yeah, i’m talking to you, whoever you are.
i’m going to tell you a story, so bear with me, all right?
this time seven years ago, i was two and a half weeks out from an accident that warped my mind and took away one of the most significant things in my life. this time seven years ago, i was miserable, nearly friendless, with what i thought i was only one good thing in my life that i was going to lose shortly after.
this time six years ago, i was a freshman in high school. this time six years ago, i was two and a half weeks out from the one-year anniversary of categorically the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. this time six years ago, i was scared and defensive and losing my mind.
this time five years ago, i was both better and worse. this time five years ago, i thought i’d found real friends. this time five years ago, i was having panic attacks more and more regularly as i retreated into my own head and built walls to keep everybody out even as i was desperate to let someone in.
this time four years ago, i was sitting in a psychologist’s office because my fear of what was happening to me outweighed my fear of people knowing about it. this time four years ago, i was having panic attacks every night, staying awake until three or four in the morning and medicating my way through my junior year of high school with a combination of ibuprofen and a lot of caffeine. this time four years ago, i was at the lowest point of my life.
this time three years ago, i had just been accepted into college. this time three years ago, the panic attacks were fewer, but they were still happening with as much force as ever. this time three years ago, my history teacher would joke with me about how i never said anything remotely close to “good” whenever he asked me how i was doing because i existed in a state of utter cynicism.
this time two years ago, i got my heart broken. this time two years ago, i walked away from a boy who finally made me feel like i meant something because he wouldn’t make choices and i wasn’t going to wait for him anymore. this time two years ago, i sat on the floor of a shower in cincinnati after my cousin’s wedding reception and i cried because i missed him and it hurt but i had to make myself leave.
this time a year ago, i was introduced to someone by the barista that i’d befriended while avoiding the aforementioned boy. this time a year ago, she said “you’re both sarcastic assholes, you’ll love each other,” and then she walked away. this time a year ago, i would shut myself in my room in my apartment because i was having another panic attack and i needed to be alone, even though my roommate was fantastic.
this time a year ago, i’d finally begun to accept that i was probably never going to really be okay.
right now, that sarcastic asshole has become one of my best friends who can make me laugh no matter how upset i am, even though there’s an eight-and-a-half year age gap between us. right now, that barista is one of my favorite human beings on this earth. right now, that roommate has become all but my sister. right now, i have a group of people whom i love and trust and know care about me.
right now, i’m nearly done with a major in a field that i love even if it’s not the one i’m going into. right now, i’m on a high because i was just offered an internship at my first-choice firm for my second major and the partner called me personally to let me know. right now, i’m facing a summer of real employment which could lead to a job offer for after i graduate. right now, i can’t remember the last time that i had a serious panic attack about the events of my past.
right now, i laugh more than i cry. right now, my brain is functioning at an even higher capacity than it was before the accident that damaged it. right now, i have more good memories than i do bad. right now, i’m no longer angry about what happened to me. right now, that boy i cried over and i are cool, even if we’re not friends. right now, i am happy and i am comfortable and i am content.
i used to think that i wasn’t going to have a future, and the only reason why i never gave up was because other people in my life wouldn’t let me. i used to think that i was never going to be better, that my accident would haunt me every day for the rest of my life, that i would never be what my history teacher told me i should strive for, that i would never be content.
i was wrong.
what happened to me left me with four letters. p, t, s, d. i didn’t know what that meant. i didn’t know how to live with it. i didn’t know how to live without it. i didn’t know how to accept it without letting it define me.
i lived through it anyway.
i lived through the pain and the terror and the anger and the disappointment, and it hurt and it was difficult and sometimes i really just wanted to give up, and i don’t mean end my life. i didn’t want to do that. i wanted to just stop existing, to curl up in a ball and be done and have everyone forget me because i didn’t want to cause my family pain but i also didn’t want to be present anymore.
i’m glad i didn’t stop existing. i’m glad that i got to meet all of these people, work for all of these things, drink a lot of tea and read a lot of books and listen to the hamilton soundtrack more than is probably healthy. i’m glad that i’ve gotten to go to bruce springsteen concerts and become a fan of all these television shows and memorized the entirety of the princess bride. i’m glad that i’ve had so many tomorrows, that i can come home from class and curl up with my cat and know that every day is a chance for something good to happen.
my grandfather always used to tell my mom that “it’ll all be better in the morning.”
he wasn’t wrong. it might not be tomorrow, it might not be next week, or next month, or next year, but one morning you are going to wake up and you may not be okay but you will be better and you will be content and that will be everything.
please don’t forget that.
the world is better with you in it.