Open Topic

When You Cheat.

When you cheat you’re cheating yourself out of the loyalty of another.

Because at the moment, she might not be a thought in your mind, she’s staying waiting up for your call.

When you cheat, you’re cheating yourself out of trust you each built to earn in each other’s lives.

Because her guard was up with you, but she let you in apprehensively.

When you cheat, you’re cheating yourself out of the love that could have been something.

Because while she says I love you, you’re choosing not to love her.

When you cheat, you’re cheating someone out of the love they deserve in their life.

Because there is someone hoping and praying to meet someone like her who will treat her well.

When you cheat, you’re cheating someone out of the truth.

Because she’s been nothing but honest.

When you cheat, you’re cheating someone out of time.

Whether it’s your girlfriend who has devoted much of her life to you or it’s the other girl who actually thinks you are a decent guy.

Don’t waste someone’s time because you’re unsure of what you want to do on your own.

When you cheat, you’re really cheating yourself, because it will come back around and bite you in the ass.

When you cheat, you’re ruining her perception of love and relationships.

The mess you created in their life, someone else is going to have to clean up. 

The trust someone else deserves that she put into you someone else won’t get as easy.

The person who could very well make her happy, she’s pushing away because she’s scared to be deceived again.

You ruin her a little more every time you cheat.

You break her heart a little more every time you come home too late.

You make her feel like a fool for suspecting something, but then you go and make her feel guilty for accusations. When she’s 100% right.

The truth is, you don’t deserve her.

You don’t deserve her love, her loyalty, or her trust.

If you aren’t happy with her, then don’t be with her.

But you don’t get to pick and choose when you want a girlfriend.

That isn’t how it works. And maybe you got away with it for a bit.

Maybe you think you’re being coy pulling one over on her.

But she will find out. And when she does, you’re going to feel more alone than ever.

Because the root of cheating isn’t her not being good enough. 

The root of it is, you not being good enough for yourself so you fill the void in the arms of another knowing very well you’re still empty. 

Woman looking in mirror.

Open Topic

The Pig.

I slowly opened my eyes. My head was swimming and a dull pain surrounded my throat. I was thirsty. That was the first thing I noticed. I licked my dry lips as my surroundings faded into focus. My body ached and I realized it was because I was tightly bound to a metal chair in the middle of an empty room. The barren concrete walls were stained and dirty, the floor beneath my bare feet was cold and slightly wet.

A single bulb lit the room, dangling from the ceiling by a string. It cast moving shadows and I blinked back darkness. An open door stood before me, but I couldn’t see anything but the wall of a hallway.

I tried to clear my head, tried to remember how I got here. I squeezed my eyes shut and forced myself not to panic. I slowed my breathing and focused my thoughts, desperately trying to summon some recollection of why I was here.

I couldn’t remember anything.

I opened my eyes and exhaled, my parched throat throbbing. I could hear sound echoing off the hallway walls outside the door. Screaming, clanging, howling, all very distant but that did nothing to help calm my nerves.

“Hello?!” I cried, the word tearing at my vocal cords. I felt my chest hitch in pain but I cleared my throat and yelled again.

“Is anyone there!? Hello!?”

The dark hallway remained silent except for the constant echoes. I shut my mouth and tried to wriggle free of my bindings, but the rope was knotted impossibly tight. I fought back against my imagination as it flooded my mind with horrific scenarios of what awaited me. If I could only remember!

Suddenly, footsteps erupted from outside the door, a rapid patter of small feet. My hopes rose and I turned my attention on the door, praying it was help.

A young boy ran into the room, dressed in a red onezie, complete with padded feet. Stretched over his face was a plastic Devil mask. The eye holes revealed massive blue eyes that greeted me curiously. Taken back, I opened my mouth to speak but that’s when I noticed something was off. His eyes were huge, impossibly round and bulging from their sockets. It sent a shiver of unease down my spine, but I shook it off. This child might be able to free me.

“Hey!” I hissed, urgently, “Hey kid, can you get me out of here?!”

The boy took a step closer, cocking his head, but remaining silent.

I rattled my bound arms against the chair, “Cut me free, please, I shouldn’t be here, this is some kind of mistake!”

The boy eyed me behind his strange mask and stopped directly in front of me. He leaned in close and whispered, his voice like wet silk, “You did a bad thing…”

Confused, I shook my head, “No! No this is a mistake! I didn’t do anything!”

The boy’s enormous blue eyes suddenly filled with sadness, “Oh, you did a really, really bad thing…”

I shook my head again, violently, “No! I’m sorry! I don’t remember, just please get me out of this chair!”

Suddenly, before either of us could speak again, a man came charging into the room. He was overweight and dressed in overalls, his grizzled face twisted in seething anger. He was holding a sawed off shotgun in his arms.

“I didn’t do anything!” I cried as he advanced on us, my voice cracking, “I’m not supposed to be here!”

The big man ignored me and instead grabbed the kid and shoved him hard against the wall. The boy grunted as his back struck the concrete and his eyes rose to meet the grizzled man’s.

Wordlessly, the man raised his shotgun, placed it against the boy’s forehead, and blew his head off. Chunks of gore splattered the wall as shock slugged me in the stomach like an iron fist. My ears rang and time seemed to slow as I watched in horror as the headless body crumpled to the ground.

“Jesus fucking CHRIST!” I screamed, straining against the ropes, my eyes bulging in horrific shock, “WHAT THE FUCK!?”

The man ignored my screams as he bent down and picked up the boy. He slung the ruined corpse over his shoulder and walked out the doorway.

Suddenly, the hallway erupted with malicious laughter, a chorus of voices all howling in glee. I shut my eyes, the noise deafening, as absolute terror filled my every pore.

After a few moments, the laughter faded and I cautiously opened my eyes, unable to believe what I had just witnessed.


I jumped as I realized there was another man standing before me. He was dressed in a simple, white button down shirt and jeans. His brown hair was cut short and he appeared to be in his early thirties. His green eyes were dull and lifeless, his full lips pulled down at the corners.

“What is going on!? Where am I!?” I cried, new fear pooling in my stomach like hot blood.

The man crossed his arms, “So you’re the new one huh?” He shook his head, “You people disgust me.”

Questions bubbled on my lips but he waved them off with a sharp chop of his hand, slicing the air and demanding my silence.

He ran his tongue over his teeth, sneering, “You look like you’ve already seen some of the horrors this place holds huh? Yes, I can tell by the look in your eyes. You’re terrified. You’ve seen something haven’t you? It doesn’t seem all that bad now does it, looking back? You’ve been here five minutes and already you’re shitting your pants.”

“Where am I?” I gasped, unable to hold back any longer, “What do you people want?”

The man crossed his arms behind his back, “I bet you want to get out of here don’t you? I bet you’d like to go back to your home, your family, everything.”

“Please,” I interrupted, “Whatever I did to you…I’m sorry, I really am, but I don’t remember!”

The man rolled his eyes, “You didn’t do anything to me. You did it to yourself. You really don’t remember anything?”

I shook my head and felt tears brimming in my eyes, liquid fear.

The man looked at me with contempt, “You waited until your wife left for work and then you went out to the woodshed and hung yourself. You’re dead.”

The recent memory rose in my mind like a monster from a bog. My eyes went wide. As much as I wanted to deny it…he was right. I had killed myself. The incident tore through my brain like a bullet train and left me reeling.

“I’m Danny, by the way,” the man said, ignoring the shocked look on my face, “And I’m number two here. I run the orientation process. I want to make this quick because I’m tired of repeating this fucking thing to you pathetic Suicidals. You get one question before I begin.”

He stared down at me and I scrambled to organize my thoughts into something cohesive. This was all horrifying. Why had I killed myself? I fought against the fog and panic and the mists of confusion slowly began to lift. I had just lost my job. Yes…that was the start. I squeezed my eyes shut and forced more of the memory to emerge. I had lost my job and I was about to lose the house. My wife…Tess…she found out and was going to leave me. I didn’t have any way out, didn’t have any options. Getting fired had come out of the blue and I didn’t have much in savings. I was broke, soon to be homeless, and my wife hated me for it. There was something else…yes…that’s right. She had been cheating on me. I had seen texts on her phone while she slept one night and confirmed my suspicions. My life had degraded to shit and I had run out of options. Humiliated and ashamed, I had decided death was my only option.

“Hey, fucker, do you have a question or not?” Danny said, snapping his fingers in front of my face.

I was sucked back into reality and I asked the only question that mattered.

“Is this Hell?”

Danny snorted, “That’s always what you people ask.” He began to pace back and forth in front of me, “No. This is not Hell. It’s not Heaven either. This is the Black Farm.

And no, I didn’t name it that. This is where God sends the souls who have ended their own life. Suicidals. You see, he doesn’t really know what to do with you…and neither does the Devil. There are genuinely good people who kill themselves. Seems cruel to banish them to Hell for all eternity for a moment of weakness, right? Personally, I think God and the Devil were just tired of arguing about it. And so, they send them here, to the Black Farm.” “Did…did God create this place?” I asked, growing more and more confused.

Danny spit on the floor, chuckling, “Sure, at some point. But he lost control of it when he put The Pig in charge.”

“What’s The Pig?” I asked, unsure I wanted to know the answer.

Danny held up a hand, annoyed, “Can I fucking finish? God created this place, eons ago, put The Pig in charge, and then forgot about it for a while. Well, when his back was turned, The Pig decided to use his new powers to try and create his own little world. This mess you see around you is the fractured remains of that experiment. The Black Farm use to be a lot nicer, but The Pig wanted things to be different. He wanted to create his own vision. These people you see, these monsters? They are The Pig’s attempts at creating functioning life. Instead of mirroring God’s Earth, these mutated horrible creations are full of sin and hatred. They run rampant here, unabashed. This place is chaos. The Black Farm is a circus of freaks and monsters. And it’s your eternity.”

Fear boiled in my gut like thick oil. No. No this couldn’t be my end. I didn’t believe in stuff like this. This wasn’t real! I would wake up soon and realize I was just having a nightmare! That had to be it!

Danny stood before me and lightly slapped my face, “Hey, hey! Don’t go into hysterics on me. I haven’t finished yet.”

I raised my teary eyes to meet his.

Danny smiled, “You can always Feed the Pig.”

My breath pushed from my lungs like burning steam, “W-what does that mean?”

Danny spread his hands, still smiling, “It’s as simple as that. Feed the Pig. If you do so, there’s a chance he’ll send you back to your life.”

“A-and w-what happens if it doesn’t?”

I mumbled. “You get sent to Hell. So flip a coin if you have one. Stay here with us or feed The Pig. If you choose to stay, I’ll let you go…I’ll let you go out there,” he said, pointing towards the door, “But let me assure you…what awaits you at the end of the hallway…well…let’s just say Hell isn’t that much worse.”

I swallowed hard, trying my best to digest everything. Why wouldn’t I try feeding The Pig? Whatever that meant. If there was even a sliver of hope, I would take it. An eternity in this place, the Black Farm, be sent to Hell, or…or feed The Pig? I would do anything for a chance to go back. This nightmare made my problems seem nothing in comparison.

Danny raised a hand before I could speak, “I’ll let you think on it a while. I’ll be back later.”

“I want to feed The Pig!” I cried, not wanting to spend another second in this awful room. I could hear a woman screaming down the hallway, her cries rising as something meaty pounded into her. My breath came in sharp pulls and my throat burned. Danny noticed the noise and grinned.

“Sounds pretty bad, huh?” He said softly as the woman’s voice creaked with agony. Something was still slamming into her, the sound of beaten flesh igniting my imagination with horrors.

“Please,” I gasped, breathless, “Just…just let me feed The Pig. I don’t want to stay here any longer.”

Danny turned away from me, “I’ll be back later. Enjoy your time alone. Really think about your situation. Weigh your options. And remember…you put yourself here.”

And with that he was gone, leaving me in the dim room.

Tears streamed down my face.

The woman didn’t stop screaming for hours.

At some point, I fell into a semi-sleep. The darkness in the room seemed to press in on me and my eyes fluttered shut. My body ached and my throat was a halo of fire. Thirst raked at my windpipe like sharp glass. My lips felt like crumpled paper. My head thundered like a drum. The room swam in and out of focus and my mind drifted towards the horrific sounds that never ended.

I was lost in a haze, unaware that something was sliding into the room until I felt a sharp prick on my big toe. I jolted out of my daze as my bare foot ignited with pain. I screamed and tried to move, but my bindings held me tight.

The room rushed back into focus and I blinked in agony as I felt blood trickle between my toes. I looked down for the source of pain and I felt a scream claw up my throat.

Staring up at me was an armless man. He slithered on the floor like a worm, his bald head scabbed and filthy. His legs were wrapped together in barbed wire, forcing him to wriggle his body to move. His eyes were lidless and wide, two bloodshot white orbs that stared up at me with hungry intensity. His teeth had been removed and replaced with long screws which jutted from his bleeding gums like a broken rock formation.

Around his neck was a chain leash, which I followed across the floor to the open door. The end of the leash was held by a tall, naked man. His body was hairless and flabby, covered in similar scabs like his pet. A dirty bag was pulled over his head that hid his features except for a single red eye that peeked out at me from a crude cut in the cloth.

He stared at me and groped his engorged penis, his breath heavy and labored. As the armless man wriggled towards me again, his master started to masturbate. I screamed as the screw filled mouth bit at me again and my cries seemed to stimulate the naked man even more.

“Get off of me! Stop it!” I screamed, horrified. I tried to kick at the man, doing my best to avoid his sharp metal teeth. I brought my heel down on his head and he screamed as his face bounced off the floor.

A moan of pleasure escaped the bagged man’s mouth and I turned away as a mist of black sprayed out onto the floor. There was a rattle of chains and I turned back to see the two of them leaving, the armless man dragged by his neck out the door. I looked at where the bagged man had ejaculated and saw a puddle of dead ants. I vomited onto myself, thick chunky curtains of bile and slime.

“GET ME OUT OF HERE!” I screamed, strands of puke running down my chin, “I DON’T BELONG HERE!”

I listened to the two men retreat down the hallway, the clank of chains accompanied by the sound of flesh being dragged across the concrete. I screamed again, but I knew no one was going to help me. I spit a wad of phlegm and bile onto the floor, ridding my mouth of its sourness. I forced myself to calm down. It wasn’t easy.

After some time, I heard someone else approaching. I had been in a miserable lull, my mind a blank canvas of dark despair, but the noise roused me from my trance like state. The muscles in my arms burned from being restrained for so long and I shifted them desperately, trying my best to prepare myself for whatever horror was about to walk through the door.

Footsteps drew closer and then a woman walked into the room. She stopped at the doorway and looked at me. One of her eyes was missing, a dark cavernous hole in her skull. Her hair was ratty and wild, a brown tangle like a forgotten nest. Her skin was pale and filthy and she was dressed in rags. I couldn’t tell how old she was, but there was maturity in her one good eye.

“Still thinking?” She asked, her voice course and brittle.


She took a step closer, “Are you still deciding whether you’re going to feed The Pig or not?”

I looked at her cautiously, “Yeah…I am. Who are you? What do you want?”

“I was once where you are now,” She said, “trying to decide my fate. I couldn’t believe that this was what happened…what happened after we die. It wasn’t what I was taught…religion didn’t warn me about this place.”

I tested my bindings again before asking, “You killed yourself too? You’re a person like me? You’re not one of those…those creations?”

She snorted, “Breaks my heart you have to ask, though,” she touched the hole where her eye should have been, “Though I can understand your caution. Yeah, I’m a Suicidal. I’ve been here a long, long time. But that was my choice. I decided to chance it here.”

I motioned with my head towards the door, “What’s out there? What is all this?”

She exhaled heavily and leaned against the wall, “I can’t even begin to describe this place. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. You walk down that hallway and go out…into it…and…” she swallowed, “You’d have to see it to understand.”

“How bad is it? Why are all these mutated people hurting and killing each other?” I asked.

She let her head loll back against the wall, “It would take years for you to fully understand this place. Years you don’t have. Right now you have to make a decision. Stay or feed The Pig. They tell me Hell is worse than here, but it can’t be by much. Monsters and Suicidals roam the Black Farm…killing, raping, brutalizing…and then you wake up and wonder how long you can survive before something else kills you. It’s an endless cycle.”

“So why did you stay?” I pressed, “Why didn’t you feed The Pig? I don’t even know what that means, but I would do anything for a chance to go back. I can’t stay here, I…I just can’t!”

She smiled sadly at me, “Why? Why did I choose this? It’s simple really. I’m a coward. I was a coward when I was alive and I’m a coward in death. When it came down to it, when the moment presented itself, I chose to stay here. I didn’t know what awaited me outside. It boiled down to a simple choice fueled by my own fear.”

“What is The Pig? What does it do to you?” I pressed.

She suddenly turned to go, “I’m afraid that’s for you to find out. But let me warn you. Think hard before you make a decision. Sometimes suffering through your fear is better than suffering for eternity. Be brave.”

“What do I do!?” I yelled, shaking in my chair as she walked out the door.

She paused and took one last look over her shoulder. Her eyes darted around and she dropped her voice to a whisper, “Feed The Pig.”

And with that she was gone.

I sat in silence once again. My mind was spinning, desperately turning over my options. I still couldn’t fully understand the situation I was in. It was too much, too overwhelming. The other side of death wasn’t supposed to be like this. I didn’t know what I had expected, but it wasn’t this nightmare. Questions crashed over my mind like cold waves onto a sinking ship. How was I supposed to make a choice when I didn’t even know what my actions entailed?

This place, the Black Farm…I couldn’t stay here. But what if I went to Hell? What if I didn’t get sent back? I would be out of the fire and into the frying pan. My existence would forever be damned to unending misery. Here though…here there were people like me. Suicidals. It wasn’t all monsters and mutilated murderers. Maybe I could hole up somewhere with them, try to scrape together a passable existence. Surely that would be better than getting sent to Hell!

No. No this wasn’t going to be how I spent my eternity. I refused to let it be. If there was even the slightest sliver of hope, I would take it. I didn’t want to wonder what could have been. I didn’t want to be tormented by doubt. I would feed The Pig and accept whatever fate chose for me. When I boiled it down, that was the only option left.

I would feed The Pig.

“Hey! Hello!? Danny!” I yelled, rattling in my chair. “I’ve made my decision! Danny!”

After a couple seconds, I heard footsteps echo down the hall towards me.

Danny walked through the doorway, an annoyed look on his face.

“I’ve made my choice,” I said, “I’m going to feed The Pig.”

“Sounds like you’ve really thought a lot about it since I left you,” Danny said sarcastically.

I licked my lips, “You’d do the same thing if you were in my place.”

Danny walked behind me, “I was in your place once. And I chose differently.” My eyes widened and then Danny wrapped my entire head with a strip of thin cloth, blinding me. I sucked in as much air as I could, but each lungful felt empty.

I felt Danny cut me free from the chair and my body sighed as my stiff muscles were released. I rolled my shoulders as my hands were released and I moaned with relief. I dug my fingers into my back and I stretched, my bones creaking.

“Keep your blindfold on and follow me,” Danny said, pulling me up.

My legs shook as I put weight on them, my thighs trembling after their long cemented position. I groped blindly in front of me and found Danny’s shoulder. I rested my hand on it as he walked us out of the room.

As we entered the hallway, I could suddenly hear sound I hadn’t before. The clank of metal, a long fleshy tearing noise, something vomiting…these sounds sprang to life in my ears, painting the darkness before my eyes with imaginary scenes of horror. I gripped Danny’s shoulder tighter, stumbling behind him, my heart thundering.

I heard something trailing behind us, but Danny didn’t seem to notice. Or if he did, he didn’t care. Flesh slapped the concrete mere inches behind me and I suddenly felt hot breath on my neck and the click of a wet tongue against gums. My breathing became even more labored as fear choked me.

“Go’in ta feed da piggy, are ya?” Something whispered in my ear. I felt something press against the back of my head and I tried not to think about what it might be. It was wet and slimy and I heard the thing chuckle.

“Ee’s a ‘ungry piggy, you make shor’ ee gets iz meal now,” the thing whispered again, its voice low and unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was like a series of grunts and moans jumbled together to form broken words.

To my relief, I heard the thing retreat back to wherever it had come from and I continued to follow Danny. He remained silent as we walked and I could feel shifts in the air. The thick heat gave way to a cooler, almost pleasant temperature, but then it kept decreasing and soon I was shivering violently against the cold. I couldn’t see anything but I felt a breeze on my face, like we were outside. I didn’t hear Danny open any doors, but nothing about this place was natural. It was like reality blurred and bled into itself, like reels of film melting together.

Teeth chattering, I was suddenly blasted with intense heat and I gasped. My feet tripped over themselves as the terrain changed and I was suddenly walking on what felt like warm iron. My ears were filled with the sound of blazing furnaces and the clash of working machinery. I couldn’t see it, but I felt like there was a vast open expanse overhead. I smelled ash and tasted dirt on my tongue, sweat already forming along my spine.

Suddenly, I crashed into Danny as he came to a halt. I backed up a few paces, quickly, and muttered my apologies. I could hear movement in front of us, a rustle of chains and an odd clicking sound on the metal floor. Something else too…something…snorting.

And then the room filled with a deafening sound of an immense pig squealing. I covered my ears, head splitting at the high pitched wail. I grit my teeth as the noise echoed off the metal and faded into a series of snorts and grunts.

It sounded absolutely enormous.

“I’ve brought another one,” Danny announced, a slight tinge of respect lining his voice. “He wants to feed The Pig.”

I waited, expecting to hear some answer, the cloth around my eyes sealing my sight to darkness. I realized my knees were shaking and my back was coated in sweat. I was terrified.

“If that is what you wish,” Danny said and I felt him bow under my hand. Apparently some unseen conversation had just happened and Danny took my wrist and pushed me forward.

“Approach The Pig,” he instructed.

My whole body trembled and my knees locked into place. Robbed from sight, I raised my hands, trying to get my bearings, the heat and ash filling my head with nausea. I felt like I was going to throw up, my stomach rolling like a dead sea. I didn’t know where I was or what horror lay before me. I felt lost and tiny, a fresh splash of tears dripping from my eyes and soaking into the cloth around my face.

“P-please,” I begged, “Let me see what’s happening.”

Danny was suddenly behind me, pushing me forward. He guided my hands towards something as we stepped together in unison. Even with the cloth around my face, I could see a giant mass of towering darkness before me. It was a spot of black on an already darkened canvas.

As we walked forward, I was suddenly assaulted by a horrendous smell and I gagged, turning away. Danny’s grip tightened and forced me to continue. I could sense something just in front of me, a living shifting mass of flesh. The smell increased to a wretched level and I gagged again. Then hot air was being blown on my face, a blast of heat that came in repeated short bursts.

I vomited into my cloth, the source of the smell stemming from the hot air. I choked as the bile gushed over the fabric, soaking it and momentarily cutting off my oxygen. Danny slapped my hands away and I took a few seconds to steady my breathing again. I was opening crying now, fear and misery collapsing my willpower.

The wet cloth stunk as I sucked in soggy breaths. My own stomach acid coated my skin and I begged for all of this to be over.

And then something squealed directly in front of me.

I felt my bladder go. I was standing before The Pig.

It was the source of darkness in my obscured vision; a fat, titanic creature that filled my senses with every breath it blew into my face.

Danny raised my hands and suddenly I was touching The Pig’s snout. I recoiled immediately, but Danny forced my hands back. Its fur was stiff and brittle and as my shaking hands explored up its nose, the size of the animal became clear to me.

It was gigantic and had weight over a ton. Its flesh wiggled under my sweating hands and it opened its mouth slightly. My fingers curled around teeth the size of kitchen knives and I realized its mouth was absolutely cavernous.

The Pig squealed again and I heard its hooves clack against the ground. It sounded like thunder rolling across an open field in the middle of summer.

“Take this blindfold off, please,” I begged, my legs turning to jelly.

Danny had taken a few steps back and I heard reverence in his voice, “You don’t want to do that.”

I jumped as The Pig nudged me with its nose, the wet circle of flesh squishing against the length of my face. I shuddered away, raising my hands and omitting a cry of fear.

“Feed The Pig,” Danny instructed, his voice like cold steel now. “You made your choice. Now live with it. It’s the only chance you have of going back. Or maybe The Pig won’t like how you taste and send you to Hell. Only one way to find out.”

My eyes widened behind the vomit soaked cloth, “Won’t…like…how I taste?!”

“Climb into its mouth.”

My bladder let go again and I felt warm piss run down my leg, “N-no…no you can’t mean…”

Danny’s voice hardened, “Climb into its mouth and don’t stop crawling forward until its done with you.”

“P-please,” I begged, turning towards Danny’s voice, reaching out blindly, “Please there has to be some other way…don’t make me do this!” I was a mess of snot and tears, my words mumbling from my mouth like a toddler.

Danny stepped forward and spun me back to face The Pig, “DO IT! You made your choice! It will all be over soon! This is your only CHANCE!” I could feel The Pig breathing onto my face, its snout mere inches from mine. The smell and heat it omitted made me want to vomit again but I held it back. This was insane, this wasn’t happening. My mind spun and twisted in chaos and fear. There had to be some other way. I couldn’t do this, I COULD NOT do this!

Suddenly I remembered the words of the woman: Sometimes suffering through your fear is better than suffering for eternity. Be brave.

This was my only chance to get back to the world of the living. I had made such a terrible mistake in killing myself. If I could go back and change my life, I wouldn’t have to spend eternity here. I could change my ways, ensure a spot somewhere else. Somewhere away from The Pig. But what if it decided to send me to Hell? How much more suffering could I endure?

I had to take the chance.

“Please, God,” I whispered, taking a step forward, “If you can hear me…please…have mercy on me.”

My shaking hands reached out for The Pig and I grasped its thick fur. I felt it slowly lower its head and open its mouth. It was waiting for me, its thick, hot breath stinking in my nostrils. This was it. No turning back now.

I slowly gripped its teeth and pulled myself forward into its jaws. Its head was at a downward angle and so I immediately fell onto my stomach at a forty-five degree angle. Its wet tongue squished under me and I was shaking so hard I could barely breath. Tears soaked my blindfold and my heart crunched against my ribs.

I slowly reached forward and found another tooth to grab onto. Gritting my teeth, I pulled my body inward past my knees. The Pig raised its head and I was suddenly completely horizontal on its tongue.

Saliva and mucus dripped around me and the heat was so intense I almost blacked out. My knees clacked against its front teeth as I pulled myself even deeper. Its inner cheeks pressed in around me, squeezing my body like a soaking fleshy coffin.

Crying, terrified, I reached ahead of me and found more teeth. I pulled myself deeper into its mouth and I felt my feet slide past its lips. My whole body was coated in slime and I openly wept, grasping in the darkness for another tooth.

And that’s when The Pig started to chew on me.

I screamed in crushing agony as my body was compressed between its massive teeth. I heard my legs snap instantly and felt wet bone pop from my skin. I shook violently as my body spasmed in shock, a mangled twist of blood and pain.

Its tongue shifted me in its mouth and I felt it bite down on my shoulder. My eyes bulged in their sockets as I howled, a hot pillar crunching down on my collar bone. I threw up violently, unable to control myself, the pain overwhelming.

Keep crawling.

Screaming, bloodshot eyes rolling wildly, I reached forward with my good arm, wetly searching for another tooth. I grit my teeth, blood squirting between them, as my fingers wrapped around something solid.

The Pig bit down again, its tongue twisting my body so its molars could snap down on my knees. The pain brought darkness, but my howling screams forced my eyes to remain open.

“JESUS MAKE IT STOP!” I bellowed, my trembling hand still gripping the tooth ahead of me, “PLEASE MAKE IT FUCKING STOP!”

I ground my teeth together so hard they cracked, screaming as I slowly pulled my body deeper into the mouth.

Something was changing, the tights walls of its throat squeezed my head and I realized I was almost through.

“COME ON YOU MOTHERFUCKER! COME ON!” I begged, vocal cords cracking. I reached ahead of me and grabbed onto a thick wad of flesh. My head felt like it was splitting and The Pig bit down on me again.

I gasped, blood exploding from my mouth in a great gush of red.

It had pierced through my stomach, obliterating my insides like bloated noodles. Darkness rushed in on me and I was in too much shock to even scream.

With the last of my strength, right as the blackness took me, I pulled myself forward one last time and felt myself slide down its throat. Darkness. Falling…screaming. I was screaming. Heat. Heat so intense I thought I would melt.

Clanging. Something was hammering on a metal. Colors and images flew past me so quickly I could only make out their shape. Blood poured into my eyes.

I felt like I would keep falling forever.

Suddenly, my eyes snapped open and I was falling, my breath rushing back into my lungs in a great wave of purity. My face bounced off the wood floor and I cried out as I felt my nose break. I tasted blood and saw stars.

I had stopped falling.

There was a ring of burning fire around my throat and I felt impossibly thirsty.

I was lying on the floor.

I slowly opened my eyes again and the darkness began to fade like morning mist under a hot sun. Colors blended together and shapes came into focus.

I was in my woodshed.

I reached up around my throat and grasped at the source of heat. It was the rope I had hung myself with, but now it was severed, releasing me from the grip of death.

Relief rolled over me in overwhelming waves of thanks. I curled up on the floor and sobbed, tears dripping from my eyes onto the dirty floor. My body shook, unbroken, as I wept, wet horse cries rising from my quivering lips.

I had been spared. I was alive again.

From my spot on the floor, I turned my eyes upward, my voice cracking, “Thank you God. Oh thank you.” I fell into another fit of uncontrollable sobbing, “I promise I won’t waste my life again. I promise I’ll make things right, I’ll fix everything.”

I don’t know how long it was before I got up. Time seemed to stretch for eternity. My mind refused to rebuild, the horrors of what I had just witnessed crushing me.

But I knew I would do everything I could to make the most out of my life. I was going to live every day to the fullest. I would devote myself to helping others in dark times. I would reach out to as many Suicidals as I could and try to save them from awaited on the other side.

I didn’t want anyone else to have to witness the horrors of suicide.

I didn’t want anyone else to have to feed The Pig.

Open Topic

Sweet Release.

When forgetting is the only option you have, I guess that’s what they call the sweet release.

Releasing someone when you’re heart is still full of love.

Releasing someone and wishing them the best, even if it’s not with you.

Releasing someone and forgiving them for all their wrongdoings.

Releasing someone without the juvenile hope that they would come back to you.

Releasing someone and accepting that your paths might not cross again.

Releasing someone when there was so much you wanted to say and so much you wanted to do.

Releasing them because maybe they don’t belong to you after all.

I guess that’s what they call maturity. Learning to let go of those you want to hold on to. Learning to accept that their story may not include you. Learning to love them from a distance. Accepting that your happy ending may not include them.

I guess that’s what they call faith. Trusting that the universe will fill that void. Trusting that God will find a way to replace what you’ve lost. Trusting that you can keep going in this journey on your own for a little while longer. Trusting that something better is on the way.

I guess that’s what they call healing. Knowing when to detach. Knowing how to let go. Being kind to yourself. Forgiving yourself. Loving again after every heartbreak. Moving on with no regrets, only lessons. Picking yourself up again. Trying to love again. Proving to yourself time and time again that no one can truly break you.

Open Topic

The Notebook.

I’ve been camping for the past week with a few of my friends. We’re in a nice, secluded campground on the side of a mountain, filled with forests and a few remote lakes. It’s quiet, peaceful and honestly one of my favorite places in the country. It’s not a well-known campground about 15 minutes outside of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, right in the heart of the Berkshires, so it’s still close to town and everything we need while still being remote and private. I’m including this so you know how normal this place is. It’s beautiful, families come out here often to camp. I’ve been coming here since I was 8 with my family, and we’ve never had anything bad happen here.

Until now, that is.

I’m a 44-year-old woman, and a few of my friends and I decided last weekend we wanted to go on a camping trip, since we’re all back from college for the summer, and we’ve missed each other. There are 6 of us overall—me (Hanna), Tyler, Jacob, Eileen, Ben, and Yona. The names aren’t real obviously, because I want to keep our anonymity. We’re not totally sure what to do about all this.

So, we’ve been here for 3 days. We got unpacked, set up our tents and campfire. We spent the next two days messing around and enjoying ourselves, swimming in the lakes, talking around the campfire, and hiking on the trails. We have 2 more days here, and today we decided we would go exploring off-trail to see what’s around. There’s not really a danger of getting lost or anything because there’s a big fence surrounding the campground and separates it from the national park. We figured we would take a map, keep track of where we were with Tyler’s fancy GPS he got for geocaching or whatever. Ben had a stomach ache from some expired granola bars and decided he was going to wait for us back at the campsite.

We packed up our backpacks with plenty of water, snacks and emergency supplies, tied our shoes, locked up our stuff, said bye to Ben and headed out from a smaller trail off the largest lake. For the first 2 hours, we didn’t find anything cool or interesting as we trekked deeper into the wilderness. We found some cool trees, a little den of some sort of small animal, a huge boulder we got a cool picture on top of, and a little cave near the boulder that wasn’t very interesting.

As we got deeper into the woods, Eileen got a little spooked after she thought she heard someone calling her name. we all thought she was being ridiculous as there are five of us out here, there’s bound to be echoes off the trees and shit. She eventually dropped it and laughed it off. Tyler wandered off when we stopped for a snack, and a few minutes later came running back and told us he saw someone running around the woods. We all thought he was messing with us and fucked with him for it. It was funny, and he brushed it off.

We heard a couple of distant bells, which was a little weird but we figured someone had a dog out here.

About 3pm, we finally found something interesting. We found these cool structures that were made out of sticks and stretched into circles, kind of like pictured below but much smaller, like 2-3 feet in diameter, on the ground and hanging from trees. We also found a few things like pictured below, like the sticks and branches had fallen in a circle pattern. Eileen, of course, was freaked out and wanted to go back, but Jacob and Tyler had found some wood and stone steps carved into the ground like they do for some hiking trails on a hill nearby. We also found some old wood railing, like what you find next to inclined trails. We figured it was part of an old hiking trail, and Eileen decided the weird stick things were from people who had found the old hiking trail. We agreed, even though we weren’t sure.

We kept going, and eventually found the best and worst part of this trek. We found an old abandoned shed (I apologize for not having a real picture of it, but we didn’t bring our phones (only our satellite phone, we’re not stupid and my little Polaroid didn’t have any more film.)


It was about 10×15 feet, so pretty big for a shed but not big enough to be a house, miles from anything, and relatively well-maintained. It wasn’t like a super old and decrepit ruin, like we would expect to find. I guess it was part of the old abandoned trail. We were so excited we had found something cool, and immediately went around to see what was inside.

We found it was locked from the inside, and the windows were nailed shut. Yona found one of the three windows only had one nail, and it was sticking halfway out. So we pried the nail out, and Tyler climbed inside to let us in. He clambered around inside, then unlocked the door with a bit of effort. The door swung open and he beamed at us, proud of his work. We all clapped him on the back and came inside with him.

It smelled terrible in there. A mix of rust, dead leaves, and something sour. We looked around, and the boys turned their flashlights on since the windows didn’t provide a lot of light. Inside, there was a gross wooden chair, a pile of dusty and nasty looking blankets, a wooden table that was turned on its side, a few small bones (we thought from animals) and tons of leaves and dirt on the ground. There were hand prints and footprints everywhere (and probably a couple needles), so we definitely thought some hobo had been sleeping here. Tyler disagreed and thought some sort of cryptide had made a nest here. Eileen punched him and left the shed, and of course we ripped into him for being a dick. He said he was serious and said the bones and how it was locked are creepy as hell. He said all of the stick sculptures and shit were weird and not something a person would do. He wasn’t afraid at all and said since we’re on the grounds of a well-known and popular campground, and how it backs up into a national park, are all signs of something living here. He then changed his mind about it being a cryptid and decided it was probably some creep trying to be weird and scare anyone who would happen to stumble across.

We continued to explore, still calling Tyler an asshole and joking around and harassing him to lighten the mood. We sifted through the blankets and leaves, and found a few half-burned candles, a used-up emergency flare, and a few burnt matches.

Then, I found the notebook.

It was one of those little mini composition notebooks you can find in office supply aisles. It was dirty and scuffed and had frantic writing written inside. I called out to my friends, and we started going through it. It was freaky as hell and read like a diary from a horror movie or something. We all got super freaked out and Jacob threw it at me to take back to camp with us. We didn’t feel safe going through it there.

So, we all got the hell out of there. We trekked the 3+ hours back to our campsite, visited the bathrooms, and went back to hang out some more. It was about 7-8pm when we all settled back in camp for dinner. Ben had gone into town and gotten some food for us, so we quickly forgot about our adventure and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Which is where we are now. It’s about 10pm, we’re all sitting around the campfire. I brought my laptop to go through the pictures we had and thought I would try and transcribe the notebook so everyone could read it at once and then we could talk about it.

So, here goes. I’ve added some punctuation/fixed the grammar so it’s more comprehensible. To see an album of the notebook, click here.

Page 1

“My name is Cassie, I’m 14 and camping with my family at [campground]. There are 5 of us. Me, mom and dad, Levi (11) and Daisy (6). We have been here for 5 days, I think. I lost all of them yesterday. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if anyone will find us. I don’t know where I am or where to go. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. If someone finds this, you have to know what happened. We got here 5 days ago. It was fun. We set up our tents, went swimming, hiked and had fun. It was supposed to be a fun summer trip. Just the family. We went exploring in the woods 2 days ago. Dad knows this campground really well and wanted to try some off trail hiking. We brought water. We brought food. It was fine. It was fun. We were out for a while. We found these weird stick spirals everywhere. Sticks around the trees.

Page 2

Then we found footprints. Then we heard sticks cracking out of site. Levi touched one of the spirals and got a rash a few minutes later. We saw an old cabin in the distance but decided not to check it out in case it was dangerous. We went back to camp. It got really, really dark out, and we couldn’t see the stars or the moon. Dad said it wasn’t supposed to storm. We went to bed. We heard footsteps outside, but mom and dad didn’t see anyone. Levi’s rash got worse and mom put ointment on it. The footsteps lasted all night. I thought I heard breathing, too. The rest of them couldn’t hear it. A few times, there were bells. Just short little rings. Like a dog bell or something. I went out to pee late that night. I saw a shape in the woods. I was so scared. It looked like a person in a hoodie. I told mom and dad; dad went out with a flashlight but didn’t see anything.

Page 3

They said we could leave in the morning. The night lasted so long, none of us slept. The sun finally came up and we got up to pack or stuff. There were footprints all over the camp in the gravel and dirt. There were more stick spirals. Daisy started to cry, and mom put her in the car. It was foggy out, like it usually is in the morning. The sky was overcast. We took a while to pack up. Levi noticed we couldn’t hear any birds or cicadas. Everything felt muffled. We packed up. Dad left to go down the road to check out. He was gone for hours. Mom started to get scared. We tried calling the office, but just got a busy signal. Daisy was crying. Levi and me went to the lake a few feet away. We sat there for a few minutes. We said how weird this was and we just wanted to go home. We wondered where dad was. It got cold, so we went back to the car to get jackets.

Page 4

Mom and Daisy were gone. Mom’s phone was in her seat, there was no service. Levi started to cry. We yelled and yelled for mom and dad and Daisy. There was no answer at all, no echoes, no birds or bugs. No wind. I think my ears were ringing. It sounded like bells again. I didn’t know if it was my head or just super faint. It was getting dimmer out. I looked at my phone to see what time it was and to [tried to] call my mom and dad. It was 8pm. We had been yelling for my mom and my sister for 4 hours. Or we had been at the lake a long time. I started to cry too. I was so scared, but I tried to keep myself together for my Levi. We sat in the car, ate some food and tried over and over again to call my mom, my dad and the office. We tried 911 too but there was always the stupid busy signal!!! I made us beds in the car with sleeping bags and told Levi we would try again tomorrow when the sun is up.

Page 5

Maybe there was a storm or something down the mountain. I heard the footsteps again that night. All around the car, pacing and pacing but when I looked there was nothing there. I cried as quiet as I could and prayed to God that someone would find us. Around 2am the wind started to blow again. It smelled really bad outside and the footsteps got louder. I gave Levi my headphones and made him play his music. There were sounds outside, like wailing, whistling. Like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It sounded like whales underwater, but slow and far away. I told myself it was coyotes or something. The sun finally came up, and when we got outside it was freezing but so humid. It smelled awful, like ozone and rust and sharp cheese. And dead leaves and dirt. The fog was still everywhere, we couldn’t see past the treeline only a few yards away.

Page 6

All the stuff I had put outside of the car for us to sleep was gone. There were footprints in the gravel and dirt again, outside the car, and spirals were marked in the dust on the side of the car and in the dirt on the ground. Not just sticks anymore. I told Levi we were leaving. We put our jackets on and put some stuff in our backpacks. We started to walk down the path to walk the 2 miles to the entrance and the office. We walked and walked. Levi was crying. I was too scared to cry. I kept seeing someone out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t tell Levi. We yelled for our mom and dad and Daisy. We yelled for help, that we were lost. No one heard us or said anything. It got foggier and foggier. We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. We kept our eyes on the road and down. I tried to play road trip games to keep Levi occupied.

Page 7

At some point, our phones stopped working. They just stayed at 2:17pm. They wouldn’t unlock, the battery charge wouldn’t change. We knew time had passed because we got thirsty and hungry and we walked and walked and walked. God. Fuck. I can’t do this. I’m crying and crying and crying, I can’t breathe!! Fuckfuckfuckfuck [frustrated scribbles] Damn it. We kept walking for so fucking long. I told Levi to stop and turn around because I had to pee. I went and took the couple steps back to him and he was GONE He wasn’t anywhere, his footprints stopped where he was standing I screamed and screamed for him, I looked everywhere but I couldn’t fucking find him!!

Page 8

I lost it and just ran down the road. I cried and cried and ran to where I thought would be people The road turned into woods again and the fog started to clear just a few steps past the trees. I tried to look around but it was just trees everywhere, as far as I could possibly see. I had just taken a few steps into the trees but it was just trees everywhere like I had been teleported I just started walking again. It started to get dark. I was walking for hours. My feet hurt and I know I had blisters. My back hurt and my face is raw. It got darker. The sky turned purple, like sunset behind the clouds. I heard the sticks snapping again. The air was still cold and unbearably humid. It was dusk. And fuck, I was right back to where we were 2 days ago. The stick spirals. The bent trees. I saw the cabin again.

Page 9

This time I went to it and hoped this was some sort of crazy realistic nightmare or a prank or just SOMETHING and this was familiar. The door was open and there was a table and chair inside. And leaves everywhere and dirt and stuff. I locked the door, sat down and got this notebook out of my backpack. I turned on my flashlight, there wasn’t enough light outside. I didn’t know what to do so I started writing. I had a few candles and a flare in my backpack so I lit the candles. It never got any darker outside but it’s dark in here. I can hear the footsteps again. I don’t even know if I’m scared anymore, I’m just tired and I want my mom. I want my dad. It’s not fair.

Page 10






Page 11


The notes end there. I mentioned we found the used up flare and candles in the shed. I think Cassie lit them.

We’re leaving in the morning. It’s almost 1am and everyone is terrified. Ben is going to stay up and keep watch to keep us comfortable. We’ll be handing all of this in to the Forest Service and the police in a few hours.

This is not what I had planned for a camping trip.

God, I hope this isn’t real.

Open Topic

Do You Believe In Paranormal??

My best friend believes in spiritual mumbo jumbo like tarot cards and psychic readings and cleansing the house with sage. Despite our vastly differently beliefs, when she asked if she could stay at my place for a week, I immediately said yes.

“Are you sure?” she asked. “It’s okay if you say no. I still have a spirit attached to me. I know that makes some people uncomfortable.”

She had mentioned the spirit before in late night snapchats while she was drunk on wine. I assumed she didn’t even believe the bullshit she was spouting. But apparently she was serious about the ghost. She said it followed her wherever she went. She said it was friendly, but it could be scary for someone who wasn’t used to the paranormal.

I didn’t want to be too nasty about something she believed in so deeply, so I told her not to worry about it. I could fend for myself. The spirit wasn’t going to bother me.

She arrived at my doorstep exactly one week ago with a bright blue suitcase. When she first stepped foot into the house, there was a drop in temperature. I remember it clearly because I told her: “You came at the perfect time. We were going through a heat wave but today is the coolest it’s been.”

Of course, I was wrong. I realized that when I let the dog outside to pee an hour later. It was burning hot outside. The house was the only place where the temperature had dropped — and I hadn’t touched the thermostat.

I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I showed my friend to her room, instructed her to keep the bathroom door closed so the dog wouldn’t nose around in the trash, and reminded her where I stored the silverware and dishes.

We spent the whole night talking, catching up about our careers and relationships. In the morning, I woke up earlier than her. I went to the cabinet to fetch the dog food, but the cabinet was already opened. Every cabinet was opened. So were the drawers.

“Is there a reason why you left everything open?” I texted her in case she was awake in her guest room. “You can help yourself to whatever you want but just try to keep things shut tight. I don’t want the dog getting into bleach or rat poison. He’ll eat anything he finds.”

About an hour after pressing send, I heard the sound of the shower running. I assumed she was awake. I assumed she was getting ready to start her day. I walked toward the bathroom with the intention of reminding her where we kept our towels, but the door was swung wide open.

My blood boiled, but I didn’t peek inside because our shower was made of glass and I didn’t want to catch her undressing. I just swung the door closed and said, “I really can’t have the dog walking into the bathroom. He’ll eat whatever he finds. It’s the one rule of this house. Please don’t leave the door open again or the cabinets or the drawers because he–”

The door creaked open. Not the bathroom door. The one to her guest room.

“Why are you yelling?” my friend asked. She rubbed at her eyes, half asleep.

“You didn’t turn the shower on?”

“No. I wasn’t planning on getting up until at least eight. I’m on vacation.”

“Do you sleepwalk or something?”

She shook her head, walked into the bathroom, and turned off the water. “It must be the spirit. I told you how much trouble it causes. It doesn’t mean any harm, though. I’ll talk to it. I’ll let it know the dog could get hurt if anything stays open.”

“Thanks?” I said, unsure whether my friend was screwing with me. Later in the day, I heard her speaking to the spirit, requesting it to behave. I think I even heard her bark.

The rest of the week, the cabinets and drawers and doors stayed closed. The dog stayed safe. But some other strange things happened.

I heard footsteps above me, like someone had been crawling on the ceiling. I smelt something smoky coming from my bedroom, like a lit cigar. I saw strange dots of light everywhere — on the walls, across the television, in my mirrors. And my dreams… they were the strangest I’d ever had. They were never violent, but they were weird, like I had been tripping on acid.

When my friend finally left, I watched her descend down the steps and into her Uber. It took me a second to notice her suitcase wasn’t bright blue anymore. It was a deep, dark red. Like the color of old blood.

I didn’t even ask her about it. I was just glad she was gone — along with whatever came with her.

Open Topic

Be Brave.

Be brave enough to be alone.

By alone, I mean only depending on yourself for your happiness and your comfort. I mean dreaming of a future where your goals rely on you, and only you, to achieve them.

By alone, I mean strolling down a beach with the sand between your feet and hugging yourself as the wind brushes your bare arms. I mean taking yourself on a date to your favourite café with a book, a coffee, and yourself for company and watching the sun rise and fall back down again, feeling nothing but comfort in that moment.

By alone, I mean listening to your own thoughts, being your best friend, and cherishing the solitude that you find yourself in. I mean being okay with not having a partner and still feeling loved. I mean being comfortable in the presence of those that do. I mean being happy when those you grew up with fold themselves in the arms of relationships, jobs, children, and new countries while you are still on a journey to find whom you truly are.

Be brave enough to love yourself.

By love, I mean wrapping strength around your wrists as you bunch your hands into tight fists for anyone who dares to treat you badly and letting your heart rest inside your chest rather than carrying it on your sleeve for people who will never see it for what it is worth.

I mean loving yourself enough to walk away, enough to say when you have endured too much, enough to smile at your reflection in the mirror when life feels grim, enough to put yourself first and not let anyone take you for granted.

By love, I mean hugging yourself when you feel empty, pouring all the tenderness that you give to others inside yourself, where it belongs. I mean giving and giving to your heart until you fill your empty bucket with enough love to last you a lifetime. I mean cherishing your soul, comforting yourself, and never letting yourself go astray again.

Be brave enough to be there for yourself.

By being there, I mean holding your own hand when things get too much and wiping your tears when you are settled in a tight corner of your room with no one but a human-sized shadow resting beside you.

I mean giving yourself the compulsory pep talks, having the heart-to-hearts, listening to your worries and concerns and holding your falling pieces together as closely as you can, because if you don’t then you will fall apart and there will be no one other than you to save you.

Be brave enough to say no.

By this, I mean say no when it causes you pain, say no when you do not want to give away parts of yourself anymore, say no when you do not want to be pushed around or forced to do things that do not fulfil you.

Say no when your heart rattles against your ribs because it has been drained of all the love and affection that it could give. Say no when deep down you know that they do not deserve the goodness that rests inside your chest, when you know that you must save yourself for those who will cherish you, for those who will accept wholeheartedly all that you have to give.

Be brave enough to become the right person for yourself.

Because if you are brave enough to do what is right for your heart, then I promise you, you will never feel lonely when you are alone.

Open Topic

Learn To Put Yourself First.

For 21 years and counting, I have been the considerate one. The one who has always put others before me. I do it so often that it has become my normal. I almost always second guess myself when I try to make a decision that is only beneficial to me. But is it all really worth it? Is it worth it to sacrifice your mental or physical health to live in a world of missed opportunity or loss?

The answer is no. The more you give, the more people will take. Know when to restrain your generosity and reserve it for those who deserve it. I know I have this motherly nature where taking care of others has become a source of happiness. Because everyone deserves to feel cared for and taken care of. But don’t sacrifice your own happiness for someone else’s. Don’t feel bad for pursuing your dreams or things that make you happy at the expense of those who don’t matter. At the end of the day, it is your life and you can choose who you want to make happy.

Surround yourself with the right people. Your relationships with people should not all be about them. Relationships should be reciprocal. Be aware of people who are only looking to get something out of you and those who have genuine intention. Those are genuine will not take advantage of you. They will give as much as they will take. They will value you and respect your decision to put yourself first. They will never make you feel bad for pursuing your needs and desires over their own. Instead, they will lift you up and will be the support and assurance you need to feel confident in yourself and your decisions.

Accept that you can’t please everyone. There is over 7 billion people in this world. I can tell you now that not all of them will love you or care about you. People have their own lives and opinions. You have the power over how others will affect you. You don’t have to stand for anyone’s bullshit. You can walk away. You can move forward. You can turn left or right. You don’t have to entertain people’s requests when they don’t matter. Once you realize this, you can welcome the feeling of freedom. You can live a life that is yours without always having to worry about the people outside yourself.

It’s time for you to stop feeling small. You don’t have to feel like you’re not important enough. Because you deserve to live a life that is full of happiness, promise, and opportunity.