Zooey Magazine has an inspiring #bravemovement that I have really resonated with. Today, I am sharing with you my story. It is lengthy because it is written with heart.
I previously mentioned a “dark place” in a post in January, but have never really opened up about it. I just did not feel the strength at the time to discuss my battles. It was difficult talking about it out loud to anyone, even my boyfriend with whom I discussed everything. Now, about a year after The Worst Part of my life, I am in a much better place, and ready to talk.
A year ago around this time, I was given a promotion at my job and I thought that life was going well. Until a series of events hit me like a semi truck, and I was thrown several feet in the air before landing on the hard cement road; this is figurative. The following was real:
A very close and important person in my life attempted suicide. She was conscious, and immediately rushed to the hospital. I still remember those screams of panic, the way I shook her shoulders and tried to talk to her. I felt every sense of despair and hopelessness when I looked into her eyes. As I waited, I was in disbelief that we were so close to losing her. She was discharged from the hospital later that night and was home in the morning. I crawled in bed with her and cried, grateful that she was not anywhere else but home. I remembered every moment I had with her before then, and I didn’t feel like I was 24 years old, I felt like a child not wanting to leave her again. I made sure I told her right away how much she meant to me. And she apologized.
Two weeks later. The worst happened, and to another special person in my life. My cousin was taken away from us. My cousin who was like my big brother. He and I graduated from college together. We studied together at the Arts and Letters building. He kept my secrets and I kept his. He and I talked about family. He teased me like a big brother would. And we laughed all the time. He was the big brother I never had.
I remember that morning very clearly still, but now as I recall it, I don’t feel pain, only acceptance. I heard from my other cousin, his sister, that he was in the ICU and immediately went to ask my mom about it. He was hospitalized early in the year, so I did not feel the urgency and did not think the worse. “Oh Michael, what did you do now?” was all I thought. I felt optimistic, as we drove to the hospital, that he was sitting up in on his hospital bed eating ice chips again and I would tease him about it. When we arrived, we were taken to ICU and I only saw a glimpse of him, laying in his bed, connected to tubes and machines. When we were told that he would not make it, I was in disbelief. I was the only one that did not cry because in my head, I was telling myself that these things don’t happen to us. We were not prepared for Michael to leave us. I kept saying it in my head, “Michael, I know you’re strong. Fight it. Stay with us,” as though he could hear every word in my head. When I realized that my prayers were not going to be answered, I was numb. I was angry and sad at the same time. It was unreal and I could not understand why it happened. It was not fair.
Shortly after, it like he had just gone on a vacation. And then we saw him again at his viewing. He was not on vacation and he was not coming back. He was gone. That’s when it hit me hard. I remember waking up the next couple of days still in the same state of confusion and disbelief I felt at the hospital. Why was he taken from us? Why did he have to leave? He can’t really be gone.
Three months later, I thought that I had finally accepted it and regained my strength. And then I lost my job. I think this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
I spent the rest of the year in and out of states of depression. Some mornings, I would wish I didn’t wake up. Other days, I was okay. And for some short time, I was happy. I told no one about how I felt. My boyfriend even tried fixing me. There was nothing he could do or say to make me feel like things would be okay. I would smile and get along with my day, keeping face in front of other people. However, at the end of day, I was alone with my thoughts and they were not friendly. Every hope I had was lost and I had no energy to fight. I was here, but at the same time, I was gone.
Toward the end of the year, I told myself that the new year would be different and things would be better. I needed to be brave and I needed to be strong. I would start at midnight on the new year with open arms, an open mind, and a big heart.
I started doing things for myself to make myself happy. I started doing what I loved again – creating art. And I started running. I knew I needed to do things that would cleanse my heart and soul of the pain and sorrow I had been harboring. And this was how I was planned to make myself better.
I recently got a new job, school is going well, contributing work for Zooey Magazine, and I am enjoying sharing my work on Instagram (@vanessadocumented). This year has been so positive, inspiring, and uplifting already.
I have accepted the passing of my cousin and I know now that God had a better plan for him. He is now in a better place and my family and I have an angel always watching over us. I will always have my memories of him, I will always think of him, and he will always be in my heart. I think of him always, and he likes to appear in my dreams sometimes. As I said on the day he passed away, “He was like a big brother to me. He always wanted the finer things in life and now he is in Heaven enjoying the finest.” I love you, Michael.
I have come a long way to where I am today. There were inner battles that I had to fight down the road that I thought would win. It may sound a little conceited, but it’s the way I feel: I am proud of myself. No one could fix me, but myself. No one could give me the courage or the strength. No one could make me happy if I couldn’t make myself happy. And I’m proud to say that I am finally okay.
As Neil Gaiman said, “A world in which there are monsters and ghosts and things that want to steal your heart is a world in which there are angels and dreams, and a world in which there is hope.”