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The day I tried to kill myself was the last of three days living in complete hell unlike any I’d ever known.
I’d spent three days in a dissociated state, floating through my day with zombie eyes and a catatonic stride. I was barely able to function. I’d walk into the bathroom and wonder why I was there. I’d stare at the eggs cooking in my frying pan and wonder what I was supposed to do with them. I’d look at the sender of a text message and wonder, Who the hell is Momma Dukes?
For three days, every single trauma I had ever lived through played on and on in my head on a ruthless loop like reruns from your least favorite show. First, I was five years old, stepping into the room, uneasy, when someone told me they wanted to play a game. Then I was older, listening to someone suck the life from my mother so she could keep a roof over my head. Then I was hiding behind my trumpet case as someone kicked and beat at me from where I cowered in the corner, sure that this was the time he would kill me. Then I was robbed of my virginity as my life changed in the blink of an eye. Then I watched myself lay there like a boneless fish while I became a toy and a crowd was gathered around me, blind to the tears slipping down frozen cheeks from lifeless eyes.
Three days this played over and over. Nonstop. All the while a nasty little voice whispered in my head: it was all your fault, all of it was your fault. When I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore, the world went still. The silence seemed so sweet and I knew real peace when I swallowed the last of those pills.
I only felt a twinge of regret when my bird began to screech at me from his cage, stopping only when I would roll over on the couch and look at him. Whenever I closed my eyes, he turned frantic again until I would once more meet his gaze. I felt a little worse when my dog squeezed himself onto the couch beside me, his head resting on me as he twisted into what I knew was a seriously uncomfortable position. I could feel him watching me, nudging me every so often as if to see if I would still move.
But what really made me feel regret was after the paramedics came: the thickness of tears in my husband’s voice as he told them I had left a note.
At the hospital, he begged me to tell him why. I told him what had been on my mind the last three days that had made me so detached, made me feel so defeated. He didn’t understand why I couldn’t tell him, why I didn’t reach out to him. I felt so broken, shattered, so unsure if I was happy that I hadn’t been successful that I didn’t have the strength to hide the truth from him anymore.
I told him I felt unlovable, that people tolerated my existence and that I was only as good as what pleasure my body could provide. I told him people were only being kind to me, holding me up until I was deemed “sane” and “cured” of my PTSD symptoms that had crippled me this last year. I was so sure everyone would disappear from my world once they thought I was no longer a problem. I had convinced myself for all my life that people kept me around out of pity and that I would never be worthy of the good things in my life. I told him that I was so used to walking through flames that when the fire was out I couldn’t stand the lack of heat so I had to ignite the world on my own because in my life the more time that went by in peace, the worse the punishment would be when everything exploded. I told him I was so tired of living with the pain of my memories and that I couldn’t sit around and twiddle my thumbs while I waited for everything I loved to slip away. I told him I didn’t deserve to be happy, because that is what I had been conditioned to believe.
But the days that followed changed my life.
When friends asked me how I was, I told them: I tried to kill myself on Friday. People were shocked. I felt like I was begging for attention, being dramatic, but I was just so tired of hiding my agony from the people I loved the most. A few were angry that I couldn’t see the value I had in their eyes, but I couldn’t hear past the voices from the tyrants of my past telling me I had no worth. The love they showed me every day began to sink in: checking up on me, validating my existence through the random text messages I received just so people could remind me they loved me. My husband texted me to let me know he loved me and he was here for me, no matter what, even from the next room. My stepfather asked me every day how I was feeling, that my attempt had shaken the family to its core. Even my sister-in-law (who I was sure had hated me) reached out to include me in her life without mentioning anything about what had happened. When two of my friends created a group chat on Facebook for me to talk to them whenever the weight of my past became too much, I dropped my phone and collapsed into a ball of blubbering tears. This simple act of kindness shook my world to its very core and I had this simple, scary thought: What if people really do love me? What if I really am worth more than what the monsters under my bed had robbed from me? What if I am so much more that what my abusers have led me to believe all these long years?
While it took me weeks to crawl out of that dark, horrible hole I’d slipped into, somehow it was different. I kept waiting for the love to stop, kept waiting for the moment when I could point and say, “Aha! I knew it would end, you can’t fool me into thinking I matter!” And yet that moment still hasn’t come.
Don’t get me wrong: at least once a day I have to squeeze my eyes shut against the pain and take a deep breath. I’m not fixed by any means and I haven’t been magically transformed because my husband came home from work when he did. My PTSD is still so real, so alive, with a wild mind of its own. My meds have been doubled, my therapy taken more seriously by my counselor, and I feel like a veil has been lifted.
I’d felt so alone, as if nobody could ever possibly understand the dark place I was living in. I didn’t think I mattered to anyone, that nobody would miss me when I was gone, and that everyone’s lives would be so much better once I’d died.
But now…now I know someone cares. There is always someone who cares. People like me? We are never alone. Because you know what? If we are all alone, we are together in that, too.
And I can finally say that, for the first time in my life, I am glad I didn’t succeed.