If there’s one quality I’ve possessed my whole life, it’s optimism to the degree of naivety.

I lose my dream job as a career journalist in the big city and instead of getting sad, I keep writing, with even more fervor than before. I get my heart broken, callous and careless, by a masquerading boy I was convinced was the proverbial man of my dreams and I don’t feel angry or hurt. Instead, I pour all of my heart in to re-winning him over  because if he felt something for me once, maybe he could feel it again. I lose my virginity in a rape, I get an abortion, I spend twelve years languishing in eating disorder hell, in and out of therapists offices.  I lose friends and move around the country and I get mean songs written about me by boys that don’t know how to tell the whole truth of a story and I never feel upset because I know there’s something better. There’s always something better.

Today, however, I realized I was wrong.

I didn’t dream about my dad last night, for the first time since he died. Instead, I dreamt about a boy that I’ve resolved to never talk to again. I dreamt I yelled at him, told him every sick, sad, unstable thought that’s plagued my mind for the past month and I dreamt that I told him truths I’ve been hiding from everyone: That the reappearance of my OCD is more troubling than I let on, that the real reason for my drastic drop in weight and puffy face is not from depression but rather because I’ve relapsed back into bulimia. I dreamt that I cried and he held me and he told me that he wanted to make things better. I told him that he could, he could make everything so much infinitely easier for me and he wouldn’t and I didn’t understand why. And I dreamt that he was sorry and that he still cared.

Then, of course, I woke up to the knowledge that I was just as alone as I’ve been, if not more so.

And that’s when I realized that I’ve changed. The day my dad died, that naieve optimism inside of me that has made me so passionate for so many years is gone and I can’t tell if it’s a candle that’s been snuffed out but can one day be relit or if it’s burned it’s wick away I’m now fated to live with my sadness. Things will not get better for a very long time, if they ever do, and I know that. There are some events in peoples lives that change them irreparably. And my dad’s death, I think, was one of those events for me.

It’s been one month as of yesterday. Everyone tells me I won’t start to feel even a little better for at least another eleven. The fact that, for the first time in my life, I can’t fix things in a matter I deem timely is most troubling for me and the loneliness I feel at all turns is crushing. I sit in front of my computer and I want to write great American novels but all I can do is stare at rough drafts and outlines.  I go out and sit in the corner, disassociated from the party as all of my friends have a good time and I tell myself “This is not my life.”

The truth, however, is that this is my life.

And today, I accepted that.

The only ways I know how to feel anymore are as follows: Angry or Nothing At All.

Angry is easier to deal with than anything else. Much like everyone has told my stepmom, they’ve all repeated the tome to me as well: It’ll get easier. You’ll get on with your life. It’ll be okay. It’ll just take time. Worst of all, however, and most perturbing is when I’m told I understand. I hear those words, see them on my computer screen and I close my eyes, let them roll upwards in my head as I breath deep and steady. Count… One, two, three, four, five. Don’t yell, Amber. Don’t say what you want to say. Never say what you want to say again. The truth of it is that my words can’t be trusted. The truth of it is that the ever present “they”, with their insistence words and sad eyes, don’t understand. “They” can’t relate. And to hear that they feel they can is infuriating. You relate to my grief? Well, I can’t help but notice you live a fairly well adjusted life in which you have living parents and siblings and the only reason you “relate” to my words is because of your sick sense of self entitled sadness and depression. What have you to be sad over? I wonder and then I hate myself for belittling the ache of others, as if my pain is better than theirs in some non-existent contest of self importance.

It’s interesting, though, for all these people who claim to understand, the one person who actually understands, who did lose her dad, has not used those words. In fact, she’s gone out of her way to tell me she probably doesn’t understand but at least she’s been through it herself.

Nothing At All is harder. The biggest accomplishments I manage on the average day is to get out of bed and put on leggings, only to lay back down again, as if pulling black fabric over my thighs took too much out of me. My face is puffy and red and I stare. I stare at my computer screen, I stare at my phone, I stare at my wall, and I wonder if this chasm inside of me will ever fill.

It’s funny – I used to think I was empty inside, that I was to dysfunctional to feel properly. Now I realize that that girl had more love and light to give the world than anyone I’ve ever met. The fact that she was convinced she didn’t is the saddest truth I encounter.

I figured, when all this started, that I’d be overcome with guilt and regret but I really only have one regret in all of this and it’s that I never dated. Part of that is because I wish I had someone constant here that I could fuck because at least then I’d be feeling something but for the most of it, I just wish that I had fallen in love before my dad died. I wish that I had been able to bring someone over to his house for dinner to receive unspoken approval that for once in my increasingly longer life I wasn’t fucking something up. I wish I’d been able to talk to my dad after a fight with my significant other just to hear him tell me that I’d better fix it because he didn’t want to hear me complain about this. I wish I’d fallen in love and gotten engaged and I wish I’d gotten to see how this guy had interacted with my dad, how he’d reacted to my dad’s perverse and brash sense of humor. I wish I’d had to argue with my dad over the fact that I was going to get married in a barn in Iowa and I wish he’d made the trip out anyhow, to see me start a new life, barefoot in a thrift store prom dress. I wish he’d seen that and I wish that I still believed that all of those daydreams would come to fruition.  Now, however, I get to be alone and that crushing realization is the worst thing I could feel.

All I want out of life is for someone to hold me and let me cry and assure me that they can help.

But no one can.

And it’s not that no one wants to help. It’s just that no one knows how.