2.46. The Wounded Soul – My Proudest Failure

This post is not about the many known names who have died over the course of this year from apparent suicide. Their deaths are sad and a loss to the world but there is nothing that can be done for them.  Their chances have ended. It’s sad but what can you do about it now? This is not about the unknowns who are gone from this world. Their story is no different. This is about the ones we can save. 

When I was 26, after my son was born, I suffered from postpartum depression while simultaneously suffering from an infection, which caused me to lose part of my right breast. The fake glue that was holding my doomed marriage together melted away. My world crumbled very quickly. I recall sitting in a bathroom and penning a letter to my child in which I apologized for failing him, for not being strong enough to have the desire to continue. I remember calling a crisis hotline while sitting on the curb of a dark street and telling some stranger I was a horrible piece of shit because I had a child but I wanted to die. I remember going to a hospital and asking for an evaluation. I sat in a cold, bare room, and waited for someone to tell me I was insane. After talking with Tom, he informed me I was suffering from PTSD, from events earlier in my life,  and Postpartum. When I said I wanted to die, he explained, I was simply asking to sleep…for rest…escape from pain I could not seem to get away from. I was released and attempted to pull myself out of that darkness. 

When I was eighteen, after being caught in the act, I admitted to battling Bulimia. It was a slow way out but I often hoped I would just become extremely frail and collapse and that same sleep would come. My mother told me to get over it. 

When I was 13, my father found me in our trailer in Clintondale, New York. I’d swallowed a ton of his painkillers and anything else I could find in the medicine cabinet. I was ashamed of my life. I was scared of being a nothing. I wanted to quit. 

When I was 11, I was admitted to a mental health ward, against my will (and my parents) for a mere 16 hours (a lifetime to an 11 year old btw). I’d gone in after a referral from a childhood therapist. Because I wouldn’t discuss things that were happening but implicated myself in several acts of self-harm, I was held for evaluation. I can still remember the screams and belligerent rants of those held in rooms next to me. After those 16 hours, I conned my way out of that hospital, claiming it was all an act and absolutely nothing was wrong with my home life. I learned how to lie on that day. 

When I was 5, a sibling found me on the ledge of our apartment window. When asked why I was up there, I said I wanted to die. My mother beat the ever-living piss out of me and sent me to bed. 

I have tried to die, thought of dying, hoped for dying…TOO MANY times in my life. I’ve purposefully put myself in dangerous situations, in the hopes that I would find release. Through those years and failed attempts…I never found it. 

I’m not telling you this because I want pity. Because I want you to think I’m epic and strong for “surviving.” I don’t know why I wanted to die from such a young age. I don’t know why I wasn’t “built” to better deal with the hardships of life. I don’t know why the unknown seemed so much better. 

What I do know are two things. 

  1. I was already dead. My body didn’t have to perish. TRULY, I believe I was a walking tomb. My son gave me my soul. I still struggle. I still panic. I’m still a hot mess. But I have never hoped for another breath the way I do now…as I have my son in my life. 
  2. Someday, I will die. I will not try. It will be against my will. And I will not want it to happen. I will feel pain as it all slips away because I will not see the tomorrows of my child, his children, the life I will miss. Someday, I will not have a choice. 

All of that being said…

I AM NOT AN EXPERT but I know the helplessness. I know the desperation. I know that feelings of sad hope that the damn phone will ring and someone…ANYONE will pull me back from the ledge and say, “I care about you. Please don’t go.” We all want to know that someone wants us to stay. That someone NEEDS us to stay. That our fire lights another persons world. We all need a reason to have no desire to step on that ledge. It’s ALL about love. 

The trauma that happened in my life, very early on, stunted my growth in MANY ways (so the doctors say). There are many times that I am stuck back in that mind frame of a child and I am terrified. I am frail. I am lost. It’s a fight to not go back there. To train my brain that I’m not reliving those traumas. That things are not repeating themselves. That I am capable of dealing with it IF they are. 

I am telling you all of this because we all know someone who struggles. Who is fighting. Who may be too quiet. May say the wrong things. May lash out at the smallest occurrence. May come off so angry. May push people away. May be an emotional punching bag. May live a lifestyle that is reckless. May be unaware that they are begging for help. May be pleading for rescue in their eyes but not their words. 

If you are that person…tell someone. ANYONE. Talk until your blue in the face. But keep talking. If you’re talking…you aren’t dead. AND THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. If you know someone like that…listen. Listen and really hear. You don’t need to fix it all. Just listen. Sometimes, that is all a wounded soul needs. 

Dear Suicide – I am proud to have failed you. 

Sincerely not yours…this girl. 

1.66 – A Lifelong Battle

I tried jumping out of a window when I was five. Ask me why. I don’t know. I was probably sad or angry or just curious what it would be like to fly. I cant answer why that little girl wanted to jump, but she did.

Soon after getting my ass beat by my mother, I was sent to a therapist. I went regularly through the following years. Instead of opening up about the things that made me drawn to a dark place at such a young age, I learned how to lie. How to put up a show…how to wear the mask. You see, before every session, my mother would tell my sister and I that we could talk to the therapist but we couldn’t divulge anything that happened in our home. It makes no sense. I know.

I was obsessed with keeping journals from a really young age. It was the only place I could be honest and even then, I sugar coated things in case anyone read my words. I wrote in codes, using Anne Franks symbols and other forms I’d made up in my little head.

When I was eleven, my therapist asked me to bring in my journal. For several sessions, I read her the pages of my tweety bird adorned secret keeper. She just let me read. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make assumptions. But I was reading all of the surface stuff. And then, out of nowhere,  she asked me to read one of the pages I’d skipped. I was hesitant, but I felt like I could finally trust her.

I read the darkest pages of my journal. The pages that told of my hatred for my skin, my body, my face. My fears of not being smart enough, not being perfect, not making my mother happy. My wonders of why my father left despite the fact that I had a loving step-father. My confusion about my race since my mother made it abundantly clear she hates blacks, puerto ricans, whites, mexicans…everyone really. My curiosity over why I had no family. Why my mother drank so much. Why she abused my father. Why my body was not my own. I shared a lot and even then, I kept certain skeletons at bay. I read about how much I wanted to die. How I wanted to join my uncle in the grave so I could see if people would care when I was gone. The true testament whether I was loved. Would anyone cry at my funeral?

The therapist recommended I go away to this place, this magical place for the summer. A place upstate with other kids like me. A camp, where I could explore the outdoors, express myself and feel free. Yeah, it was probably a nut house. But at the time, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to be free of the games, the pain and the confusion. I wanted to run from the darkness in my home, in my heart. I wanted a chance.

My father was supportive. But he was only my step-father and so he couldn’t sign for me to go. My mother had to do the honors. We talked the whole way back to the apartment. I asked my father if he thought I was crazy. If I was a bad seed. He said no. I just needed help. To love myself. And if it meant me going away, he would support that.

I had the paper in hand, ready to have my mother sign and pack my bags. This was my chance. This was going to set me free. I wouldn’t have to deal with my mothers voodoo practices, the secrets, the pressure,  or questioning myself anymore. I would be free to be a young girl.

I handed my mother the paper in her bedroom while my nephew received physical therapy in the living room. The door was closed to the bedroom so no one could hear what I was preparing to tell her. I begged to go. I listed all of the reasons this would be good for me. I waited in silence while my mother eyed the paper. She stood up and that face sent my heart in full fledged race mode. She pulled her arm back and came at me full force. I asked my mother to help me. She punched me in the face. Period. The conversation was over just like that.

Sending me away was not an option. Because then people would know there was something wrong with me. Instead, I was pulled from my sessions with that therapist and told to shut my mouth. The feelings would go away.

I’m 27. They haven’t. I question my worth every day. I don’t know what will ever make me feel whole. Maybe I was born with something missing. I used to be ashamed for my depression. For this cloud that has chased me. I used to. I battle the darkness. I fight to believe that I am worthy of good things. I struggle with my reflection, my thoughts, my emotions.

I sat on a ledge when I was five. I don’t know why. But I hold that little girl every night and try to convince her that she made it for a reason. That she has a purpose. My mother wanted appearances to be kept. But I didn’t want to fake being happy. I don’t want to fake it now. I want to be happy in my skin. In my thoughts. In my emotions.

I cannot put it on my son to make me happy in these ways. That is a burden he should not and will not carry. I struggle with the darkness every day. I can’t say whether I will win or not. But I will try.