Monday, April 25, 2011

I Didn't Want to Die But I Didn't Know How to Live

"I can wear my wounds without shame. They tell a resurrection story." -Jennifer Kennedy Dean

When a friend posted Free Love Day on her Facebook wall this morning, I was immediately sucked back into my life as a teenager.  Sometimes it seems like oh so many years ago and sometimes it seems like yesterday.  Deep inside, I am still that misunderstood girl trying to find her way and it was easy to lose myself for a minute in those feelings of hopelessness, the mad desire to cut away the pain alternating with the boredom and apathy.  I remember what it was like to cut into my flesh with a razor blade and watch the blood drip, drip down my arm.  I remember watching myself as though I were a character in a role, detached and curious about where this story was going to lead.  I remember swallowing seventeen pills from a bottle of Tylenol and I remember my friend calling 911 and the ambulance coming and my stomach being pumped and throwing up all over myself as the tube was stuck down my throat.  I remember our attempts to convince them it was just a joke.  We succeeded and they released me and I moved away from it all.

I remember the sense of hopelessness moving right along with me.  And I controlled it for awhile by not eating or throwing up when I had to eat.  I needed some way to control my life, to deal with the overriding pain in my life.  It seemed all consuming.  It ate at me and so I did not eat. I grew very thin, my friends became concerned.  I moved away again.

It moved with me.

I remember the last bit of hope draining away.  Another person who promised forever love and walked away and I remember taking the razor blade out of my purse, sitting in the school bathroom stall, and slicing through all the hurt as I slit my wrists. It didn't seem real.  I didn't want to die but I didn't know how to live.  The Bell Jar was a recent read and I could relate to the author who did end up killing herself.  I was watching everything from my own little bubble and I desperately wanted to get out and join the happy laughing world but I had no idea how. 

I spent three months in a psychiatric hospital when I was seventeen. The shrinks were laughable and I still have no faith in the psychiatric community as a whole.  The mental health workers, however, were in their business because they loved us and they really wanted to help (for the most part).  The other "crazies" in there showed us we weren't alone.  It was a spark of hope.

I'd love to say everything was peachy after that.  It wasn't.  Life is hard and people often suck. This is a true life lesson.  But there is hope to be found.  The way you may feel right now will not last forever, even if it seems that way.  You can make it through and you can feel real again.

My friend who called 911 when I swallowed the bottle of Tylenol lost hope in her life.  It was four years later and we had lost contact.  I was newly married and just beginning to understand how God had worked in my life, when I received a phone call from a mutual friend.  My friend had shot herself in her parent's bathroom while home from college.  I may never know the details of what caused her to come to that point but I remember the deep sorrow at not being there for her as she was for me.

Free Love Day: Draw a Heart on Your Wrist; Write LOVE on Your Arm; To Save A Life- these are all groups on Facebook that exist to promote awareness of suicide and cutting, especially among teenagers.  They encourage us to share love with each other and to be sure that those around you know that you care and that there is hope to be found. Sometimes we do everything we can and our loved one still chooses to take their life.  This is a tragedy.  But the bigger tragedy is when we don't see the pain behind someone's eyes and we don't share the hope that is within us.

These wounds are part of my resurrection story and I don't share them often enough.  I can now see God's hand throughout my entire life and how he was there offering hope.  I couldn't see it then and maybe you can't see it now, but know there is hope. And you are loved.

Write love on your arms, draw hearts on your wrists, do whatever needs to be done to show those around us that we love them and we care and we can get through the pain.  It will get better.  Sometimes life seems like a nightmare and someone may just need to know that there is hope for the future.  That they have a future.  Go. Love. Share your story if you have one.  Share mine if you like.

May it somehow be a blessing.


Carol Davis said...

My heart is smiling because you are making the choice to let God redeem your pain. So proud of you.
Tell your story. Many need to hear.
Love and blessings,

Lizzie said...

You are wonderful and I am so glad you found God's love for you before you went the way of your friend. I think you are an amazing woman of faith and courage and you are a precious gift of a friend to me and mine.

Shasta said...

Wow I had no idea we lived such similar lives. Even now sometimes the deep pain is almost unbearable, but I don't feel it for myself anymore, but for others.


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