One hundred & nine.
I picture myself writing, in cursive, “one hundred and nine dollars & 0/100” on a check. But it’s people, one hundred & nine people. Can I remember the names of one hundred & nine people? Can I marry one hundred & nine people?
One hundred & nine people donated a total of $5,057 for me to get better.
I had to run to the bathroom at work, sit on the toilet, & take deep breaths as I sobbed. It was not the first time I’ve done that. I’ve probably done that one hundred & nine times. This is my favorite crying toilet, but I've never cried here for a good reason. There’s a joke in there, somewhere.
One time I cried in here because the night before, my father had called me, incoherent. He forgot my name for a minute. Sometimes he does that. It’s hard to stomach. I dreamt all night about losing him & woke up in the morning, aching, knowing that it is far more likely that he would lose me first. That he would never walk me down the aisle.
I’ve always wanted children. I still want children. I want love, a family, a pig, & a house with a yard. I tell people I don’t think I’m the marriage type, but what I mean is, “I don’t think I’ll be alive long enough to find love”.
There are trips I don't go on & plans I don't make because in the back of my head I honestly think, "I might not be here". In fact, I just went on my first ever adult vacation because I got accepted to a comedy festival. If there wasn't a reason, I would not have left. Left Houston, left my bed.
I have never been able to fully pursue these things, these normal, happy-people things, because I have what I have always considered to be a terminal illness. I knew one day, I would be too tired to fight the Beast. I know that the illness is not me - it is some other, a monster, a cancer, it is diabetes if diabetes held a gun to your head & told you to do it, if diabetes had razor blades for fingers & grabbed you by the neck once a week. If diabetes could literally transform your body in a mirror so that when you look, you don’t really see yourself. It’s diabetes if diabetes held your head under water for 3 minutes straight, 3 times a day, & the only way you could stop it was punching your own thigh until it’s bruised (you HAVE to hurt yourself, you MUST). This illness is Jason Vorhees, you kill it every single day, & when you wake up, it’s back, it’s alive, it’s hovering over you in your bed, bloody & hungry for you.
I’ve probably tried to die over one hundred & nine times. I know I’ve been in the hospital for it 4 times, but there were other times, times I told no one, times the pills didn’t stay down long enough, times the shower rod just fell right off, times that felt like the Beast Itself resuscitated me just to keep me alive to torture. No one really knows about those times, because the Beast makes me hide it. The Beast wants me to be quiet.
One day ago, I was the least quiet about it that I’ve ever been. I told everyone that I needed out of this abusive relationship with myself, that the Beast keeps going, QUIT HITTING YOURSELF, QUIT HITTING YOURSELF, like a middle school bully. I opened up my sticky, cancerous, tar-black insides for thousands of people, & one hundred & nine of them decided that saving my life would be pretty cool. Some of them friends, many of them strangers. The damage this illness does to my brain makes it so that this number of people caring for me is not even humanly possible, but my bank account proves that it is. You can’t argue with numbers.
Tomorrow I am calling a center to start treatment, & I am panicking. I have no idea who I am without this illness. Will more be expected of me? Will I have to get a Roth IRA now? Will I still be allowed to sleep away a Sunday? Will I stop inappropriately crying when people are kind to me (because I can’t be kind to myself)? Will I be kind to myself?
I still know it’s a good thing, I still know it’s what I need. I imagine a day without my head stuck in a painful black cloud & I breathe deeper then I ever have in my life, down to my toes, to the arches of my feet.
I’m allowing myself to feel hope again because at least one hundred & nine people have given me permission. I love every single one of you. Here’s to allowing hope in. Here’s to not being alone, even when you’re alone, because one hundred & nine people are out there, praying & paying for you to be happy. Here’s to figuring out what happy is.