It’s not bullshit in the sense that it doesn’t work—if it wasn’t for therapy back in middle school and high school I probably wouldn’t be here—but it is bullshit in the sense that the process of going through it feels completely counterproductive at times.
Take this: today I go into my therapist’s office for my second appointment. I know exactly what I want to talk about. I get in there, and what happens first? She asks me how I felt about last time. “Okay, I guess.” She stares at me, so I look at my shoes. “Okay….well, was there anything that we talked about that stuck with you? Did you think about it in the days following it?” “Uh…I guess…I thought…uh, that maybe I was kind of stand-offish.” “In the days after the appointment?” “No, um, during the appointment.” “Oh,” she said, and waited for me to say something else. But really, there was nothing to say. “I don’t really think that’s significant though…like, you asked what if I thought anything about it in the days afterword, and that was what I thought. That’s it.” “Well, I’m not a mind reader. I just wanted to know how you felt, and if there was anything that stuck out to you…” and then she just prattled on and repeated herself. Dude, I know you’re not a mind reader. But I swear, I don’t really have any opinion about our last appointment. Now can we talk about the things I came here to talk about?
Finally I get to start my spiel about my feelings. And what does she say? Nothing. She just asked questions that prompted more information, and then said something obvious, like “It sounds like you’re doing a lot of comparing in two different [situations]”. There was no helpful insight, no hints at what would be good for me. Just her, repeating basically everything I said.
And then we talked about friendship. Well, she talked. I got this lecture about how I’m never going to make friends or have friends if I don’t take initiative. I tried explaining to her that I was having a hard time reaching out to people because it stresses me out, and all she said was, “Sometimes you have to be a bit uncomfortable in order to get to that place of comfortableness.” See what I’m talking about? Utter bullshit. It was like I was listening to my mom’s tough love advice when really what I needed (and came there for) was pointed guidance and techniques. “Sometimes it’s easier to just rip off the band-aid,” was not the wisdom I was looking for.
I sat there feeling like I was going to cry if I tried to explain myself any further, and I really didn’t want to cry in front of her. By the time I left, I felt even more shitty and isolated from the “normal” population of people around me. I wished I could talk to my old therapist from the outpatient program I went to when I was 17. But I was stuck here in college town, and if I switched therapists now, it’d be another 2 month process of even getting an appointment.
I just wish I could talk about my feelings without a) feeling like I’m being judged, b) feeling guilty for talking about myself, or c) getting a lecture. I wish I lived closer to my friends from high school so I could feel free to share without all of those things. Everyone here in college town either feels too distant to talk to, or probably secretly hates me. The one person I talk to here is moving away on Friday.
Guess I’m stuck in this therapy bullshit for now.
My meds ran out on Friday (maybe Saturday?) and already I can feel the little control I had over my life slipping out of my fingers. I wish I was 18 again, back in group therapy so I could feel some sort of validation. You never realize how comforting “I know how you feel” is until no one says it to you anymore.
There was a comfort in group that I don’t find in regular life. It was an unspoken knowledge that “I was sent here by someone who cares about me, because I worry them” and we all could see that underneath everyone’s layers of silence that they wanted to be there too, because they felt lost and scared/numb. It was really nice to feel like you aren’t weird or unstable anymore; everyone in the room had their own emotional baggage that made yours seem less burdensome. It was only after group, when we all went back to the real world, that society’s “what’s wrong with you?” weighed on our shoulders.
I bring all of this up because my mom texted me over the weekend. I asked about spending Thanksgiving with my girlfriend’s (I’ll get to that part later) family earlier in the day, to which she said that was fine with her. But then I got this text:
I have been feeling sad all day; I confess that the idea of you preferring to spend Thanksgiving somewhere else instead of with us is bothering me. Especially because you don’t come home very much anymore. And I know what will happen when I tell your dad where you are instead–that it will be miserable for all of us here at home. I know you haven’t been feeling great lately and I do not want to place any additional “stresses” on you, but I have to admit that I am sad about the whole situation. I just feel that my family is being torn apart.
So I called her, and she was crying. It kills me that she was crying. My mom hardly ever cries…not when I told her I was depressed, not when I told her I was bi, not when I told her I swallowed a bunch of pills, not when she dropped me off at college. But her tears poured over me, and I did my best to be strong, though I wanted to cry too. “…It’s okay Mom, you can tell me anything…you don’t have to pretend that this makes you comfortable if it doesn’t, I understand that you’re having a hard time with it…I know I’m not the daughter that you and Dad expected…I’ll spend Thanksgiving at home if it’s important to you, it’s not big deal…” But what she was saying was a big deal. “…I don’t want you to never come home…I don’t want you to have one parent that doesn’t want to be around you…It’s hard to have one kid that doesn’t want to talk to the other…”
Readers, if I could have changed my sexuality right then, I would have. But I had ventured too deep into the rabbit hole, I had come too far to go back to feeling ashamed and disgusted by my feelings. So I was stuck, tearing my family apart.
Since high school, I’ve considered my group of friends to be my family. They were the ones I went to when I was crying, when I couldn’t stand to be in my house any longer, when I needed to rant, or when I wanted to share my hopes and dreams for the future. They were my best friends, my hooligans, my siblings. I loved them with all of my heart; they were the ones I was scared to move away from when I went to college. But my pseudo family is also being torn apart. Ashley and Brendan live together back home, and thrive off of the company of their families rather than the company of their old friends. Polly and Michelle are both off at their respective schools, and beloved Daniel moved with his family to Texas. Everyone is apart, and only four of us seem to care.
With no families to fall back on, I’ve gone back to my loner ways. Netflix, sweatpants, and junk food are my family now. And friends? As much as I love and treasure my college friends, I feel like a burden to them. Fred is a friendly reminder of the life I could have had, which brings up painful memories and anger, so I also try to avoid him. As of now, my strategy in life is to hide under my covers and block out the world.
But there is one bright spot. My girlfriend, formerly my ex-girlfriend. We got back together, and it was actually a simple decision. She loves me, I love her, she is good to me (despite everything), and I want to spend as much time with her before she moves to Costa Rica as I can. Sure, it’s a short-lived commitment, but there’s no one else I’d rather spend my time with. She takes care of me, and makes me feel strong enough to take care of her back. She’s the only thing in my life that makes me feel normal and lovable, and she makes me excited about things again. So I’ve quitting dating around, and am just dating her. In a way, it feels like we’re in our own little world, just holding onto each other until it’s time to let go. It might sound like she’s my lifeboat, but really she’s my wings. She helps me fly toward hope and perspective.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m sad and happy and struggling, but as much as I might feel to blame for the wrongdoings of the world, I’m still trying. After all, there’s only one more week until Thanksgiving Break. I can hold out for that long….right?
Nothing is forever. This is a realization that keeps dawning on me, drumming into my mind louder and louder. It’s like when you lie down to go to sleep and suddenly hear your own pulse—once you hear it, it’s hard not to. And so these past weeks I’ve been living trying not to know this realization…trying, but failing.
My family isn’t forever. I always knew that, but while I was depressed in high school, I thought that once I committed suicide it would bring my family together. My parents would be affectionate and kind to another, my brother would value his relationships with them. They would all regret how distant our family had been when I was alive, but would all live better lives as a result of it. Or, on the other hand, my parents would get divorced and my mom would marry someone who deserved her. My dad would finally understand how much he can hurt people with his selfishness, and change for the better. My brother would use the experience to make sure his own future marriage would last his lifetime. They would grow into their potential, and the beautiful lives they deserved. They would be a better family, or not a family at all. But I never did commit suicide, so now I’ll have to watch my family become worse and worse and avoid them like a cancerous growth until it kills me (not literally, emotionally) to be around them. That will probably be the ending of my family instead.
My friends are not forever. A few months ago I felt so connected with my college friends, and they meant so much to me. Now I feel utterly disconnected; I question how much we really have in common and how much they actually like me as a person. I’m not sure I would like me if I were them. And then there are my high school friends, who know me like the back of their palm. They are far away back home and at their respective colleges, and I miss them every single day. But our lives will probably never intersect the same way they did in high school—they will get married and settle down, or find jobs in different states, or embrace new lifestyles that call for a nomadic existence. We are all on separate paths, but love each other. What a torturous kind of love.
Speaking of, there’s my girlfriend and best friend Fred. How did I manage to fall in love with someone on a different path in life than me, and then fall in love with someone else on an even more different path than me. Why does everyone I love slip out of my fingers? With each of them, it boiled down to one person staying and delaying their potential plans to wait for the other. And what a guilt-ridden way to live, knowing that someone is waiting on you, putting their life on hold.
I thought Fred and I were forever. The real deal, you know? Everyone told us how perfect we were together. Everyone knew we were going to get married. We knew we were going to get married. But then the more progress we made, the more life wanted to tear us apart. I guess the universe got jealous of something so beautiful, or we forgot the value and rarity of finding something like that in a world so messed up. And so we messed up; I messed up. And the worst part is, it wasn’t a mistake. Our time was up, just a lot quicker than either of us anticipated.
My girlfriend and I won’t be forever. That is such a hard thing to swallow, and I absolutely hate admitting it. She will get bored, or I will screw up, or we will decide we want different things, or one of us will eventually die. There’s a ticking clock, there always is.
My depression is ticking, too, and I can hear it. It’s a metronome that my thoughts use for their rhythm. I can hear the rhythm getting slower and slower…ticking away as my time depression-free dwindles. I’m starting to think about the wrong things more, starting to crave the old habits that made me feel so low…
But even depression isn’t forever.
My life isn’t forever. Even when I think I have a plan, it changes. My idea of myself is constantly evolving, for better or worse. All I have is my history and my gut to keep me constant. And even then, memories can fade and rationality can wear thin—I could lose myself, just like I could lose everything else. Just like I will lose everything else. As much as I have gained since my last encounter with depression—all the happy memories, the friendships, the opportunities and the confidence—it all goes back to the knowledge that one day I will be alone.
Either alone with my death, or alone with my depression. But then again, they are kind of the same thing.
My roommate Caitlin and I got into a discussion earlier this week about losing friends. Well, not so much losing as it was wondering when it was time to let go. Was it when they didn’t call you back again? Was it when you tried to remember the last time you two hung out? Was it when you realized you didn’t want to tell them about your problems anyone? Or worse: was it when you realized they no longer care if you do tell them about your problems?
Whenever you go off to college everyone tells you that you’ll forget about your high school friends, and I find that to be untrue. Both me and my roommate have stayed relatively close to our high school friends back home, probably because we see them whenever we visit our long distance boyfriends. But, whatever the reasons may be, we still love them and find things to talk about and laugh about, and for some of them it feels as if no time has passed at all.
But then there are the other friends from high school. The ones that make you wonder if everyone was right–maybe we aren’t meant to be friends forever. Which is fine in some cases, because when you grow apart to someone you never knew very well it’s not that sad. But in other cases these were the people you planned your future with. “Someday we’ll go on a road trip, like a real spring break thing!” “I can’t wait until we show up at our high school reunion being all successful and still hot!” “You’re definitely going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding!” You know, stupid stuff you talked about while you were avoiding homework or complaining about living at home. They knew all of your secrets, and you knew all of theirs. You still have their mix CDs in your car and they still have the earrings you bought them for their 16th birthday. These are the friends you never thought you could grow apart from, until you did.
And I’m not saying that growing apart means you will never speak to them again or won’t be close again somewhere down the road, but it is that sad realization that maybe you don’t have a lot in common anymore. Maybe your lives have taken very different directions. Maybe, maybe you’ve been replaced by other friends. And it makes you quiet and remember all of the good times, but also makes you stop when you begin to pick up the phone to call them.
There’s nothing wrong with losing friends. People come and go, in and out of your life and that’s just a fact. The older you get the more “used to be” friends you have, and the list current friends shrinks. You go to college, you start a career, you have a family. Friends to sit with at lunch and have sleepovers on the weekends aren’t really necessary anymore, and you don’t have as much extra time to spare. But that doesn’t make it any less sad.
Sometimes you have to let people go, not because you want to, but they want to. True friends are not the ones you talk to everyday, but the ones you can always count on, no matter how many months or years it’s been since you last spoke. So even if you let them go, maybe you will find them again. We don’t always know what the right thing to do is until we do it, until we let go of the familiar and allow the world to bring us something new.
Well, just as I didn’t plan, I have a new post for you all that I am writing during my valuable study time. Unfortunately, yesterday was awful, so here I am, sharing it with you all. Just what you wanted I bet.
It all started okay. I woke up, was lazy, went to breakfast, packed more, used up the remainder of my meal points, and then decided to go to the rec. And while I was working out, I was bored, so I decided to text back my ex boyfriend. The night before I sent him a “You there?” type of text because I was sobbing and miserable about our breakup. I never would have contacted him if he hadn’t been my best friend for the year we were together, and one of the few people who can put the brakes on my tears. He responded to my text the next morning while I was asleep, so rather than leave him hanging, I texted him back not to worry about it. And then he texted back, “Are you sure?”. And then I exploded.
Anger, extreme sadness, regret, jealousy, internal hate, you name it, I had the negative emotion. I right off the bat asked him if he had slept with anyone else, hoping he had so I could find a reason to hate him. And you know what he did? He started listing his faults in our relationship to make me see it wasn’t such a loss! I swear, he is such a good guy…it almost makes me sick with how much I feel I threw it away. Like it was nothing. But it was everything. And no matter what, we can’t be together because the distance and pressure is too much to handle.
Anyway, after that horrible chat I was back in my dorm, just listening to Eminem and staring at nothing. And then I saw my stupid scissors lying on the desk. So guess what my post is about today, folks? Relapses and cutting! Yay, everyone’s favorite subject!
As much of a shitty position as this puts me in, to talk about my awful habit of self-mutilation, I do it to support those who also struggle with it and make them feel not only understood, but that it’s ok to reach for help. Also, to educate those who have loved ones who self-harm on how to be there for them as best they can. But as noble as my causes are, I know as soon as readers who know me in real life read this, I’ll start getting all of these concerned texts or calls or whatever (or maybe not, because there is nothing left to say). I’ve even had my blog reported before to counseling services, who then contacted my parents and got them all pissy at me for being all screwed up. (How about giving me better genes next time, Mom and Dad??) So, just for clarification, I HAVE ACCESS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL RESOURCES AND UNDER THE CARE OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. Meaning, I’VE GOT THIS SHIT UNDER CONTROL. Now, onto the noble causes.
As a cutter, I hate being labeled “cutter”. Because when most people hear that, they think of middle school girls slitting their wrists the wrong way to get attention. Now, first of all, those girls should be taken seriously because self-mutilation should not replace glittery, flashy makeup that middle school girls used to use for attention. It’s sad to know that people feel like the only way to get noticed is to do something this drastic, and I wish I could help every single one of them. But in reality, most people who cut have a major underlining problem that needs professional help. So that’s why I personally hate the term, “cutter”. Everyone who self-harms, even if it’s not in the form of cutting, deserves to be taken seriously.
Now, this being said, most people who self-harm DON’T want to be found out. I know I don’t. I take drastic measures to make sure no one notices the cuts, and rarely admit to it, even if someone flat-out asks me. A lot of people have the wrong assumptions about cutting (see above paragraph) and rather than pour out my whole life story and explain what is truly going on, I prefer to just brush them off and walk away. These people usually have good intentions, but obviously people who self-harm are pretty sensitive about certain things.
So, if you’re a person on the other side of things and are worried about a friend or family member, here’s what you should do:
- Act like you normally would around them, and don’t treat them in any sort of special way. They don’t want to be treated like a patient, a child, or a wounded creature. They deserve respect and acceptance just like anyone else.
- If you want to show them you’re there for them, be kind! Let your actions show them you love them. Ask them about their day, their soccer team, their holiday plans, their favorite music–show interest in their lives! If talking is hard for you, offer to do something with them! Go see a movie, support them at their next soccer game, go bowling, help them in the kitchen…whatever! Big or small, it shows that you value their company.
- Now, if you really really really feel the need to DIRECTLY say something about their problem, don’t do it with everyone listening. Public places aren’t really the best place for a private conversation, but you don’t have to pull them off to the side in some dramatic way, either. Next time you’re driving in the car together, or if you both go outside to get some air at the next family function, ask them how they’ve been feeling. If they brush you off at first with a “fine”, ask again. After the second time, if they still brush you off, then stop asking. Sometimes people need to be asked twice, but you never want someone to feel like you are just asking to be nosy or invasive. If they do brush you off twice, just tell them you just wanted to make sure because you care about what is going on in their life, and you care about them. If you feel the need to hug at this point, go for it. But then, unless the person you are concerned about continues the conversation, it’s over. Like I said, if you make this a big, dramatic conversation it will make them uncomfortable, so just ask them those questions and let them know you care, then move on with a topic or activity.
- If this person opens up to you about their problem, then first of all, know that they trusted you enough to do so. Thank them for it, and for christ’s sake don’t screw up that trust, because they need you now more than ever. But this sort of topic is difficult to not only say, but to hear, so I’ve got some lame-o tips for you. First, listen, and listen well. Nodding and verifying what they are saying by repeating it back to them are great steps. And whatever you do, DON’T INTERRUPT unless you see a meteor right behind them about to blow up the earth. Also, I know what they say might be upsetting to you. It might hurt to think of how they could have called you or relied on you in those tough times. But please remain calm and supportive, and don’t guilt-trip them about how they didn’t do that. The last thing this person needs is to feel worse about their situation. Now, after they are done talking, feel free to ask a few questions. Questions show that you are interested in what they have to say, but beware: They might not want to answer them, and that’s okay. So if you ask, “Why did blahblahblah upset you?” try to add, “You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.” And my last tip: DON’T offer solutions to their problems unless they ask “What should I do?” All they need is a listener, and sometimes when you try to “fix” things it makes them feel stupid or like their problems are minor and not a big deal. It’s all about verifying what they are saying right now, and letting them know that you care about them. After the conversation is over, remember not to treat them any differently, and you should be fine.
- This is pretty obvious, but even so, don’t spread around their problems. Getting unnecessary people involved is completely counter-productive. Not to mention a compromise of trust.
- Now, if this person is in some serious issues that require professional help, you need to be extremely careful about how you broach that idea to them. In fact, do some research, find a psychological professional, and feel free to ask them how to introduce the topic in a respectful and non-pushy way.
Remember, I’m not a geisha or Yoda. But I do hope these tips help you or at least give you some perspective about those who self-harm. Also, feel free to shoot me a message if you have a question about a particular situation or leave a comment below. I always appreciate (constructive) feedback!
One thing I just want to put out there… When I do it, I run through this list of people I can call instead of cutting. And I don’t call them, obviously. Why? I know they would listen, that they love me, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it (pardon the pun). Sometimes there is nothing you can say. The thing is, people who self-harm are choosing to feel their pain, their way. It’s the control that makes me feel good. Because I can’t do anything about how I feel, nor can those that I love, but I can control how I feel it. And I know it’s wrong while I do it. And I feel ashamed after it happens. But, in the end that is what will motivate me to stop–Me. Only I can make myself stop, and only I can seek help if I want/need to figure out an alternative way to calm down when I’m that upset. So try not to be offended if you have a friend who only tells you after the fact. They just might be in similar shoes.
Life is hard all around. Whether it’s because you are struggling to find food to eat, have just been dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend, or lost your job (or someplace in between that broad spectrum), we all feel pain from time to time and we all need the love and care of others to support us through it. In a really screwed up way, we all feel alone together.
Do you ever feel like you’re invisible? Like everyone you keep reaching out to just takes advantage, takes what they want and throws you away? Do you ever feel like everyone who really cares about you is gone?
Lately I’ve been trying to find someone–with whatever criteria suits me at the moment–to fill my time. A friend, a classmate, someone in my dorm, someone I meet at a party…I don’t care who they are, or how much they seem to care about me, as long as they are interesting and will spend time with me. Why did such a search begin? Well, I’m not too sure, but I think it began one day while I was with my roommate. She looked at me, very skeptical, and asked, “Do you ever hang out with anyone besides Caitlin?” “Yes, yes I do! I’ve gone to the gym with some of the girls down the hall, and I used to hang out with those people from the other dorm, and…” She gave me a look of pity. “Don’t feel sorry for me!” “I’m sorry!” she said, “I can’t help it!” “Look, I’m just one of those people who don’t need a lot of friends. Independent, you know? I just do my own thing and am ok with having just a few close friends.” “Uh huh…” She gave me a look, indicating that nothing I said had changed her mind. “Stop it!” “Okay, okay…” But the pity went on after we had changed the subject, after days and after weeks.
Loser. That’s what she didn’t say, and that’s what I felt like. Since then I’ve met more people, but I’ve also felt more shitty, because not all those people have treated me like a person. The thing I hate about college is that to most guys I am nothing but something to have sex with, and then ignore for all eternity. I miss when being with someone meant getting to know someone for who they are, and not just having sex in a drunken haze.
Since I know my self-esteem to be a hazard to my mental health, I’m trying not to think that the problem is that I am a crappy person, but that I have crappy taste in other people. No matter how genuine my intentions, it is the other person’s intentions that seem to matter. I feel powerless in social situations, a pawn in someone’s game of chess that will be sacrificed in the name of something better. When I want to become friends, I always agree to invitations to hang out, always am eager to talk again or help out. But it is the other person doing the inviting, doing the talking, needing help with a problem. I go along with things, I listen, I help others with their problems and don’t bother them with mine.
It’s a crappy situation, so you can see why sometimes I’d rather be mostly alone with a few friends…but it feels looked down upon, and it is. There’s only so much you can do by yourself before you feel lonely, and loneliness is a problem. For me, loneliness=depression. So there it is: all of this leads to preventing depression and being insecure.
You know, usually knowing the causes for my stupid action makes me feel better, but this time it sort of makes things worse. After all, how am I supposed fix this? Find someone who cares? Fat chance. Hope my depression doesn’t come back and do nothing? Better hope I don’t kill myself (or some other stupid thing), too. Stop being insecure? I’ve been trying to do that since I was 12, and clearly it’s working out great. :p Where does this lead me?
Nowhere. East Jesus nowhere, and headed there fast.
Well, here I am. I am here, in this dorm, in this campus, in this city, this state, this world, this life. What’s it like? Like the first part of my life was a quiet pasture, and now I find myself wandering in the mountains (grand, steep, and slippery…). Suddenly LIFE has rushed into my space, a wave of wonder and independence live on my doorstep. There are people everywhere, there are events all the time, and how much or little of it you take is all up to you. Some parts of college I expected, but others never crossed my mind. Such as, how friendly people can be that first week. Nearly everyone will just introduce themselves to a stranger and be interested to know where they’re from, what their major is, and what dorm they’re in. With so many people swarming around, I’m surprised I felt like I had air to breathe. And getting a routine down, getting used to my new surroundings? A snap. Feeling at ease? That happens as soon as you make your first friend.
What about my first college friends? Well, I was standing in the dining hall, holding my plate, when these girls at a nearby table asked if I wanted to join them. I was sort of hovering near their table, hoping they would do this. Not that I didn’t have the guts to ask myself, but because the only time their mouths weren’t open talking was when they were waiting to see if I would sit down or not. I sat down, and people got up from the table just as more came along. So I met a lot of people, and ended up staying at the dining hall until close with three of them. And then we all walked around campus. And then, just like that, I had friends. Now that it’s been over a week, our friendship has faded a bit. They all live in a different dorm, and stick together like glue. And I guess glue just forgets to invite the outsider to lunch or whatever. But life goes on. Ironically, this girl I went to high school with is not only in my dorm, but is the cousin of my roommate. Though we didn’t talk much in high school, we’ve actually become pretty close lately. She has a long-distance boyfriend back in our hometown, so we like to discuss how much we hate seeing couples around campus because our boyfriends aren’t here to hold our hands and make us seem obnoxious to other people in long-distance relationships. It’s been going well so far.
How did I feel when my parents left me? Relieved. Sad. Alone. Unsure. They cheerfully told me I’d have fun, gave a hug each, and hopped in the car to drive away while I sat in my car crying. I would have been ok if I had someone familiar and comforting like my boyfriend at my side, but realizing that he was also gone made me cry harder.
Speaking of him, long distance actually hasn’t been too bad. Don’t get me wrong–it sucks immensely. But we talk everyday, and staying busy helps a lot. There’s also little things that help, like counting down the days until I see him again (8!) and talking with my new friend from high school. I miss cuddling, hand-holding, hugging, even just seeing his face….but I know if I wait, those things will come back to me when I come back to him.
As for my mental health, I’m very proud of myself. I’ve been working out everyday, sometimes with a few girls from my floor, and try to do something social everyday too, even if it’s just grabbing dinner with someone. I’ve also been taking my medicine everyday, and only talk with my old high school gang or family every once-in-a-while so I don’t start to feel homesick. Also, I’ve started my new job at the on-campus copying center, which makes me feel good too.
So, no, nothing about college is perfect (especially the classes, but I’ll get to those another time), but I’m confident that I’ll be able to stand back up in moments of weakness and brush the dirt off my shoulders. That’s what being an adult is all about, isn’t it?
A few nights ago, I drove my friend up to the hospital while she was high because her boyfriend had just overdosed on heroin.
As a teenager in this modern age, I’ve seen my fair share of drugs. Not that I’m a junkie myself, or spend much time around junkies in general, but I’ve gone to high school. You hear things, you see things, you meet people. Drugs crop up on your radar no matter what kind of person you are, where you spend your Friday nights, and what kind of school you go to. And while my experiences with drugs were HARDLY the description D.A.R.E. officers or health teachers would scare us as kids with, they have been enough to ensure that I’m just not interested in that sort of lifestyle.
Now, let’s take a moment to talk about friendship. Friendship, real, true-blue friendship, means that you are willing to spend time with someone on a general basis, no matter what. Even if you are just hanging out at Walmart, or they are crying because they were just dumped, or you’re having a blast at the water park. The good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s what real friendship is about–sticking it out with someone and staying by their side no matter what life brings them.
Now let’s put the two together. As a teenager, you do a lot of your growing up with your friends and your friendship experiences all the nasty twists and turns and phases that people go through when they are stuck in high school. And because we are all human beings and have the wonderful ability to be absolutely stupid, we can make some funny decisions. Now, going through high school you have to really pick the right friends. Your friends determine how a good portion of your high school experience will be, and can land you anywhere from going to an Ivy League college to Hollywood to a pro athlete to jail, because every group of friends does different things when they are together. But, because people can change so drastically during this time, it’s hard to tell where your friends will lead you…
So I had a great group of friends in high school–just a fantastic group of people–but there was one, I’ll call her Ruth, that bounced between smoking and drinking every once-in-a-while. It was never anything constant, and I knew a lot of people experimented a bit in high school, so I didn’t judge her. After all, she was a great friend, and a good listener who helped me a lot whenever I’d get depressed. We always had a lot of fun, and I knew she was a good person. Then my junior year I decided to experiment myself. I had never drank before, apart from sips of beer or wine my parents would let me have from time to time, and so I decided to go for it. So sometimes during sleepovers we would bring along something we snuck from the liquor cabinet, and drink and giggle and spill our secrets until the wee hours of the morning. But then the summer came, and we wanted to party. Which we did, a bit, and met other people who liked to “have a good time” too. We were both going through some rough things that summer, and having fun like that was our escape from the loneliness and pain we felt by ourselves. Well, for a while it was all fun and games, but eventually you get bored again. So we took up smoking pot sometimes. Yes, it was a drug, but it wasn’t addictive or dangerous–you couldn’t overdose on pot. Well, the more time went on, the more frequent we smoked. But then Ruth took up a new habit of going through the medicine cabinet and snorting painkillers–primarily Oxycontin. I drew the line there. Nothing was going up my nose; I was already concerned about my own use of pot. I told her I didn’t think it was wise to go to anything beyond a little pot, but she liked it and continued to do it in secret. Well, you know how the story goes. You run out of your own supply, you need more, you meet shady people, cops show up, Mom finds out, and next thing you know you’re sitting in rehab. So while I began my senior year, Ruth began treatment.
It was then that I stopped smoking. The summer was over, and things needed to be serious again. Eventually Ruth returned going to school full time, and I was there for her during the evenings she wasn’t at treatment. Well, during treatment she met this guy, an older guy. Ruth had been doing really good, and while I was happy she was happy while they hung out, I was concerned about his own habits. He was a recovering heroin addict, and that fact was enough to try to convince her to date someone else. But she didn’t, and they became a couple. Eventually I met him, and found that he was a pretty nice guy. She would talk about him with stars in her eyes, telling me different he was from the other guys she’d been with, how much they had in common, and how happy he made her. Since they had been together for weeks and they both were clean, I finally gave it my blessing.
Well, nothing is forever. She loved him, and after she completed treatment he quit. Eventually he returned to his habits, and like I originally suspected, she picked them up right with him. So began the phone calls from a crying Ruth, so began the attempts to separate should he keep wanting to use. And then the other night I get one of the crying phone calls, only this time it was because he had overdosed and Ruth had called 911. So there I was, past midnight in the ER, watching Ruth’s boyfriend puke his guts out. There I sat, while he suggested leaving without the doctor’s approval because a) maybe they were waiting to arrest him and b) he was fine anyway. His eyes were barely open and his words were slurred as he said this. The worst part? Ruth, who had tears continuously streaming from her glassy eyes was actually considering what he was saying.
Eventually he was released though, and I drove them home. I ended up getting home past 1am, crying myself from anger at the situation and the speeding ticket I was just issued, completely dreading my 8am to 4pm shift at McDonald’s later that morning.
And why did I do it? Friendship. Do I ever want to do that again? No. Hell no. Will they break up? I don’t know. Will he stay clean this time around (implying that he tries to)? Probably not, but I hope so anyway. Do I hate heroin? Yes. Am I mad at Ruth? No. But I’m sad for her. She’s so much smarter than this and needs to be kinder to herself. Did I ever think this would happen?
Did I ever think this would happen? No. Absolutely not. But for all of you readers out there, let me tell you: you never do.
What I don’t understand about relationships, about people, is the past tense part. How are you supposed to know? When to end it, when it is truly over, when you’ve had closure, when you’ve moved on? And furthermore, how do you know any of that about the person you are currently with? How do you know when they don’t give a hoot about their ex? But wait, is it possible to even stop caring completely about someone you were in a relationship with? See, there are so many ways to go about thinking these things over…and is the fact that I am even thinking them over something to consider?
My boyfriend’s birthday has recently past, and therefore I’ve been thinking about how glad I am that he exists and such. This is my longest relationship and it’s funny to think how one night turned into talking, which turned into seeing another and dating, which turned into a relationship, which turned into “I love you”. And it all comes from that one night. It feels a lot different than my past relationships. All of those had an awful buildup of insecurity and awkward flirting and confusion caked on top. But…I don’t know…I can’t help but think to myself how different being in love is between the past and now. This relationship I am in now doesn’t fit into “typical relationship” when compared with ever other experience I’ve had. All of that confusion, loneliness, longing never turned up. From the beginning I’ve always felt like we were on the same page, rather than trying to guess at what the other person had going on in their head. What happened–what changed? Did I do something different or was it my choice of people that made it so much easier this time?
It’s not like my first “I love you” boyfriend, Charles, was terrible. He wasn’t. I thought the world of him, and sometimes I really hate the fact that we parted on bad terms. I still absently wonder what he’s up to from time to time, but I’m always left with a sad feeling afterwords. In a way, we relied on each other like the air we breathed–to stop the unbearable loneliness that surrounded our lives wherever we went. When we broke it off (for good) I had someone else I could go to, but he didn’t. For many months afterward, I felt responsible for his sadness, but part of that came from his manipulation. Still, sometimes I get the urge to call him up so we could go on one of our old adventures like the old days, in blind hope that maybe, finally we could just be friends–the real, true type of friends we were meant to be. Then again, maybe we were never meant to be just friends, and so I’ll forget the thought of contacting him in disappointment. Unfortunately, our relationship poisoned our friendship to the point where we always end every conversation in argument.
Don’t you just hate that? I want to go back with Charles, with Landon, go back to the days of when we could stand to be in the same room–heck, even ENJOY each other’s presence. I want to erase the tainted memories, the failure. I want to be friends… Because even if it is wrong, even if it sounds like I don’t appreciate my current relationship (which I do!), I miss them. They were important people in my life, a best friend (though flighty), a new/old friend (though distant) that I spent time with.
I don’t know if they ever think any of this, but I guess it doesn’t matter. There is nothing left to repair.
And that’s the hard truth.
I am so freaking pumped!!!
Tonight I am going to see a scary movie with my friends (Sinister, if you must know) and I have been looking forward to it all week. You know when you feel like your life is in shambles? Yeah, there’s where I stand, and I choose to cling to little things like this while I’m standing there on top of my shambles.
It’s not that I feel completely shit-tastic or lost, but I just don’t want to think about homework and college and play practice (’cause I’m in the school play!) and which jeans I wore to school. I don’t want to waste more time contemplating calculus or listening to my sociology teacher drone on about sports. Do you hear me?! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!
Even though my “anymore” just equals two days. But still, all I hear about is some of my friends talking about their ba-gillion tests and how they spend hours upon hours on homework and projects each night. You know what I do? Listen to trashy music while I’m on laptop catching up on what’s going on in some other world that doesn’t involve living in a town called “fetus” and passing out around nine-thirty.
“You’re such a slacker!”
You’re such a fucking mom! Go organize your schedule for the next three years while I do this thing called “being a teenager”.
Look, I love the people in my life. They put 95% of the smiles I have on my face, well, on my face. But sometimes I can’t help but compare my life to theirs and feel shabby. Now, other friends of mine make me feel alive and rebellious and help me cook up all sorts of trouble. But finding balance between the two is tripping me up. How can such differences in one group exist without it all separating? And I know my friends love me for who I am, but I can see the look of, “Oh, you didn’t do that.” in their eyes when I shrug at the stuff they spend hours on.
I know this is all partially my fault, for being all insecure and dumb, but wouldn’t you feel the same way? Like your whole week is riding on one night so you can feel fulfilled again? Imagine being a teenager and struggling to find yourself, your future, your priorities, your feelings, and common sense 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
So tonight, tonight well…I’m gonna jump up and down, scream at a movie screen, clutch onto a cute guy that I like, and laugh so hard my stomach hurts because I am young and wild and I don’t want to be anything else right now.