I’m sure you have all heard the phrase life works in mysterious ways. I really do believe this saying with all my heart. However, in the case that I am about to speak of, I think this is a matter of fate rather than mystery. For this blog post to be written appropriately and properly, I must force myself to think back to when I was 17 years old. I will admit quite openly that my later teenage years are years that I look back on with disdain and hurt. It is already hard enough to be a hormonal teenager in the first place, with these raging thoughts just floating freely around in your head. This is a time when you are trying to figure out who you are and what it is you want to do with this huge hurdle in front of you called life.
Unfortunately, when I was 17, I had an even bigger monster that was suffocating me. That monster was called depression. You know the thing that leaves you broken and down in the dumps? A lot of times depression will come along to us sufferers with no reason. When I was a teen, though, I knew deep down why I was so broken apart, so sad, and so lonely. Essentially, all of it boils down to be being in a wheelchair. I never imagined that life as a disabled person would be as difficult as it was in high school. It is extremely hard and disheartening when everyone around you is going on dates and having the time of their lives communicating with the popular boys and the football players. I was an average looking girl in a wheelchair. No able-bodied person in the prime of their adolescence is going to want to date a girl who requires extra help to function! I wasn’t kidding myself either. It was the truth. As you can imagine, this made me feel like an unwanted piece of garbage.
I would cry myself to sleep thinking that I would always be alone and never experience love because I had to use wheels to get around instead of legs. This wasn’t my fault, and at my core, I knew that, but it did not make my feelings of loneliness any better. I hated myself because I thought I wasn’t and would never be good enough for anyone. I literally wanted to jump out of my chair and just run for miles, aimlessly, not even caring where I was going to end up. If it took me out of and away from what was making me so unhappy.
It got to the point to where I would cry myself to sleep and I began thinking I did want to live anymore. Of course, these thoughts had me feeling guilty. Guilty because I knew and had heard all my life that God gave me the life of a disabled individual because he knew that I was graceful enough to handle it. I had the super human powers it took to overcome all the hurdles that he lay before me. Even though I knew that I was indeed specially equipped to handle all these extremely difficult situations, that still wasn’t enough to lure the depressive devil away from my mind.
I was a super strong person, yes, and at this point I should probably have had a cape, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take this pain. I could withstand a lot of shit, but this load was super heavy and was bearing down on my mind like the world’s worst hurricane. I would just lie awake at night and wonder when this would come to an end. I needed someone to save me from this before I was at the edge.
Enter in October 20, 2001. This was the night that my life would change for the absolute best! Unknown to me at the time of course. Just like people always say life works in mysterious ways, so does God. I feel that He always brings you whom and what you may need at the exact right time. October 20 was not just an ordinary night. It was the night of the junior homecoming dance! I wasn’t going to go at first because I hated the school, and of course, I didn’t have a boyfriend to go with. I thought, what’s the point? However, my friend Samantha called me that night extremely bored and suggested that we go. I, too, was bored and had nothing better to do so I agreed to go.
Boy, am I ever so glad I went now. I decided that I was going to wear one of my sister’s dresses from middle school. (I was always rather small for my age), and I wasn’t planning on going so it is not like I had been to the mall and planning what I was going to wear like much of the school. Turns out the dress fit and looked rather nice on so I just went with that. It was blue, my favorite color, and had sparkles on it. Let’s be real. what teenage girl does NOT like sparkles? I did not have anybody to impress, but I still wanted to look nice.
To be honest, this night was the first night in a handful of years that I thought of myself as being somewhat attractive. In fact, for months, I couldn’t even look in the mirror without feeling a sense of disgust at not only my looks, but my feelings. So, I guess you could say this night was already off to a better start. Tonight, was the night for a thought makeover!
Once we arrived at the dance, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye staring at me. He was beautiful, he could not possibly be staring at little old me! When he asked me to dance with him, that just showed me how wrong I was! I was so shy and broken at the time so I assume I just was kind of staring at him, in awe that someone for once did not care about the fact that I was not able to walk and move like all the rest! I was amazed and so bummed at the same time because I did not ask for contact details. I did not think I would ever see him again, and I was so angry that I did not think to ask for his phone number or something. For the first night in forever, I was finally accepted and seen for who I really was on the inside! What a great and overwhelming feeling that was!
Little did I know, I’d see Eric again within a matter of weeks and he would absolutely turn out to be my best friend in the world! A couple of months shy of the dance, I was at the mall when I noticed someone waving at me and shouting my name! It was Eric! He worked at the local mall! This time around, I was smart enough and not so shy and decided to get his contact details! He gave me his AOL instant messenger screen name, and this is where our friendship truly took off! He spent the next few months, for hours at a time getting to know each other and what we were all about. I liked this guy. He was very funny and caring. He kind of reminded me of myself on a good day. Turns out, the more we got to know each other, the more open and honest I became. This guy made me comfortable and not afraid to be myself! This was HUGE! I even got gutsy enough to ask him to be my date for both my junior and senior proms. He and I did not go to the same high school so all these incidences happened because they were supposed to. On both of my prom nights, I had the time of my life. Not only did I feel better about myself, but I was starting to really understand what true love and acceptance were all about. Thanks to this one person who did not care one lick about me being in a wheelchair. His acceptance has and still does to this day, 16 years later, taught me that I am so much more than my disability. He taught me everything there is to know about what it means to be truly confident and to love so hard that flaws are not even part of the picture.
Today, in 2017, he is my best friend, my angel, my hero. I will see him as the person who single handedly changed my life around for the better forever. I make sure I remind him each day how much I love him and how much he is appreciated! To be frank, he does not think that the things he does and has done for me as a big deal. He sees it as being a friend, but to me, who has been in the most opaque pits of darkness, I see it as the biggest deal on Earth! I honestly do not know if I will ever find someone as great as Eric. He is irreplaceable to me, and I am beyond blessed to have someone like him as my best friend.
If you are feeling slighted or having a hard time because of depression or your disability, please remember that we all struggle. Struggle is universal among us as human beings, and I promise you, to someone out there, you mean the world, and the world needs you!