It Gets Better

by on August 17, 2022 :: 0 comments

photo "Empty Bars, Full World" by Tyler Malone

It’s May, 2012. I’m nineteen, barely. I’m graduating high school with zero prospects. My life is over.

You see, I’m working at McDonald’s. I have coworkers in their sixties who have been working at this same corner restaurant in a dead end town for longer than I’ve been alive. You see, I had dreams of getting a scholarship to art school and running away to New York City to be “discovered.” You see, all my friends are leaving me, moving away to great big important universities in cities people have actually heard of. You see, I spent the last four years busting my ass trying to prove myself to my high-school theatre director with only one pity role to show for it. 

I stopped writing. I stopped feeling. Color drained from the world as my ambition ran dry and my hopes died. My life becomes as dingy and disappointing as the halls of the community college that I am damned to. Doomsday approaches, and it can’t come fast enough.

And then he enters the scene. 

Being next to him is like waking up from an awful nightmare. Brushing his hand is like taking a sharp breath after nearly drowning. Looking into his eyes is like feeling my heart beat after being pronounced dead.

He marries someone else on December 21st, 2012. 

Then, it’s March of 2016. I have become my mother’s worst nightmare. I have become a homewrecker, a whore. I destroyed a marriage with my bare hands, tearing it to pieces brick by brick. I emerge victorious with bloody fingers…and him. 

We live in an apartment we cannot afford. I am working four jobs and selling plasma on the side. My physical health is deteriorating, but not as quickly as my mental state. This is the struggle I wanted, but we are not in New York. We are in Augusta, Georgia, and I feel again like I am dying.

My boss at the bank pulls me into a meeting and tells me I am not what she signed up for. She thought I was something special. She never would have taken a chance on this Starbucks coffee girl if…

My world grinds to a halt. For all my hard work, I am reduced to this. I am not a writer. I am not something special. I am a coffee girl, as dull and disappointing as the city I have crash-landed in and am desperately trying to crawl my way out of. 

That month I nearly die in a car accident. And I lose my jobs. And I lose my mind. And my life is over. I am twenty-three.

It’s June of 2021. I sit alone in a hospital bed, twenty-three weeks pregnant with twins who are not supposed to survive. I am depressed. I am in shock. 

I’m wondering what my life means after my children are dead. If there’s a point to surviving this pregnancy if they don’t. I am twenty-eight, and I feel like I haven’t  written anything of worth in my entire career. I have a major project stuck in pandemic limbo and I am convinced that nothing will ever go right in my life again.

The nurses come in to check my vitals and I smile an empty smile as I am pumped with someone else’s blood. My situation is as dreary and disappointing as the hospital room I am confined to.

Three weeks later I go into labor. My twins are born at twenty-seven weeks, three days. 

The following days are a blur. The most painful days of my life: physically, emotionally, spiritually. 

But here’s the plot twist I couldn’t have written. Both babies survive. I survive. Not only that, but finally…finally…that feeling I’ve been chasing settles in. Satisfaction. Security. That sense of purpose, of meaning, that I keep losing over the years, it finally feels permanent.

I’ll stop and start writing again over the next year. I’ll dip in and out of the darkness of my depression. But I stop running. That impending doom isn’t hanging over my head. It isn’t easy. It isn’t without stress. There is no neat little bow to tie up the story with. 

Because life isn’t over yet.

editors note:

Up hill, up hill! Go, go, go! There’s a top sometime, just keep your eyes open and open wide. ~ Tyler Malone

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