twenty seven lessons

Winter, 2003: I was thirteen years old. My best friend was sitting next to me in the back seat of a Mercedes-Benz, and in the front seat sat two men; aged in their 20s. It was one o’clock in the morning and over fourteen years ago, yet, I can still remember the cracks, tears and foam that protruded from the seats of the antique Benz. February, and the wind was chilling. “You ladies ready for a good time?” he said in a kind tone to us. She replied to him overly anxious to get to our destination, my best friend loved partying, and after all I was just there for the beer. I was young, my parents were not in my life and all I wanted was to drink, not knowing that I was suppressing every bit of emotion inside of me.
Twelve blocks away from where I lived was the house where the ‘party’ was. There was more men, beer, and drugs. I grabbed a beer and played cool as the Mercedes drove away into the dark wall of the night. “You up next, sweetie?” I turn around to hear the familiar voice and see my best friend, only fourteen years old, take a drag of smoke out of a broken light bulb. An older guy holding a lighter, was slowly rotating the lightbulb and watching the ghostly cloud form into her mouth.

I ran ten blocks home after that. I think I even got lost in my own neighborhood, but eventually, I made it home. I had just earned the “teen” on the end of my age and I was surrounded by beers and people smoking ice out of broken light bulbs? Could I have just been raped? It was my friends idea to go, those were her friends.. that wouldn’t be the end of it though.

Summer, 2004: Fourteen years old. All we did was get high. We smoked so much weed and drank so many Old English bottles that I can understand why I would care so little about the people around me. My best friend and I just wanted to party our weekends away. We were young, foolish, thought nothing of our futures, and passed each and everyday as if it was our last. I can’t remember half the people I met, but it’s not really important when they won’t remember you either.

Winter, 2004: Shit is getting really serious with my best friend. In fact she’s really not my best friend anymore, I hardly see her. We were smoking together when she pulled out a ‘flower pen,’ these ice smoking pipes they sell at beer barns. I couldn’t even stand to be in the room and know I was breathing in whatever was in she was smoking. Then, somehow she convinced me to try it. I thought. Never again, and honestly, it never happened again.

Spring, 2005: I drink every single day. I really don’t see a purpose for not drinking. My mom isn’t home, she’s out doing fucked up shit, selling drugs, fucking up her life at the bars, in and out of jail. Why can’t I have a drink if she gets to over do it? People at the school don’t give a shit if I go or not, if my shit is late, if I turn shit in or not, and my Dad doesn’t even care if I go to school, fuck it, why not drop out?

Winter, 2005: I can’t stand seeing her out there. She’s all fucked up and she’s sick and I don’t even know who she is anymore. She’s always with the druggie guys or someone who looks like they’re off the streets, it’s insane. What happened? We used to be best friends and drugs got her.. We used to sit next to each other in kindergarten and now she’s out there, fighting for whatever life she has now. I can’t even offer her anything, I have nothing left of me to give.

 

Winter, 2007: I’m in jail. I felt like an idiot for crying in front of the judge, but honestly, it was real. This sucks. It’s cold, it’s dirty, girls in here aren’t too rowdy but it’s just weird feeling like I have to sit in here for not going to school. They call this contempt of court, I call it a waste of time.

Summer, 2008: You mean to tell me that I’ve had CANCER all this time?? So me being tired and me having this crazy hair is a reaction from the Cancer? I could have used this as an excuse to not go to jail! They don’t send people battling cancer to jail! But really I have Cancer? Wow. Never even realized, I feel so normal.

Summer, 2009: I don’t want to do this. I thought we were in love God? I had no idea I was considered healthy right now.. I thought I would still be healing from cancer radiation.. I can’t believe this is real. Me and him, we’ve been together for almost a year now, how could he be so disappointed that I’m pregnant? He has a daughter, she’s beautiful, and I know I’m young but is there ever a right time for a baby? How could he just say, ‘Here’s the $600, take care of it,’ Baby Tiny doesn’t deserve to die.

 

Winter, 2010: I don’t know about life. I just quit this bullshit plasma place, they paid me way too low. Honestly I think it’s because I’m into doing drugs with my boyfriend. All we do is take heroin based ecstasy. It’s a dream state, if I could be there with him forever, I would. But when we come back to reality, it’s this bullshit world. We’re so in love when we’re high.. isn’t that cliche? Isn’t that the worst thing that you could hear someone say out loud? It is to me.

Summer, 2011: All I want to do is get away. I feel happy but something is missing from me, like, is it a guy? Is it friends? Is it a new drink I haven’t tried or an outfit I need to try? What I know makes this feeling better is my go to o’reliable; drinking.

Spring, 2012: I am in a blur of happiness and I can’t tell if it’s the drink in my hand, the free shots this guy got me, or the fact that someone is having a conversation with me about the car meets I am running. I don’t know what’s going on, but this is heaven and although he’s a 7 on the hot scale, I am connecting with this guy on the sole fact that we are so effortlessly getting one another on account of the alcohol.

 

Autumn, 2013: I love my job, and I use it as a getaway to make myself feel like I have some importance in this world. It’s shitty of me, I know, but if I don’t want to be around you or your friends, I can schedule myself a work day, or call myself in and escape to the sweet smell of my office. We’re not getting each other, and for a while our insecurities have been eating up this relationship. What else can I do except come to the one place where people don’t question me and guys online don’t bother me with ‘why did you like that picture?’ I’m losing the heat, I love you, but I’m losing it. I know I’m cheating on you, and I know it’s not right because I’m going behind your back to find someone else to make me happy, but I can’t find happiness between us with the constant bickering.

Spring, 2014: I don’t even know who I am anymore. I can’t feel the right side of my body, when we have sex I can’t climax, you get frustrated with me because it takes me over an hour to even feel anything and I can’t help it because I’m numb on the INSIDE OF MY VAGINA. FUCK. Literally, fuck. We can’t do it. My right leg flops around and I feel so awkward because I can’t control my body, no matter how hard I press my leg against you. I still flop around like a dead fish. A limp noodle. I don’t want to believe that I will be stuck here forever. I keep thinking about my fucked up past. My drug history, all those nights I spent out smoking with friends, everything I did to deserve a stroke at 23 years old. I’m an idiot. I’m stupid. I’m going to be that dumbass that gives motivational speeches to teens saying, ‘don’t do hard drugs and party because your AVM will rupture and you won’t feel the same.’ Our relationship is fucked off. I keep thinking I’ve died and you keep getting mad at me for it, and I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that if I’m alive, I survived. You mean to tell me someone went in my head and took out pieces of brain and I am functioning? Fuck. fuck, fuck fuck. I’m sorry but thats some deep shit to me and I can’t believe I’m here today. I can’t believe I kiss you, I can’t believe you stood by me and prayed for me to live, watched me take what could’ve been my last breaths, watched what could’ve been my last smiles. I would’ve said I love you for the last time and never known it. I fucking struggle with that.

Summer, 2015: I started walking sometime last year and wouldn’t you know that I walked straight to the bar. It’s like I wanted an internal medal, something within me that could say ‘yes I can still dress and go out after a stroke, look at me.’ All I never heard was that I accomplished so much in such little time, so what else could I accomplish? People telling me I looked good after what I had been through just added to the pile of bullshit I kept to tacked on and so, I chased cheap thrills. I don’t know if you can call it an escape from what we weren’t or an escape from what we were going through, but being out in a spotlight dulled the person who I was and created a fake persona that ate bullshit lines and drank down whiskey like never before. All I wanted was to shoot shit with people who were willing to do what you did when we met 3 years back. Have a conversation and have a drink. That way of thinking led to us going from husband and wife to immediately separated at the drop of a dime, and to this day you never looked back.

Spring, 2016: I talked a whole bunch of shit about doing my best and not partying, I meant it but really it amounted to nothing in the end because I slept with a guy. Two people are interested in each other, and surprise, it happened. I’m twenty six and if I want to sleep with someone, I can do that. Especially since you drilled into my head that were never going to get back together and that was out of the question. I never forgot ALL of the times that you never let me into your home when I wanted to apologize, and when I left your driveway sobbing. I never forgot all of that and how your demeanor was toward me. You intentionally made my visits as painfully as they could possibly be so I could understand that us as a couple, was officially over. So when I slept with him, what happened that made you want to take it all back? You were never ‘thinking’ about anything between us. And had you been, you would’ve let me know.

Spring, 2016: I hear the door knock from the bathroom and hear you call from the door. My aunt greets you with every ounce of happiness she has within her. What are you doing in my home? We’ve been separated for almost a year now, what could this be about? Whats going on? As I open the door to my bathroom, I go into my room, and my grandmother mouths that you are in inside the home. I peer in, and I don’t see you. After steeping into my room and shutting my door, I see you are sitting down with a look I haven’t seen since I was in the hospital. You looked as if you had nothing but love to give me, but you were there to take every ounce you could muster from me. You rose to your feet after I sat on the bed, dropping your shorts, and turning out the light, leaving me to fight to keep my legs closed, leaving me to push your mouth away from my pelvis, leaving me to push your arms away from me, and leaving me to scream silently in my own home.

Spring, 2017: I remember all of the conversations, arguments really, when you said that I needed to cut back on my drinking. I completely get it. College really helps me with that. I’ve never had life goals other than getting to work on time everyday, and making a meal for you that you would tell me that you loved. I wanted a career, I chased a career, I always wanted more out of my life than this empty drink and party lifestyle that I rode out but it’s the only thing that gave me that quick happiness, so I drank down the happiness and suffered the consequences whenever they arrived. Which was sometimes years down the road. Right now I’m ending my semester with a 3.1 GPA, and although thats not the best, it’s cool for someone who dropped out of high school, never passed math, was going to fail the 10th grade, and lost motivation somewhere around 6th grade.

Autumn, 2017: I forgive myself a lot more now for the mistakes I have made as a youth. I could classify myself as someone on the microscopic line of veering toward a drug fueled life but being pulled to sanity by God’s will and the morality he instilled within me. I see that young girl and I see how lonely I was. I see that empty happiness I chased, and how it led me to never ending heartbreak. My best friend is still out there roaming somewhere, my old friends now doing hallucinogens, and then theres me: recuperating from a fourteen year hangover. I feel every bit of pain for the people around me and I always think about how different my life would have been had I just been humble and called my father to take me to school in the morning. I walked on a crazy path of life, and it finally came to a paved road filled with sunflowers and shade from above. It never truly hit me that we were really sitting in a crack house, it never really made me weird if someone was doing a line of cocaine in front of me, and it never made me feel like I was in the wrong if I was underage and drinking beers with guys who were eight years older than me. That reality of how terrifying situations can get never hit me until I was sitting in a hospital bed being diagnosed with PTSD. Life is not ordinary, and I shouldn’t take myself for granted nor the people around me for granted.
I apologize for hurting you. Not just an ‘I’m Sorry’ and that’s it but an absolutely sincere apology for never being the person you thought you met when you met me. I hurt you and I lied to you and I went behind your back and I found false happiness with other men and I chased dreams that weren’t real with people who promised no future with me. I left you repeatedly to fulfill my ego and my emotional attachments to people who I felt no emotional connection with. I made a mockery of our relationship, of our affection for one another, and of us. I look within you, a person whom is no longer in my life, for direction and strength, as you were the strongest person I knew. You were balanced, you were kind and you were loving. You loved me when we were at our lowest and at our highest. I seek the standard of love that you gave consistently to me.
Thank you for pushing me to achieve my dreams. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for giving me your shoulder to cry on, to laugh on, to lean on. Thank you for your strength, and your stability. Thank you for our romantic dates. Thank you for our trips.
Thank you for your honesty, and honestly, thank you for molding me into the person I am in this moment.

” Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. ” -James Allen

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