Stories of Reality

This semester I’m taking a creative writing class. We are supposed to be writing ‘short stories’ that we will be turning in at the end of the semester. However, I don’t want to write short stories. I don’t want to make stuff up in order to have an affect on people. I want to tell people the harsh reality of life, the way things really are, and how easy all of your lives are compared to the man sitting next to you, and the woman next to him, so on and so forth.

Our assignment today was to read a short story titled Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It is a good read, but requires that you have a very strong stomach and a mind open to acceptance. During our conversation about the story, my professor read off some of his favorite quotes. One of them being something about if your writing doesn’t offend someone, than there really is no point to your work, it is more important to have someone absolutely hate your writing, than for them to just put it on the shelf and never remember it. He also mentioned that some of the best works come from authors that talk about the one topic that no one wants to hear about, talk about, or even know about- just as Going to Meet the Man had done. When I was talking about my feelings on the story I had just mentioned how much I felt that the best part of the story was the fact that he was so openly speaking of such a harsh, hidden topic. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, this blog and the responses I have got from people jumped into my head.


 

I have had people thanking me for writing, appreciative for giving others a different outlook on addicts, and just thanking me for the information they otherwise wouldn’t have known. The information on my blog isn’t new information, I didn’t find these statistics or feelings or create any of this. Everything I am writing are things that have been felt by several other people, statistics that were found by someone else– I am simply putting the information out there since no one else has. If I hadn’t lost Anna, I wouldn’t have learned this statistics. I wouldn’t be able to share this information if my best friend didn’t die. Heroin use was nothing I ever wanted to talk about, know about, and a death by overdose was absolutely something I never wanted to experience in my life. It is not something I would ever wish for any other person to experience in their life, however, it is absolutely something I love writing about. I love writing about it, in hopes that none of you do have to experience it in your life. In hopes that you will all see that pain, hurt, and disaster that is created from this monster. If you can stop one person in your life, if you can give one person any sort of information on how to help their loved one- I have succeeded. Although my posts are kind of all over the place- sad here, happy here, REALLY sad there- all in all, I hope you all can find something to share with another person, one thing that will help one person.


 

I have had a couple people message me with their personal thoughts on my writing (which I love hearing!! hint, hint), but the messages I have received are amazing. One of the first messages I received, an old high school classmate shared her experience with alcohol and pain killer addiction. First of all,  I can only imagine the amount of strength it takes from someone suffering from an addiction to share that with someone who she was never super close with, so I was already impressed. She continued to share her story, and by the end I read, “So thank you for talking about it, and telling people what it’s like. My family won’t even talk to me anymore because of it.” I couldn’t believe it. She just told me some of her most intimate thoughts, and then thanked me?! To me, hearing her story and how she related to my posts was plenty enough. That is all I ever wanted from this, was to effect one person and to help them in their recovery, overcoming their addiction, anything. I just wanted one person to listen.

So you can imagine my reaction when I then received another message from another high school classmate. This time, she thanked me for being friends with Bryant. Thanked me for being friends with Bry, and thanked me for talking about how amazing he was and just telling his story. The next sentence I read, “I don’t know where I would be without that eye opener, so I probably owe him (and you) my life.” Wow. I had to read the message about four times before I could actually process what I was reading, and afterwards, I had no words. I could not believe it. “I probably owe Bryant my lifeMY LIFE.” Bryant is gone and he is still here. He saved this persons life. I can’t stop repeating it in my head. I can’t tell you the happiness, the sadness, the joy, and just the overall overwhelming feeling I got from reading that message. I could not have been more proud to be his friend in my life.

Both of these messages I received were things no one wants to talk openly about, most people don’t want to hear about, and the person on the other side absolutely does not (but needs to) speak about. They are very personal, very real, and very hard to tell another person. That’s what makes it so important. That’s why we need to share these things. That’s what makes each and every one of us so important- the stuff that we don’t want to tell people, is the stuff we need to tell people. I never would have thought of myself as ‘a writer.’ I remember in high school, my parents would always get so frustrated that I had a better grade in German than I did in English! “You speak english! How does that happen?!” It was because I hated to read and write! So I have no idea how this blog comes out, I just know that it is important for other to hear it. This is my reality. This is happening. This happened to me. Everyone needs to know, just as much as you need to share your story. You never know who will be effected.

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Warning: Here come tears

I keep photos of my friends I have lost on my bedroom wall. Some people think it’s morbid, but for me- it’s so I know I will never forget. Never forget their smiles, their laughs, their faces, I can trace every inch of them and know that I have life here left to live for my friends who do not.

The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. -Lion King

I recently added this quote to my wall, right next to the faces of my friends that have passed away. I do believe there is a lot of truth in the quote. I do believe that you can let the past hurt you forever or you can learn to cope and grieve and better yourself.

I was laying here, looking at the quote, staring at Anna’s pretty smile, and in my head I kept repeating, “Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. She’s dead. No more Anna. She’s not coming. Anna’s dead.” I can’t put these words together and have it make logical sense. Anna’s dead. It doesn’t even sound right. It’s been six months. Anna has been dead for six months. No, she can not be dead. Nothing inside me can fully accept the fact that she’s gone. I keep looking at her pretty smiling face, hearing her laugh, listening to her childish jokes, and the squeak in her voice when she would call me babe- none of it implies that she could ever be dead. What my head isn’t telling me, is that all of those things are only in my head, they aren’t in front of me anymore. They are no longer things I can share with the world. I can’t call Anna and hear those things, they’re only in my head. They will stay in my head forever.

I keep trying to picture her laying in the casket, and the casket driving away with my best friend’s body inside, but it still will not click. My head still can not accept it. She can’t have left me here. A young, beautiful girl like Anna can not be dead. She isn’t. She is my best friend and I can’t not have her.

I look at Anna, Bryant, Brandon- it can’t be real. They are all such young, attractive people. There is no way they are gone. To this day it is still hard for me to believe Bry is really gone. I had watched the video of his car in flames thirty times, and it still is not real. I listened to the most heart breaking speeches of my life dedicated to Bryant, and he still can’t be gone. I stared at Brandon in his casket, and it still doesn’t seem real.

When someone close to you passes away, it almost makes you crazy. You can’t even fathom life without them, and in your head it is very hard to live a life without them. There is not a second of the day that goes by when I don’t think of Anna. Every stupid thing I do, I can hear myself saying, “Anna would say this.. Anna would do that… I should call Anna and tell her.”

Some people say this feeling goes away. That one day, you stop thinking those things and you finally accept it, but I really don’t know if I could. I don’t know if I can accept life without Anna’s laugh. I hear that she is dead, and it’s just not real to me. Emotionally, I don’t think she could ever be gone. There are days it hurts, it rips me apart to know I can’t call her or hug her or listen to her. But other days, it’s almost like a warmth, the happiness that I still have her inside me, that I can still hear her voice. I play it over and over in my head, so I never forget it. I never want to forget it. I will never forget her. She will never be gone. She will never be dead. As long as I have her inside me.

Different

It’s strange when you notice the small differences in yourself. We notice the day we lose 2 lbs, but have you noticed the way your actions towards your coworkers changed today compared to yesterday? How you had a much bigger smile last week than you do right now? How much your body was radiating happiness yesterday, and today it’s just average?

All of you college kids out there (and adults who just genuinely dislike your desk job), you know that creeping yourself on Facebook takes the cake over studying nine times out of ten. As I had run out of places to creep myself on Facebook, I moved towards Instragram (definition of instagram for those over 50: a form of social media where kids post ‘selfies,’ food, and other irrelevant photos). I can scroll all the way through my instragram photos to my first day of college, 4 years ago. As I was scrolling back, I kept picking up changes in myself. Black hair to blonde hair, freshman 15 to “go eat a cheeseburger,” but the most noticeable one- my happiness.

Everyone has told me during the sporadic times I fall into my super-sad-near-depression-probably-PMS’ing mood- that they can see it in my face, but I never saw it for myself. Since Anna died, more and more people that have only met me a handful of times will say, so what’s going on, you seem down. I was always really confused by this question, and often replied with, “I don’t know, nothing! I mean I guess my best friend died back in April, but I’m okay now!” Too often they respond with, “Ah-ha! I can see it in your face.”

SEE WHAT IN MY FACE? My face is fine! I had no idea what these crazy people were seeing, and I eventually just ruled it down to the fact that I need to get a spray tan, NOW.

However, now I can see it. When I compare my really pretty selfies (that I take too many of) from last week, to the pictures I took a year ago; it looks like a whole different person. It’s not a bad person, a sad person, or a person who hates life. It’s just a different person. The person I see today doesn’t have the same care-free, live in the moment persona as the girl in the pictures a year ago. The woman now seems to be more solidified, tired, and on a much more narrow track than before. Last year, I could do anything in the world I ever dreamed of without worrying about who saw me, what anyone else was doing, what I was supposed to be doing- none of it. Now, I can’t sleep at night without knowing all my friends are in place, safe and sound. This isn’t exactly a bad thing. I suppose for some of you parents, you praying your child meets an overly cautious, worry wart like me while little Beth is running around drunk as a skunk in college- but to be the college girl that is more worried about tucking her drunk-skunk friends in to their own bed in one piece every night, instead of living her last year being a drunk-skunk college kid, is pretty strange. It’s very, VERY rare to find a college kid that would rather sit in a quiet, calm bar with her friends, cheers’ing with wine; rather than getting beer dumped on your head at union and stumbling out the door screaming, “COLLEGE IS AWESOME!” Maybe I’ve matured and that’s what I’m seeing in myself. Or maybe I really have become the uptight, worrisome twenty-one year old that all of the kids laugh at.

There comes a point in life when you have seen so much, you want to stop every issue before it arises. You want to change God’s plan, so that it fits yours and what you want to happen. You are always planning ahead to every single horrible scenario that could possibly happen, you have also prepared a plan A, B, C, D, E, and F, and when that doesn’t work out- the pain is twice as deep. I feel like that’s the person I have become. I automatically assume my Mother has caught the black plague and can’t answer my call because she is quarantine in the hospital, instead of assuming she just won the lottery and can’t talk because she’s depositing $7 million into my account. Let’s hope the first scenario never happens, and let’s pray the second one does!

My point is- it’s not just the maturity that has changed the way my face looks, it’s life. Life takes it’s toll on us and changes our attitudes and way we interact, without us even noticing. I’m sure I’m probably way less entertaining at work than I was eight months ago- and I had no idea. I am probably rude to people with any sort of opinion other than mine, not only because I’m right ;), but also because I don’t want them to believe the wrong thing and get upset/hurt. I am so worried about what is going to happen to other people, that I haven’t even realized how little of my life I have actually lived in the past few months. I lived more life in one week last year than I did in three months this year.

I don’t think this only pertains to the death of a best friend either. We all have our life problems, and we deal with them and we move on. But did you ever really move on? Or did you get past the situation, and the memory still sits in your head dictating your actions at every moment of the day? Yes, your college sweetheart cheated on you with his stats professor, and your life was ruined for three months- you cried and  moved on, yet at age twenty-four, you’re still questioning your three year-long boyfriend about why he had to stay after to meet with his boss about the 3 million dollar contract they are signing tomorrow. Your girlfriend asks you if you think it’s weird her boyfriend has been giving his co-worker, Lindsey, a ride to work all week because her car broke down, and you respond with, “Omg, that was me in college!! Leave him!” …then you Facebook stalk the co-worker and realize Lindsey is actually a fifty-year old man. This is awkward.

We get so caught up in things that have hurt us in the past, and many times we don’t realize how much they are still effecting our every day lives. We let them eat away at us until we are no longer living our lives, and now what do you do? You can’t get that time back. People come and people go. For me- I have to learn to cherish them while I know they’re here, instead of watching them from a distance to make sure they don’t leave. Live care-free again, make dumb decisions, bring cupcakes to a friend’s house- instead of just creeping their twitter to make sure they are still alive. I can’t tell you how many times my advice to people has been, just go for it- life is too short! I supposed it’s time to take my own advice.