Katelyn and Daniel have a heart to heart.
I step forward one way and step back another. I put myself together, only to fall apart again. I’m constantly trying to succeed but only find I’m falling behind. They say I’m doing great but inside, I feel myself breaking into millions of tiny pieces. If I’m so perfect, why do I always mess up? If I’m so smart, why do I feel like the biggest idiot ever? I lost myself so long ago, before they left this world. Now I’m stuck here, in this house, spending my time worrying about homework and school instead of worrying about me. I hate myself for who I am. Will I ever be good enough?
I never felt good enough. I never felt smart enough. I was supposed to be the perfect child, the one that my parents had always dreamed of. I wasn’t Jessica, the future “delinquent” and I wasn’t Robert, the gay one. I was Katelyn, the smart, studious, pretty and talented one. But I never felt smart. I never felt studious. I never felt pretty. I never felt talented. I have spent my life trying to live up to my ideals, trying to become the person I want to be, but I find myself always falling short, never being what I want to be. I hate myself for who I am. I hate myself for being me. Why can’t I just be Jessica? I’d rather be perfectly imperfect than have to live up to the expectations I and others have set for me. Besides, I’m starting to think Robert would rather just have Jessica around than me. She doesn’t get in trouble nearly as much as I do. She doesn’t disappoint Robert in the ways I do. I’m a screw-up, a complete and total screw-up. And I’ll never make it to where I want to be.
Sometimes I think Robert and Daniel expect way too much of me. Aren’t I just allowed to break down sometimes? When I’m cutting or burning, I can be imperfect. I can have my faults. I can be human. I’m allowed to have flaws. But when I’m not, it’s like the burdens of being perfect are on me again. I’m so sick of having to be this way. I want to break down. I want Robert and Daniel to understand that I can’t always be perfect. But then I think, I’ve started to expect the same of myself. So do I really have anything to complain about?
What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just live like a normal human being? For someone as “perfect” as me, I definitely have some issues. I’m not as smart as they say. I’m not all that studious. I’m a hideous, stupid human being with absolutely no talent. I am the bane of my brother and sister’s existence. They’d be better off without me, wouldn’t they? I’d be better off without me too.
But despite my efforts to keep this away from Robert and Daniel and especially Jessica, they’d somehow found out. Oh yeah, it probably had something to do with the fact that I cut myself until I fainted and Robert found me. Yeah, that might have something to do with it. So they were going to ACTUALLY start taking me to therapy. You wanna know how much that sucks? It sucks a lot. A LOT. There is no other idea I hate more than the idea of going to therapy, where someone is going to analyze me and my problems. Then everyone will find out I’m not as perfect as they think. But isn’t that what I wanted? I don’t know what I want anymore.
All I know is that my life was getting anything but easier or better. It was getting harder… and worse.
“Katelyn, honey, wake up,” I heard a gentle voice whisper as someone softly shook me awake.
I opened my eyes slowly, expecting to see Robert but seeing Daniel instead, with a sad smile on his face.
“What time is it?” I asked, sitting up and rubbing my eyes. It was bright outside and light was streaming in through my windows but that didn’t tell me anything. Jessica was still asleep, but that didn’t tell me anything either, especially since her sleep pattern isn’t very predictable.
“It’s about 9:15.”
“Why’d you wake me up?”
“I wanted to talk to you.”
Was this ever a good sign? No.
“Where’s Robert?” Obviously, that’s definitely a reaction he should have expected. I liked Daniel, but I wasn’t very close to him. Jessica and he were close and Robert and I were close, not the other way around.
“He had some last minute calls. A couple of his patients are really sick so he went in to the office for a few appointments. I know it’s a Saturday, but it was important.”
“Ah,” I replied, “I see.”
“Come on, get dressed and we’ll go get some breakfast, ok?” he said, patting my leg.
“What about Jessica?”
“Just you and me, kiddo. She’ll sleep ‘til noon anyway. She stayed up super late last night. I had to force her to go to bed.” He laughed.
I laughed uneasily along with him. I got the feeling Daniel wanted to talk to me about something I wasn’t too keen on talking about. So I asked him, “Why are we going to breakfast?”
“I just wanted to do something with you today is all,” he answered. That was probably the truth, but probably not the whole truth.
“Okay,” I whispered, not really feeling like doing this but going along with it anyway.
“Come on, get dressed. I’ll meet you downstairs in a few and then we’ll head out, okay?”
“Love you, kiddo,” he said, kissing my forehead.
“Love you too,” I whispered back as he walked out of the room. This was way too weird for my liking.
I slowly got out of bed and walked towards my dresser and pulled out some clothes for the day, pants and a t-shirt, even though it was summer, because my scars on my legs were still too fresh and too many. My arms weren’t as bad. Besides, I wore sweatbands to cover up the scars on my wrist, which was the worst anyway. I still can’t believe I was careless enough to do that when Robert was watching. Then again, I was very emotional at the time. But then, I’m emotional pretty much all the time.
After I had thrown on my clothes and grabbed a jacket because it was bound to be cold in the restaurant, I headed downstairs and met with Daniel, who was standing in the entryway, waiting for me. I never did stuff with Daniel and if it was under a different circumstance than the one I’m pretty sure this was under, I probably would have felt great about it, but I didn’t. I got the feeling he knew what was up. And while in some ways, it felt great that he cared about me, in other ways it sucked, because I didn’t want anyone to really understand and still, in others, I wished they would just get the fact that I was really sick of this whole “being perfect” thing. I was so tired of always having to be the best.
“You ready, Kate?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m ready.”
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go.”
We walked out into the morning. God only knew what this day would bring.
“Where do you want to get breakfast?” he asked as we pulled out of the driveway.
“I don’t care,” I answered. “Whatever is fine.”
“What about Denny’s? You like Denny’s don’t you?”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” I whispered, staring out the window.
“Okay,” he answered. “Then that’s where we’ll go.”
I’m so sick of fighting just to live one more day. I’m so tired of living only to see the rain. This life wasn’t what I expected it to be. I lost it all only for everyone to expect way more than I was able to give. Why won’t the rain just stop? Why can’t I turn back time? Why’d they have to go? I thought I had it under control. I thought everything was going to be alright. But I miss them more than I’ll ever let anyone know. Inside, I’m hurting more than I’ll ever show. This life is turning upside down on me. The days are getting shorter it seems, as the nights get longer. Will the rain ever stop?
Robert didn’t know how much mom and dad’s deaths really affected me. Neither did Jessica. She probably thought that it didn’t affect me at all. I didn’t let it show, but losing them was like dying myself. Losing them was like losing a part of me. Mom and dad did expect a lot of me but they never expected as much out of me as I feel like everyone here expects of me.
When mom and dad died, I grew apart from Jessica and growing apart from Jessica killed me inside. We were twins. We were supposed to be close. We were supposed to have a bond unlike other siblings. Instead of being there for each other when our parents died, we turned away from each other. I didn’t just lose my parents that day. I lost my best friend as well.
And now Jessica hates me. And knowing that destroys me. I know Robert loves me but he isn’t Jessica. He isn’t my twin. She resents me more than she resents anyone else. I’ve become her enemy instead of her best friend. I’m not her sister anymore. I’m competition instead. Maybe she still loves me. Even though I keep telling myself she probably doesn’t, I know she probably does. Still, I find myself hating who I’ve become, who I am and all that I ever was. If I was just a different person, if I was anyone but me, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe mom and dad would still be alive. Maybe Jessica would still love me. Maybe Robert wouldn’t expect so much of me. Maybe I could just breathe for once.
Do I even deserve to breathe though?
It’s a vicious cycle. But I don’t care. I don’t deserve to have high self-esteem. I don’t deserve anything but the worst life possible. I wish I could take mom and dad’s place. Jessica needs them back. She can do without me.
I’m falling even as I try to fly. I’m drowning even as I try to swim. I’m dying even as I try to live.
Everything is falling to pieces and no matter what I do to stop it, I can’t.
I’m dying… even as I try to live…
We sat down at our table as the waitress asked us what we wanted to drink and said she’d be back a few minutes later to take our order.
I sat there, staring blankly at the menu. I knew what I’d get and I knew I’d only eat enough to satisfy Daniel and that after that I would stop. Pancakes were simple enough and filling enough that I could convince Daniel I didn’t need more. Yeah, that’s what I would get. As you can see, I haven’t learned from any of those times. Robert and Daniel’s attempts to get me to see the light haven’t worked. Obviously, no one can save me, so why are they even trying?
The waitress came back and took our orders and then left, saying she’d be back later with our food. I remained quiet, hoping not to go onto the topic of therapy and my issues that I knew Daniel would bring up.
“So how are you doing today, Katelyn?” Oh God, there he goes. It’s starting.
“I’m fine,” I whispered, stirring my spoon in my orange juice. Not that I needed to; it was just something to do with my hands.
“Robert and I are just really worried about you, Katelyn.”
“There’s nothing to worry about, Daniel. How many times do I have to tell you guys that?” I was lying through my teeth, as you can obviously tell.
“I know what you say, Katelyn, but I also know that it isn’t true at all.”
“You can believe whatever you want. That doesn’t mean you’re right.”
“And you can say whatever you want but that doesn’t mean you’re right, does it?”
I said nothing, just kept stirring my orange juice.
“Katelyn, I’m really worried about you. I just need to make sure you’re okay. And not just me, but Robert too. We both need to make sure you’re okay. We love you and we care about you, don’t you know that?”
“Of course I know that.” But I didn’t care. And they obviously didn’t know how sick I was of their unrealistic expectations of me.
“Good. I’m glad you know.” He paused. “Part of the reason I took you out to breakfast this morning was to let you know that you’re starting therapy on Monday.”
“Wonderful,” I answered sarcastically.
“We need to do this, Katelyn. You were in the emergency room for self-injury wounds just a week ago.”
“Whatever,” I answered. “I don’t care.”
“What is going on, Katelyn? You were doing so great just a few months ago.”
“I’m not perfect, Daniel, and I never will be, so stop expecting me to be.” If that wasn’t blunt I don’t know what was.
“I don’t expect you to be, Katelyn. You’re human. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to mess up sometimes.”
I said nothing.
“Is this what’s been bothering you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He said nothing, as our food had just come. This was a little too private of a conversation for the waitress to hear.
When she left he whispered across the table, “Katelyn, it’s okay to be imperfect.”
I don’t care what anyone says. I have to be perfect. It’s the only way I know how to live. Even if I’m sick of it, it’s what I know, so I have to be it. I’ll never sacrifice my ideals for anything, even as I’m cutting myself, even as I’m burning myself, even as I’m plotting ways to get rid of myself, I will NEVER sacrifice them. Because it’s not okay to be imperfect, not for me and it’s not okay to make mistakes, not for me. I may be sick of being perfect, but it’s all I know, and it’s all I’ll ever be able to be.
Because I’m supposed to be the image of perfection. I’m supposed to be the ideal child. I’m supposed to be my parents’ dream come to life. Yet I’m constantly making mistakes. Even as I’m perfect, I’m screwing up. I’m a failure and I’ll never be anything else. A perfect failure, that’s what I am.
They loved me, didn’t they? But they’re gone now. I’ll never see my mom’s beautiful face again. I’ll never hear my dad’s deep laughter again. I won’t taste either of their cooking and I’ll never listen to my mother’s singing. We’ll never have another family meal with them or watch TV together. My dad will never read me another bedtime story or tell me how proud he is of me. My mom won’t be there when I have my first child and my dad won’t be there to walk me down the aisle. All I have left in this world is Robert, Jessica and Daniel, but they’ll never be mom and dad. They’ll never be the people who gave me life.
I have to honor my parents by living up to what they expected of me. I have to be perfect or I’ll never amount to anything in this life. They told me I have more potential than anyone they’d ever known. They told me I was the smartest of the entire family, that I was beautiful, that I was a wonderful student, that I had more talent than anyone they knew. No, I never want to hear those words again. I never want anyone to tell me any of those things again, not if it’s not coming from my mother or father’s mouth.
I’m going insane, aren’t I? I don’t know anything anymore. This entire situation is eating me alive.
I’m dying even as I try to live.
We were on our way home when Daniel pulled into an empty parking lot and put the car in park. He stopped and looked directly at me.
“Katelyn, I just want you to know that Robert and I care very deeply for you. We love you. You can talk to us about anything, ok? I know that something’s bothering you. I know that there’s more you’re dealing with right now than you’ll probably ever share with us. But you need to know that you’re not alone in this. Robert and I and Jessica are there for you all the way, ok? We love you. We care about you. And we want you to be safe. Katelyn, there is nothing wrong with making a mistake here or there. It’s human and you’re human. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re going to make a mistake here and there. You’re going to screw up every once in awhile. You might get in trouble for those screw-ups but sometimes, it’s just going to happen and there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do to stop it.”
He paused, “Katelyn, it’s okay to not always measure up because you won’t always measure up. You’re growing up and you’re learning. I know you probably struggle with this whole idea that you have to be perfect, but you don’t. And I’m okay with you messing up every once in awhile. Because you’re human. Because it will happen. Because nobody is perfect, not even Robert. Okay?” He paused again. “Katelyn, it’s okay to be imperfect.”
With that I started crying. That’s the second time he had said that. I wanted to hide my face from him but he wouldn’t let me, instead he reached out for a hug.
“Come here, Kate,” he said, reaching across to embrace me. “Give me a hug.”
I wrapped my arms around him and cried into his shoulder. “It’s okay, baby. You’re not alone. We’ll get through this together. Everything’s gonna be alright.” He kissed my head. “I love you so much,” he whispered as he held me and rubbed my back until I calmed down and then released me.
“Do you feel better after getting that out?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yeah,” I answered.
“Good. Now, let’s get home.”
Katelyn, it’s okay to be imperfect.
It’s okay to be imperfect…