Standing Up Again
I was curled up in the middle of my bed, a blanket clutched between clawed fists, sobs wracking my frame with so much force that the headboard clacked against the wall. In my head, a voice kept screaming, over and over, “Why me?”
My angry fingers kneaded the unfortunate blanket, as if trying to pull answers from its threads. They wanted to know what they had done to deserve the misfortune I had begone. My heart throbbed with indignation, my veins pumped hate and self pity, and my mind circulated the same poisonous thoughts.
I couldn’t understand why my mother drank. Why my parents were divorced. Why my Step Mother couldn’t get along with me. Why my best friend wouldn’t talk to me. Why that boy didn’t love me. I was lost in the injustice of it all, drowning in a sea of my imagined misfortunes, the weight of the unfairness of the world resting squarely on my hunched and humbled shoulders.
It was that July, during the summer before my Sophomore year, that I read the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. Featuring a simple and generally happy main character, it’s difficult to see where the connection took place – but it did.
It was somewhere after Odd’s lover died, after he realized he was alone that he came to this realization: “Change isn’t easy… changing the way you live means changing what you believe about life. That’s hard… When we make our own misery, we sometimes cling to it even when we want so bad to change because the misery is something we know. The misery is comfortable.”
A quote from a book has never struck me so hard. I was, without a doubt, clinging to my misery for fear of realizing that I had been wrong, of having to change my entire outlook on life. In selfish denial I had pretended that the fault was not in my hands, but in others’ that I was depressed – I cultivated negative emotions that effectively tore down my will to move forward.
However, through influential reading and coaching from my amazingly helpful father, I was able to reach the point where I realized that it was, as my dad loved to remind me, not the events in my life that defined me, but the way I reacted to them. And, I was ashamed to admit, I had been reacting poorly.
The year or so that followed that summer was undoubtedly a struggle, an uphill climb with an occasional slip down the mountain. I was searching for happiness and self-acceptance, and I eventually found it in yoga and tea, in long walks through the woods and good books. I learned the art of being strong when a large part of me wanted to fall apart. And I learned that no matter how many times life knocks me down, I will always find a way to get back up, a smile on my face as I brush the dust from my clothes.