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PORCH #11

PORCH11

I think my favorite thing so far about this comic is coming up with ridiculous physical manifestations of complex psychological issues.

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I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I’ve done, like my 2015 novel “You Ruined Everything”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my feed over at Ello. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip , buy prints/stickers and more at my online store on Big Cartel, or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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They Were Just Like Us

“Did you cry again last night?” she asked, her eyes peering at her from behind those oval glasses. She was sitting on the other side of the table, in her nice, grey business suit, calmly writing down anything Sara would say.

“I cried more than just last night,” Sara said, sounding ashamed, looking down at her hands, cuffs around her wrists, “I cry multiple times a day now it seems. Not even just, like, what I used to do, but full on sobbing now. It’s awful. I feel so disgusted everytime.”

“It’s understandable,” she said, “It’s a natural feeling most have in your situation when faced with feelings they’d rather not be faced with. Any other feelings you’ve been having lately that you think I should know about?”

“…anger. I’ve been so angry at myself for being this way,” Sara mumbled, her brow furrowing, her nails digging into her pant leg, “If I hadn’t been this way, things would’ve been different. I would be out there and not in here. I would have a life. I’ve been feeling jealous too, jealous of the people who can control this so easily. How do they do it? Why don’t they have these problems?”

“Again, all understandable emotions to be feeling,” she said, before putting her pen down on the table with the clipboard and sitting up straighter, cupping her hands on the table and smiling at Sara, “Miss Meakes…you’ve been in here now for…I think it’s been almost 4 and 1/2 months now, yes? Do you want to be out there? Do you want to be like us?”

“I…don’t know, and that’s the worst part, I…I feel like I don’t because feeling these things makes me so unique…I’m different. Of course, being different is what’s got me locked away from everyone, but…haven’t you ever wanted to feel this way?” Sara asked, forcing a confused look scamper across the womans face for a moment.

“What?”

“Haven’t you ever wanted to feel this way?” Sara repeated herself.

“God no, not at all. No, it’s so much easier being the way I am, the way we all are. I admit that sometimes when I read about the past, about how you need to be able to feel a certain thing to comprehend a piece of classic art, literature, what have you, that I do on occasion wish I could feel that way for a brief moment, if only to understand the piece better…but in the end, it isn’t worth it. These things, they’re what made our world so bad. They’re what caused all the pain and suffering. No, things…things are better now, believe me.”

“…I think the worst is feeling love. I love my parents, but I know full well they don’t love me,” Sara said, “Because they can’t, not because they wouldn’t if they could. I understand the difference. It still hurts though. I wish they could.”

A timer on the womans watch beeped, and she looked at it, then collected her things and stood up, Sara doing the same. She reached over the table and shook Sara’s hand and smiled.

“Thank you Miss Meakes. I will see you again in a month, and we’ll pick up from there, and I do hope things change for you,” she said, before turning and heading out of the white room, leaving Sara alone again. As she exited, she found a man standing by the exit, waiting for her, eating an apple. He was dressed just as she was, same casual business attire, same boring expression on his face.

“So?” he asked.

“She’s not going anywhere for a while. If anything, it’s getting worse,” she said, “I wish I could feel bad for her. I wish I could, so I could really understand how much she’s hurting, but I just don’t.”

“It’s better you don’t,” the man said, and she nodded.

“I know that, but still…sometimes I think about what it’d be like to feel these things. To feel love, anger, sadness. To have emotions. These poor people, kept away from the rest of the cold, emotionless world, all because they feel what we once considered basic human emotions. What they have was once considered normal. Human. Now they’re different. ‘Unique’. But I know it’s better this way, I do know that.”

“Come on,” the man said, finishing the apple and tossing it into a garbage can, “Let’s go file this, we have other cases to get to.”

As they left, the woman glanced over her shoulder and saw Miss Meakes being taken from the room by her handler, presumably back to her cell. When their eyes connected, Sara smiled at her, and for one fleeting second, the woman swore she felt good inside.

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He’s Got Your Best Interests At Heart

There’s a little black shadowesque man who lives in the back of my head. I’m not sure when he moved in, but he’s been there for quite a long time now, I know that, because he’s been guiding me for a while, at least since childhood. He’s faceless, his limbs elongated, and he doesn’t speak. He communicates solely via telepathy. He’s filled with doubt, anxiety, sadness, fear and frustration. He’s constantly getting me to doubt everything I think or do. Anytime I think I might be about to accomplish something, he speaks up, stating, “This isn’t the right way to do this” or “It’ll never work, you know that, don’t you?”

At first I thought he was looking out for me. Keeping me from making mistakes, but no, he’s keeping me from making progress, and yet, since he’s been with me for so long now, I cannot function without him. Sometimes he takes time off, exiting through the small trap door he installed in the back door of my head, and I get left to my own devices. Upon his return, he sighs, rubbing his forehead with his lengthy fingers and says, “Look at this mess I have to clean up now.” He’s been there more than any mother or father, and is just as judgemental as they, but it’s not the same. His disappointment isn’t said with a bitterness, a venomous cynicism, whereupon he’s not actually putting me down but upset that, much like a small child, I cannot be without supervision. He’s upset. He wants me to be okay, but he himself isn’t even sure how to give me that peace of mind.

When in doubt, I often turn to him for advice. If I don’t think I’m making the right decision, I will ask his opinion, and if he even so much as hesitates in his response, I know not to continue with it. He argues with me that others are out to get me, that my family hates me, that I can’t have friends. He doesn’t believe any of that, but he himself doesn’t know how to fix it either. He’s just as clueless as I am. That’s what keeps us glued at the hip, like paper chain children. That’s why he stays. Because he knows I have nobody else, and I need someone to watch over me. Yet I know that there’s the possibility that I will lose him. That one day, I will wake up and feel ok, and he may never come back. That the space he’d occupied in the back of my head for so long will be gone, cleared of his few possessions and he will never return. I will go on to lead a good life, filled to the brim with possibilities, overflowing with happiness. Friends, a good job, a clean safe living space.

And despite this new social life, I’ll always feel alone, because nobody can fill the void that a piece of yourself once filled.

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The Nothing Sandwich

I am so convinced that everyone hates me, even people who go out of their way to tell me they don’t, which only emboldens my belief that they’re doing that so that they don’t seem as obvious with their hatred towards me. Guess when people tell you your whole life they hate you, you just start to believe that everyone will forever.

The worst part is, I can’t even be mad at them for hating me, because I understand. I’m clingy, and ill and vanilla. I’m everything nobody wants. I am the nothing sandwich. A boring, unexciting white bread exterior holding in the most plain meats and cheeses one has ever encountered, topped off with a condiment that nobody else would ever dare to touch. I sit there on the menu, and sometimes someone comes along and orders me either by accident, mistaking me for a sandwich they thought they once had and enjoyed, or out of curiosity, because from a distance, for a moment, I can seem intriguing. But once they’ve taken that first bite, or even just see me arrive on the table, their faces shrivel up in disgust or disappointment, and without even attempting to try me, they just push the plate away from them and order something more appetizing.

I grew up getting hate from every angle; my friends, my own family, other people at school including teachers. Hate has been the single most common feeling directed at me, so much so that not only do I not begrudge others for hating me, but I also hate me because it just seems like the right thing to do. Who wants to openly enjoy The Nothing Sandwich? There’s nothing special or original about it. I’m not physically interesting, I’m just a pale redheaded asthmatic lesbian. I don’t have very intriguing interests, I like tap dance and ballet and literature. Order a better sandwich. A more appealing sandwich. A sandwich with something more than two ingredients. And those who have taken the risk to like The Nothing Sandwich are often belittled by their friends.

“How can you eat that?!”

So they order something better. Something more socially acceptable. Something people order because they enjoy it, not out of pity. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m simply explaining how my life is, how I am, and how everyone has always seemed to view me. And don’t give me that tired old expression: “Well, nobody will ever love you until you love yourself!” Great, so I’m not deserving of love? That’s bullshit. My girlfriend loves me and I fucking despise myself, so I know for a fact it’s bullshit. I’ve had multiple girlfriends through my life, all while hating myself with a passion, so don’t even try and sell me on that faux positive platitude.

The thing is…despite all of this, every now and then there’s someone who is excited to order The Nothing Sandwich. They actually enjoy it. They looked forward to having it again. These are the people who matter.

It’s not so bad being The Nothing Sandwich.

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She Will Always Forgive You

She calls her mother every Thursday at around 8 pm.

She’ll pour herself a glass of wine, and sit there in her kitchen, on the phone with the woman who caused her so much pain, so much self hate growing up, and try and make things right. She’ll try and be the bigger person. She talks sometimes for over an hour, relaying to her mother all the things she did to her that hurt her, that fucked up her up, and how she’s trying her hardest to move past all that now. How it was her therapists idea to not call, but she couldn’t resist, she had to do this. How this is beneficial to her well being, to her moving on with her life.

She probably shouldn’t drink while she does it, she knows this, but it sometimes helps her get the words out, especially since the words are quite harsh, and yet in the end she is asking for forgiveness. She wants to forgive her mother, and forgive herself for not talking to her about how she treated her for so many years. For not confronting her sooner for how horrid she made her childhood. Always criticizing her weight, always criticizing her looks in general, her taste in fashion and music and anything at all. How she’s made her daughter grow up to question anything and everything. Her interests, her hobbies, herself, even her relationships with other people. This goes on for months.

Doesn’t even matter that she’s just leaving messages on an answering machine.

Until that day comes when finally, someone picks up the phone on the other end and asks her, very politely to please stop leaving these messages. That it’s scaring their children. That they know she is doing this to ease her grief but this isn’t her mothers number anymore, and they’re sorry for both her loss and what her mother had done to her to make her feel the need to do this. She understands. She knows her mother is gone. She knows she’s been leaving these messages on a machine tied to a number no longer associated with her past. She promises not to do it anymore.

She eventually calls back a few months later.

The line is disconnected.

Grief, forgiveness, these are hard things to deal with together. When you hate someone for hurting you as much as they did in the way that they did, and yet you want to forgive them because you don’t want to carry that hate around inside of you. So many people these days say you don’t owe these abusers anything, and while that is true, and it might work for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes letting go isn’t just cutting a cord. Sometimes letting go means letting go of how bad they made you feel too, and knowing that they themselves often only hurt you because someone hurt them. Cause and effect. She doesn’t want to hold onto anger anymore. She wants to move on, but it’s tough. And it’s tougher when the abuser has died.

She left a bunch of messy, rambling messages, but she does sleep a little better these nights.

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And So I Make The Bed

So little control. So little control over anything and everything. Feeling like everything is always spiraling wildly out of control; things that I cannot handle or fix or better. I can’t control life, and so I make the bed. I make the bed every single morning when my girlfriend and I get up, because it allows me some level of control over an otherwise uncontrollable universe. Some level of control over a rather uncontrollable life. The universe is wild. The universe refuses to be tamed. Our lives are completely untamed and ultimately out of our hands, and so I make the bed. I make the bed because it’s the only way I know how to fight back against the confusion. Against the frustration. Against the everything. When all is chaos, to have just a tiny bit of order…it’s nice.

And so I make the bed.

Severe depression, severe anxiety, autism, lesbianism. All things that I cannot control. All things that were just forced upon me, that I must deal with. I deal with these things the best way that I know how, but in the end, it wasn’t my choice to have these issues. I didn’t choose to be gay. I didn’t choose to be autistic or depressed. I choose to make the bed. Why? Because I can. Do you know what it feels like? I know you know what it feels like to be scared, perhaps even terrified, but to feel that every single waking second of every single waking day, simply because everything is so out of control? Not even complete control. Just any control. Control over the simplest things, like mindsets you were forced to grow up on and have come to try and reject or who you fall in love with despite everyone telling you that it’s wrong to love that way. That’s me, every single day. That is me. Terrified. I walk around in a a state of constant, overwhelming horror.

And so I make the bed.

I make the bed because the bed is a safe spot. It’s somewhere I can go, sit, be and not worry. It’s warm. It’s inviting. It’s somewhere I sleep that I know I won’t get hurt in, physically or emotionally. It’s separated from all the vitriol and disillusion and insipidness I come into contact with daily from those around me; those I know, those I don’t, doesn’t matter. The world is an awfully scary place, full of awfully scary people who say awfully scary things. I can’t control peoples hate. Peoples anger. Peoples fear. I couldn’t control the way that my mother would scream at me, the way my family ignored me, the way my friends abandoned me. But I CAN control how clean my bed is. I can make the bed, stand back and admire my job well done, and think, “Well, at least I’ve got this.”

In a world fraught with uncertainty, there’s at least one thing I am certain of. I can make the bed.

And so I make the bed.