Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It Gets Better ~ Scott Tracey

When Devyn asked me to participate in his "It Gets Better" week, I immediately said yes.  And once it was said, and the commitment was already there, I hesitated.  I second guessed myself.  What could I possibly have to say?  What can I tell you, or tell anyone, that's going to make a difference?

Here's the thing.  

Part of me wants to be like, "Bitch, I don't know your life!" Because really, quoting from Baby Mama seems like a wise decision  at this point.  I feel that at this juncture, the only person who can truly express the angst and turmoil going on in my soul is a very white trash version of Amy Poehler.

So yeah, there's that.

The thing is, when people say "It gets better" or "love is louder" what they mean is "don't lose hope."  Don't dwell on the negative.  Look towards the future. Grab on to something and try to hold on until the scenery changes.  Because it will.  Eventually.  And that adversity you're going through now?  Those are the things that are going to make you stronger, push you to strive harder, and keep you going when things get bad later on.  When I used to be a restaurant manager, they would tell us that it takes ten GREAT visits for a guest to forget that one BAD visit.  And I think life is a lot like that - it's a lot easier to hear, and retain, all the bad stuff that goes on.   It's SO incredibly easy to lose hope.   It's harder to push the bad down, and try and focus on the positive.  Or to hold out for the positive to start.

The first time I wrote a book, it was an experiment.  I wanted to see if I could do it.  And I kept a word count tally right by my computer, and every day I would look at it before I started writing.  I think it's one of the reasons why NaNo appeals to so many people - because after a week, or two, of writing every single day, suddenly things don't look so hard anymore.  You've got 7 (or 14, or 21) days of hard work behind you, and you can SEE THE RESULT.  Every bad situation you make it through, whether it's an episode of depression, trouble at school, at home, or whatever - whatever it is, getting through that one more thing you've survived.  It makes you stronger, more committed; and every positive experience becomes one more thing to make you smile, even years down the road.

So we say things like "It gets better" and hope that you hear us.  Or better yet, that you spread the word, think about the things you can do for someone else.  Reaching out, listening, talking.  The littlest things make a difference.

I don't talk about my own experiences very often.  When I was in high school, I had a friend.  She was my Person - the one person I'd call if I needed to talk, or just needed someone to listen.  If I killed someone, she'd be the person I called to help me hide the body.  And I clung to her through most of high school. She was smart; ridiculously smart.  Ridiculously smart.  A better writer than me, a more impressive student, she was one of those people who was just beloved.  But she was also troubled.  She struggled, in that way that kids who are too smart, or too aware, do.  She felt like she didn't fit in.  And she killed herself, two weeks before Christmas. 

Up until that point, I'd thought about suicide.  Considered it heavily.  Even for a few years afterwards.  But now there was an added pressure - I felt like I wasn't jus t living for me.  I was living for both of us.  And there were all sorts of things she wouldn't get to experience that SOMEONE should experience for her.  And eventually, I made changes, and things got better.  I became independent, got away from all those people who'd made me miserable, and carved myself out a life.

The day before the twelfth anniversary of her death, last December, my uncle killed himself.  At Thanksgiving that year, we had talked about my writing, and out of my extended family, he had always been the most supportive.   He was going through some things, and I had absolutely no idea. 

In both cases, I was completely shattered.  And I don't talk about these things very often, because I think there's a fine line between dwelling on a tragedy, and wallowing in it.  And something like that is just another form of depression - a bog of quicksand that will suck you down into it before you even realize what's happening. 

Both times, I had those moments of "I could have fixed this."  "There was something I could have said."  But really, the only thing we can do in the aftermath is grieve.  Suffer.  Punish ourselves.  Having people around you kill themselves breaks you in ways that might never fully heal.  I think about that sometimes, and then I think about all the things I've been through since then.

Fights, friendships, jobs, pain, decisions, relationships, moves, breakdowns.  Life is a series of hurdles.  An obstacle course that never gets easier, but the longer you hold out the greater the rewards.  Part of my motivation in life is to achieve things in SPITE of the things I've been through.  Because my life might not be the most ideal version I would dream of, but I'm on my way.  And every day I know that it gets better.

Teen to teen peer counseling hotline: 1-877-YOUTHLINE
Hopeline: 1-800-442-HOPE - http://www.hopeline.com/gethelpnow.html

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255


Ellen Hopkins said...

Great post... thanks for opening up so widely, Scott.

Paul Greci said...

Great post, Scott!! So many good reasons to live, even if we can't always see them, and we each only have this one life! Thanks!

Lydia Sharp said...

This post hit me in the chest. It hurt. But I'm glad I read it. I'm glad you put it out there for others to read and experience. Thank you.

Julia G. Darelle said...

Great post! I hope word about this initiative goes around and many people (not just teen, but adults too) read this.

Medeia Sharif said...

This post is powerful. I'm deeply saddened that people take their lives, because if they had waited, things do get better.

Chelsea said...

Thank you.