When I was younger (that sentence was weird to type. I’m 28, I’m still young right? Right?) I had a few secrets.
I wasn’t allowed to date, so if I liked a boy, it was always a secret. I got so used to this habit of mine, keeping sacred and special things close to my heart, heavily guarded and never uttered to anyone. I always kept journals, from a very young age. I liked having my secret ideas and all my secret dreams and thoughts.
But I had a very visceral fear that kept these secrets hidden.
I’m not sure what I feared at the time. Maybe that my family would stop loving me if I wasn’t the Kristine they thought I was or wanted me to be. I think I know this isn’t true now. My family is full of wonderful people that I know love me very much.
(If you’re reading this, I know you love me. This is all just a part of me healing. Please don’t be mad and I’m sorry if it hurts you. It hurts me too, and that’s why we have to face it, and why we have to be better.)
So me and all my secrets grew up from a wide eyed child filled with wonder into an angsty teen that only wanted to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch. And that was me for awhile.
Then the secrets became dark.
I’d like to preface this part of the story by saying that I’ve only shared this part of my life with my husband, crying in bed six months into our relationship. But, it’s important to me that you know it, because I have to know it and accept it as my truth.
My sophomore year of high school was the first time I could really identify with the term depression. I struggled with a sincere desire to be happy, and a very real inability to actually do so. I suppose I was 14 or 15 at the time. To note, I don’t remember much of high school. It was a very difficult time for me emotionally, and I’m going to assume my brain erased a lot of it, y’know, to keep me functioning and what not.
The sadness became another one of my secrets.
Depression would become this hidden thing, that I would hold close to my heart, guarded and hidden from everyone I loved, so that they still loved me and that I could live - because I couldn’t live if I wasn’t loved.
The funny thing about secrets is that when you hold them too close, they start to eat you alive. In a very real sense, you lose yourself. On one hand, there’s the you (me) that was happy, talented, popular - and on the other hand, there was the me that would cry myself to sleep every night with no real reason why. 28 year old me knows now that the “real” reason was depression.
Eventually, around the age of 17, I began cutting myself and practicing other forms of self-harm. Yea, that’s a pretty ugly thing to write. But it’s an even uglier story to tell and accept. It’s all pretty ugly. I apologize if that makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable too. And it made me uncomfortable to live it, and still live it, and try to make sense of it all. So I guess we can all be uncomfortable together.
A few events coalesced at this very turbulent point in my life. For one, my husband - then friend - sat next to me in Psychology, and our friendship grew into something bigger than the two of us. (We didn’t date in high school. I’d like to submit that for the record, but also to highlight how oblivious the two of us were to our impending all-encompassing, borderline obsessive and very co-dependent love. Y’know, you live, you learn.)
It was also around this time that I first contemplated suicide. Why? I suppose because no matter how hard I tried to ignore all the dark and ugly things, I just couldn’t find the light. In that sense, I mean that the depression was now the secret that was eating me alive; the ugly parasite that ate away at all the beauty and was destroying us both. I couldn’t even imagine happiness if I wanted to. I had not felt true happiness in a very long time.
That’s the thing about 17 year olds. They think they know everything. And I sure did think I knew it all.
I want to stop this story here, because I haven’t quite decided the best way to tell it.
That’s the thing about me and writing. Neither of us know where the hell we’re going with anything, but we’re charging head first into the dark trying to make sense of it all.
Thanks for joining me on the ride.