This Was My Sinking Ship
I can remember into early childhood having thoughts of not belonging, or wanting to leave. I faced a lot of conflicts at school, even in elementary. The first time I ever experienced a call to the void, I was 6 or 7 years old. My dad had bought me a toy makeup station, and was in the process of opening and putting it together. He had left the room, leaving a box cutter laying by the box which contained the pieces of said station. My impatience pushed me to grab a bag that had 2 draws inside, along with the box cutter. Coming from a rural background, at a young age I was taught about sharp objects. Not to run with them, point them at people, and that when using them you point them away from yourself or others around you. Even with that knowledge ingrained in my tiny mind, I suddenly experienced a heaviness in my heart. An unfamiliar thought rose from the depths, "Hurt yourself" it screamed. I was taken aback, even being that young I knew that was a very strange idea, why would I think such a thing? Before I could even grasp the concept of what that thought meant, metal met skin, and I was suddenly in pain. My hands moved before, I even decided to take actions. Seconds later my dad came back in, laughing and upbeat, excited to put my new toy together with me. His eyes locked on my palm almost like he knew what had occurred, without knowing the context. "What happened?" Was bellowed, echoing off the walls in my head like a vast, empty cave. I was very unsure myself. Fear climbed up and out of my head, coming through my eyes. I began to cry, my dad believing it was because of the pain, he reminded me how dangerous sharp objects are. He Reassured me it would heal and be okay.
By the time I was 11, I had experienced such thoughts on occasion. I never had them rip through the surface, the way they had the first time. I became comfortable with looking at them, not forcing but allowing them to move on back to those dark parts of my mind. In October of 2012 I was turning 13, I was so excited. I'd be a teenager, and the thought brought me so much joy. Until the 3rd, it was a Wednesday. I was sick, but it was picture day at school, which I felt it'd be dreadful to miss. I began to get ready, my mom was still fast asleep, which was a very unusual occurrence. I tried to wake her up, she didn't stir in the slightest. I licked my finger and put it up under her nose. I had become accustomed to doing this very strange practice, because my mom was very ill and me being a worrisome child it just seemed like the proper thing to do. I felt the typical, faint exhale come from her nose. Knowing she probably hadn't fallen asleep very long ago, I decided to just leave her be and attempt to do my hair and makeup alone. After I was ready, i checked on my brother who was also sick, he was asleep and staying home for the day. I grabbed my bag, looked at my mom one last time and kissed her on the front head. Softly as to not awaken her. In 6th period the nurse abruptly came in, her eyes swept the room, locking on mine. With a wince, she looked away quickly. Speaking to my teacher silently, as they spoke the room grew loud and I could no longer focus on them. I assumed it had something to do with me staying after for math tutoring. Sudden paranoia bubbled inside me, I recalled having a very uneasy feeling since that morning but I pushed it aside. After school, I had arrived back to my 6th period class room, the teacher informed us we'd be answering questions for candy. Seemed a bit strange, but I was happy to have little to do that afternoon. The last thirty minutes were filled with fun chaos, we were allowed to just talk and given more candy. As I was walking out of the building I became aware of a strange weight bearing on me. Getting in my dad's truck, I still felt it but was greeted with his familiar wide, hairy smile. As we drove away, he asked something very out of character "Do you want something from the gas station?" Excited I told him a Mtn Dew and KitKat would suffice. I began to think, today was just my lucky day, the universe's way of giving me little pick me up. I had no way of knowing my life would never be the same after that day, and that it would be one of the hardest nights of my life. The world crumped around me, as I realized what what was coming out of my father's mouth. The woman he loved, our north star, the woman who had brought my brother and I into this world, had taken her last breathe sometime that morning.
Everything became meaningless and unnecessary in that moment. I no longer saw that day as good, because the fault was mine. I should of woken her up, or stayed home. I left her and my brother in the hands of fate, resulting in a mental scar my brother will carry forever. How could I of done such a thing, why was I so selfish. Those deep thoughts I had been uninterested in for years, that I had learned to coexist with cloaked my mind in totally darkness. I was evil, undeserving of love, it'd be years before I'd remember what true peace felt like.
Every morning after, Id open my eyes, wondering why I was still alive. Wishing to just drift away in my sleep, and to be reunited with her. The people I called my friends were supportive for a little awhile. Reminding me I had no way of knowing and not to beat myself up. Even after saying those compassionate things, they'd turn cold, like teenagers do. Unaware of how painful their words and actions can truly be. It was like after you fall, and someone comes along and offers to help you up. You'd get to your feet, being so appreciative of the help you were given. In that same moment they'd turn putting an arm around you, while you are completely unaware of their foot catching yours, sending you face down, right back to where you were. It was a repeating cycle, every week it'd be a new reason to question my existence. Remember that saying "we accept the love we think we deserve" well I believed I was so lucky, I thought I was getting more love than I deserved. These people who meant so much to me, even after all the mean words they'd say, sometimes with me engaging in the destruction of our self esteems. They'd forgive me and accept me back into the friend group. I thought to myself "I'm so lucky to have such great friends that forgive me for my transgressions." It took me years to remove my blinders and see I was a willing punching bag. Not only did I accept the way I was treated, I worshipped it.
I changed an amount I still have a hard time comprehending. After I had to leave the school I attended from kindergarten to 8th grade, things got significantly worse. Then surprisingly got a lot better. I moved in with my mom's sister for a very limited time. Before the move I had attempted to take my life. With my dad gone from 5:30 a.m. to late in the evenings 5, 6 sometimes 7. There was to much time for me to be home alone, and he was extremely worried he'd come home to find me gone, or worse. So for better supervision I was to stay there until he had wrapped up his work project. It was unpleasant not necessarily because of the metaphoric lockdown but the situations it threw me into. I was very lonely, and did everything I could think of to just find some solace. Leading me to so many bad decisions, and honestly the possibilities we're endless. I made worse choices then I had before, just to fit in and seem cool. Which just left me feeling even more empty, when I was alone. My friends and boyfriend back home seemed to have moved on. It felt like no one missed me. Suicide is what occupied my thoughts most days, thinking of ways, sometimes even acquiring supplies. It was like a morbid project, and I was almost excited to finish it. In a way, like the make-up station dad and I put together years ago.
A sudden realization burst into my head, like a flashlight beam. There was a break in the darkness. The glass I looked at myself through was fogged, and I finally realized I could wipe it off. I saw myself for what I actually was, a very troubled girl, just confused and scared. Grieving the lose of her mother while dealing with a cruel world and peer pressure. I never wanted to admit to the turmoil in my head, it meant I wasn't right, something was wrong with me. Every time I vocalized these things, they were met with apathy. Family, and friends were so quick to yell at my dad "what's wrong with her?" "Fix her!" "She needs help, that's not normal for a girl her age." They were wrong and right. My circumstance wasn't normal for my age, and what was truly wrong with me, I was a grieving teenager, just trying to wrap my head around a cold and emotionless world. People used her as a reason as to why I shouldn't feel the way I did. Which just made me shrink into myself even more. I couldn't express myself without fear of how I felt not being acceptable. I started to believe I needed to be fixed, that there was something horribly wrong with me, why couldn't I just be happy and move on? Everybody else had. So I thought suicide was an inevitable option. It seemed like I'd never be fixed, my reckless behavior became a coping mechanism to hurt myself with. It felt like no one cared, so why should I? Well I learned, it was actually fairly normal. Most people repress those feelings and thoughts, put there smiling mask on and go.
With the loss of both my grandparents, a healed scar was reopened. Why do I even care, they never did. Was it really such a strenuous task to call us back or attend a function when invited, apparently so. They moved because they were "sick of the kids". I always get drawn back to being a little girl, eavesdropping as I typically did, and over hearing my grandparents, mainly my grandma saying nasty things about my brother and I. That's where you can find my deep-seated fear of not being good enough buried. The last time I saw her, she couldn't really remember who I was. Sometimes I think that's why she said "I love you" because if she was reminded I think she'd rather brush past me.
I had to come to terms with the fact you can't let those type of things get to you. I was never a problem, it was them. May be they had their own mental battle to fight or may be they were just cold. Either way it wasn't my place to lay blame. I've learned sometimes people have so much going on in their head, that they project those things onto others. You just have to accept it, and better yourself. Find healthy coping skills, and a big thing was getting it all out in the open. Putting it in the physical, so I could shine a light on it, and recognize what was my fault and what wasn't. To see the cause and effects of things, and find a better sense of self. I began writing, poetry, stories, even just random paragraphs to let it out. I'd cry, I'd scream, even sometimes laugh as I wrote these things. Those practices helped me to start talking about them, and the more I talked the better I felt. Not only did I fell better, I grasped an understanding I never thought I would. I could truly feel my emotions again, and think clearly about them. Also I started to understand I could change my perception of these thoughts and feelings. They didn't belong in the grave I tried desperately to bury them in. I knew they'd always dig themselves up, and shuffle like zombies back to the front of my mind. So finally I let them stay, not focusing whole hearted on them but inviting them in to explain. I'd brew coffee for us, let them sip and tell me their side of the story. Soon I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Every time I decided to speak with them instead of kicking them out, their rotted flesh seemed to regenerate. I'd always need to be careful, because if I become to familiar and close I'd start to feel their sharp teeth sink into my skin. Keeping them at an arm lengths distance, worked the best. Again, we'd laugh, we'd cry, but when they'd drift back off into the caverns in my mind, I'd feel peace. No longer was it a losing battle, we weren't fighting anymore. I had control, this was my sinking ship, I could either plug the holes or let the water in, but either way I am the captain. I can't always control the tide, or predict the weather but I have my compass, pen and my map, paper. Above all else my first mate, my voice, if I need help I'll use it. It may seem like I'm always alone, out in these waters, but my dad's always helping make ship repairs and my close friends don't mind trading shifts with me in the crows nest.
I've acquired useful tools and skills to help me navigate through live. I sure haven't plugged all the holes yet, nor have I even found them all but that's okay. I'm learning more everyday. Some days the sun just doesn't seem to shine bright enough, but I have my own light. I can't choose my demons, but I've learned to manage them. They will have their time to speak, but shouting will no longer be tolerated. I've become acquainted with my strengths, and I know my weaknesses all to well. One of my strengths is knowing how badly I want to live, and grow old. No matter how hard it gets, I will fight to be here. Even when the days are dark and cloudy, I will find the light and guide myself out. I truly hope you can find strength. This world, even filled with all the negatives and sometimes evil things, it holds so much beauty and love. You are not your past, you can always move forward from it. You are not your pain, it's only a part of you. Please don't let these things consume you. I believe in tomorrow, and I hope someday you can too.