My Journey Through The Darkness.

My Journey Through The Darkness.

The struggle is real.
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Alright, first off, I have never watched this popular Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why.” I will never watch this series. It's not because of the out-lash that has come out because of the series, and nor do I want to weigh in on that issue. I have been against this series way before it became popular. From what I understand, it is a series about suicide and the reasons that brought a particular girl to go through with this action. I have told people lies as to why I will never watch this series, but now it’s time to make a full confession. I cannot relive that again. This is my thirteen reasons to why I did not. Yes, I wanted to kill myself for a really really long time. I thought that taking myself out was in the best interest of everyone. That I brought nothing of worth to this world. I felt lower than dirt and pond scum. So I cannot watch this program because I do not want those feelings back. There was a life of pain I shrugged off and built walls against until it all hit me…

1. I did not do it because my mom would have killed me. Seriously, I am really worried that when she sees this article she will still kill me because I know she reads my Odyssey page (Hi Mom!). But she does not like this kind of talk. Even if it is an article on how I did not kill myself, she still might get upset. Let me say that I am fine, Mom, okay? I’m fine.

2. I am a squeamish individual. I simply cannot deal with blood (especially mine).

3. I was watching MASH on Netflix at the time I was in the Darkness* and I wanted to finish the show.

*The Darkness is the name I gave the place where my suicidal thoughts live. I thought that if I named it I could conquer it, and I did.

4. I am a role model. My family does not believe in pets; we just get younger siblings. So I have four younger people looking up to me. If I gave into the Darkness than what should stop them from doing the same? I must set a good example for them. I am not supposed to be perfect, but I want to show them that the Darkness is not stronger than you. The Darkness can bend me but it will never break me.

5. My family. (Oh, now he is going to get cheesy). Nope not really, There are people in my family that if I did kill myself they would not even notice. But then again there is the family I actually like. Last Christmas I was passingly asked one of the greatest honors of my life. My cousins asked me if I would be the adoptive Godfather of my little dude, Brayden. I have never been brought to tears faster than that moment. If I am good enough to be the Godfather to this kid and his mom trusts me to step into that role… I’m doing something right.

6. Brew Crew. Only it was not called Brew Crew at the time. Campus Ministry’s Men’s Group at Alvernia University. It is a support system that I could reach out to and tell my problems, and I was heard and not judged. These guys are my rock. Please, World, I have a message for you: Life is hard, so find your Brew Crew. Get a group of friends that you can unload your feelings with. It is necessary for survival.

7. A Snoodle’s Tale. This is an episode of the video series VeggieTales. It is the story of a Snoodle that is down on his luck and he finds the man at the top of the mountain and he finds the power to continue. It is similar to the message found in a book I have been carrying with me since I was about eight called, “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. It was given to me by my Aunt Jeanie who baked me cookies and mailed them to me at the tail-end of my time in the Darkness. You came in clutch, Aunt Jeanie! And I will be forever grateful. VeggieTales ends every broadcast with, “God made you special. And he loves you very much," an important message I never absorbed as a child.

8. Which leads to my next one, God. He would not be happy with me if I killed myself. I stood in front of a group of my peers and told them, “The greatest love story of all time,” the crucifixion. Think about it. He was fully human and could have said no to the will of His Father but chose to because of you (yes you). He loved you so much he took up his cross and died with you in mind.

9. My mom would have killed me if I killed myself.

10. At college, for the first time in my life, I had friends that actually cared about me. I have met people who were and are my Simons and Veronicas.** These people helped me in ways that they probably never knew. To someone who entered into the Darkness as well. I helped them out of the Darkness (While I saw still and resident in the Darkness). Caring for them got me to realize that I had something to live for too. Other person would not let me blow them off. Not matter how uninterested I seemed; they were right by my side. All the crawling, kicking and screaming could get them to go away. This person is still by my side today, stuck like glue it’s like married or something. But this one person has talked me off more ledges than they will ever know. I am eternally grateful. Who are your Simons and Veronicas?

** Think of the crucifixion story.

11. Quotes and songs. I love quotes and being an aspiring writer it’s a good thing to love. Through my time in the Darkness, I would find a good quote that made me whisper, “One more day.” One more day kept happening and then one day I was out of the Darkness. On the other hand, I also love lyrics. I found strength to continue in songs. “You Are More” By Tenth Avenue North is a good place to start. One from my favorite band Thousand Foot Krutch (TFK) and their song “In My Room” shows the lengths of God’s love. It also gives a lesson in prayer. But after my time in the Darkness there song, “Honest” tells my journey perfectly.

12. Honestly, is this kid done? Hey, listen, this sounded like a good idea but thirteen is a larger number than I thought. But “Honest” is a very special song to my heart. because of this thing called Search. On my Search Retreat my first semester freshman year I learned the lesson of love (Agape!). Search III opened my eyes. I also had the honor to be a part of the team for Search V (We Will Thrive!). But without Search, there would be no Eric Moran. It literally changed my life. I am crying while typing this sentence. Search is one of the best things to ever happen to me. This is why (if you are friends with me you know) I talk about Search all the time. In the Darkness Search was the first light I saw to find the way out. I love you guys! With all my heart. I owe my life to Search.

I will never give into the Darkness. I will never win in my life. This is why I have not watched this program. I took my pain and turned it into my passion for writing. This is why my style is a little dark in the fiction department. But life is the greatest gift God was ever given us. Please do not waste yours! Reach out and find those who care for you (they are there). And I am one of them. My passion for writing was born out of my pain. I was unable to deal with my emotions and a turned them into poetry and short stories (and an Odyssey page). Writing came from my pain and it entertains tens of people on my Odyssey page. If you ever feel this pain list thirteen reasons why not and take another look at life. Remember, God made you special and he loves you never much. In my writing, I have told my story. We all have stories and, “A closed book is never read.” Open yourself and tell your story. Be vulnerable and allow yourself to heal. Now in the current day, I do talk about suicide a lot. Mostly in the jokingly sense. I made suicide a punchline, something to be mock and laughed at. By making it a punchline I took away its power over me. Suicide is now only a joke to me. And it is never a good idea.

13. Did I mention that my mom would kill me if she heard me talk like this?

Cover Image Credit: Kerry Johnson

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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My Story As A Recovering Self-Harmer

Content warning: Self-harm.

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Since high school, I have physically and knowing self-harmed as a way to distract myself. It has been almost 7 years and right now I have only been a few months clean. In the past 7 years, I have relapsed more than a couple of times. I have gone months at a time and found myself at a breaking point.

I know it's nobody's business and it might be oversharing but this is meant for primary readers. For those who are going through recovery or just began today. If secondary or tertiary readers stumble upon this then I hope it helps you understand from the other side.

I am still recovering. The thing about addiction is that you can never fully be "cured." You can be clean for years and still relapse. The key is to decide to try again.

I call it an addiction because it was. I grabbed the razor before I could even understand why I was numb. I did it multiple times a day and sometimes I didn't need an actual reason.

It was a sort of ripple effect. I couldn't stop the ripples into turning into the next one and instead, I just watched as they spread. One second I was OK and the next I locked the door.

Some people smoke and some people drink. I hate the smell of smoke and can't stand the taste of alcohol but I often wish I could use those as a distraction for my distraction. I do many things now to distract myself from getting too close to another relapse. I let out a scream to alarm my family or I start running. The first few seconds of the attempt are the hardest. It's an internal pain that makes you itch inside out.

After a few minutes have passed I can usually begin to calm myself. I sit down and remind myself that everything is OK. It isn't always easy so calling a friend is always an option.

Sometimes I end up crying in order to release all the built-up emotions. When minutes have passed and I am still filled with tears I force myself to grab something to eat. I have realized that I can't cry and eat at the same time. I grab anything. Sometimes my siblings make me something instead.

I am seeking professional help for those who are wondering. I am almost half a year clean and I have two caring and supportive friends and a family who does their best to understand and support me.

Recovery is not easy when it comes to mental illness because the results aren't always visible like a broken bone. Any amount of self felt recovery is amazing. It's a step towards a better you. Talking to people and seeking professional help are all steps.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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