(Started this last week but of course, didn’t finish. Pretend like this was last week, k? 🙂
This week I watched one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to sit through. I cried more this week than I’ve cried in years – on the subway, at work, in bed, in the bathroom… everywhere. I decided to type out this piece on a day that starts on a more positive note so I wouldn’t cry – it’s finally Friday, I got a raise/promotion yesterday, and I’m literally just hoping that my tear production has become so exhausted that I can’t physically cry anymore.
I’ve talked about one of my closest friends Megan a few times in my blog pieces. I reference her in my piece about reading especially, talking about how she was my inspiration to read more and appreciate the vast amount of knowledge we have access to. Megan was my college roommate for 3 years in a row, and she has remained to be one of my best friends since 2009.
There is one thing I say to people when I talk about Megan: “If you have a problem with Megan, there is most likely a problem with you.” I hate to say that there is a “problem” with anyone, but I tend to use this blunt statement specifically to portray how incredibly friendly and likable Megan is. I don’t think I know anyone who has ever got in a fight with, or stated that they disliked Megan – I mean, I just wouldn’t believe it. Megan walks into the room with the brightest smile and most joyful giggle. Physically, she is youthfully adorable yet exquisitely beautiful at the same time. If you only knew her from seeing her outward appearance, you would comment about how lovely her long blonde hair is, or how stunning her smile is, or how admirable her athletic and toned body is. As beautiful as Megan is from the outside, it’s almost incomparable to how insanely gorgeous her heart and soul is.
Megan is that girl that instantly puts a smile on your face when you come into contact with her. It’s rare that she isn’t giggling or smiling or doing some insanely cute gesture. She has to be one of the most likable humans I’ve ever met in my entire life. I talked about the power of likability in another piece here, discussing the difference between being popular and being likable. It’s of course possible to attain both of these statuses, however, being likable is what drives more cases of happiness, success, and triumph (Think of celebrities: Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton both have status, but they do not have overall likability. Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Hanks both have status AND likability). Megan is the epitome of a likable person: easy-going, open-minded, kind, generous, positive, fun, and compassionate. She was there for me during some of the hardest years of my life, and stuck by my side when others disappeared.
There are people in your life who wear their heart on their sleeve, i.e., you can automatically sense when something negative happened in their life. They walk around with a pout on their face, it’s the only thing they talk about, they start behaving in unconventional ways, etc. And then there other people that don’t talk about their problems or express any form of deviant behavior. I’ve been told I’m a little bit of both. Some people tell me that they were shocked when they heard I struggled with anxiety and depression, because they found me to be such an outgoing and fun person to be around. Yet in other cases, there are times when hands down I’m just a mess – I can’t control my feelings or emotions and it’s just plastered across my face for days or weeks. Megan is definitely not someone that wears their heart on their sleeve – and not in a negative way, but in a way that is just so fascinating and unbelievable.
There have been times where Megan was going through personal problems, relationship problems, or even something with her family, but she was never someone to bring up her problems on anyone else. Everyday she continued to walk into the apartment with a smile on her face, asking everyone how their day was, and rarely ever talking about herself or venting about her own problems. I don’t know how she puts on the most poised and unperturbed display, but you would never know Megan is hurting on the inside from her appearance on the outside.
This week was different. It’s not like I’ve never seen Megan cry before, but this was a different type of cry. The countenance she had on when I watched her walk over to the podium and make her statement was something I’ve never seen before from her. In addition, I can’t even coherently address what I was feeling as I watched this video. I felt anxious, even though I knew [to some extent] what words would be spilling out of her mouth. I felt scared, even though I knew that the worst was already over. And I felt guilty, because I couldn’t be there with her as she made her public statement, for millions of people to discover.
Megan was one of the hundreds of victims abused by former US Gymnastics coach Larry Nassar. Even as I type this out, my body feels warmer and my hands feel unsteady. Last week – forget about it. I couldn’t even get through maybe an hour at work without crying and envisioning myself swinging a baseball bat or giant hammer at this guy’s head. And then when I started to wipe away the mascara pouring down my face, I stopped and thought, “This is how I’m feeling right now. I can’t even begin to image how Megan is feeling.” And then, a stream of tears started to trickle down and over my clenched jaw all over again.
When I first opened the link Megan sent me of her making her public statement, I was initially thinking, “Okay, she looks okay, this isn’t going to be that bad.” She was smiling so politely – that perfect Megan smile of hers – dimples and bright white teeth. She looks great – articulate, professional, and poised. She spelled out her name for the Judge, and then she started to recite the most disturbing and heartbreaking encounter I’ve ever had my ears to witness.
It took me a few tries to actually get through this whole video. I was experiencing so many emotions – anger, heartbreak, guilt, sadness, shock, and frustration. I knew details about Megan’s past, but never did I think that something so horrible happened to someone so wholesomely ‘good.’ I wanted to legit murder this man after I heard everything that Megan talked about. I wanted to hold her in my arms. I wanted to tell her everything is going to be okay. I wanted to tell her that the worst is already over. But I couldn’t. And there is just no single word to explain how much that fucking sucks.
I started to write this piece since I was struggling to function the whole week after I listened to that video. I would cry, and then be okay, and then cry again after I saw a new news article pop up on my feed about this disgusting monster. Even though this entire thing is 0% about me, and everything about Megan and the other strong survivors, I needed to write to let go of everything I was experiencing. I know that I should essentially be happy – happy that Megan and these women can finally receive some closure from their haunting past. I know that I should feel proud of all of the women who had the strength and courage to step forward and talk about this traumatizing experience. I know that I should feel relief that Megan has an amazing support system with her during this time. But I rarely felt these emotions. I was being selfish through this experience – I wanted Megan all to myself. I wanted to be the one there for her. I wanted to comfort her, hold her, and cry with her when she needed support. But I couldn’t, and I realized that this was making me cry even more. Because Megan is one of the few people in my life who has never left my side. She was there for me when I found out my ex-boyfriend cheated on me. She was there for me at 3am when I saw that he was engaged on Facebook. She was there for me when I found out my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. She was there for me when I saw nasty emails my mom wrote about me to my doctors. When I was struggling with chronic depression and an eating disorder. Megan never left, and many others have. Others told me I was crazy. Others told me I was a burden. Others flew from my life. Megan always stayed by my side, and I was mad that I couldn’t be there for her when she needed support more than ever.
They say “time heals all wounds.” I agree with this in some aspect. As someone who has had chronic anxiety for 10+ years, and suffers through panic attacks from time to time, there is nothing worse than the few minutes or even hours of that suffrage. The only thing that helps get me through these moments is reciting, “this too shall pass.” I don’t know why, but this phrase just resonates with me. I remember when I was going through a terrible anxiety attack in college, and I had to call out of work to go see my therapist. I was freaking out because I ate too much the night before (you truly don’t understand how frightening this is if you’ve never experienced an eating disorder. When you have a fear or gaining weight/fat, eating too much is literally correlated with “I rather die”). I clearly remember my therapist telling me, “This feeling is temporary. This will pass.” And even though this is something SO incredibly simple, it finally clicked with me. When you have anxiety or even depression, in your darkest moments you sometimes feel like this is how your life is, permanently. I sometimes feel like the dark cloud over my head is just something I’ll have to live with forever. As with any mental illness, everyone experiences it differently, however… there is one commonality that [I believe] most of all of us feel… which is confusion. Many of the times we don’t know why we are feeling a certain way. I wake up on Sundays many times and have this overall feeling of worry that I truly cannot understand. I say to myself, “What am I worried about? Do I have somewhere I need to be? Something I forgot to do?” It’s a constant worry of what could happen or what already happened. It’s terrible and destructive. But now I know that time is all I need… since this feeling doesn’t last forever, and “this [feeling] too shall pass.”
I desperately hope that Megan can see this traumatizing experience approaching an awaited termination. I hope that she realizes time is on her side, and that day by day, the darkest days will become brighter again. I know that my feeling of guilt will fade once I see how much support Megan has with her now. I know that I will see her soon when I have the opportunity to visit again in California. I know this separation is temporary. But I know that in order for time to pass, I need to take action as well. I need to show my support, I need to write, I need to pray, and do whatever I can to help myself for Megan. Because I am my best support for Megan when I’m at my personal best. I need to be OK so I am OK for Megan. I can’t show that I am weak when I need to be strong for her. Even though Megan has already displayed unmeasurable amounts of strength and grit, this sort of experience and trauma is not easy to recover from, no matter how old or healthy you are. But at least I know that each of us being strong on our own will help us be stronger together.