Every year about mid-August I start to experience anxiety over the fact that September is fast approaching. I do my best to stomach the feeling and not let it be known, but it is there, gnawing at me from the inside. You have to understand something to understand this at all: almost every bad thing that I have ever gone through has happened in the month of September. So much so that this time of year, every year, I just start waiting for something devastating to happen to me.
"That's extremely unlikely," you're probably thinking, but it is really not. So where do we begin? How about the first thing I can think of, once I was old enough to know what month it was.
When I was probably about 7 or 8, my mother was diagnosed with Leukemia. School had just started back up again. It was the first few weeks of September. To make matters worse, the man she was married to at the time was such a supreme asshole that while she was in the hospital for treatment, he told us she was going to die. I had no idea what to do with this information. I was 7, my mom was supposed to be with me until I could take care of myself! Luckily she did not die and has been healthy since, but I will never forget that September.
The next thing I can think of was when I had my first boyfriend over summer break. I couldn't have been older than 11 or so and I wanted to be his girlfriend solely because he was a good friend and I wanted to hang out more often. It was never about holding hands or kissing, for me. In that regard boys were still undeniably icky. He however was a troubled child, and he did want those things. Things I was nowhere near ready for.
So when he tried to make me kiss him one too many times, I broke up with him. In September, right before 7th grade started. Under normal 6th grader circumstances, that would mean he goes home now and I go play on my SNES. What actually happened was that he tried to physically attack me and I had to run into my house and lock the doors. Fighting to close them as he tried forcibly to get inside. I did not have the foresight to shut any of the windows however.
Thirty minutes or so passed and while I knew he was still outside, I was safe behind my locked doors. While out there seething in his crazy rage, he turned on the hose and began dousing the insides of our home with water. This ruined several pieces of furniture and destroyed our IBM. I ran around the house desperately closing and locking windows, trying to save what little I could. Afterward I called my mom at work, still panting and frantic. She came home immediately and the boy fled in fear of her wrath.
Her fury was not sated by his departure though, and she called his mother threatening to sue for damages done to our property. This got the boy in all manner of trouble he never saw coming and to get back at me he did something unthinkable. As if being physically attacked and having thousands of dollars worth of damage done to our belongings was not enough, he drown my cat. To get back at me. Anyone who knew me knew that cat (despite a plethora of human friends) was my best friend. This is probably why I didn't date again until I was 17.
Not long after, while I was auditioning for a part in Donny And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, opening in Detroit, my dog died unexpectedly from bone cancer. I had never known life without that dog, she was adopted into our family the year I was born. The sudden lack of her constant presence was crushing. I had no idea how to cope with two tragedies so soon and came to the epiphany that anyone I know and love could be gone at any moment. I spent the next few years expecting everyone I knew to die. Little did I know the situation would actually be opposite. Everyone else would be fine and I would almost die.
Just before 8th grade I would contract a super rare virus while at the zoo that attacks the liver and spleen. While I contracted the virus sometime in late August, I would not actually become violently ill until September. I was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery to remove my spleen but upon arrival the ultrasound revealed that the swollen organ was actually my liver. I spent weeks in the hospital as it attempted to fail and kill me several times. I would not make a full recovery until my 8th grade school year was nearly complete. Thankfully the school was understanding and allowed me to finish the school year and not hold me back. My liver now only functions at 70%.
I had reprieve a few consecutive Septembers after that until in my sophomore year of high school I unwittingly, by being kind to someone, gained a stalker. At first I hung out with him despite his obvious OCD, because he had no one else to hang out with and I felt bad. He wanted more than friendship though and after trying to coerce me into situations I was uncomfortable with I told him we couldn't be friends anymore. He lived a town away and I figured he'd just move on and forget all about me but that isn't what happened and given previous experiences I'm not sure why I thought he would be reasonable.
He began stalking me, hanging around outside of my high school so that he could intercept me before I got on the bus. If I snuck out the back and got a ride with another student he would be waiting on my front porch when I got home. If I managed to get inside before he got there or before he could stop me, he would sit on the porch for hours, pounding on the door yelling about how he knew I was in there. When he was actually at home he would call our house relentlessly. When we wouldn't answer he would leave crazy 30+ minute long answering machine messages. To the point of 9 or 10 per day. When I was at a friend's house, he would take pictures of me through the windows then email them to me to ask if I was having fun at that specific moment.
Freaking bat shit insane.
Eventually we moved and had our number changed and stricken from all public records. The police issued a restraining order, just in case. After receiving a police escort away from our driveway one afternoon, he finally gave up and we could all move on with our lives. I have no idea what became of him, but I'm guessing prison. It was really only a matter of time before he latched on to some other poor girl and who knows how that turned out?
Things settled down for another year until the next September when one of my long-term and very close friends committed suicide. To make it worse, even after not seeing him for a couple of years I was officially addressed in his suicide note. Unbeknown to me, I was not only his best friend, but apparently his only friend. For months afterward his parents would call and drive all the way down to see me, not wanting to let go of what little they felt they had left of their son. While it was helpful to them, it wasn't helpful for me, because every time they showed up it was like tearing off a scab and reopening the wound anew. Eventually my mother had to intervene and ask them not to drop by anymore. While undoubtedly hurt, they at least understood why.
The next year, on September 11th, a plane would crash into the Pentagon and kill my aunt. Her body would never be recovered. In her grave lies an empty casket.
A few days later I would be robbed in my own backyard at knife-point. By a stranger. The only reason the police suspect that I was not stabbed, is because my brother pulled into the driveway and went into the house, scaring the attacker off. My assailant would never be found. No longer feeling safe at home, we'd uproot our lives once again and move.
It was four years ago this Wednesday that I received the news that a friend of mine, a boy I've known for over ten years, was killed in action in Iraq. On his birthday, no less. He had never even gotten to legally buy his own alcohol and he died serving his country.
Now, this isn't a, "look how crappy and tragic my life has been," blog where I get to mope and wallow in self pity. My life, on average, is actually pretty great. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the whole wide world. It's just when it comes to September, I would really rather sleep through if it were possible and I feel obligated to make you understand why. Since it's not possible to hibernate for a month, I just suffer through it on the verge of a panic attack until October. Which may inevitably be why October is my favorite month out of the year -- it puts September behind me and I can relax again.
I've never confessed any of this to anyone and I'm kind of nervous to do so. As if letting it out will somehow cause a bad event to take place... but at the same time letting it out is also kind of a relief. Like I can just be anxious now whether you know it or not, I don't have to hide from it.