What about me?

I am the nearly empty tube of toothpaste. The one nobody is quite ready to throw away yet. The one who is rolled up from the bottom, everyone hoping they can one last bit of good out. The one with the gunked up top nobody bothers to clean. The cap no longer twists on; it's just adhering to the semi-dried, sticky, useless mess clinging around the hole. I am the nearly empty tube of toothpaste. Disposable, unfillable, useful only until the last drop is gone. What happens when nothing more can be squeezed out?

Since I can remember, I have taken care of everyone around me. Twenty-six years later, it's more of the same. But who takes care of me?

I am not, nor have I ever been, suicidal. However, I do not fear death. When it comes, I will welcome it. The blissful silence. Not having to wake up in a pool of sweat wondering who I forgot to call, who I forgot to take care of, what I forgot to do for someone else. But what about the things I should be doing for myself?

My hair is a mess. My skin is a mess. I'm overweight. I eat like shit. I don't exercise. I have to take antidepressants to function like a 26 year old adult should. Most days I dread waking up, I dread going to bed, and I dread the time between. I make a mental list of all the shit I need to do, and I'm lucky if there's time to do half. My time is divided among 3/4-time master's classes, working full-time in a job I'm technically not qualified for, taking care of a 6 year old and an aging, legally blind, hard-of-hearing woman, neglecting the house I own, the boyfriend I feel is slipping away, the lawn that doesn't get mowed half as often as it should, the laundry piles, the stacks of food-dried dishes. But what about time for the things I love and want?

The money is spent before it's in hand. The bills never end. It's a hopeless cycle of never having enough. The books I can't buy, the bills I can't pay, the clothes that won't fill my closet or my daughters, the things around the house that never get fixed, the leaky exhaust ona tiny car that makes it sound almost cool, the other car with the engine out that requires parts. Money can't buy happiness; this is true. However, it could buy a little peace of mind. And what about the things I want to buy?

The books sit on the shelf; untouched, unread, unloved. Maybe I'm not the nearly empty tube of toothpaste after all. Maybe I'm the book on the shelf, collecting dust, wating for someone, something, to ruffle my pages. To give me meaning. To make sense of the empty chaos within. To make me feel worthwhile. An unread book is almost as useful as a nearly empty tube of toothpaste. But what about me?

I sit on the steps of my deck, waiting for the sun to go down, hoping the cool dampness of fall will soothe my soul. By the time I finish this, it's black all around. My hands are numb. My legs are shaking from exertion and cold. I realize now, the cool, damp darkness only makes the feeling worse. I walk towards the light of my home, knowing the mess that awaits me but not caring. Knowing I still have homework due tonight and planning for tomorrow but not caring. It'll still be there tomorrow, gnawing at the remnants of me because there's nobody to do it all but me.

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