You Gave Me Panic Attacks And I Called it Love

In my head, everything is different. Better. Our days are filled with laughter and I make you see that there is everything to live for when we have sunshine streaming through our window and the ice cream truck around the corner and when I’m willing to tear my own heart into shreds if it helps yours beat.

In my head, we go for a chill drink at the pub and the sparkling conversation renders an ordinary place into a haven of beauty and laughter. We know each other’s usuals and I always order for you to keep your anxiety calm. 

In my head, I can make you feel special. Loved. I’m the one you call first when anything happens. I know how to make you feel better. I can fix everything. 

In my head, we have game nights and movie dates and trips to the arcade. When you’re able to go out, I make reservations for the cozy corner table at the little Italian place up the block. And when you’re not, I walk down to the Chinese takeaway where they know our order by heart. On hazy Thursday mornings, I bring you breakfast in bed from the Butty Bar around the corner. 

In my head, I make sure you eat and drink and it’s not hard because you want to keep fighting. For me. 

In my head, even your hard days aren’t so hard because you know I’m here and that means something. Because no matter how deep you go inside your own mind, I can reach you. 

In my head, we ride your hard days out together. I wrap you up in a burrito of blankets and put your favorite movies on and hold you until you feel better again. 

In my head, I bring you flowers and leave sweet notes around the house, a makeshift scavenger hunt of rainbow post-it notes. I write corny jokes on the mirror in my lipstick and they never fail to make you smile. 

In my head, I bring your house back from the brink of condemnation. I turn it into a home. We have throw pillows and candles and a system and the house no longer makes you worse. 

And in my head, we have birthdays and Christmases filled with joy and thoughtfulness and laughter. We wear matching fluffy socks and drink hot cocoa from cute mugs. We make our own traditions and watch the same movies every year. 

But it doesn’t work like that in real life. 

Because in reality, you stare right through me every time I speak. All my attempts to make you laugh fall flat (if you even acknowledge that I’ve spoken at all). 

In reality, everything I do makes no impact or, more often, makes you worse. You hate me for smiling and making friends with the pub staff. You hate that people give me free drinks or a random garlic bread, even though I always give them to you. I think, deep down, you hate me for having a life outside of you. 

In reality, I put the ketchup in the fridge and you refuse to speak to me for 6 days. You never tell me why. 

In reality, the flowers I bring are the wrong color. You don’t like the plates I put out with your surprise cake. The notes I leave just annoy you and if we go out, you act as though I dragged you to the guillotine instead of begging you to just come with me for a drink. 

In reality, I work for hours, cleaning away the moldy piles of 6-week old Maccies takeaways on your bedroom floor only to find the messages on your phone– “She’s so shit, everything she does makes me worse, she’s lucky I even keep her around.” 

In reality, you push me away every time I try to hug you. And when I get on and off the train each time, you act like you don’t even know me. God forbid it actually matters that I travel 6 hours just to see you every weekend. 

In reality, I plan game nights and you sit with a motionless, empty stare while I chatter like a nervous squirrel for hours, hoping I’ll finally hit the right button that leads to laughter and conversation. 

In reality, you will call anyone but me first because you keep holding out, hoping that you’ll one day get a better deal than me. But that doesn’t stop you from delivering suckerpunches through your iPhone the moment I’m not around. 

In reality, you call me toxic for acknowledging the words we both know you said. Staring at your sent messages together, you look me in the eye and tell me that it never happened, but if it did, it wasn’t a big deal or it was my fault or both. 

In reality, I hide your razor blades, bandage your cuts, run to you in the middle of the night to seize your knife, and you sigh that you just wish you had someone who cared. 

In reality, your therapist asks me why I’m not enough to fix you. 

In reality, Christmas morning finds me fading slowly beside you, silent tears chasing each other down my cheeks as I try to drink myself to death. I lose the ability to smile, to laugh, to keep up with messages. I no longer know how to talk to my friends. I keep wondering if you’ll like me better this way.

And in reality, I tell everyone it’s fine because I keep hoping somehow, we can make it from real life to the life that exists in my head.

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