Last year, after my grandfather told Victor, my best friend of 15 years ago, that I had died, and after my friend had grieved for me for two weeks, we got back in touch. Since then, we’ve remained in good contact.
We’re both going through difficult times right now, and have both wanted to just be done with life. He gave me an amazing pep talk, though, and overwhelmingly good life advice.
He was trying to tell me about my own inner strength, but I was basically refusing to listen. I am in a self-defeating rut, with no urge to climb out. He was simultaneously kicking my ass while telling me how wonderful I am, and I needed it.
I’d told him how I was out of happiness, was just miserable all the time. How I couldn’t even wrap my brain around trying to protect my life like everyone else around me did so preciously with their own. How could not being alive be a bad thing? “My god,” he said quietly; “what has happened to you?”
While we were talking, he had a memory flash of when he and I and my boyfriend at the time, Joseph, were all living together. Joseph was a pretty enormous guy, and Victor is (by comparison) small. He and Joseph got into an argument, which escalated. Joseph grabbed Victor by the hair, and Victor instinctively went for Joseph’s throat.
I was raised to be excruciatingly polite, and to eschew physical violence.
But when I saw Joseph attacking Victor, I guess it caused a primal, protective response in me. I leaped onto Joseph’s back, wrapped one arm around his throat, yanked his hair back with the other hand until his neck wrenched backwards, and started screaming “FUCKING LET GO OF HIM!!!” until he did.
“So you see, Erin,” Victor said calmly, “you have strength.”
That’s not an example I would ever think of to illustrate strength. In fact, it took me awhile to even remember what he was talking about; I think I blocked it from my memory. Recalling it, I felt a brief surge of what it was like to be in that moment, feeling nothing but confident that I could make The Bad Thing stop, no matter what it took. In the moment, it wasn’t about physical strength – it was about confidence, lack of fear, complete mental focus. Seeing an outcome and making it happen.
“You haven’t allowed yourself to be strong for a long time,” Victor continued. “You’ve blocked all of that off for some reason. Back then, if you weren’t strong, I would have chewed you up, spit you out and destroyed your psyche – it’s who I was then. But look at us.”
I am reluctant to acknowledge my strengths. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I do have them, and that’s how I pried Joseph off of my friend with every ounce of it. In the moment of crisis, I let myself be strong, but in day to day life… I recede.
Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to trauma nursing – so many moments to shine, to excel, to be strong. I don’t find these in everyday, normal life. There are no opportunities for me to be brilliant. I am dull. There are no serious challenges outside of the academic ones, which (in truth) aren’t that tremendous. I have no way to shine, to demonstrate to myself that I am of worth.
I simply ooze along, feeling defeated, worthless, made of fail.
While Victor and I were talking, I felt radiant – but it’s wearing off as the moments tick by.
I wish I could keep him in my pocket.
April 12th, 2008
I realized today that the previous entry is not one to just leave hanging and not post again for several months.
Thanks to everyone who commented, called, chatted, texted or emailed to make sure all is indeed well in my world – as everything does, this will pass. I just have to actively haul my own ass out of it this time.
I did get some good news today; I’ve won a $1500 scholarship for academic excellence to help pay for next year’s schooling – yay. I’m busting reasonable ass to maintain my 4.0, and I don’t see that being a problem unless something goes unexpectedly and hideously awry.
Something about the responses to the last post, though – two of the anecdotes I received were about physical strength; prying Joseph off of Victor and lifting the garage off of Wes, had very little to do with the sort of inner strength I need to recapture; but, strangely… they both made me feel better, anyhow.
Kevin: that’s a true story, right?
me: what, sorry?
Kevin: wes’s garage fell on him
me: oh, the lj post
Kevin: and you lifted it off?
where did you hear that?
Kevin: from wes
me: god, when did he tell you that?
Kevin: as he told it, you kept him from being crushed
me: and yeah, it’s true
Kevin: 2 days after it happened
Kevin: there was a pile of garage
and a bruised, sheepish wes
me: i’d forgotten about that
Kevin: one does not see a lot of sheepish wes
so I was naturally curious
me: LOL LOL
that was the big garage demolition project. fun stuff.
Ok. I hear NavyFIELD calling me, because my brain is fried after shoving too much nervous system anatomy into it – oh, the irony…