There’s always a strange loss of innocence that comes when people realize that good doesn’t always win, the hero doesn’t always get the girl, and that hell, the hero doesn’t always live to hear about the end of their own tale. I know I felt betrayed the first time I went through a story like that. Why did it have to end that way?
Well, past me… I don’t have an answer for you, except that I still feel the way you did. And I’m sorry it has to be this way. Sometimes the reason for an end point comes later, or sometimes it’s senseless and means nothing. And yet, we keep asking “why”, looking for the reasons behind tragedy, hoping for what at times seems like divine intervention in hardship. Some find it, some don’t. Some spend their lives seeking closure with things that happened to them and find nothing, others make something of the ashes they rose from. It doesn’t always mean something, and the end is not always the end.
When I was eighteen, I was dealt two crushing blows. The first one, my first real breakup, gave me wrath and spite and a resentment so bright it probably could’ve been seen from space. I stopped trusting in and having faith in true love, and at the same time I ran towards anything I thought would fill the gaping hole that I didn’t know how to deal with at the time. I thought it would kill me if he left, but when he did leave, I lived. I became bitter. I did what I had to to get me through the day.
Then my dad died.
He died nearly three years ago, in February of 2016. I was okay that night. I didn’t cry at all then. Instead, I had a supernatural sort of strength that allowed me to help others instead of seeking help for myself. It was all okay until I got back to college. There, I fell apart. If anything, the hole left by the breakup was only child’s play.
I thought at several points that my life was over, that there was no point in carrying on. I started to detach from my identity and began identifying as male. I shaved my head and took on a new name. In many ways, I was hiding.
My friends and professors saved my life on many occasions. They brought me treats, they kept me company. My dear friend organized a school-wide campaign for people to write me letters. They all came in a big box the night I got back to school. A caring professor told me to not break myself. It was a wonderful and terrible, heartbreaking year.
I arrived at my new apartment in Rexburg, Idaho on 2 January 2017 with enough emotional baggage to fill the entire complex. I was angry. I was sad. My fifth album, Primrose Path, captures my feelings at the time perfectly. I took my anger out on God and the culture at that college in song. And I made friends who taught me how to trust again. One of them drilled it into my head over and over again when I got scared that not everyone leaves. My best friend of seven years (at the time), who has been by my side through hell and back, said,
“I’m in this for the long haul, beeyotch.”
Over time, I believed them. And I was so much better for that. They showed me that life is worth living even after it had made me so angry and hurt me so badly.
Around this time, I began to question who – and what – I was. It became increasingly clear as the months passed that I didn’t fit the college’s mold. I was not a perfect Mormon girl. I had one foot out of the door at that point, and questioning my identity again was another little push out. And as you know, when I question my identity, I question the questioning thoughts, wonder if I’m insane at least twice, and beat the feelings I have until they are thin enough to see through. This fueled my anger, and I didn’t quit. I was confused as hell, but I didn’t quit. In my mind, I had to get to the bottom of this.
I eventually did for a bit once I was back on the right meds. But this drive to figure out who and what I am kept me confused, sometimes sad, but always looking for some kind of breakthrough. Looking back, there are many places where I could have said “screw it, I’m done” and given into my dark thoughts. I have to feel comfortable in my own skin or else I won’t reach the goals I will set.
In a nutshell, I like looking at what happened after the story “should’ve ended” and seeing how these events that follow the expected “ending” pan out. I saw a sign in a friend’s house that says “a true love story never ends”. I think about that sign a lot and how it can apply to many things – self-love, friendship, God’s love, romantic love. I’m writing my love stories now. I’m trying to find out what I need to feel at home in my own skin, what I can do to better express love to my husband, and how I can be a good friend and example of my faith.
I suck sometimes at tying my stories up into attractive happy ending bows. But this one is ongoing, I suppose. So all I shall say is, to be continued.
Have the best of days.