Stay; by Kaitlyn Tuton

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I was in elementary school the first time I thought about leaving. The bullying was relentless, and 10 year old me was sure I’d never make it out alive. As the years went by the bullying never seemed to cease. Nonetheless, I made my way across the stage on graduation day. Diploma in hand, I thought to myself “for this I am glad I chose to stay.”

I was 17 years old when I welcomed my perfect boy into this world. 17, single mom, still in school, no money, no job. The odds were against me in so many ways. Statistics said I would never make anything of myself. Statistics said my son never stood a chance. By this time I was no stranger to the crippling thoughts that often flooded my brain. “You can go, Katie, you can go.” I toyed with the idea that he would be better off without me. Maybe without me he’d stand a chance. Instead I made myself and my son a promise. We wouldn’t be another statistic. I would give him the best life. No matter what the circumstances I would find a way to make something of myself for him. As I held the most perfect gift I’ll ever receive, i thought to myself “for this I’m glad I chose to stay.”

I was 22 when I help the pen in my hand and started to write my goodbyes. Sorry. Sorry was the only word I could seem to find. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay. I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I made a mess once more. I’m sorry I couldn’t be enough. I’m sorry. I never did quite finish the letter. I put the pen down, i chose to stay.

It was May 2018 when I realized how far gone I was. I was drowning. Only coming up to the surface long enough to catch my breath before another wave sent me back into a dark and cold abyss. I went through every emotion, and when I was done making my way through that whirlwind I felt nothing. All this time I thought feeling nothing would set my mind free. In reality it only made the idea of leaving more realistic. I lost the ability to feel every emotion I hated, but I also lost the ability to feel every emotion I loved. Things that normally made me happy no longer did. People, activities, vacations, work, anything that once brought joy to my life now fell gray. I burned bridges I’ll never be able to fully repair. I created a monster within myself, and that monster hurt good people who deserved none of my torment. I had two choices, I could stay, or I could go. It was May 2018 when I pulled myself out of the hell I constructed myself and once and for all chose to stay.

Sometimes in life we’re dealt cards we don’t deserve. Sometimes our circumstances simply suck. Life’s out of our control and all we can do is take the next step forward. But somedays are filled with magic. The laughter of people we love the most. The sun beaming through the window keeping us warm as we doze into an afternoon nap. Some days our coffee is perfect, our hearts are content, and for a moment all is well within the world. Take these little things and make them your reasons to stay. Find your reasons, big or small, just find them. We all have a story. This is just a glimpse into mine. This is proof that it does get better. That even though you may be at your lowest low, you can still walk out of the fire alive. I still have bad days, for I am human. But I have gained the ability to look at my life and say “for this I am glad I chose to stay.”

Story submitted by Katie

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