Tuesday, July 20, 2010
GOOD NIGHT FROM 16
A friend of mine on Facebook posted this video a couple of days ago. Brandi Carlile sings about her emotions surrounding the suicide of her best friend at the age of 16. The song got me thinking about all the hard years of my life, but in particular, the ages of 16, 19, and 23. These have been the most difficult so far. I thought back to being 15/16 and it wasn't so much a pity party as it was feeling empathy for the young girl inside me that is still attempting to recover from a life of pain. And I felt overwhelmed with sadness for her.
The 5, 12, 15, 19 year old me still resides in the depths of my 24 year old heart, and once in a while something small like this song reminds me of this interesting yet difficult parallel that runs between this ungrown part of me and the part of me that feels that I am much, much, older than my years. Midway through the song, I began crying, remembering being 15, wanting to run away from it all so bad, planning to go up to the Bay, planning on working the streets to make money.
It hurt me to think that a girl of 15 thought the only way out was to become a prostitute. This became an even more realistic possibility when I thought I was pregnant at the age of 16, and it was obvious the relationship that my then-boyfriend and I at the time could not provide a supportive environment for a child. I planned secretly on running away once she was born and providing for my baby by living and working the streets.
I am so lucky to be where I am right now. My temp. therapist here told me (and I agree) he was surprised that with the past I have, that I've managed to come this far and did not fall through the cracks, become a juvenile delinquent, etc. Life is still hard, but I am choosing to stick it through. And yes, I am still lacking a Ph.D. after three years of grad school. Yes, I am still struggling immensely with my mental health, which is honestly like a full-time job. Yes, I have no work and am broke as hell, and am thus living with my parents. No, I don't know of anybody in academia who has had these thoughts as a teenager to relate to (Uhm, and if you're out there, will you let me know? It would be nice to find my kind out there.).
But you know what? I never successfully killed myself. I wasn't left for dead in the gutter at the age of 16, 350 miles away from my parents and friends, baby in tow, in an attempt to survive. I have graduated from high school, have managed to be the first generation in my family to finish college, to go to grad school. I am in a safe relationship. I have a roof over my head. And well, I guess that's more than where I thought I'd be when I was 16.
P.S. Two words since then: birth control.