You see, for the first few nights I tried reaching out to people I am close with, who were kind enough to reassure me and give me recommendations like breathing exercises and online counseling. As the days went on, though, I began to suspect I was turning into that person they would have to walk on eggshells when talking to.
On these nights I try to place myself in the grand scheme of things and against the backdrop of this pandemic. I am fortunate because I have parents who provide the basics, a mattress to sleep on, and a job that pays even when I’m home.
And yet in the silence of the night it is easy for the mind to be clouded with questions. What am I here for? Why do I have to bother people? My friends? My family? Who is that ugly and shapeless blob looking back at me in the mirror? Why are you not good at the things you are supposed to be good at? At times there are no questions at all, only this hollow feeling as I look up at a dead clock on a wall in my room.
These questions and sense of emptiness reduce me to this man clutching at his heart as everyone in the house lies in peaceful sleep. The pain in my chest would be too much; sometimes I have to punch myself in the gut or my head just to fool myself into thinking that the pain could be worse. Whenever I fail to die from a heart attack, I make a trip to the kitchen to stare at the knife rack and wonder how deep a cut should be to wipe me off the face of the Earth. Sometimes I assess the power of my blanket to carry the weight of my swaying body under a pole by the ceiling.
I don’t get the answers to my questions, or if I do, they often are the wrong ones. However, I did realize that the answers could come from outside of myself, beyond the clutches of my cynicism. Sometimes I am convinced to live by our dog who barks at me as if I’m a stranger in our own kitchen. Sometimes, a sentence from a good book. A love song from a foreign TV series. Eating a certain variant of instant noodles. Hearing my father greet everyone in the house a good morning. Seeing my mother beam with pride when we tell her how good was the dish she prepared for us. Or just that hope — however frayed it is — that we get to live like we used to.
One time, I told one of my teachers that her class, which now must be done online, is one of my reasons to live. The class is a writing workshop, and in it I have the chance to read a slice of my classmates’ lives and realize that they, too, have gone through tough times.
That we are not alone is perhaps a good reason to soldier on.
I am not saying all these because I got it all figured out. I still have trouble sleeping at night, and during the day I stay in my room so that the people I love won’t see the pained and distant look in my eyes. I miss school deadlines and sometimes have a hard time finding the drive to face the work piled on the monitor. I still stare at the knife rack. I stifle tears when faced with others.
It is a given that a lot of things in our life are out of our control, like this pandemic, or my wanting to tell everyone “I wish to inform you of my intent not to wake up tomorrow.” But I must also acknowledge the fat chance of waking up tomorrow, of opening my eyes to see the sunlight filtered by my room window, to see the shadows of moving things on my wall. The fat chance of getting better.
By the time I sit with my family at the table, I face my breakfast while they trudge on with their lunch. I am notorious among us for being a late riser — connot because I wake up late, but because for the past few weeks I take my time to justify the need to rise.
For better or for worse, I still do.
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George Deoso, 23, lives in Quezon City and, like everyone else, is doing his best to survive and is hoping for everyone’s safety.
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