I feel like I lost a part of myself the night I attempted suicide, I told my therapist today during our session. I feel like I lost my innocence, and I can’t get it back.
Ten years ago, February 12, 2010, was a day like any other. Until it wasn’t. And I’ve spent the last ten years running from that night, saying it happened, but living as if it didn’t. Not accepting that it happened, not forgiving myself. Coincidentally, both are things my therapist says I have to do.
I’ve been spending the last ten years of my life running, but looking back. Punishing myself for, as my therapist said, “for the only answer [I] knew.” Instead of being happy I survived or got a second chance or whatnot, I’m sabotaging my life by not forgiving myself.
Let me break that down for you:
- I acknowledged that ten years ago I attempted suicide.
- By writing this, it’s obvious that I got a second chance at life.
- I’m punishing myself when then are a crap ton of people out there wishing their loved one would have gotten a second chance at life.
Now, at this point, you might be wondering how I’m punishing myself. Isn’t the fact that I’m alive and writing this and writing about my journey enough to prove that I’m living life to the fullest?
Wrong-o. I’m not living life to the fullest. Heck, I’m not even sure I’m living. I’m writing and breathing and going to therapy, but that’s about all I’m doing. That’s not much of a life.
Instead, I’m isolating: convincing myself I’m too much of a burden to hang out with friends or even hold a normal conversation with anybody (except the voices in my head).
Instead, I’m convincing myself over and over again that I should have died. That it was a fluke that I didn’t. That I, over everyone else, deserve to die. Heck, I spent the better part of Sunday night actively trying not to stare at my smorgasbord of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and mood stabilizers.
Instead, I’m going back in time and trying to retroactively talk myself out of it, using the tools I have now to stop 15-year-old me from swallowing those damn pills in the first place. But life doesn’t work that way. You can’t go back and undo something just because you know better now.
This isn’t a “poor Kaleigh, feel sorry for me” post. This is my reality. This is the years of pent-up survivor’s guilt. This is me, trying to counteract the words of my ex-boyfriend, who in a fit of rage once said, “you should have finished.”
This is me, trying to counteract the depression that makes me feel worthless, the anxiety that makes me feel like everything I do is not enough, the OCD that makes a thought like “kill yourself” get in my head and not escape, and the PTSD that says I’m too broken for anyone to love.
This is me, trying to work up the dang courage to forgive myself for a choice I didn’t even have. Forgiveness takes a lot more courage than most people would think. Forgiving yourself is like trying to pull up a 500-pound anchor when you’re lost at sea. You think you’d rather be stuck in place, but I’d much rather get to shore.
You have a hard time seeing the light in the darkness. You know it’s there because you’re living it every day, but you can’t see it. My therapist said. (I think everyone should have a therapist. They make more sense than the voices in your head sometimes.)
Euripedes said, “forgive, son; men are men; they needs must err.” Translation: people fuck up.
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Translation: you’re a human. Humans make mistakes. Therefore, you will make a mistake. Forgiveness is the tricky bit, the sticky bit. If forgiving your enemies is the waffle, forgiving yourself is the maple syrup on top.
I’m not saying attempting suicide was a mistake. What I’m saying is this: where I am in my life now, I have the skills to make suicide a less-viable option. And I have to forgive myself for the time when it was the most viable option.
And I don’t know if I know how yet. In the stages of grief (because, yes, there is a sort of grief process with this), I’m at the anger stage. Or the acceptance stage. I’m not sure which. Somedays, I think maybe they go hand-in-hand. You can’t accept what happened until you get angry at it (which I did); you can’t get angry at it until you accept what happened (which I have). Grief is like a Mobius strip: I’m not sure where one stage ends and the next stage begins.
Nothing prepares you for the process of healing. No one tells you how painful it’s going to be, the memories that will surface, the emotions that will be felt with a vengeance.
And I’m feeling them all, and maybe that’s the first step: allowing myself to feel the feelings I was taught how to stuff, told I couldn’t feel.
“Go out into the hall until you can pull yourself together,” my sixth-grade teacher told me a few days after my grandfather died. Coincidentally, today (February 11) would have been his 83rd birthday.
So I did. I’ve been pulling myself together ever since.
I feel like I’m walking that line between moving forward and giving up, I told my therapist.
Don’t you dare give up, he replied. You are resilient. You have everything within you that you need to survive.
Translation: validate your 15-year-old self, but don’t let the suicide attempt define you. For god’s sake, you’re writing a book. You’re using your experiences to help others.
I don’t know the best way to end this post: ending things seems final. Like death; ironically, I have this fear of death, especially when it comes to having those close to me die. I don’t like finality, which is why I hate ending text messages with a period.
Anyway, I digress. I guess the best way to end this post is by validating myself and all the others out there who have attempted suicide or have thought about it.
I see you.
I hear you.
I love you.