How I Became A Better Person: An Interview, Part One
It's no secret that most people hate something about themselves - their weight, the way their voice sounds, how tall they are, their lack of confidence. Not always stemming from low self esteem, hating something about ourselves seems to be the human condition. We just seem to be programmed to not be perfectly happy with who we are. But what if it wasn't just one or two things we hated about ourselves? What if our self hatred spanned much further than a few quirks here and there and instead enveloped our entire being? What if there was nothing we liked about ourselves at all?
I have interviewed "Skyler", a young woman about my own age who was on the brink of self destruction. Skyler did eventually destroy herself but not in the way she initially intended. The following article is the result of a long conversation with Skyler and how she became the person she is today - a better person.
Skyler is a very pretty woman. Her naturally auburn hair falls mid arm and has that enviable shine of health. She's got a nice tan and an athletic build. She tells me she runs five miles every day. I laugh and ask her how she has the ambition. Her white teeth flash as she grins. She tells me it makes her happy. She sits across from me in the coffee shop, all smiles. Skyler's brown hazel eyes overflow with joy. I feel energized just being near her at Pablo's.
We've met at this mom and pop coffee spot for a reason that is betrayed when ask I if I can record our conversation. Skyler's bright face suddenly turns serious as she nods. The energy around us becomes darker somehow. I know what she's going to say but I still feel a sense of shock when she finally says the words.
"I put the gun into my mouth and pulled the trigger."
How Did It Come To This?
Skyler looks at me and laughs a little. I swallow and let out a forced laugh myself.
"It's okay," she says. I nod as I ask her to continue. What made her get to the point of putting a gun in her mouth?
"I always hated myself," she begins. Skyler grew up in a modest home. Her parents got divorced when she was about six. The divorce wasn't bitter. Both of her parents tried their best to keep their arguments between them and not drag her and her older brother into them. Her father moved out. She and her brother stayed with their mother. For a few months, Dad didn't visit. He said it was because he needed to get his life together. Then, as the divorce papers were signed, he began taking them every other weekend. And that was how it was for several years. It wasn't the same as before but it wasn't terrible. Both of Skyler's parents loved her very much and showed her as much at every opportunity.
No, her family wasn't the problem in the end. Not even when Evan, her brother, died in Iraq at the age of eighteen in 2005. It broke Skyler's heart. Her parents were devastated. Skyler was proud of her brother for serving his country and protecting her from the evils of the world. She knew he died for a cause. No, family wasn't the problem.
Skyler hit puberty the same year Evan died. She was thirteen. She grew taller, thinner, and awkward. Something else happened. No matter what went on in her life, she just couldn't seem to be happy. She doesn't remember when it started, just that one day she realized she hated her life. She hated herself.
She was too tall. She was too skinny. She couldn't stand the way her hair looked. Makeup couldn't hide her freckles and acne. Everything annoyed her. She hated school and the people she was forced to be in class with all day. Her friends irritated her. They seemed too happy and too obsessed with things that just didn't matter. Her parents were too involved in her life. Movies were stupid. Myspace was boring.
Skyler didn't really know why she felt so annoyed and angry at everything. Soon she wasn't even bothering to pretend to be happy. Something inside of her was just furious with the world. Her grades dropped. She was constantly getting grounded for cutting school and for talking back to her parents. After Evan died, her father stopped letting her spend the weekends over at his house. He said he loved her but couldn't have her making his new wife feel like a horrible person. He visited her on Saturdays instead.
By the time Skyler made it to her sophomore year of high school in 2007, she'd lost her friends from middle school. She gained new friends who partied hard and did nothing to help her well being. They sneaked out of their houses most days and met up to ride around in an older friend's car. They would ride around for hours drinking and smoking. Or they would hang out at their older friend's house to get trashed instead. She dropped out of school. Skyler started having sex. She tried ecstasy a few times and got hooked. She got pregnant in what would have been her junior year but miscarried. She pretended not to care but secretly hated herself for it. For getting pregnant and for losing the baby. She tells me that she thinks it was then that she hit rock bottom. She still partied and still had sex even though she feared getting pregnant again.
It was fall of 2009 that found Skyler sitting on a park bench at one o'clock in the morning with a gun in her mouth. She tells me that one morning she woke up and knew it was the day she was going to die.
I sit quietly looking at the beautiful woman across from me. So many emotions had flickered across her face as she described to me her past. Joy and love talking about her brother, then sadness remembering how soon he was lost to her. The growing hate she somehow felt at the world and the nameless emotion she couldn't really define. I watched her face change as she talked more about her addiction to alcohol and ecstasy. I wanted to embrace her as she spoke about the unborn child she lost at the young age of sixteen. I cringed as she described her further spiral into madness.
By the time she got to the moment she was sitting in the park, I was in anguish. I don't want her to continue but as I look into the face of the twenty five year old woman who was on top of the world just hours ago, but I know I have to let her finish her story.
We take a break to refresh our coffees - Skyler getting a Two Stroke, described as full bodied and complex and I the comforting Breakfast Blend. She asks why I laugh and I tell her that our coffee choices seem to be revealing who we are. She thinks a minute and her radiant smile appears again. She asks me if I'm implying she needs to lose weight. I tell her only if we can agree I'm as nutty as my coffee.
In Part Two, we will delve into Skyler's past again and find out how she went from suicide attempt to loving life and all it has to offer her.
In regards to Pablo's Coffee, yes it's a real place. Denver has two locations. You can find out more about Pablo's Coffee on their website at www.pabloscoffee.com. It's a place I've only visited this once but they have amazing coffee. It was well worth the trip!
Also, please note that names have been changed to protect the innocent.
© 2017 Anne Ryefield