First Love, First Heartbreak

When I was a little girl, I spent hours in my room, boney elbows and knobby knees sprawled out all over my pink shag carpet, my eyes that knew no hurt or heartbreak engrossed in stories of true love and happily-ever-after’s. I think that I was waiting and dreaming on my own perfect ending and prince charming, whether I realized it or not. Little girls are programmed that way—to seek out sunshine and joy and pretty pink hair bows everywhere they go. If only that bliss could be eternal.

There is no instruction manual for growing up, which often leads to confusion and sorrow. Although I’d love to be able to carelessly laugh and announce I was left out of the struggles of life, I can’t; no one can, really. The 16th year of my life posed a great difficulty for me. It seemed as if bullet after bullet was being shot my way, and life was doing everything in its power to overcome me and steal my happiness.

I could begin like any other naïve and heartbroken teenage girl likely could: I met a boy. Messy hair and blue green eyes, mixed in with charm, intelligence and a contagious laugh that always made me melt: a recipe for disaster. Of course, things began beautifully. My days were consumed with nonstop communication. They were filled with ‘I love you’ ‘s and ‘you’re beautiful’ ‘s. Overflowing with compliments and promises and words that felt so real but meant so little in the end. My nights were even more intoxicating; his sleepy voice whispering so delicately his care; milkshakes with only one straw for a couple that would seemingly never end. Drunk on the idea that this boy could save me from anything and everything, and that his love would never stop. But real life doesn’t always work out that way.

I could feel myself giving way, becoming less of who I was and more of what he wanted me to be. I had once loved to go to the football games on Friday nights, sulking around for days if I missed a single one. But the boy came and isolation hit. I was being controlled and influenced in a way I didn’t know and couldn’t have possibly understood. My judgment was quickly becoming clouded, falling victim to how dearly I loved a boy who couldn’t have cared less. I was manipulated and lied to and then left out to dry without a second thought from someone I had given everything to. Never have I felt as hopeless and lost as I did the day that he pulled the plug on my assumed forever with him, and grabbed the hand of a girl who he loved more. The ideals I had formed about love ever since I was a little girl had been shattered in the matter of a few shorts words uttered from my first love’s mouth.

If there is a self-help book or article out there about ‘having faith’, or ‘overcoming depression’, or ‘trusting love again’, odds are I have scooped it up from the store shelf and devoured it in an attempt for answers and peace. It took a lot of reading for me to discover that no book is ever going to change something as damaging as that. It takes far much more than words to repair what words have ruined. You learn to utilize absolutely everything when you are that desperate. My mother, whom I had always been distant from, became my official tissue. When the tears started to flow (and often they did), you could catch me at her bedside, crying because love can hurt so badly. Friends offered a steady stream of support, as well as constant threats to head over to his house and kill him for making their friend so sad. Faith in my God provided hope when all else seemed to fail; a sturdy rod in a wild storm that seemed as if it would never stop. Hope, ultimately, is what pulled me through. The slightest chance of newfound happiness and appreciation for the world always beckoned to me. In even the darkest times, the possibility to feel valued and worthy again allowed me to keep sailing through the most rugged of waves.

I so desperately wish that I could report that being heartbroken changed me for the worse. I wish my image of this boy whom I had loved so fearlessly and genuinely brought back hatred into my memories. My heart yearns to hate him and to hate all the hardship he imposed upon my soul. I feel as if he almost deserves that; to be remembered for something bad rather than something that taught me a lesson. However, that boy left me with something I will treasure forever. From him I took away renewed self-worth; I was presented with overflowing support from people I still today love very much; it gave me a strengthened relationship with my mom; I learned how to love, and how to be loved. I now know what not to put up with, and I know how to stand up for myself. I was granted so many things from having loved and lost, that I couldn’t have possibly acquired if I hadn’t.

There are some days that I still miss him. The mention of his name or the slightest view of our old pictures still makes my heart skip a beat. But that’s okay. It’s okay because love is so rewarding, whether it is successful or not. And one day when I have a daughter of my own I will tell tales of princesses and castles and only hope and pray that she will be overwhelmed with as much love and happiness and blessings in her life as I have.
By: Amelia Faith Pratt 

Age 17

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When the Bottle Wins

Stability is choked of its chance of survival when a capable and loved person settles in the mindset that the only way to control their life is to escape it. Happiness floats away when the mind accepts the opposite, and families fall apart when the bottle becomes more important.
       My mother likely never thought she would spend each night with heavy eyelids and a bruised spirit, intoxicated by a substance that narrowly held her down, while simultaneously pushed her further away. My image of my mother throughout my childhood consists of tears streaming down her gaunt, emotionless face and her thin fingers tightly gripping a bottle, knuckles white with strain, almost as if it was the only thing that could anchor her down from quietly floating away. Life had bashed her ideals and shattered her trust.
       The depths of my mother’s sadness left rifts in my life and scars on the memories we shared. My heart longs for positive experiences that fell victim to a glass of wine and a lonely night. My mother allowed herself to be defined and confined by a life that had been brutally cruel and unfair. Rare it was to see my mother display a sign of optimism or affection; hopelessness flooded every space in her mind that sadness didn’t already occupy. No child should have to endure sleepless nights with her wandering mind asking if her mother will be alive when she pulls the covers off of her the next morning; no child should bear the responsibility of wrapping her mother’s very being in her arms and pleading to God to help hold such a fragile soul together, just a little longer.
       Life can be utterly heartbreaking. It can pick you up by your hair and slam you on the ground and leave you to bleed while other people sit and watch, breathing deeply and contently, as you suffocate in despair. My mother was drowning, and couldn’t be saved.
       When thrown into such an unfortunate situation and forced to deal with its consequences, you learn to utilize everything to maintain your sanity. I devoured books to escape from my reality; I sought consolation with friends, and running became the vessel in which I could release the hatred that had built up inside of me. I poured my remaining attention into school in a desperate attempt to forget the problems that lay just behind the front door of my house. My mother’s disease affected every aspect of who I was, who I am, and who I’ve yet to become.
       In so many stories like mine, a parent’s alcoholism leaves children deeply damaged; Empathy is replaced with resentment, intolerance overcomes understanding, and hate takes the place of love. At times, my mind screamed anger for her and for what she inflicted upon my innocence, but I do not hate her. I love her.
       I am the woman I am today because of my mother, not in spite of her. I was granted a strong mentality and a tremendous appreciation for the art of happiness. I am empathetic and better equipped than my peers to deal with life’s challenges. I possess a sensitivity for heartbreak and struggle without enabling a person’s bad habits or owning their problems as my own.  My ability to understand and listen to people’s distress was heightened when a person on the brink of losing control put their heart into my hands and trusted me enough not to drop it.  Qualities and lessons reserved for maturity and age now belong to me because of my mother’s perseverance through her struggles.
       My mother is brave and beautiful. She is charming. She is intelligent and generous. Her humility is to be admired, and compassion is definable by the gentle sound of her voice. My mother is still controlled by her disease. It beckons her to shore with the promise of peace and then violently thrusts her back into the unforgiving waves.
       Her demons have not been dealt with and her fears have not yet been overcome, leaving me with a realization so clear, and an answer I wish so dearly that she could comprehend:

You will have even less answers at the bottom of the bottle than you did at the top.
By: Amelia Faith Pratt 

Age 17