13 Reasons Why & the 1 Reason I didn’t

So have you seen it? The Netflix Original Drama about the Hanna Baker who takes her own life then leaves behind a trail of messages explaining why… honestly, I’m not sure if you should watch it, if you haven’t. 

My feelings are very mixed about what Hanna did and how she handled it. I believe suicide is a voluntary response to the struggles of life. Is a way out, an escape. It’s an antidote I have tried to use myself, but I’m still here, so obviously my efforts failed. Thank God. 

Hanna was only a teen. She was dealing with bullying, confidence issues, the Neglect of her parents, shame and guilt, loneliness and the list goes on. Hanna was much like Me. I found myself angry during parts of the show because I felt she killed her self over things I’ve somehow lived through. I ask, why did it work for her, but not me? At 14, I slit my wrists. It healed. She slit hers, and bled out. I also wonder I was able to graduate high school in spite of all the things I endured, while Hanna simply checked out. 

When I was in high school, I had at least 13 reasons to off myself, but at 28, I could add about 50 more to that list. Truth be told, if I made that list I would sound just as selfish and whiny as Hanna. The crazy things about emotions is: they don’t have to make sense to be legitimate. 

Hanna was hurting. She reached out for help and no one paid enough attention to help her. That reminds me of the days I cried out for help out of an abusive home or to get away from an alcoholic father. People kept living. Things kept moving! What’s worse is that everything around me insisted that I move on. 

Imagine dealing with the feelings of rejection and low self-esteem brought on by adolescence, but also watching your mom deal with a disrespectful, almost absent, unfaithful husband. Of course I failed my classes that year! No one was there to help me succeed. 

When I was put out of my Academically Superior High School, I was scolded and told how I wasted time and could do better, but nobody ever apologized to me for shattering my home or creating the Hell we called a life. I did my best.  My mom enrolled me in the closest school to our home. My grades improved, mostly because I was years ahead of the curriculum. I no longer had to study, because I was already prepared. I effortlessly held a 4.0 GPA during the years I was at the new school, and even that brought it’s own type of attention. Other kids teased me. I was told I thought I was better because I came from that other school. Could I do anything right?

A blessing in disguise came to me in the form of a lady named Stacy Montgomery. She is a beautiful, brown skin woman with a foxy natural fro and her skin is as decadent as fresh flowing milk chocolate. She dressed modestly, and she carried her ‘sex appeal’ well. She is a Queen in the classroom. She’s beautiful! I took her Creative Writing course. Every day she gave us a topic to journal about. Every day she opened the floor for what she called “Open Mic”  and finally, there was somewhere for me to fit. 

I performed a new piece every day in class. I eagerly awaited my turn, and soon the other students in that class were on the edge of their seat at the start of each class waiting on what I had to share. To be accepted and wanted during a time where guys didn’t like me, I was too big to cheer, too late coming to the school to run for office gave me an identity of my own. I felt like an alien everywhere, but in her class. 

Around school I became known as the girl who does poems. Upper class men began paying me to write things for their girlfriends. I was on every school program reading a poem, and I even read during my class’s Graduation Breakfast. 

I look back at poetry from my High School years and there’s a deeply hurt little girl hiding between rhyming lines and metaphors. She’s desperate to die and dying to live. She just wants somebody to see her and hear her. I’m still that little girl. What has stopped me from slitting my wrists again, or swallowing a bottle of pills like I’ve also done before? Writing. If I go now, who will publish all the material I’ve been crafting? If I forfeit tomorrow because yesterday is hard, I am essentially telling God he wasted his time bringing me to today. 

I’ve considered making tapes to detail to people who have hurt me how much they’ve hurt me. I’ve considered writing and mailing letters. But what would be the point? Hanna left behind a trail of misery that caused one of her classmates to nearly kill himself. She chose to live in the darkness of everything wrong. She chose to believe in only what she saw and as a result, she gave up. It’s unfair to blame those 13 individuals for her choice, but that’s what she did. 

You may have 13 or more reasons to die, but trust me when I say, your 1 reason to live is worth hanging around for. 

I am Eryka. I am a hurt, sometimes sad, Work in Progress. I will not give up. Don’t you give up either. 

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