I have never felt so empty before.
A few weeks ago, J tore me apart. They told me that our friendship meant nothing to them, that caring about me made them feel like they lived a lie, that they would enjoy college more if they could forget about me. J meant so much to me, and they used that knowledge only to bludgeon me, to break me apart.
I had so much to accomplish today, with over 15 things on my to-do list. But just a few hours ago, I got a text from someone with bad news. I tried to reach out, but everyone I knew had something occupying them – a train ride, a week full of exams, their own issues, etc. – so I made the worst mistake.
I called J.
Hearing their voice – their casual uncaring – thrust me back into the storm they threw me in just a few weeks ago. After we hung up, I crouched down on the cold tile ground and sobbed. I told myself: you have so much to do today, so many people depend on you, two weeks have passed, you should feel stronger now. But all I heard, the only thoughts that really sunk in: no one cares about you, you should have known not to trust J, you should have known that even time cannot heal something so horrible.
As I write this, I sit on the window sill of my dorm room, looking out toward a field of trees and sunlight that almost touches the building’s brick edge. Tears still fall all across my notebook, little drops that stain the loose-leaf and blur my words. I grip my pen like a rod of fire, like it gives me light and burns me all at once.
I remember that when my mother abused me as a child, I would always cry and run to my grandmother. My grandmother always told me that I would grow up and escape my mom; in Vietnamese, she would ask me where I hurt, tell me I would make it out alive, and she would listen to me until my sobs stopped. I felt so much fear as a child, but my grandmother eased it, lightened it, just enough so I could one day make my escape.
I do not want to live in fear. J has hurt me, has made me doubt every single one of my friends, and has made me cry more than I ever have in college. But even if I lose several hours of productivity to J and my family issues, I will make it out of this storm. Even if the water tries to blind me, I will drink it in and spit it out and let it soak into every pore of my body.
I have always lived my life as someone who cares about others. I care about my friends, I care about mental health, and I care about myself. Even if J took that caring and tossed it into the ocean, even if they held my head underwater and laughed as I fought for our friendship, I will come back up for air. I will breathe again, even stronger than I did before.
A storm rages all around me, and I cannot control it. But I can control myself. I can still choose to care. I will care, no matter what.