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Stories That Just Might Save Us

by waywardxwanderer

These things have been true since I was a child: I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always been lonely. One of my earliest memories is sitting alone during recess, wishing someone would talk to me because I didn’t have the courage to approach anyone. No one came.

My closet is full of old journals filled with more stories than I know what to do with, and every surface in my room is covered in books. When I sat alone, they were my refuge - my friends when I had none. The books abated the loneliness just a little, and I buried my fears in the stories I wrote.

My darkness grew as I did, anxiety morphing into depression morphing into total dread of life. I had friends, a best friend even, but during quarantine, I was entirely isolated from them. My mind returned to its state of total loneliness, and I didn’t know how to handle it. The downward spiral reached its end in one idea which, once thought, plagued my every waking moment: that the only solution was to entirely remove myself from this world.

Over the next few months, I puzzled over this solution, thinking of pros and cons, reasons for and against. I wrote poetry about how I felt, and it was a mild reprieve, but it didn’t stop the constant plague of thoughts and plans. I decided that I would do it at night, that I would take the pills I could find in the laundry room. I decided who I would give each belonging to, what I would say in my letter. I never told anyone because I didn’t want help and I was afraid that, once I told someone, they would stop me. Still, the only other thing I never did, never, was write the letter down. Some part of me knew that once it was written down, I couldn’t stop myself, and some part of me knew that this would not be a good thing. A story may just be a story, but stories find ways to make themselves real.

It was a multitude of things that made me decide to live. When thinking about what I would say to my best friend in my letter, I found that I couldn’t justify it. I couldn’t leave them to deal with it. When imagining my family finding my body, I realized I couldn’t bear the horror, the grief they would have to go through. When sitting on the dock on the lake, I remembered a distant memory of joking around with a friend - she claimed to be psychic, guessing the boats that came by, and she was accurate each time. I remembered the wonder, the joy I’d felt at the world’s little tricks, and realized that I wanted to feel it again.

The final straw: a book by Fredrik Backman called A Man Called Ove. This book details a man trying over and over to kill himself because he has nothing to live for. Throughout the course of the book, though, he develops relationships and, through them, new reasons to live. At the end, he dies as he was meant to - a disease takes him, and he is mourned by the neighbors he never thought he would know beyond passing glances. This book solidified the decision for me. It made a home in my chest, a radio that told me over and over again that life is about finding new reasons to live, even if you don’t want to see them.

It took a few months to recover, and I still struggle with many of the issues I did before, but this time, death never presents itself as an option. This time, I know that, despite it all, life makes itself worth it.

I told all of this to a friend one night as we sat on the edge of a bluff eating Mexican takeout. We hadn’t been friends for more than a couple of months, and I didn’t know much about his mental health. He nodded along, listening as I spoke and marveling as the night clouds wove themselves about the city below. I did not think that what I said was too important - it was an expression of trust, yes, but nothing more.

A couple of months after that, my birthday rolled around, and he came to school with a letter as a gift. In it, he told me he’d been considering suicide for a long time. He told me he was ready, on the verge of doing it, and that what I had said had come at the perfect time to give him hope again.

This friend is now one of my very closest, a daily presence and comfort. He is still around, and so am I, and so we make late-night runs to fast food restaurants and talk in silly voices and spend too much time on Roblox together. To know that this came about because of a story I told, because of a decision I made, because of a book I read - this means everything.

I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always been lonely. Now, though, I’m less alone than I was those many months ago. Now, I have people I can share my stories with and people I can write for, can live for. I hope, through my writing, to inspire someone as another writer once inspired me. If I can save lives with art, with the stories I write, then why wouldn’t I put my whole life towards that? After all, stories are the friends we have when we have no one else, the first thing we turn to to hold our hand when things get hard, the forces of the universe that just might save us.

Is this a review?



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33 Reviews

Points: 151
Reviews: 33

Tue Jul 26, 2022 12:40 pm
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Kelisot wrote a review...

Hello, this is Kelisot writing... Something. I don't think it would be a review or a critique, because I honestly have no idea what I am writing right now. (That was wordy to say, at least for me.)

I simply find your own narrative and real-life experiences to be relatable to. Maybe I should write something like this too, haha.

What I want to say is that I hope you are fine. It must have been a very rough, bumpy ride (a very bumpy one) for you and your friend. I say this with my heart (I don't often swear, but I'll swear to the World's God), I feel pity. I am also happy that the two of you are fine and your friendship has gotten better and bonded well.

Your ending paragraph of writing was touching. Perhaps it is due to both of us being writers, where stories can be shared easily (unless if you suck at writing reviews, wonder who that could be 🤔), as we are merely humans that have reached up here in our lives with our choice of words and successfully executed them well to inspire people with awe. Stories may be nothing but falsehood in the end, looking at the other side of coin, it is something that we seek to comfort, like our own personal drug.

I have understood someone's heart of how they felt through this narrative. Thank you.

waywardxwanderer says...

Thank you so much for this review, it really means a lot. And honestly, it's very therapeutic to get out your story and see it all on a page - if you end up doing something like this, please @ or DM me so I can read/review it (:

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1232 Reviews

Points: 119938
Reviews: 1232

Sun Jul 24, 2022 1:17 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi waywardxwanderer,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

It's a little hard to write a review about it, so I'm trying to shift my focus more in a different direction.

Let's start with what struck me as positive; your writing style was elegant and well connected, it was really easy to follow the narrative and understand how a path bored its way down into the valley here, which only rose again to the next mountain peak with the second half. I particularly like here that you keep it from a very simple and straightforward perspective, making it understandable for anyone to understand what you are writing.

I found it extremely interesting to read the narrative, precisely because I can understand a lot of the inner turmoil and emotions that go into it, like here, right from the first paragraph, which immediately hits home:

These things have been true since I was a child: I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always been lonely. One of my earliest memories is sitting alone during recess, wishing someone would talk to me because I didn’t have the courage to approach anyone.

It is a process that you describe here, not only in the first paragraph, but in the whole narrative. I like how very briefly a conclusion and a help is built up, which here turns out to be a kind of question; why don't you rise above the anxiety and approach people first? Indirectly, in the course of the narrative, attention is drawn to the book, a nondescript book, a story that you chose yourself. Indirectly, it's a great comparison and gait that's taken here to show a little bit of that first section through indirect human actions.

When I sat alone, they were my refuge - my friends when I had none.

I really like the description here. It has something very poetic about it.

A story may just be a story, but stories find ways to make themselves real.

Again, I like very much what you have described, it seems again very much like from a poem and also a kind of small forshadowing.

Have fun writing!


waywardxwanderer says...

Thank you so much for the review!! And regarding your question, approaching others first is definitely something I%u2019m working on (:

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37 Reviews

Points: 899
Reviews: 37

Tue Jul 19, 2022 1:29 pm
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Stringbean wrote a review...

Hey Wanderer,

I really don't have any critique here, so I hope you don't mind more of a reactionary review. This is really well tied together, the beginning opening up this discussion and the ending circling full back and at the same time leaving us in a whole new place with a sense of hope and moving forward and a slightly different look at what stories can really be. Really well done.

This is a really personal, vulnerable piece to write and I think that's a big part of what makes it so important. Just like you said, we need to hear these kinds of stories from each other. It's very real, and more people are facing the same kind of struggle than we tend to ever realize. You're able to take us to that place with sensitivity and effectiveness, then lead us out again the same way you came before--for lack of a stronger word, it's really touching.

I think we tend to hear more about stories that change people's lives and not so often about the ones that save them. That's the most important thing a story can ever do, and yours has. I think it does a little something for everyone who reads it. Thanks for sharing <3

- Stringbean

waywardxwanderer says...

Thank you so much for this review, it's so incredibly sweet and means so much to me <3

Stupid risks make life worth living.
— Homer Simpson