The Door to the Rest of My Life

I found the door to the rest of my life, and it is open.

Now, I am expected to walk through it.

Now I have no choice but to walk through it. It doesn’t matter that I never thought I would get this far. It doesn’t matter that my life was supposed to end several years ago, in a bathtub, in a pool of my own blood. It doesn’t matter that I was born to be a sad story stuffed into the smallest corner of the newspaper: TEENAGE SUICIDE, it was supposed to read, and people were supposed to hear about me and shake their heads and say “what a shame” before moving on, forgetting me.

It doesn’t matter, because it didn’t happen. I’m here. I’m alive. And I will never be a teenage suicide, because I will never be a teenager again.

I’m an adult.

I’m a possibility.

I’m alive. And there’s so much that I can do so long as that remains true.

Because death is so final, and life is ever changing.

I can walk through that door. I can follow the plan that I didn’t have until recently, the plan that I never made when I was young because I was never supposed to get this far. The simple plan: job, move, school, career, maybe get married, maybe be happy, run into problems along the way but always push through them. I can do that now. I can live a life.

And what a strange party it is that I hold for myself, alone, in private. No invitations can be sent out because no one can know the reason why life overwhelms me and thrills me all at once. No one can know why I think it’s a miracle to be alive. If they knew they would worry, but they really shouldn’t because I survived. I made it through. I didn’t kill myself and I won’t kill myself. Instead of cutting into my skin, I fortified it with armour so that when the feeling comes back, I’ll know what to do. I’ll have prepared for this.

And for now, I found the door to the rest of my life, the door that was never supposed to exist in the first place. And I am walking through it.

Thoughts on Regret

Regret is a pervasive and terrifying thing.

The idea that you can look back on your life, on decisions that you made at the time, and come to the conclusion that you made the wrong decision. That the path you chose is thin and winding and leads nowhere, and there’s no way to get to the path that you wish you had taken now. Because now that you are on this path, now that you realize that it is impossible to turn around and walk back, now you know that that other path was a much better path to take.

I know many people who have felt this way. I know many people who have gotten lost to this feeling, have become bitter and depressed because of it. And for a brief time, even I found this feeling creeping up on me.

I regretted the fact that I allowed my depression to cripple me for a year.

I regretted the school that I had chosen upon going into post-secondary.

I regretted things that I couldn’t possibly have changed or even chosen, things that I was born into. Things that simply were. Things that I could only curse fate or the universe of God or whatever you believe in for, because only that could have been responsible for it.

And you know what I began to realize? There’s absolutely no good to be found in regret.

Once you start down a path, you can’t turn around and change your mind, that’s true. You can only move forward, not back, and it’s important for you to keep that in mind – and one of the reasons why it is so important is because you can still move forward. You don’t have to stay on the path you are on. Just because you have started on it, it doesn’t mean you have to continue. You can change your mind, you can start on a new path, you can cut across and cheat your way onto a new road. Your past is set in stone, but your future is free. Your future is something that you still can change.

And often times, we make the decisions that we do for a reason, and it’s too easy to forget that reason when we have grown and learned new things. At one time, I regretted allowing myself to be crippled by depression, but I forget that I was crippled by it because I was deeply, intensely depressed, and I didn’t understand that at the time. I understand that now. I know how to cope with that now. But I didn’t at the time, and that’s why I made the choice that I did. It’s important for us to remember that, because it makes it easier to forgive ourselves for the decisions that we made in the past.

More than that, we should never regret the bad times because, often times, the bad times need to happen. Nobody’s life is constantly perfect – we all need to experience pain because we learn from pain. From pain, we are given the opportunity to find our strength. The bad times teach us lessons which we can then take with us into the good times, which we can then use to teach others. Maybe I did lose a year of my life to depression, but when I hear someone else voicing the same thoughts that tormented me during those years, I know what they are going through and I can try to help them. So why would I regret any of it?

Regret can be a very harmful thing. It can become something that overwhelms us, that depresses us, but it can also be a good sign. We regret things when we realize that we now know more than we did then, and that if we were to make the same decision now, we would have chosen differently. Regret is a sign of growth. So do not linger in your regret. Be proud of the fact that you have grown, and take that growth into the future with you. After all, the future is the only place where you can take it now.

And I Wait

What am I doing, you might ask? I’m just waiting.

Waiting for something to change. Waiting for something good to happen. Waiting for something bad to happen. Whichever comes first, I suppose.

Waiting for my life to begin, like I thought it did four years ago. Like I thought it did three years ago. Like I thought it did one year ago. But no, I’m still waiting. Sitting here all patient-like, twiddling my thumbs, humming a tune, trying to keep my chin up and my head high and my smile on. Trying to keep from losing hope. Trying to remember that my waiting will stop eventually, that it will all pay off in the end, that something is going to change. All I need to do is wait.

And so I do. I wait. Like a good little girl with my legs crossed at the ankles and my nice, white dress so free of stains, I wait.

I wait for the clouds to slide on by and leave the sun shining down on me. I wait for someone to answer my questions, to take me by the hand and lead me forward. I wait to be heard, wait to receive my voice. I wait for someone to see me, really see me, and I wait for someone to care about what they see. I wait to care back. I wait and I wait and I tell myself that it’s good to wait, it doesn’t mean anything that I’m sitting here waiting. It’s not a waste of life, it is life. Life is waiting. And that’s what I’m doing.

And waiting is better than sleeping in the dirt.

Isn’t it?

I wait to lose my patience. I wait to scream, to cry, to break. I wait to reach a point where I can no longer wait at all, and I wait to see what I will do when that point comes. I wait to become a disappointment. I wait to make mommy cry, to make daddy refuse to so much as awknowledge my name. I wait to make everyone hate me at last, the way I know they should.

I wait for the scars that I put on my arms to heal. I wait for the blood to dry and crack and peel away. I wait for my smile to feel natural. I wait to be comfortable in this spotless white dress that they put me in. I wait to know what I would feel comfortable in. I wait to know my name, to speak it aloud and feel how good it will taste on my lips. I wait to find out if any of that will ever happen. I wait for the courage to believe it will.

And so I sit here, and I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait.

Moving Through Fear

I was about ten years old when I decided that I wanted to lead a fairly difficult life. I was sitting in my school’s library at the time, listening to my librarian read to my class some story about a little girl who wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world, and it dawned on me then that that was something that a person could be. That at one point in their lives, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were once sitting where I was sitting, listening to their librarian tell stories to their classes, and that someone somewhere would have to take their place someday. Why couldn’t that person be me? Why couldn’t I be the next great writer?

Twelves years has passed since then, and I think that it’s needless to say that a lot has changed. It’s a hell of a lot easier to say that you’d be willing to live on a diet of cold beans straight out of the can if it got you to a writing career eventually when you aren’t actually faced with it, when you’re ten years and still dependant on your parents to tell you if you can even leave the house. But twelve years of standing by the belief that I am going to be a writer, whether I like it or not, has strengthened my resolve quite a bit, and brought me to a place where I know that I absolutely cannot give up on it, come what may. Which is an amazing gift to have, because the twelve years that has passed since then have not gone by without an immense amount of fear and moments where I completely lacked any motivation.

I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. That was my goal, the thing to which I set my mind, that I was going to do. And there have been many points in the last twelve years where I found myself wondering why?

I found myself wondering why when people began pestering me about my progress – or, in many cases, lack thereof. “Have you submitted anything to be published yet?” “Have you set up a website for yourself yet?” “Have you talked to this person? How about that person?” “Do you really know what you’re doing?” No. I had no fucking clue what I was doing. I wasn’t born into a family of professional writers, I didn’t know anyone who had ever done this before, and more than that, when I was being asked these questions, I was either a) a teenager, or b) immensely, cripplingly depressed, either state of mind translating to the simple fact that I wasn’t emotionally ready. And not being emotionally ready and being constantly bombarded with questions of why haven’t you done this yet made me wonder if I really could do this. There was just so much, too much for me to do. It overwhelmed me. It made me wonder why bother, because I wasn’t doing anything, I would never do anything, and my dreams of being a writer would never amount to anything because I was such an utter and complete failure.

But I kept on writing, and in my own way, I kept on making my personal progress. Not because I was brave or because I was intentionally overcoming any fears or anything like that, but because when I was ten years old, I decided that I was going to be a writer, and so what else was I if not that?

And again, I found myself wondering why when my high school teachers questioned my choice constantly.

“So what do you want to be when you graduate?”

“Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”

“That’s not very practical. You realize that, right? Writers don’t make a lot of money. Maybe you should consider something else, something like journalism, maybe?”

I had this conversation again and again, all throughout my high school career, and there were times where I could easily ignore it. Sometimes I’d tell my teachers that they were right and that I’d consider other career options, but I never really meant it – I only said it to make them stop pestering me. The truth was that I was going to be a writer. I was going to be broke and working another job for what would most likely turn out to be the rest of my life, but I was going to be a writer nonetheless. There were moments where I’d have confidence in that. And then there were moments, especially as my depression worsened and my motivation waned, where I seriously considered maybe giving writing up, maybe focusing my energy on something that would make me a bit more money in the long run. After all, that would make the most sense, right? We live in a society run by money, where nothing is available if you do not have it, not even food, so why would I choose not to do everything in my power to get it? That would be the logical thing, right? Why was I subjecting myself to such hardship when the option not to was available?

But still, I kept on writing. I kept writing because when I was ten, I decided that I was going to be a writer, and that thought was enough to keep me going. I pushed through, I forced myself to make progress, and little by little, I started to take steps forward. Though my fear tried to hold me back, to keep me stationary, I had one thought to keep in mind, one belief that I held so dear that I would not let anything keep me back from it. Not my depression. Not my lack of motivation. Not even my fear.

I was going to be a writer.

But not everyone has a belief that they hold that strong. Many people find themselves confronted with fear, and they have a very difficult time moving around it. Sometimes they can’t move around it. Sometimes they remain stationary for long periods of time, unable to overcome their fear, because they have nothing telling them that they should. But the thing is, people cannot live their lives that way. As human beings, we need to grow and learn and develop, and in order to do that, we need to accept change that is scary. We need to move forward.

And I get it – it is difficult to accept change sometimes, especially if we are not emotionally prepared. Sometimes, we do need to make our progress slowly, to take our lives at our own pace. But we still need to keep moving. Because if we stay where we are, then nothing ever changes. If we stay where we are, we can never grow. I can be a writer even if I only take tiny steps toward it every day, but I cannot be a writer if I never try.

I Am Bored

I am bored.

And I don’t mean that in a I-have-free-time-on-my-hands-all-of-a-sudden-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it sort of way. I mean that I am bored on a deep, existential level. I mean that I am bored and there is nothing that I can think of that will cut through that, not fully. Not completely. Not for long. A video game or a writing session or a conversation might delay the boredom for a little bit, might hold it at bay, but it always comes back, always intense, all-encompassing, devouring.

I am bored and nothing that I can think to do will end that. I am bored and that boredom finds ways to creep into everything.

It nestles into the conversations that I hear people having, laying just between their words, just as subtext. “Don’t these tomatoes look delicious?” “My kid might have an ear infection and I need to take her to the doctor.” “Did you want to hang out and go to the mall and-” and god, is this all there is? Am I really forced to trudge through eighty fucking years of tomatoes and children and malls? When is something supposed to happen already? Will it happen? Is life really just eighty years of sitting around and waiting for something to happen and then you die and… and then what? What the fuck is the point of all this? Why am I fucking here?

So I stop listening, I retreat into my own head, and then I feel awful because if there is some fucking point (and I’m sure there is; I’m sure I’m just missing it) then I don’t know if I’m going to find it there. I don’t know where I’m going to find it. In my writing? My writing is a part of me, an extension of my personality, the physical, tangible embodiment of my soul and my soul is fucking dying here. How can my writing exist if I’m so bored? How can I find meaning there if I can’t find meaning anywhere? So somewhere else then… maybe the point is somewhere else, maybe the point is in success, in a career. So I’ll do that then. I’ll apply to jobs and I’ll submit to agents and I’ll- god, but it all just takes so fucking long, and I know I need to persevere and I need to keep trying, but persevering is not always an active verb, and what is supposed to fill the time in between? A person? Am I supposed to find meaning in someone else? That’s what all the songs say, I guess – love is the greatest thing in this whole goddamn world, but what if you’re not good at that? What if you don’t know how to talk to people or open up or even really care? What if you’ve never done it before and you’re not just rusty, you’re the fucking Tin Man from the beginning of Wizard of Oz – immobile, stuck, waiting for someone to come along and make things change, and what if you’re suspicious when someone does come along? What do you do then?

Nothing, I guess. I guess you just stand there and wait for eighty fucking years for things to change.