Staying In The Room: What Happened When I Failed to End My Life
I was one of those people who believed that suicide was for the selfish, the attention seeking, the fragile. I’m aware now that suicide is typically an impulsive decision made by broken people. EVERYONE has a breaking point. I reached mine after several years of debilitating stress and depression but in what seemed tantamount to a horrific car crash. I was traveling along a comfortably familiar road, I blinked my eyes, and I was there. Now, everywhere I look, my loved ones are wearing kid-gloves. Their arms extended, they are handling with care as they attempt to pull me from the wreckage. My family and friends believe that I tried to take my life due to the ending of a tumultuous relationship. This is false.
It is true that I felt everything in the moment he said, “I love you, but I don’t want to be here anymore.” It was as if a bandaid was being ripped off to reveal years of rotting flesh and infection. Everything hurt. Every bit of me was now completely exposed and still very raw after the remarkable amount of time spent concealed by my extremely crafty bandages. I felt. I felt my failed attempt at a college degree and its debt which had not averted me. I felt decades of abuse and low self-esteem. I felt my declining health and, consequently, I felt the pile of medical bills on the coffee table. I felt the end of an eight year relationship with my (step)daughter who is, in my eyes, an undistinguishable extension of me. I felt a devastating loss of all of my savings. A loss in the form of my contribution to building a home and family with my future husband as well as a financial draining due to hospital stays and extensive medical care which had become both overwhelming and extremely common. I felt, in lieu of a fulfilling career, a job so stressful that I had adapted a stutter and began taking anti-depressants (the ultimate sign of failure). I felt $2.12 in my bank account. I felt a gas tank on E. I felt humiliation, I felt fear, I felt loneliness, I felt shame, I felt a helplessness and a defeat greater than any feeling I have ever experienced. And, as he declared his dying love for me, I felt the strands of the last thing I had to hold on to unravel. I had been gripping this rope so tightly and so desperately that my hands were bleeding as the final string slid through my fingers.
I felt ….exhausted. My hands slipped. With the last thread of my rope frayed, torn and hanging above my reach, I picked up a bottle of pills (an abundant resource in my home as of late). I took two at a time with a glass of warm water. I never lost count. 14. I took 14. And as I was falling unconscious, my ex- fiancé found me and.. and now.. I am being handled with care.
On my journey back from the not so final death, I realized that I have two choices. I can die right here or I can move. I’m moving. I have to get out of the space that I’m in and I have to want myself so badly that I will always choose to save me. I have to figure out who this woman in the mirror really is so that I can begin to love her.
In making this choice, I have decided that there are no outside factors greater than me. Your life is not about anyone but you. No relationship, no career, no education, no material thing, no opinion, no money, no friendship, no child, no family… No earthly thing is greater than me. This is a fact. I will hold it to the light for the absolute truth that it is. Moreover, these things are not intrinsically who I am. This does not mean that I can’t love others. It does not mean that I can’t reach for a promising career. It does not mean that I can’t want material items. Rather, it is the understanding that all of the afore mentioned commodities are external elements and that nothing will supersede the desire I have to love myself. In the moment I wanted to end my life, it felt as if the loss I endured was a depletion of everything that gave me reason to live. I see clearly now that those things are consequential to who I am; they do not create who I am. Because I spent so much time loving on and providing for everyone else and holding society’s standards of success on pedestal, I placed great value in the elements outside of myself and, in doing so, devalued the worth of the naked me.
I learned that once everything is taken. YOU are all you have. So then the question is, Who are you? Not what do you do, not who are you with, not what do you have, but who are you??? What makes you tick? What passions light a fire in your eyes? What ideals are nonnegotiable? On which values and morals do you construct your character? For what does your heart truly yearn? What do you do to and for yourself that makes your flesh tingle or your mind dance? Who are you?
Now that you are getting to know yourself, fall in love. Whoever you found in the mirror, love them. Love them hard. Give that person whatever it is that they need and desire. Fight for her, talk to her, and challenge her.
I attempted suicide because, once I was striped bare, I had nothing left. I’m attempting life because what I’m building inside of me has no outside strings or ropes attached. I can always let go because I don’t have anything that I must hold onto.
When all of the superficial, exterior attributes are striped away, are you left sitting with a stranger? Explore that now, because you will never find it worth while to stay alone in a room with a complete stranger.. You will always search for the door. You will most certainly try to leave.
Now, not everyone gets another chance. I have. And I‘m taking that chance to revisit the room where my stranger sits. Because it is now that I realize that this stranger was put there to save my life. Leaving is not an option. Suicide is not an option. Stay. Stay and get to know yourself.