My mother and father always fought when I was growing up. It seemed like they were constantly arguing about something, and it would always end with my mother in tears. I remember one particular argument that they had when I was around seven years old. My father had come home from work in a bad mood, and my mother was trying to get him to tell her what was wrong.
He refused to talk to her, and she eventually gave up and went to bed. I could hear them arguing through the walls, and it sounded like my father was yelling at my mother. The next morning, my mother told me that my father had left the house and she didn’t know where he went. She seemed really upset, and I could tell that she was worried about him.
We frequently find ourselves considering the past only to attempt to push the memories away and return to our current delusion. We can never get rid of the past, but if we’re defined by it, should we just welcome suffering back into our life? Embarrassment, guilt, and pride betray us when we bury our darkest memories in our head and look forward to a bright future without ever having to acknowledge them or confess that they had occurred in the first place.
We forget, though. As much as we try to keep our eyes on the prize and move ever forward into the light, there are things that happen to us that we cannot forget no matter how hard we try. They come back to haunt us in our dreams and in our waking moments, a constant reminder of what we once were and what we might have been had things gone differently.
For me, there is one particular event that I can never forget, no matter how much I want to. It’s a memory that I have tried time and again to sweep under the rug, but it always manages to find its way back to the surface no matter how deep I bury it. It’s a memory of a time when I was younger and naive, a time before I knew any better.
I was maybe 10 years old at the time. My father had just lost his job and things were tough for our family. My parents fought a lot and my mother was always crying. One day, after a particularly heated argument, my father packed up his bags and left. He didn’t say goodbye or anything, he just walked out the door and never came back.
My mother was devastated. She didn’t know how to cope with the loss of her husband and the financial burden that now rested on her shoulders. She turned to alcohol to help numb the pain and she would often pass out drunk on the couch.
One night, I came home from playing with my friends to find my mother passed out on the couch, a bottle of vodka clutched in her hand. I tried to wake her up but she was unresponsive. I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there and watched her. After a while, I started to feel really angry. I was angry at my father for leaving us, angry at my mother for drinking herself into oblivion, and angry at the world for being so unfair.
Before I knew it, I had picked up the bottle of vodka and started drinking it myself. I drank until I couldn’t drink anymore and then I passed out right next to my mother.
When I woke up the next morning, I was horrified at what I had done. I had never felt so much shame and self-loathing in my life. I was sure that my mother would be angry with me but when she woke up, she just hugged me and told me how much she loved me.
In that moment, I made a vow to myself that I would never put my mother through something like that again. I would never give her a reason to worry about me or be ashamed of me. I would make her proud.
That event shaped who I am as a person. It made me realize that I need to be strong for my family, especially for my mother. No matter what happens in life, I will always try to be the best person I can be.
My worst moment came as a complete surprise to me now. “Buhahaha,” is how my friend Andrew voices his laughter, which is exactly how he sounded when you genuinely make him laugh. I was just smiling at him and coming up with creative comparisons, “coke is like a roller coaster in that it has highs and lows.” We were in command of “The Line” during the Morton East High school registration process two years ago as my fellow National Honor Society classmates explained it.
I was a sophomore volunteering to help the junior’s and seniors get their ID cards and schedule. I remember sitting in that chair for 8 hours with one 30 minute lunch break, it sounds like torture but I actually loved every second of it. I love meeting new people and just talking to them, even if it was just small talk.
My father always told me “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, so that’s what I live by. But let me tell you about Kelsey, Kelsey was this girl who came through our line and decided that she didn’t like me. I tried being extra nice to her and even went out of my way to help her, but Kelsey just didn’t want anything to do with me.
Kelsey would come through “The Line” about 3 times a day for a week, and every time she came through she made some snarky comment towards me. I tried to keep my head up and just ignore her, but it was really hard. I wanted to tell her off so bad, but I knew that if I did that it would only make the situation worse. So I kept my mouth shut until one day Kelsey decided to take things too far.
I was sitting in my chair smiling and talking to everyone who came through “The Line” like I always did, when Kelsey came up to me and said “Hey can I ask you a question?” I replied with a simple “Yes, of course”. Kelsey proceeded to ask me “Why are you so annoying?” I was completely shocked, no one had ever talked to me like that before.
Before I could even think about what I was going to say next Kelsey just walked away, leaving me standing there with my mouth wide open in complete disbelief. I didn’t know what to do or how to react, so I just sat back down in my chair and tried to act like nothing happened. But the damage was already done, Kelsey had succeeded in getting under my skin.
That was the moment when I realized that Kelsey was never going to like me no matter how hard I tried, and that I needed to just let it go. So that’s what I did, I stopped trying to be friends with her and just pretended she didn’t exist. It sounds mean but it was the only way I could protect myself from getting hurt.
Looking back on that experience now I’m glad Kelsey happened, she taught me an important lesson about not letting other people get to me. No one is worth my time and energy if they don’t want to be friends with me, and Kelsey definitely wasn’t worth either of those things.