When I got the call you were unresponsive, I dropped everything and fled to your house. I saw medics, police officers, and firefighters crowding the street. When I walked through the door, I could hear chaos coming from the hallway. I knew I needed to get to my sisters. As I moved through the house, time began to still and the air began to thin as every detail was branded in my memory. I was afraid to go down the hallway but I gathered the courage to keep moving. I noticed the bathroom door was broken from when Dad kicked it down. I only peeked inside for a second but what I saw still haunts me. You were laying there, lifeless, eyes closed, and surrounded my medics. You had an oxygen mask on and were hooked up to an IV. Dad was helping them carefully lift you onto the stretcher. I turned away and kept walking. I went to my sisters’ room and they looked relieved to see me. They asked me if Mommy was going to be okay and they wanted to know who all those men were. I told them Mommy was very sick but that those men were here to help her get better. Then I sat with them on the bed and held them for a while. It didn’t feel real. It was one of those things you can’t speak about.
I heard the ambulance sirens blaring as they left the driveway. I made sure the kids were taken care of then headed to the hospital. I raced down the road, screaming at the sky as I frantically raced to the hospital. I was begging God to save you and praying I wouldn’t be too late. When I finally got there I ran into the emergency room. I saw Dad sitting there quietly. I’ll never forget the look on his face. The doctors told him the medics got there just in time to give her a fighting chance. I put my head on his shoulder and we just sat there in silence for a while. I felt the walls beginning to close in around me so I stepped outside to get some air. But as soon as I stepped into the hall, the walls completely closed in. A nurse yelled out “Doc, I think she’s crashing out!”. There were a group of nurses quickly rolling a hospital bed with several attached monitors and IV drips across the hallway. All I could see was your hair but I knew it was you. I heard someone say “Mom” and then realized it was me. A nurse looked up at me and said “She’ll be okay”. I wondered if you had learned to do the same when you were in nursing school. Comforting the grieving daughter in the hallway while you rushed her mom into the ICU. And then you were gone. As I slid down the wall to the floor, I stared at the wall and started to cry. It was something I just couldn’t speak about.
I don’t remember how long we waited. It felt like a lifetime. They called us back and we tried to prepare for the worst. The doctor said they were able to stabilize you and let us in to see you. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. There was a giant tube shoved down your throat to help you breathe. You were unconscious but you were fighting the tube. I held your hand but I couldn’t look at you. They had you transferred to the ICU. None of the doctors knew if you were going to make it not. So for three days we just sat there and waited as we watched over you. I prayed God would give me some sort of epiphany to help me make sense of it all. Or even a sign that would give me some relief. On the second day we found all of the pill bottles and at least a hundred empty medicine capsules in the bathroom. It was everything you had taken that morning. I recalled from the day before when the doctor asked me why my name was on one of the bottles of medication you took. That was when the realization of what you did settled in. The next day, instead of feeling relieved from seeing your chest rise and fall, I just felt cold to the bone. It was something you just can’t speak about…..
And then you woke up.
He convinced me to go out with him one last time, after he told me that he would take me to my favorite restaurant. I was never taught to know when not to trust people; I was raised by a woman whose word was the law, if you questioned it then you were wrong. So I believed him when he said that he was sorry, that he would make it up to me. He always said words that fell to the ground and I was left to pick them up and put them in my pocket. I found a special place in my rib cage next to my heart where I tucked his words because I wanted to believe them so much that it crushed my lungs, leaving me breathless.
I met him at the most vulnerable part of my life and I truly believe that he knew that. He saw a lamb, and like the wolf he was, knew exactly what to do in order to betray me. The first time I saw him, my aunt told me that he looked like my next boyfriend. It felt like I was in a romantic comedy and this was our meet cute. But there was nothing cute about how he left my heart to die on the chopping board. He told me that he didn’t want anything serious, but he still pushed me against the wall and took the one thing that was supposed to be kept from people like him.
At first, I thought that this was what I wanted. I had an imagination that would kill to be in a world where someone cared about me, so I picked the wrong person to rescue me from my tower. I told him to stop as I bled out on his mattress; I gave my heart to a wolf and told him not to bite. Later he told me that his brother came over and helped him flip the mattress over, to hide the evidence. I slept there for two years because I thought what we had was love, even though I kept a sharp kitchen knife hidden under that same mattress just in case. But he never called me his girlfriend, or anything of the sort: he always said that we were just friends when people asked. I was just living in his house, sleeping in his bed, but it was nothing more to him until I grew sick of it all and left.
I was desperate to never return to my life before him, which was full of a controlling mother who didn’t want anything for her daughter. I wasn’t a living, breathing, person to her—I was just a doll, a plaything that she kept throwing away when she got bored. But now that I was disagreeing, having thoughts of my own, she decided to dig me out of the garbage just to torture me. Even though I was twenty-three, I ran away from home and into the arms of a man who didn’t want the burden of rescuing me. As soon as things got complicated, he sent me back into the arms of a monster. But I refused to stay captive in the tower, desperate to get out. It is impossible to escape the hands of evil when no one around you is willing to help you fight it off.
I found myself in the arms of another monster, who refused to say he cared about me at all, and used every part of me that he could. When he first showed me the house that his father bought for him, he told me about how he saw a hawk in his backyard that swept down to catch a mouse. I didn’t recognize the irony until after the fact. It was on his thirtieth birthday that everything changed for me. So many times he told me that he was going to do better, to stop disappearing for days on end without so much as a word. He was going to stop having parties at his house, stop going out to the bar, and the strip club, and god knows what else. Every lie he told me made me heart drop and it died, and it died, and it died a little more each time.
He lied to himself and said that he could stop at any time, but every moment passed and he kept on going. He had an illicit affair with drugs, starting off small but it only got worse. I remember the time that he came home one night, to lay in the bed next to me and scream about how someone was after him. I could tell that there was something wrong but I didn’t know what to do. I was watching as someone slowly destroyed himself from the inside out. Any time I asked him about it, he would fill up his mouth with lies upon lies upon lies until he choked on his own words. He could never admit that he had a problem, even though I was the one person willing to help him. I knew what it was like to be surrounded by people who didn’t want anything to do with negativity in any form, because they were afraid of what would happen to them. They always thought of themselves first, you second. But I was willing to ruin myself for him, a million little times.
I begged him not to go out on his birthday, we could have a party, just him and me. He let his drug addiction speak for him and before I knew it, he was gone. Before he left, he promised that he would call me at midnight to wish me a happy birthday but midnight came and went without a sound. I called him frantically a million times, as I always did, to no response. Eventually I passed out on the same mattress he took my virginity on. I woke up to him pounding on the front door, drunk and high. I must not have gotten up in time because when I went to answer the door, he was gone. All I could see was the his shadow walking down the street, going who knows where. I have never felt such a fear in my life and I hope to never experience it again. I immediately got dressed, threw on my shoes, and went after him but by the time I got there, he was gone.
I found myself walking the streets listlessly, unsure of where he was going and immensely worried about what would happen to him. I have never felt such pain in my life, that stuck in-between my rib cage and pounded against my chest. I cursed the god-forsaken mess that he made me. I walked for miles in the dark, not entirely sure where I was going. I walked into a neighboring small town, where I stopped to stare at a window display that had jewelry. My heart ached for something that I would never get. In my mind, a relationship was supposed to be about showing how much you care about someone through small gestures, like buying them a piece of jewelry that you would think they would like. Looking back, I wish that I could say that there were good moments that made me question the bad ones. But I had never knew a life full of good moments. My life was full of hiding in my bedroom closet when my mother took my door off its hinges, trying to find a way to fight with me just because she could.
After I had walked the streets in the middle of the night for who knows how long, I made my way back home and eventually fell asleep out of pure exhaustion. I woke up to the sound of him coming home. I wanted to shake the very core of him, begging him to tell me why he had did what he did. But he shrugged it off, as he always did in his charismatic way, making me believe that we shared a secret language. I couldn’t talk to anyone else.
When the day broke, something inside of me changed. The thing he stuck in-between my rib cage was beginning to come loose and for the first time, I was tired of it all. He took a broken girl and shattered her more, daring her to pick up the pieces and make something of herself. I could no longer live with the fear that one day, he wouldn’t come home and I would learn about his overdose on the news. Our relationship started in beautiful rooms and ended in parking lots. There was nothing there anymore, it was empty.
But he asked for one more chance and I gave it to him with shaking hands and a bruised heart. He was going to take me to my favorite restaurant, something he had never done for me in the two years that we were together. He always filled up my hopes with a promise that he never meant. A wolf who sharpened his teeth and told me they were dull. As we drove in the busy five ‘o clock traffic, I turned to look out the window and close my eyes. I had never wished for anything, but I asked the universe—god, or whatever was looking after me, if there was anything—to show me a sign. It couldn’t be a sign that I could easily overlook or explain away. I asked for a clear, concise sign. Show me a sign that I’m going down the wrong path. That I shouldn’t give him any more chances. Then he slammed into the back of a car, and my whole world came crashing down.
He was trying to change lanes. He wasn’t looking. His eyes were wild like they were the night that he disappeared. I knew in my gut that there was something wrong. But this whole time, I didn’t listen to the voice inside of my head that was screaming out to be heard. I was in shock that this had happened. I asked the universe for a sign and it provided one for me. I had no choice but to listen.
I never saw him again. He tried to call me, email me, and even showed up at my mother’s house. Something deep inside of me wanted to give him a second, third, fourth, fifth chance but the way he acted made me stop myself. He spoke as if our love was a romance, all flowery looks and far off glances, when it was just a wolf convincing a sheep that he wouldn’t bite. But he tore me to pieces and it took a long time for me to put all the pieces back together again.
Seven years old.
Naivety knew me well and insecurity held me tight.
I was happy, I was innocent.
I loved to play pretend in the trees
And chase snakes in the grass.
I had a mother and a father,
I had God and I had imagination.
I had music in my ears.
One by one those things, they left me.
Goodbye daddy, goodbye Jesus.
Goodbye childhood, goodbye love songs.
All that was left was a fearful child,
It happened in just one day.
A sunny afternoon.
Innocence taken. Age seven.
There in the closet, no one to catch my streaming tears.
No one to come and save me.
No screams came from my mouth.
My voice was gone.
All the playing had come to an end.
No more make-believe, no more barbies.
No more pirates.
Civility and anxiety were all that hugged me.
No one else offered comfort or safety.
So I clung to them with all my strength.
The fields behind that house
Grew tall with wheat and weeds.
They soon became home,
Where I could run to to be alone.
I saved myself.
I hit my peak.
It all happened so fast.
I still remember the day I saw him the first time.
He was just like any other person, hanging with some of my friends. He was the opposite of what I was. Loud, as opposed to my quiet. Confident, as opposed to my anxiousness. And I guess that’s what drew him to me, and me to him. We didn’t wait. We never wait, because we were running out of time. It was a rush of feelings, of words stating our feelings towards each other. We were reckless, we said words that we didn’t mean. But it meant something for me, if not for him back then.
I still remember the first night we spent together; it was heaven. He courted me not with flowers, but with words. And god, I felt like I was truly a new person, because there he was. He saw me. He knew me. I let my feelings take over, and of course I thought he was all mine. After all, he had wooed me with his words, and I’d wooed him with mine. It was just like the movies.
And so, we sipped our wine and spent the month together. A month full of new wonders and discoveries of love, a month of exchanging sweet words and flirtations with each other. A month of our own unbreakable heaven. But heaven is fragile, my readers, and so was our so called relationship.
Throughout the month, I have convinced myself that we were in a real relationship; I was his, and he was mine. We confided to each other, we said each other’s names like it was honey in our tongue. We traded fantasies, our dreams for the future, and I thought to myself, “I love him,” because what other thoughts can a girl have when she’s drowned in her own feelings?
Four weeks. It took four weeks to break our heaven. My heaven. It all started in a glorious summer morning, with the words he guarded and said carefully as to not hurt me. That he was enough, content, with what we have right now. That it was fun, but he would take it no further.
Reader, that was when I realized my heaven wasn’t his heaven. That I have been fooling myself into believing that he somehow thought this was a serious relationship. And it broke my heart. And so, reader, I left him. It wasn’t my best decision. We still had time if I wanted to after all. But I wasn’t willing to break my heart even further.
And now, I realize he was never mine. Even after the nights we spend getting to know each other, I never knew him. The time we had feels like a fever dream where my stubborn imagination painted him to become a person he never really was.
I convinced myself that it was just a fling; a love that can only last one summer, but if I’m being honest, I truly loved him. For a while at least. I still miss him on some days. But he was not mine to lose. He was never mine to lose.
Dear Class of 2020,
After graduation everyone expects to get a job straight out of college. But sometimes, God or whatever you believe in, has other plans for you and these things take time. My plans were interrupted by a global pandemic. But I’m still going to keep trying and I’m still going to pursue my dreams.
Things just take time. It’s why I’m working on getting a Masters degree and hoping for the best. But some days are harder than others and there’s no use in lying to myself about it.
Make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Apply to remote internships if you’re still in high school or in college. Educate yourself on current events. Keep trying. Keep going! This is a reminder to you and to myself. I think the most important thing is to just keep trying.
Find joy in everyday life. UnJadedJade, (a YouTuber) believes in finding the casual magic in everyday life. I started doing that recently and it’s been life-changing. When you start to believe in yourself, miracles do happen. ✨