It has been just a few short years since my release. I had to learn how to be a thinking, feeling human, and a productive member of society before they’d even consider letting me out to roam free among the masses. It’s been a slow recovery process, but against all odds, here I am, four years later. And I’m so blessed and grateful to have healthy children, who show no signs or symptoms. The mere fact that I recovered from this makes me smile into the sun, and even the clouds, because I shouldn’t be standing where I am today. Once a zombie, always a zombie; at least, that’s the case for the majority.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t want to be a human before. But as a teen, the signs were there, and it was soon discovered through countless doctor visits and whatnot, that the worst case scenario was at my parent’s door. Their daughter was infected. Indeed, she’d grow into a ravaging, bloodthirsty beast with insatiable appetite for darkness and death, anything that made the pain and fear vanish, and anything to fill the void, a cavity of the soul brought on by the virus.
My poor parents . . . who could blame them for not knowing what to do? It’s not every day you find out you’ve got to raise a zombie. They did the best they could with what they had to work with, and that was a lot. But unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Soon, any resemblance of humanity had left their once-healthy child, and absolutely nothing could stand in the way of her appetite for destruction, and her tendency toward inner decay… Occasionally they’d find her in the yard, lying in a bed of flowers as if she were planning a death more beautiful than the life which could never appease her.
Looking back now, I remember those big zombie tears I cried when no one was looking. Because I’d go into these rages and it was like my mind was being controlled by some dark force that wasn’t me–the virus, I figured, was making me do these things, be this way, hurt those people, destroy everything . . . And there was this tiny human inside of that zombie shell who wanted to come out into the light, but she had no idea how. Eventually, she realized all was lost and she gave up, resigning to be a zombie until the end of days. She prayed someone would come along and end it for her, because the hunger to fill the void was too strong to let her die by her own hand.
Fortunately, there were souls along the way who wouldn’t let me devour them. They were stronger than me. They bound my hands and heart and sat me down at eye level. They looked straight into my zombie soul and saw the innocence trapped inside. They cut through the decay and found pink flesh and a beating heart, and they told me how I could heal. They gave me the medicine I needed to beat the virus, of which the main ingredients were truth, courage, acceptance, forgiveness, breath, creativity, humility, and love.
Countless doctors tried to give me pills to heal the zombie, but it wasn’t the zombie who needed healing. It was that fleshy, pink little girl, crying behind the zombie shell, who needed the strength to break out, to look into the mirror and say the words “I love you.”
So, today I walk a free woman. When I think back over these years of learning how to be a real human, I sometimes forget where I came from. When I get bad reviews or criticism, I forget for a moment to be grateful. For I am being graded on a level playing field with my fellow humans. I am no longer zombie-handicapped. I can stand shoulder to shoulder with others and not want to devour what they have to fill my void. The void has vanished in the light. And though some have reached a higher summit than I have, I know I still have much more to go, and to grow, and I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I can extend my hand to those who struggle, lend an ear, or a kind word of love and encouragement. And if I see a fellow zombie I can share my experience, strength, and hope, to aid in their own search for meaning, life, and recovery. Because inside of me, in a place I hardly go anymore, that sad, zombie girl still sleeps in her bed of wilted flowers. She’ll always be a part of my journey, a part of me.
But I am no longer her. I am finally me. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a lover, a fighter, a survivor . . . And my journey has just begun.
Christina L. Rozelle
4 years clean and sober, 4 years relationship-free, 4 years recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder
February 16, 2012-February 16, 2016
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*zombie girl photo found on DeviantArt.com – click the photo to be redirected