Three months ago (to the day, it turns out), I wrote a profoundly personal blog post entitled, Here’s What I Can Do, about my suicide attempt on December 22, 1990. So here I am today, exactly thirty years hence, reflecting not only on that day and my then-state of mind, but on the thirty years since then. It’s interesting to note that I’ve lived more of my life on this side of the date than I had leading up to it. My “second life” has been rich, unexpected, gratifying and fulfilling. I’ve gained wisdom, confidence and self-love. Most importantly, I realize how much I didn’t know back then when I nearly lost the opportunity to learn and experience it all.
The “incident” isn’t something I think about often. At some time around the holidays each year I acknowledge “it” as something that took place leading up to Christmas one year. The reason I was inspired to write the blog post was that this year I learned that September was Suicide Awarness Month. And when I did the math and realized this was the 30th year since that particular low point in my life, I thought it apropos to shed some of my personal light on a topic that’s difficult to discuss, difficult to think about, difficult to make sense of.
Yes, that’s my purpose in writing about this: to help to destigmatize the subject of suicide. By disclosing my experience, I hope to lift the rock and really look at the disgusting, creepy crawly realities of being human we tend to gloss over in search of feeling like we’re living a “normal” life. Let me tell ya… ain’t no such thing as normal! So when you start comparing yourself to others – their happiness; their success; their ability to “fit in”; their popularity; how “easy” life is for them… You have taken the first step into the chasm of despair that results in suicidal ideation.
NO ONE HAS IT EASY.
I’m gonna repeat myself because it’s so important…
NO ONE – NO ONE – HAS IT EASY.
It may look like that from the outside but everyone is as susceptible as you to becoming despondent… when they take that first misstep into believing that you are somehow worse off than others. YOU ARE NOT. And the only reason you believe that you are is because you’ve compared your circumstances to some ideal that you’re not currently experiencing.
That’s when it’s imperative to remember… THINGS CHANGE.
Over the last 30 years, I – and my life – have become unrecognizable from that pitiful young woman who couldn’t stand another moment of the agony in which she found herself. (The truth is, difficult as it is to see from there, she put herself in that agony because she was trying and failing at living a life that wasn’t hers.)
HER life was waiting for her on the other side of this mountain of shame, regret, self-hatred, fear… it was too tall to see over and too wide to see around. So she felt like she had only one choice – to give up.
She would find out she was wrong.
Because she survived and things began to shake loose. The mountain began to crumble and the view from the place she viewed it became clearer. This happened gradually, sometimes imperceptibly, but it did change. One day she found herself doing or saying something bolder. Another day she dared to dream of a different way of living. Yet another, she made herself a promise that she vowed never to break.
And she was transformed. Years passed. The weight of things that brought her to the brink of despair became lighter and less significant. She found new priorities, new passions, new things that sparked her imagination, intellect and sense of wonder. She learned who she really was and embraced the things that defined her unique self. She met people to whom she would mean the world and who mean the world to her. She was “Mom” to a family of cats who brought joy to her days. She built upon her love of crafting to make things cherished by others. People thought of her when they heard a corny joke or a Broadway tune or a ‘70s TV reference because those were integral parts of who she was.
She became a person who knew she was meant to live and to experience many more full and satisfying years of a life, touch and be touched by many fellow spirits and make her own unmistakable mark on the world.
That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in the past 30 years. I’m glad I’ve been here for it all.