if you knew how hard it was
i'm sick of always having to be strong i want to be able to be vulnerable, to be soft, to be every part of me; you don't even like my strength when i am a warrior you only like that i am resilient and that i keep coming back— i am sick of taking hits of being praised for how many times i can rise from the ashes of chaos, i am sick of being expected to solve all my problems because i am strong and smart and capable; because if you knew how hard it was for me to reach out maybe you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss me. there's nothing wrong with feeling i remember once when i was crying, and someone accused me of faking it; reminds me of the person who said depression wasn't real and meant it— if depression weren't real there wouldn't be so many people who were and are suffering, if depression weren't real then my uncle wouldn't have taken his own life and he would still be here; there wouldn't be this guilt in me for realizing when he died that i didn't want death just the end of all this pain and rage and sadness— my depression makes me feel everything so deeply, and after years of apologizing for it; no longer will i— there's nothing wrong with feeling or being sensitive, but there should be something concerning about lack of compassion or empathy. the last letter i still have the last letter from my uncle before he took his own life, and he encouraged me to follow my dreams; so here i am working this job that i hate striving hard to make my dreams a reality— i refuse to give up on my dreams or on myself because i know that i am worth it, and i won't give up on me because i have seen how miserable people are especially those who have forgotten their dreams and don't even know who they are or what they like— i refuse to let society make me numb to my ambitions or swallow my aspirations i refuse to be just be another cog in a machine that doesn't work for anyone but the rich, i refuse to be anyone less than me. when i am drowning imagine, for a moment, that you are suffering; and you need a life boat but people insist you are a strong swimmer and only throw you life preserver rings when your legs are tired from all the swimming you have done prior to them arriving— that is what depression is because even when you give them subtle hints that you are suffering, the help they provide is rarely adequate; i hate being told to just smile and i'll be happier because smiling is proof of nothing i can smile even when i am completely broken and numb inside and you wouldn't know unless you looked into my eyes— i don't think people are good at reading emotions because they always miss when i am drowning. i'm not wrong there's no right way to be human, and yet society still expects me to want to fit into their narrow point of view of what a woman should be; i am me and it's a freeing feeling not to have to worry about the status quo— they don't see women as people just property and broodmares, but we have ambitions and we have dreams and we have magic and power they could never dream of which is why they try to silence us at every turn— but i am not the woman that will be quiet because i am tired of being made out to be in the wrong just because i want more than this world we've been given. it's really you that's ugly i saw them bully a kid until he took his own life, and people wonder why depression runs so rampant? any one who is seen as different becomes othered, i have been a misfit my entire life; used to wound me but i have learned to love myself and my own company because people can be vexing with all their demands— what i really wanted as a kid was love and acceptance, the sad thing is i had to turn to myself to find it; i know now that i am worth it and so are my dreams but little me believed that i was a burden and incapable of being loved and unworthy of having friends— to everyone who bullied me and those who continue to do so i hope you know it's really you who is ugly, so maybe work on your own insecurities and heal your own broken heart. Bio: Linda M. Crate (she/her) is a Pennsylvanian writer. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has seven published chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), and the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), and three micro-chapbooks Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018), moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020), and & so i believe (Origami Poems Project, April 2021). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). She also has three full-length poetry collections, the latest being You Will Not Control Me (Cyberwit, March 2021).