Sometimes a person can change your life without even knowing how much they have impacted you. I want to talk about one such person who kept me calm as I was rushed to the emergency room with my arm bleeding and my body and dress splattered with red.
When my friends called 911 after I tried to commit suicide, there was one EMT responder, a woman, who I will be forever be grateful towards. She doesn’t know the effect her words had on me, but I wish I could tell her. As I was being transported to the hospital, I told her what had happened to me and about my flashbacks. She asked me, “What is something that you love to do?” I thought about my answer and told her that I really missed my horse. I missed riding, but I couldn’t face that. She told me about her horses. She told me that it was good I was getting help and the next time I went home, I should see my horse and eventually find a place where I can ride again. She told me to do something that makes me happy and to not allow this guy, this monster, take control over my life. I haven’t ridden my horse since I left for my summer program. I never rode him before we gave him to a friend after selling our farm, but I visited him. I talked to him, I told him I was sorry for not seeing him, I told him what happened. And of course, he responded. Seeing him helped tremendously; it helped me face my past.
That was something that broke inside me after the assault; I was unable to enjoy the things I used to love. I couldn’t go back to my old life; it was too painful to be reminded of a time when I wasn’t overwhelmed with memories of a violation of my trust, my body and my life. The monster might be gone physically, but he still lurked in my mind. I couldn’t even see my friends from high school because it was hard to pretend that I was okay. I did it and was somewhat successful, but I wasn’t myself. I went through excessive lengths trying to change myself. The first thing was my major. I was convinced that I should change it and fluctuated between several different options. My true personality wasn’t revealed around most people. I tried to change and change and change, but nothing stuck. I was essentially a stranger living my life, trying to outrun her monster. I still feel like that sometimes. It still affects me and I hate it. I still hate being affected after three years, but I’ve realized that it’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay as long as you have a healthy outlet, as long as you have a shoulder to lean on, as long as you don’t let the pain consume you and your good days outmatch the bad.
After my brain injury, I met up with old friends for a holiday get-together. I am so thankful that I did. You never realize how much you miss someone or something until you’ve been out of touch for a long time. I’m glad that I reestablished that link from my past and have those friends in my life again. My next milestone is to ride my horse again. I will do it. I will be able to get back on my horse: it will just take me a little time. Approaching too much at once feels crippling. So waiting is okay, at least for a stretch of time that I can deal with. This EMT responder helped me more than she will ever know. Here’s to the individuals who touch your lives and inspire you to take the next step to heal.
Mary is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. On campus she is involved with the Every1 Campaign and is in a sorority. She loves reading, watching The Office and Friends and geeking out about Disney and The Lord of the Rings. Olaf the snowman is her spirit animal. Mary’s Musings appears on alternate Thursdays this semester. You can reach Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.