On nights like tonight it often suddenly hits me: I’m happy. I like life. I have a future. It’s still a little scary – when isn’t it – but it’s exciting too. And I can handle it.
It seems like such a simple revelation. But for me, it’s still an amazing event. To finally have a handle on things after so long, it still seems somewhat unreal.
I guess knowing that so many people were worried about my happiness for so long – and with good reason – makes me feel like I should write this now. To thank everyone, for continuing to care, for continuing to worry, even when it seemed like I was way too busy digging myself into a deep dark hole to be listening. I may not have been acknowledging, but I was listening. And hearing people ask me if I was happy, hearing people tell me I could be happier, hearing people repeatedly say they were worried about me, and that they wanted me to be happy – it forced me to keep, even if just for a moment, picturing the brief possibility that what they were saying could be true – before I bowed my head and continued digging.
I really couldn’t see the light. And that’s because I was digging. When you dig down, there is no light – you’re not in a tunnel. Going in the same direction – ‘working through it’ – isn’t going to fix anything. You’ve got to turn around, and look the other way – then you’ll see the light. Then you’ve got to start clawing your way out along the steep, crumbling sides.
And lord knows it wasn’t easy. I kept digging for a very long time. At first I thought there was a light, and then I resigned myself to the fact that there wasn’t a light in front of me, but there never was one behind me either, and so I might as well just keep heading this direction.
First, I lost the past. Then, I found myself. Then I found hope. Then I found Sean. Then I found my tutoring job. Then I found willpower and discipline in school. Then I found a dream, a passion. Then I found a good job. Then I was headed to making better grades than I have in years. Then I found a future.
It’s slow. It was painful, so painful. But it also was so amazing. I know it may seem shallow to put Sean on that list, at least to some, but it’s not. That we have a wonderful relationship now is a dream, but it was through getting to know him that I made some amazing steps. I finally accepted that someone could actually be attracted to me. That I was date-able. And through watching him take so much pleasure from getting to know the quirks of Emma, I remembered something I’d forgotten long ago: that I liked me too.
It’s been a long road. And I’m still on it. I still have those reactions, where I’m taken back. If I’m sitting with my legs up and Sean tries to kiss my knee, I still jerk back. In my mind, I’m afraid he’s going to bite me so long and so hard that I scream for him to stop and the bruises last for weeks, but I’m not strong enough to pull away. Sean’s never done that, of course, but my mind is still conditioned from the past.
But I hardly even care, because look how far I’ve come. I’m content and I’m happy. I’m doing unbelievably well in school. I’m climbing back onto a better road, in all meanings.
I know you already know this, those of you who stood by me so long, because I’ve heard it from so many voices so many times: “Emma, you look so well.” “Emma, you seem so happy.” “Emma, it’s so good to see you like this.” So, I really don’t need to say it, but I will: I’m happy. And all of you who gave me your words and your care and your love, you’re all part of this happiness.
So thank you.