This is a search phrase that brought someone to my blog, and it saddens me profoundly to think there is someone out there in this much pain. So it is to you that this blog is written.
I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m pretty confident to say I know what you’re feeling. I’ve been there many times myself. I know what it’s like when life just seems so overwhelming that the only thing you can hope for is a reprieve from the pain and the encompassing sadness that makes every new day seem like another exercise in futility.
Sometimes we sink so far into ourselves that we lose our perspective. Yet, when times like these hit that is all we can really shift or change in the face of unyielding, negative circumstances.
Those moments when I was the saddest and most at the end of my rope, it wasn’t the situation that changed as much as my own perception of myself.
I’ve been perilously close to suicide two very distinct times in my life.
The first one was nearly a decade after I was sexually abused as a child. I was thirteen years old and a friend of mine was going through a literal trial prosecuting a man who had sexually assaulted her. All the stuff I had buried out of shame and guilt bubbled to the surface and I felt as useless as I ever would in my entire life. I felt corrupted and vile – a creature born for God to scorn, and punish with the very worst of what life had to offer.
Since I was so young I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. All I could see was how pointless it all was. Why bother? What possibly could be there to gain?
In a rare (and IMO miraculous) phone call from my friend who lived out of town, my perspective changed in an instant. What had been to that point a close friendship turned into a kinship – he told me through his own tears that without me he didn’t think HE could go on. What he had been going through as a young man trying to come to peace with and understand his own sexual identity was made *easier* by my presence. But I had no way of knowing that because of how deeply wrapped up in my own sorrow and conflict I was.
My situation did not change. I was still the survivor of sexual abuse, my friend was still prosecuting her attacker (and I was a key witness to prove her case – facing her attacker right along with her.) Everything around me had not changed.
I had to change from the inside… and a kind word from my best friend was that catalyst.
I put down the knife that was quite literally to my wrist and got back in the ring.
Many years later I lost my newborn son nine days after I gave birth to him. When the paramedic came in to find me where I huddled with my two young boys (aged 4 and 2) and told me the news, my knees buckled and I nearly sank to the floor. With all the strength that he had he held me up, looked me straight in the eye and told me I had two other boys who needed me… and I had to be strong.
Those words did not change my circumstances – but my perspective shifted from my own overwhelming, soul-crushing grief to the needs of my two children… who needed me to make sure their world was okay.
And for a while I was able to stay true to my cause. But life eventually took over and my perspective shifted again to living my life for everyone else, pleasing everyone else, and finding it was a useless endeavor. A mere three years later my sons had been removed from my home because of my husband’s mental illness, we were staying with my passive aggressive mother who believed that we owed it to her to do everything the way she wanted us to do it. I was working for an equally passive aggressive boss who took out her own self-loathing on me by being unnecessarily cruel, and I was supposed to tolerate it because of the benefits she had so magnanimously given in ostentatious grand gestures. My equally martyred sister took advantage of me the same way, and ended up telling me that my beloved father I lost wasn’t really my biological dad – coincidentally ON the anniversary of his death (which was also his birthday.)
By then I was shrinking away from the blows by losing myself in negative behavior like eating and the Internet. I wasn’t focused on doing what I needed to do to fix all that was broken, my perspective shifted to those things that gave me instant gratification in the moment. New cyber relationships took the place of real ones, and I ended up acting out in dangerous ways.
By the fourth anniversary of my youngest son’s death I was at the end of my rope. I had been rejected by everyone in my life I did want to be there and those I didn’t were clinging to me with a death grip. And of course I felt obligated to be there. I sank so far into a pit of depression I had quite literally planned out how I would finally put an end to my suffering.
I was going to go to my son’s grave, take all the pills I could get my hands on and overdose there.
Fortunately there was one voice left to save me. It was another stranger, a person I had only spoken to via an Internet chat room and private messaging. He was a stranger, so I felt safe enough to unload my burden – because I knew my best friend Jeff would just talk me out of what I felt was the only thing left I could do to spare myself even one more second of pain.
Everything that gave my life meaning I lost – and everything that just made everything worse.
He called me and we talked all night – until he had finally convinced me that, no matter what I thought, the world needed me. I had too much to give and too much to do. I was necessary.
The next day I went to the doctor and got a prescription for anti-depressants. That was January of 1999. By December of 1999 I had moved away from my mom, quit my job, broke ties with my sister, got my kids back and was in a brand new relationship with someone who really loved me for me.
It was the most transformational year of my life – and I would have missed it had it not been for a kind stranger reminding me that while I couldn’t blink my eyes and change my circumstances… I could change my perspective.
Instead of listening to all those hurtful, depressing things that stole my thunder and buried me alive in an emotional grave… I can instead cling to those positive words that empower me and give me the strength to pull myself up again and know that at life’s end… the times I have outlined above are the minority.
I have been through hellish times, but I’ve also been through amazing times – times where I could see all my dreams (and all the things I previously thought myself unworthy of) become a reality.
And I KNOW you can get there too.
The world needs you.
YOU ARE NECESSARY.
You may be at the end of your rope… but you have the ability to tie a knot and hang on, and that’s what typing that search phrase on an Internet search engine was doing.
You reached out… and I’m reaching back… just like my best friend before me, that firefighter and that Internet stranger.
Looking back on all those moments where I nearly let go of everything and gave up, I see all the good things that I would have missed. The pain was not worth missing out on getting to know my children – even Brandon, who I lost after nine days. It was not worth missing the places I’ve been able to go and the things I’ve seen – the people I have gotten to know and have loved (some of whom even loved me back.) I’d have never seen my name in print from a book I published, or accomplish those things other people can only dream of doing.
It may hurt now… it may hurt a lot… but I promise you as someone who has been there… it gets better.
So lock in that dream or that goal and hang on for dear life.
It’s worth it.
And it gets better. ❤