How can you love me? How can you love someone who’s more visibly broken than you? You’ve seen me cry so many times, I’ve stopped counting. And I’ve cracked so much under pressure. Because I am just so overwhelmed with the stress. You see, my family tree’s roots are gnarled with anxiety, and contain dots of the chemical imbalance of depression. For so long, I was safe from the leaves, until they started to catch up to me, perpetuated by the paycheck to paycheck, my mother’s outbursts, my father’s cynicism, my sister’s melancholy, and the feeling of feeling trapped in a neverending cycle of the same fucking mistakes. Escaping is so hard when all I can focus on is how I am going to manage to do everything. I am working as many jobs as I can to support my education. I place too many standards on myself to be better, and they end up weighing me down, especially when I disappoint myself. And when my veins are only fueled by coffee and the bags under my eyes are covered by concealer, I am at my worst: self-inflicted anxiety I can’t get out of because my parents have been drowning for years in the negation of the American Dream. So I break down, snapping off of my family tree, my own island. But even islands are not completely separate from their mother archipelago. And I feel the worst when I feel like I am only leaning on you. When I take everything that has come crumbling down and throw it in your undeserving face. I hate myself the most in those moments. But you don’t blame me for my feelings. You tell me to breathe. You tell me that it’s almost over. I will become a sovereign state in two years. You understand why I react the way I do. But nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that I have hurt you. I can’t tell you I’m sorry because I’ve already told you that a million times over. But I can tell you that I’m trying to be better. I can tell you that I have been turning to people who can help me glue the cracks. And you tell me that you can see me for who I am. You know that I am more than my family tree. You instead fuse your branches with mine, giving me some of your strength so I no longer feel like my own worst enemy.
Kayla Bush is a sophomore creative writing and publishing/editing double major. She serves as the secretary for SU Slam alongside many other roles on campus. Her passions include coffee, showing up to work and exec meetings with cereal, updating her plantstagram, and purchasing as many Button Poetry books as she can.