Healing Hope

Mikaila Manesh

Grocery Worker

I stared at my food, knowing that if I picked my eyes up someone else would end up asking me if I was okay, and I didn’t know if I could lie another time today. Normally, I would spend my lunch break talking and laughing with others. Today, I felt as though there was a pit in my chest. Whenever I felt this way, I would enjoy the comfort of silence in the conference room. It was rare if two people would be in here at one time. I finished my sandwich before I sat back. I had a few minutes left before it was time to put the mask back on. Today had been so busy and I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish anything that I wanted to. It made me feel like I was an even bigger failure. 

I heaved a sigh, perking up a bit as I saw one of my favorite coworkers, “Hey!”  After a brief catch up, I was asked the dreaded question. I chewed the inside of my cheek, knowing I had the option to answer properly, “No. I am just missing a lot. I am missing a lot of people and I really feel like I am missing me. I mean I can be an independent person. I have never been one to feel like I needed a romantic relationship, but for once? I wish I had someone. I can’t remember the last time I hugged someone.” I blinked hard, staring at the ceiling as I silently wished that it didn’t feel like there was an invisible hand holding the words in my throat while my tears threatened to spill over. I wasn’t expecting to feel so many emotions in the span of thirty seconds.

At this moment, I hated that I couldn’t keep my emotions buried. Usually, I could keep up my sunshine persona even when I was struggling. I wanted to plead for a hug, someone squeezing my shoulder, or even a high five. I desperately wanted the hug over everything else so I could feel like I was being held together, even it if was for five seconds. I knew, deep down, that no one would break the six-foot rule. Yet, in this moment of need, I couldn’t make myself be selfish. I couldn’t beg for a hug. After a deep breath, I finally looked at her. 

“I know how lucky I am to have Will and I don’t take that for granted. I… “ 

“Hey Mikaila? A guest needs help on the floor. They have a question that I don’t know the answer for.” 

I nodded, quickly wiping at my eyes before I took another substantial breath. By this point, I learned how to make it look like I had just taken a nap on my break and not been on the verge of a break down. I walked out, pleading for my sunshine persona to come forward as I smiled under my mask. Even though they couldn’t see it, I hoped that it would help me seem happy to assist them. The fact that I felt tense didn’t help me work through all the mundane questions they asked. I was beginning to question if anything really mattered in my life anymore. 

I stared at my gray bedroom wall, yearning to feel anything. I could feel myself shutting down more and more as I felt the numbness infect me even more. It felt like there was nothing that I could do to fix it. I glanced at my record player, wishing I had the energy to put a record on. Everything just feels so heavy, and I feel as if I am glued to my bed. I sighed deeply, and before I know it, I am crying again.

I don’t know why I am crying. Maybe it’s the isolation. Maybe it’s because of the emptiness I feel inside of me. I just want a fucking hug. I grab a shirt off the floor, blowing my nose, before I start to cry even harder.

Laying down, I plead with my numbness to go away. The more I stare at my walls, I wonder how I had energy before. Cry. Think a little more. Shower. Brush. Floss. Stream some endless television shows through my laptop. Eventually, try to sleep. This is my groundhog’s day. I honestly didn’t know I could cry this much. Or that my body could produce so much snot. It’s disgusting. In a way, this made me feel even more disgusted with myself. I should feel lucky. I have a home, I have food, my family is safe, and I have a job.

I question my sanity even more because I can walk into work, smiling, and making people laugh. I can comfort people. I can help people. However, I can’t even make myself feel okay. Only one person knows my new nightly routine. Every time they ask, I am honest because I feel safe answering them. I know that they won’t judge me. Sometimes, people overhear our conversations, but she is one of the few people that knows how bad it is.

I roll onto my back, staring at everything but my laptop screen. After all, it’s only white noise. I stare at the ceiling, wanting to scream. I can’t even do that. Even though my family and I can be rocky at times, I would do anything to be able to see them. I push myself up, my green box cutter catching my eye. I can’t help but notice how beautifully the green contrasts against natural hardwood flooring.

I stare for what feels like an eternity. It would be so easy. I know I would feel something besides this abyss of emptiness. Euphoria would feel so good. I know that the tightness in my chest would go away if I ripped myself open. My heart begins to thump against my rib cage as I think about falling into old patterns. No one would see my cuts and no one would know. Hell, no one knew the first time until I told on myself. It’s wintertime and my chances of landing on a date? Now that makes me laugh.

Taking a shaky breath, I pick up my box cutter. The plastic and cool metal feels heavy in my hand as I feel the old habit begging me to break my sobriety. I push the blade up and think that there is only one more step to do, just pull the blade off of the holder. I wonder what’s the point of my life. Wake up, eat, work, maybe a random video chat, and then my nightly routine. Feeling some type of euphoria would be better than nothing, right?

Four years. 1,460 days of not doing self-harm. Isolation and depression are not a good mix. I squeeze my hand around the cutter as tightly as I can. Feeling the cool metal against my skin feels so, so good. I wonder how much I would hate myself if my sobriety was washed down the drain tonight. The cool metal encourages me as the plastic design molds into my soft skin. I feel tears starting to fall from my swollen eyelids; making tracks down my face as I think of my nephew. I think of my friends that are my family. I think of all my coworkers that I can help with a joke. I think of all my coworkers that have made me laugh. I squeeze my eyes shut as I beg silently for something to stop me from relapsing.

I fight the urge to scream as I push the blade back down and chuck my box cutter somewhere in my room, not knowing where it landed. For once I am happy that my room is mess, it will help me keep another night of sobriety. I tuck myself under my blankets as I shake from my tears. I hate this pandemic. I hate the rampant selfishness that I see in headlines. I hate, most of all, that people see me as nothing more than a grocery worker.

Author Bio

Mikaila Manesh is an Ohio native that has a deep-seeded love for writing and reading. Her debut novel, Rebuilding Home, is available for purchase on Amazon. During the day, she works at a grocery store and at night, she is building new worlds with words. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @mikailawrites.

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