Updated: Nov 15
By Olivia Madrid
Trigger Warning: This story includes discussion of substance abuse and depression.
We never even said goodbye.
I returned home to Arizona after a week-long trip to Washington state to visit my high school best friends. Something in the air seemed so sinister. Once I found it, I became inconsolable. What is worse than finding out your love wants someone else? Loneliness doesn’t seem like a strong enough word for how I felt. Everyone I once was able to physically touch had now slipped away from my hands. My life felt bare without the feeling of adoration surrounding me. My best friends were gone, he was gone, and I wanted to disappear, too.
Each minute I was awake just felt difficult. All my battleships had sunk, and there was no more defense I felt I had left in me. I tried to carry myself with grace, finding distractions to cope. But I was so consumed by heartaches that I could’ve mistaken them as a heart attack. One night, fatigued by pain, I visited a friend to help me relax. I thought I was getting better at managing this hell I was in. So badly I wanted to feel love in my darkest moment. She and I tried to cry it out together. When the sun set, the looming thoughts of how I missed those I no longer had came back. The sadness sunk in, and a wave of anxiety hit me harder than ever. So I mixed a cocktail of marijuana, alcohol, and prescription benzodiazepines to elicit the screams I was holding inside.
Everything was black, and I went silent. But I was full of commotion – full of impulse. I was finally at peace by having no thoughts in my brain. My friend said I had slid down on the ground from a chair, and I was slurring words like a drunk. My friend had gotten angry, thinking I was messing around, but my mind was being controlled by what I had taken. She said she tried to carry me, but I was dead weight. The only memory I have of that night is a blurry frame of my aunt, watching her niece break down in a hospital bed.
That Saturday I was emitted as an inpatient at a behavioral health service. Most of my time there was spent attempting to get out. I felt more alone than before, with no connection to the outside world. I was made a fool by the workers there, with my feelings and concerns being disregarded. They had taken advantage of a young girl, too naive to know what papers she was signing and what medications were being administered. I had been put in an area of the hospital with nobody my age, just ex-addicts who knew I didn’t belong there. I called my family on the wall phones in the hallways to try to pass time, but a man would pass me and insinuate sexual remarks. I would wake up to screams from other patients who I shared a wall with, and I wasn’t able to watch the Fourth of July fireworks with my parents, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary that day. Concrete buildings blocked my view of the night sky anyways. But in some way, the trapped feeling I had helped me find my freedom outside.
Three other patients taught me how to play Dominoes as we watched the Avengers marathon on cable. I had lived such a short life so far, they all told me. They reminded me that I wasn’t loved the way I should have been. I was suffocating my feelings to be a good enough girlfriend, to be a good enough daughter, friend, niece, sister. But I was learning a lesson – a lesson of letting go of the past, to appreciate what once was, and to love the growth I have made along the way. Before I was released, I strongly believed I was so forgettable. But returning home, I saw the joy on my mom’s face when she saw me. My dogs greeted me with wiggling bodies and cries, and my distant friends had sent me messages that spoke like sunshine. And everything was OK. Just as it had maimed me, time healed.
The hardest thing I have ever done was forgive myself for what I did. I let myself be damaged for a fleeting moment, and that has now faded into a moment in my lifeline. Perhaps the relationships I had lost were needed for my relationship with myself to begin.
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