I’m not exactly sure what attracted Derek to me. Was it was my oversized wardrobe or my anti social personality? Either way I was grateful. Derek was my rock. He encouraged me to close the chapter of my life that had previously caused me so much suffering. We talked about everything and did everything together. Over time I fell in love. I was slowly piecing my life back together. I learned to control my temper and I was no longer taking the easy way out. For a while, I had my life back.
What I failed to notice was that I had centered my life on him. I never took into consideration the fact that he isn’t always going to be there. I depended too much on him and when I lost him, I lost myself. We’d been known to break up on several occasions, we didn’t really have the most functional relationship and one break up in particular was the final straw. My heart ached, my stomach was in knots, and my thoughts constantly went back to him. I couldn’t eat and tried to sleep as much as I could. I tried going to class but I would break into tears. Once again I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Thoughts of him consumed my mind. Then there were those moments, when my thoughts would drift further back in time. Back to the first time I felt alone and betrayed and those images were even worse. I was back in square one; back in the bathroom, starring into the mirror, into my own eyes. The same feelings from years ago resurfaced. I made the decision to leave the bathroom and lay in bed.
Throughout the night, thoughts flew in and out of my mind. By morning I came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t do it anymore. If this was the life I was going to lead, then I was giving up. I didn’t think I had the strength to deal with anymore setbacks that would be thrown in my direction. It’s almost like the video game Mario Kart. Especially if you keep running over those damn banana peels or are repeatedly struck by turtle shells from behind; both which send you spinning off course. Not to mention that the person you are playing against has already lapped you twice, and you are still so far from the finish line. Wouldn’t you feel like giving up, and selecting the “game over” button? Well that’s how I felt, and I was about to take the easy way out.
Thirty … thirty-five … forty … then nothing. I woke up to sirens. I was in an ambulance. My face felt hot, I thought it was on fire. My chest ached, as if a ton of bricks had just been released onto it. I don’t remember much else until my mom and best friend arrived. The police had concluded that I must have been changing the radio station and swerved into the telephone pole. I didn’t say otherwise.
When I got home, I forced myself to look in the mirror. “Was it really worth it?” I asked myself. I wish I could go back in time and look into that same mirror into my eighteen-year-old eyes, just to say “everything will be okay”. Once again, when it was all over I was still me. I had a totaled car to match my totaled life and for several months my totaled face. I knew I had gone too far this time. I knew that if I didn’t stop feeling sorry for myself I would continue to sink. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t get much lower. Looking back now I realize I had hit rock bottom.
After my car accident, I didn’t have a revelation or a sudden reality check. It wouldn’t be for a few years later that I would realize just how stupid I was, and how lucky I am. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” The horrors of my past are behind me, even if the ghosts still reappear every now and then. I’ve learned from my mistakes and through those mistakes I’ve made it to where I am today. I am no longer who I use to be, and I do not miss who I was. Life has a unique way of teaching lessons, and every day I continue to learn. I would not know it at the time, but everything happens for a reason. You just have to stick it out long enough for the purpose to surface. I never thought at twenty-one I would consider myself a strong person, but after everything I’ve overcome, I wouldn’t consider myself anything less.