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I Wish I Didn’t Feel Like I Am Apologizing for Existing photo

The only time my brain makes sense these days is when I get a tattoo.

There’s a reason why I got 15 during the pandemic.


“Do you want to live forever?”

She asked me in the garden. This was at school, our sanctuary from real life. We were pruning the rosebuds when she paused, pushed her glasses up.

“How do you want to die?”


I’m struggling.

I don’t know what to do with lockdown when the only socialization I experience is going to class. Or shitposting on Twitter.


Her brown eyes stare at me, waiting for an answer.

How do I tell her I am scared to go into lockdown with only my dog.

Her voice cuts through the murky thoughts in my head, questions as big as leviathans swimming.

Cleaning up the stockpile of empty alcohol bottles surrounding my bed is the only way I can fall asleep.


We continue to prune, smelling the roses, lavender, citrus floating, threatening to overwhelm us with the sheer beauty of nature.

“Alas, poor fellow.” She murmurs, gently removing a once brilliantly scarlet, now dying rose.

The garden is her retreat from abuse, from family, … my retreat from obligations to survive, pretending to be happy.

Both of us feel Asian guilt from our families.


She asked me how I wanted to die two weeks before the world shut down.

Two years after working in tech, I am exhausted.

People look at me, see a human, tattooed, but they can’t see the maelstrom in my head.

How it hurts to breathe.

I can’t even call it surviving anymore, because surviving means I have some degree of effort applied.


I touch my face in the mirror with my left hand and feel out of body as I mirror the actions with my right hand.

Things that make sense: plants, deer, video games, sushi, beer.

I wish it didn’t feel like I’m apologizing for existing.


I don’t know how to deliver feedback at work in a way that others can easily digest.

I don’t know how to remove my emotions in a way that would be productive to communicate.

Momo stops me from apologizing yet again. Reassures me that a mutual doesn’t hate me for asking her a simple question.

I’m afraid to talk to others. As an Autistic individual, I am quite scared of human interactions.

I don’t recognize the feelings I have; my therapist asked if she makes me happy.


If this feeling of “I would murder those who want to hurt you” and “your existence gives me a reason to get out of bed” equates to love, then I guess I love her.


I don't have enough data to know what happiness is. As an Asian, mental health issues are prevalent but not acknowledged.


I ask my therapist how he experiences happiness.

Momo makes me feel like I am normal.

When others would consider me a waste of space, she holds space for me.

Because receiving a message means someone cares, right?


When I was younger, my mom asked what I would do if she needed assistance late in life.

To my neurodivergent mind, I thought hiring professionals was a sign of my love for her.

Why does life continue to give me cruel exams and set me up to fail?


They cured autism in mice.

I feel unqualified to exist a lot of times.

The few times I’ve been in a committed relationship I stay still and let my partner do what they want. This is better than the feeling of abandonment.


I find my relief in self-medication.

Bloodwork shows liver enzymes floating in my system.

The nurse points out that my heart rate is elevated.

I know I can’t afford the medications.

I lose 40 pounds through a proper diet, through sobriety.


A few weeks ago, I walked the gardens of my school remembering Gloria.

I have her gardening equipment carefully stowed in my toolbox.

A little part of her poetic spirit lives in my writing.


The death rate of neurodivergent people has trended drastically upwards during the pandemic.

Is it theft when I am preserving little pieces of the people I love?

The gardens have rapidly changed, almost nothing is left.

A while later, I hold my dog as she licks my tears.

I find a sense of calm and happiness that I haven’t felt in a very long time.

I hold the pills, put them on a shelf.

Not today.