The Why (The Day I Attempted Suicide, Part 2)

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

IF I were dying, THEN they would realize how much they love me–this was a fantasy I would play out in my mind often as I tried to fall asleep at night. My mind was a safe place where I would try to sort out all the feelings that were far bigger than I was at the time.  At four, one does one’s best to wrestle with complex issues, and this was part of my feeble attempt. It was the year I was first sexually violated and lost my innocence. Throw that into a whirlpool of flourishing familial dysfunction, and I would begin to understand pain and rejection for the very first time. Sometimes our greatest traumas come from what isn’t given.

Survive–we are hard coded to survive until it is pecked away by the brokenness. Surviving is not the same as thriving… So much can be robbed from us in moments, leaving behind decaying parts that long for redemption to breath new life.

17. He spent at least a year grooming me, testing to see just how broken I really was, before he attacked me. After so many sexual assaults through the years, THIS ONE had to be my fault, right? I should have known better. I should have been wiser.  And yet, wasn’t this story familiar somehow– the one that seemed to speak of my worthlessness again and again? I had even met Jesus, so how could these things happen still? I was tired of surviving. After I managed to get away, I sat mostly naked and sobbing on my bedroom floor.  I studied the pill bottle on my vanity. Gone were my childhood fantasies, left were rotting wounds. How could I go on? What was the point? So much pain. That first thought was nothing but a whisper…just take the pills

The seed had been planted before I was old enough to add, watered with every trauma life brought, and fertilized by my ignorance.  Suicide...maybe it was the only way the pain would ever stop. It became the new fantasy, a false promise that maybe it was the only way to end my pain after all.  So, with every incredibly dark and painful season this thought would echo through my mind like a sweet promise of freedom…

Lies are always powerful, but the truth holds greater power still.  I had yet to learn that lesson, though.

The day I attempted suicide, the birth control pills had pulled the proverbial trigger, but the gun had long ago been loaded.  Take away the synthetic hormones and my mood would indeed regulate, but it would not teach me what I desperately needed to learn. The trigger was always there, tempting me to just pull…

…when the infertility news arrived.

…when my twin daughters died.

…when I faced rejection more profound than I had ever dreamed possible before…

..the thought came like a drink of water that promised to extinguish my fire. No more pain.

What was wrong with me?  Who thinks these thoughts? Clearly only crazy people! The shame that enveloped me held my tongue until I was bone weary of the plague it had become.

The perspiration beaded on my brow and soaked through my shirt as I finally blurted out my secret to my therapist.

I struggle with thoughts of suicide, and I don’t understand what is wrong with me!” I cried.

The flood gates opened, the tears I had cried behind closed doors for years spilled forth, climaxing into an ugly, snotty sob of confession.

Amazingly, she NEVER said what I was so terrified was true–that I was indeed crazy.  (In fact, I asked her repeatedly just to be sure.) Instead, her words would shatter my shame, breathe life into my desert, and pave the way to greater freedom than I had ever previously known.  I would finally understand the why, I would begin to see the truth and slowly she would teach me to understand just what I could do.

Freedom. Finally.


The Day I Attempted Suicide

21, married only 4 months to the man of my dreams, and desperate to make the pain end.  Death. My death was the only possible solution. The darkness was so profound it felt like a weight on my chest.  How did I get here? Who could I tell? I was certain that if anyone knew how broken I truly was all they would do was judge me and reject me.  I would be left alone and ashamed. Oh, the shame, the deafening, debilitating shame that engulfed me was choking the life out of me in my silence.  No one could ever understand…

I can still remember watching the pills fall into my hand.  How many would it take to actually end my life? I didn’t know.  I could feel my heart thump loudly in my chest, my pulse racing steadily as my husband beat on the bathroom door begging me to stop, completely lost on what to do.  He didn’t understand, no one understood, I could not go on with this pain any longer. When the world glanced my way, assuming I should have been my happiest, my darkness was growing more profound every day.

The pills called to me, making me promises of peace–I wouldn’t have to fight anymore.  I could be done.

God, will you forgive me?  Will you forgive me for being too broken to fix?  The shame. The doubt. The darkness. I found myself pouring the bottle of pills out into my hand.  The coldness of the bathroom tub I sat on matching the coldness I felt inside. One gulp, some pills sticking in my mouth in protest, more water.  Another gulp, this one slipping down with ease. The door crashing in, my husband–tear streaks staining his cheeks, phone in hand– ripped the bottle from my hands with the power of all the love he felt.  His eyes, showing a devastation that I could not bare, made me stare at my empty hands. He truly did not understand, and really neither did I. And so I stared at my hands, tears coming from a depth I didn’t before know was possible.  What had I just done? Everyone will know now. The shame will be unbearable. Jesus, forgive me and take me home

The sirens.  The lights. The humiliation of being seen in this moment.  How many pills did she take? Exact number unknown. I hear my husbands words as I was strapped to the gurney, “Most of the bottle.”  So many words float through the air as I am swallowed up in my shame and darkness. How did she get here?everyone, including me, is asking the same question.

Alone.  I remember feeling the irony of being strapped to the cold hospital bed–unable to see anyone as per hospital rules (others presenting a possible danger and all)–choking down the liquid charcoal concoction that was working to bind up my death and reject it from my flesh.  I was alone…ironic really. The one human I was certain loved me, that it was even possible to see in a moment, was my husband, and he was refused admittance to me for an undefined amount of time. Alone.

Is this what I wanted?  No. I wanted my pain to end.  I just could not find any other way to make the pain stop.  Suicide is one last tired, desperate cry to end a life crushing battle. When I could not see, when I did not understand, when I felt all alone, I remained silent.  Shame was my great silencer.

My husband, sitting in the waiting room, was brave enough to ask for help.  Two friends, men he barely knew at that time, sat with him in the waiting room. They offered no judgement, no answers– just warm hugs, tears, presence and prayer.  This was love. This was entering someone else’s hard and saying you are not alone. Profound and powerful.

Me? “If only I had known then what I knew now,” isn’t that the saying?  Yet, it is only in the going through that we learn, no skipping past to the last chapter even though we often wish we could.  Thankfully, my story didn’t end that night. The question everyone wants to know when a person attempts or succeeds in committing suicide is why?  And those why’s are as varied as are the personas behind them. I have learned that sometimes it is a brain chemistry issue, for others a lack of healthy coping tools in the hard or through the traumas, and for others still it is complicated by addictions–sometimes it is all of the above.  For me, in this instance, starting on birth control pills 6 months prior was changing my hormonal balance so significantly that I was rapidly falling into a profound depression. My new chemistry mixed with a lack of healthy coping tools led to my choice that day, but really that is over simplifying it… (to be continued)