I have about 5500 words written of Ruby's story. It has lots of gaps and areas that need filling, but here is a little taste of what I have.
Waking before dawn after a fitful night of sleep Ruby quietly dressed in the dark. She was careful not to wake her roommates as she slipped her journal from the drawer and went to find a quiet spot where she could write and think. She chose a comfortable chair that faced a large window in the lounge, sat down, pulled her feet up underneath her, and opened her journal. She looked at the blank page before her unsure of what to write. She raised her eyes to the dark window. Her dim reflection looked back at her. She didn’t see a battle ready warrior, she saw a frightened child, one who knew how to hide much better than she knew how to be seen and one who knew even less on how to fight the scratching and clawing she felt within her. She sighed at the dirty sad little girl that stared back at her. It was she that had to die here. It was she who held all the hurts and the sadness. Ruby, put pen to paper.
I see you little girl. I see you every time I look in the mirror or see my reflection. I see your sad eyes, the way they hurt, and the fear within them. I don’t want to see you anymore. I can’t. You are ruining my life, you are keeping me from wanting to live. All I can hear are your cries at night and all I can feel is your terror. I don't know how to heal you and free you from the prison that you have built up within me. I am here to rid myself of you. I am so tired of hurting and not knowing how to stop it. I don’t want to die. I don’t. But I don’t want to live with you anymore either. It is you who I want to die. But to kill you is to kill me. I hate that you are a part of me. I hate that you weren’t strong enough to protect yourself, to protect me, and now I live with your weakness and your oozing scars. You bring me shame. You make me dirty. When I look at you all I see is dirt. I want you gone, but you have locked yourself up within me, behind a door I don’t know how to open. A door I am afraid to open, because you locked all the monsters up in there with you. I hear those monsters scratching at the door; scratch, scratch, scratching. To open that door is to let all of you out and if I let you out I won’t know how to be me. I will be you, lost in the memories I don’t want to remember, the emotions, the terror. You with all your anger and your sadness will be loosed along with the monsters and I will be suffocated in the process. I can feel it even as I write. I can feel the splintering wood of that door you reside behind. Pieces of you and them leaking through.
Ruby stopped writing and closed her eyes. The emotions that were rising up inside of her were threatening to take over. She slowed her breathing, froze all movements and began to calm her racing heart. She imagined a white nothingness surrounding her. No corners for things to hide in, just white light that surrounded her until she disappeared within it. The only sound was her breathing. She emptied herself of all emotions, all thought, and buried herself in the white of her mind. It stopped the rising flood…..for now. She opened her eyes and looked out the window and let her mind go to that day not too long ago, the day that brought her to end up here.
She had gone looking for help, looking for someone to tell her that she was going to be okay. She had asked what she should do if death’s call became too loud for her to ignore, where should she go, who could she call? She knew that hospitals were supposed to be safe, but experience had told her that they weren’t. Death would be better than being left sitting in a hallway alone with people staring. Death would be better than being told you were wasting their time with your hurting. The person she had asked told her that there were no guarantees of being treated well and with respect and practically begged Ruby to seek counseling. The speaker had no idea how hard it was for her to put word on top of word when eyes were watching or how her heart sank with each passing moment. She had gone there searching for a hero and for rescue, but instead she had found neither, only honest answers that left her feeling worse than when she had come. She appreciated the honesty, but she needed more. She needed a refuge from herself, but instead left that meeting feeling more lonely, hurt, and desperate than she had ever felt before.
After she left the building she walked over to the rail that overlooked the ground several stories below. Holding the rail tightly in her hands she stared at the concrete, trees, and shrubs, it seemed as if they were speaking to her: “Jump into our arms,” they whispered, “we can bring you help. We can silence the ache.” Tears fell from her eyes as she gripped the rail tighter and stepped closer to it. She had been so tempted to join them, to land in their prickly arms. As she was about to begin her climb she saw a man below who stood looking up at her. When their eyes met, he saw into her and she was truly seen, past the typical mirror looking back and into the window of her. It was enough to quiet the whispers and she walked away that day and back into her life.
Ruby looked out the window where the sky was turning from black to gray and went back to her writing.
It was you he saw at the rail that day little girl, it was you that had me standing there. It is you who leaves me feeling weak and needy. I need help killing you. I am sure that I will be told that I can’t kill you, that I need to learn how to blend you and I - the me I would be without you - together, so that I can become one whole person instead of two separate beings.
Dawn was approaching. She watched as the light revealed the beauty on the other side of the window. Beauty that had been hidden in the dark shadows of night. The sun crept over the manicured lawns, walking paths, pond, and fountains. There was a large oak tree that stood tall and ancient. It had stood its ground long before any of these buildings. It had watched many nights come and go and still stood waiting for the dawn of each new day.
Warm water washed over her body as she stood underneath the shower head. She stood there watching the dirt swirl down the drain and disappear. No matter how hard she stared at the drain her memories wouldn’t mix with the dirt, they just kept swirling through her mind, and as the last bit of dirt swirled away her ability to avoid the emotions that went with the memories went down the drain with it. The emotions washed over her and she sank down into the bathtub. Every negative emotion that one could feel pelted her along with the water: sadness, anger, fear, terror, heartache, loneliness, want, hurt, pain, and more. She could not hold them down any longer. She had held them for far too long. The voice in her head emulated that of Dr. Robins, “Can you name them? You cannot fight nor embrace that which doesn’t have a name. Giving them a name gives you the power, not them. Find your power, Ruby. Name them.”
Ruby rubbed the snot, tears, and water from her face and pushed the hair out of her eyes, a spark of fight beginning to gleam in them.
“FEAR” she whispered. “I am taking my power back. I acknowledge you, but you will no longer control me and make me run.” She thought of the motivational poster she had seen on a wall. “No longer will I try to Forget Everything And Run. I will allow myself to Feel Everything And Rise.”
As she went through the list of emotions coursing through her and naming each of them her voice and the belief in the words she was saying became stronger causing their hold on her to grow weaker.
Then she rose.
If her experience under the willow tree had been the death of who she had been then this was her resurrection—a baptism— a parting of her old ways of merely surviving into a rising up to a new life of thriving. She was ready to name the reality of what her past had been. Ready to name it and fight what needed fighting and to embrace what needed embracing. When Ruby turned the water on that evening she was a casualty of the war that raged within her. Now as she turned the water off she was emerging as a warrior ready to battle.