The Darkest Hour: Eve's Story Part 3
What made me walk through those doors? What was it? Why didn’t I run? I moan and roll over curling up into a ball on the bed in my dorm. Tears are burning in my eyes and I rub them, trying to keep them at bay. As much as I’d like to forget those moments in the clinic, they seemed burned into my mind and I fear I’ll never be able to stop having flashbacks of that day. The memories appear so randomly… so unexpectedly, I think I’m going to go nuts!
Just yesterday, for example, I was at the mall with Joanna. We were waiting in line to get a pretzel when I saw a lady pushing a baby stroller. Instantly I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and I could see the cold look on the doctor’s face again.
“You want cheese on your pretzel?” I snapped out of my reverie thankful to be interrupted by the girl behind the counter. Almost too quickly, I nodded, “Yes please!” My voice was louder than necessary, but at least it covered up the voice in my head – if but for a moment. My attempt was futile, and I was once again in that room hearing those comfortless words, “this is only going to hurt for a little while.”
“Ha!” I stab the pretzel into the cheese, my appetite now gone, “Hurt for a little while? If he only knew!”
Feeling a twinge of panic at the memories piling on top of each other, I walk to the sink, fill my cup with water, and stand staring at myself in the mirror. The day at the mall had been one thing, but here today I was torn between sheer terror of the mental pictures flipping through my mind and the need to relive it – if only to punish myself. The girl in the mirror remembers. She glares back at me, appalled.
Unable to hold back the flood of memories, I collapse on the bed again, and give in to the memories. I am there again. I can hear the hum of office chatter behind the counter where a stiff woman behind the desk seems busy with hushed phone calls, never looking up. Once again I see myself sitting on the edge of vinyl covered chairs in the waiting room. Jim is there beside me and I’m stunned at his ability to calmly flip through the latest Sports Illustrated while we wait.
A part of me wants so badly to take his hand, to put it on my stomach, but the thought of touching him repulses me. This was just a "quick fix" to him, but deep in my soul I knew. I knew better than this!
Laughter catches my attention from a few chairs away. Another young couple, similar to Jim and me, only her boyfriend seemed to care how she felt. He kept whispering in her ear, his arm around her, holding her close. Whatever he was saying was making her laugh.
“How strange,” I think and continue scanning the room. There are two other women waiting as well – both much older than me completely entranced by the soaps on the TV in the corner. I start to sweat and shake a little. What did these women think? That this was an appointment to get their teeth cleaned?
Why didn’t I stand up and scream at them all to run?
“Run…run…run!” And, why didn’t I run? I could have! I could have gotten up and ran out into the street and called for a cab. I could have stood up to those people with the signs. I could have!
Why? Why? Why?
Suddenly I can’t stop sobbing, my pillow is soaked and I wish I hadn’t let myself think about it this far. I really should start studying. But what was the point? My plan was to become a teacher but why should I now? Who would want me to teach their kids? I know I wouldn’t!
Realizing I didn’t have the energy to study, I close my eyes tightly and remember so vividly the tiny bathroom the nurse led me to.
“Take all your clothes off and put this on.” The thin paper robe she hands me is cold to the touch. I’m shaking uncontrollably as I fumble through the instructions. What was I doing here? I had never even had a single gynecological exam in my life. I felt so alone… so… so dirty, but I thought this is what would remove the loneliness and filth I felt.
Still shaking, I reach for the door knob and peered down the hall towards the waiting area. No one was there. A strand of hair fell out of my ponytail and the tears made it stick to my face. Looking the other direction, I froze. There, down the long, cold, narrow hall was a single metal door with a sign above. The words were lit up in red, as if to beckon me - EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY and I hear the still small voice, “Run…come to me!” I stood frozen, wondering how many other girls had stood in this exact spot, pondering the irony of the words hanging there in red.
Then someone comes up beside me, takes my arm and, rather firmly, leads me into the room across the hall.
What a blur those next horrid moments. The few moments that changed my life forever. I can still feel the two nurses, one on each side of me, holding my arms down. They acted like they were there to comfort the doomed on the table, but I found no comfort in their hurried words.
“Just need to remove some tissue,” one said, as they busied themselves with straightening my robe and jotting down notes for the doctor. Neither woman looks at me and I am once again overcome with an awareness of how alone I am. Couldn’t they see it? Didn’t they know? As they stood talking back and forth to one another about their recent vacations, I closed my eyes and sobbed. They seemed oblivious to the dark pit I was falling into. Not only was my child being ripped from me –so was my heart.
I knew I’d never be the same.
How I got to the recovery room, I do not know. I must have passed out from the pain. There hadn’t been enough cash in Jim’s envelope to pay for the anesthesia, but somehow that seemed appropriate to me. I didn’t deserve any relief from the pain.
As I lay there in a softly light room, a scratchy blanket pulled up to my chin, I knew no amount of anesthetics in the world would bring relief for this new-found pain in my heart either. I tried to sit up, but the pain was too much to bear. I cried out for Jim, but he was nowhere to be found.
A soft voice nearby speaks up, “Just take it easy sweetie.” I slowly turn my head and open my eyes for the first time. There in a semi-circle were four other girls lying back on reclining chairs, munching crackers and sipping on Sprite. I’m shocked! How could they eat? How could they be so… so calm? And how… how can they look so at ease?
The girl closest to me casts a sympathetic look my direction, “It won’t hurt very long - probably just a week or so.” I stare at her in disbelief. I have no words to say. She goes on, “This time wasn’t as bad as the first time for me.” She’s calm and relaxed while I wonder how she could do this twice. How could she be so oblivious to the reality of her choice? I can’t help but want to get away from her.
“I want my boyfriend,” my words are little more than a jumbled mess. “Where’s Jim?” I feel panic - he has to get me out of here!
“Oh honey,” the girl’s voice grates on my nerves, “they don’t allow the guys back here.”
“Of course not!” I think to myself, “Why should they have to witness this pain?” I gingerly roll over to my side and close my eyes. The man with the sign outside is all I can see, and I shudder. GOD HATES YOU. GOD HATES YOU. GOD HATES YOU.
Now I believe it!
I hate me too.
Funny how some memories remain crystal clear while others are little more than a hazy blur. I don’t remember getting to the car that muggy afternoon, but I clearly remember wanting, no, needing to hide. The thought of those people – the ones with the signs – seeing me, was more than I could bear.
Even if they were right.
Jim’s face was clouded with uncertainty as he drove towards the highway, “Are you going to be okay?” What a sight I must have been, crying and moaning and screaming out from the floor of the car - curled up in a ball as if he wasn’t even there. “Come on and get something to eat, you’ll feel better Babe.” He sounded so confident as he drove up to a drive thru.
“What’s wrong with you,” I screamed at him. My voice was severe and guttural. “I don’t want to eat! I want to die!”
By the time he dropped me off at home hours later, I was in a stone cold state of shock and self-hatred. Jim opened my car door to help me out. I stopped for a moment and stared at him, “Leave me alone!” My words sounded harsh, but didn’t care as I scuffled past him and into the house.
He stood slump shouldered watching me walk away, “You’ll be ok babe, just give it some time.” How relieved he must have felt. His problem taken care of and now he can go off to college. College, ha! I realized in that moment that I didn’t care about college! No, I didn’t care about anything. I had done the unthinkable, and I’m no good anymore.
The following days were spent trying to hide my wounded soul. I hid the tears, the nightmares, and the heartbreak by putting on the best acting performance I could muster up. I remember lying on my bed in the dark with tears streaming and thinking that I must die!
One bit of advice I remembered the nurse telling me in the recovery room was to refrain from any physical activity for at least six weeks, or I was at risk of hemorrhaging. In my pit of self-hate, that was the best thing I had heard all day! I finally had a glimmer of hope - a way to get rid of the pain, because the next morning was to begin the vigorous conditioning of volleyball camp.
As if on a mission, I ran, and ran, and ran. I ran the massive flight of stairs in the gym before practice. I ran after practice. I ran until I puked. And then I ran some more!
I blocked out “that” voice in my head that kept saying “you are not alone”, instead listening to the sound of my shoes beating out a rhythm on the pavement, “mur-der-er, mur-der-er…”
Was I running to get away from that voice that offered me comfort, or simply to die, I do not know, I only knew I had to keep moving in an effort to get away from my painful thoughts!
The ache I was feeling would not subside, but it wasn’t a physical pain. No, this hurt was much deeper. I can only describe it as an agonizing pain in the very core of my soul, and I knew there was only one way to make this kind of pain go away! Finally one day I thought I might actually achieve my goal of ending it all.
I was standing in line to get a drink after a hard two hour practice when I collapsed to the floor. When I came to, my teammates face was close to my own, her voice full of fear, “Eve, Eve,” she struggled to hold me up against the wall. “Eve, you’re bleeding really bad!” I blinked slowly and let a smile crawl lazily up my face, “Good!” Her look of fear quickly turned to confusion but I wasn’t about to explain.
The weeks went by and I sank into a secret lull of depression. Summer turned into fall and I never succeeded in my attempt at bleeding to death, and soon the nightmares and insomnia were attacking me hard.
Oh, how I fooled everyone! I kept my horrid secret hidden deep inside, but never allowing myself to feel joy – not even in the moment I stood in the spotlight being crowned Homecoming queen!
The sound of girls startled me, and I realized I must have fallen asleep on my bunk. It was starting to get dark outside and I had no idea how long I had been out. I sat up and noticed a note Joanna had left while I was asleep. I rubbed my eyes as I reached for it. The monsters of my past two years had so thoroughly tormented me earlier, I struggled to get my bearings.
Opening the note, I read quickly,
You were sleeping and I could tell you had been crying so I didn’t want to wake you. Whatever is hurting you can be healed. Trust me and come to Campus Crusades tonight. I’ll save you a seat.
Note: You can meet Eve on June 26th. She will be speaking at Firm Foundation Ministries. Here are the details!