1.7 The Aftermath
As much as I’d like to say that after ending things with Sarah I was able to get back to my life relatively unscathed, it isn’t true. There are things that even now, several years later, I still have anxieties about. What I went through with her changed who I am, or maybe it just made me see what I’m really like. Whenever people are upset, or their lives aren’t working out the way they want to, I’m always slightly afraid that they will hurt themselves. And it scares me. Realistically I know that self-harm is not something everyone resorts to, I still worry about it. I worry a lot, especially about relationships and the balance of power. Sarah used to have breakdowns that would make me not feel safe letting her drive home because I was worried she would cause an accident on purpose. Other times she would get sucked in to the horrible thoughts in her head, and say things like “I have a really bad feeling I’m not going to make it home alive”, and then she would leave anyway. I knew that she was wrong, but still a part of me would worry…what if she was right?
After being with her, I found it hard to be open to people. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about the things I was feeling. It wasn’t me who had the problems, so why should I need any special attention. Truth is, I had a lot of problems. Maybe not to the same extent, but I was definitely mentally unwell. I was starting to get depressed just being around her. There was even one time when I thought about cutting myself. I didn’t do it. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever felt. I knew it wouldn’t help me, but some part of me was saying to try it…
I often hear people say “unless you’ve experienced it personally, you can’t possibly understand”. That’s not true. I was with Sarah every step of the way, and I felt the things she felt just as deeply. I was hurting just as much as she was. Being close to something so difficult is always tough. I feel like after all the things I went through with her, I have a better understanding of what it is like to be depressed. It gave me a new perspective on mental illness as well. Sarah needed help, and as much as I wanted to be there for her, it was a kind of help I couldn’t provide. She needed a professional, and that doesn’t mean that I failed her. I was there for her as a friend when she needed me, and that’s enough.
Sarah once said to me, “I just wanted to say thank you. I know that without your help, I wouldn’t still be here.” That really put what I did for her into perspective. I stopped her from being just another statistic, and instead helped her see that there is more to life than the problems you struggle through when you’re a teenager.
That being said, I’m kind of injured by it too. I still work on the trust issue. It was a long time before I could see myself as not just a body that exists for other people to use as they please and then discard. I had a very bad relationship after Sarah, and didn’t know better than to go along with it. I no longer let others take what they want from me. If they aren’t a positive addition to my life, then they don’t deserve to be in it. I deserve better than that.
Sometimes I will smell someone’s perfume, and it will wrench my heart inside of my chest. I can’t forget what I went through with her. I probably never will. And I still have a lot of issues to overcome, but maybe I just need some time and the right kind of love to help me get through it. I’m just glad I was able to get away from all of that before her mentality was able to drag me in as well.
If you know someone who is going through a hard time, be there for them, but know when they need someone other than you. It doesn’t mean you have failed them. It just means you wanted what was best for them. And above all else, believe in them, and believe in their recovery.
The wounds I have on the inside might not ever go away completely.
But Sarah is alive today because someone cared about her enough to not let her go.