I had planned to make this a collection of funny anecdotal stories from the summer thus far. I will still write that blog, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Tonight I don’t feel like laughing anymore. Tonight I am so very sad. I read the news of Amy Winehouse’s death on Facebook. I am not a particular fan of Amy Winehouse’s music. I probably could only name one of her songs. I like much of the world’s population, caught glimpses of her on the covers of the tabloids in the grocery store checkout line. I can claim no personal or professional relationship. In fact my life is not directly affected by this in any real way. Yet I feel a deep, sad connection to her story. This blog comes from one of the darkest nights of my life. This blog is about the night I tried to take my own life.
It was a bad day. If I was to rate bad days on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being mildly annoying and 10 being horrendously, world endingly terrible) I would rate this one an average 5 or 6. I had had worse days in my 15 years. I had had better but somehow this night I just could not stomach another average 5 bad day. Somehow this night when I looked at my life I saw a never ending line of fives, sixes, sevens, and eights marching in front of me. I looked at the hopeless, never-ending marching parade and I went to the medicine cabinet. I took anything I could find in it, my parents didn’t do the whole “drugs” thing so there wasn’t a lot to choose from. What was there I took it all, including the entire unopened 100 count extra strength Tylenol, a bottle of peroxide and whatever else shoved in there. I was so done. I was so over all the pain. I didn’t want help, I didn’t want advice, and I didn’t write a suicide note. I just wanted out. I just wanted oblivion. I just wanted not to hurt anymore. I spent a miserable 14 hours on the bathroom floor retching. My mother came to the door once and asked if I had taken anything to make myself sick. I told her “No. I only have a stomach bug. I’ll be fine. Go on to bed.” She did. I don’t blame her for this. My mother and I did not have the traditional mother daughter relationship…but I’m getting ahead of myself. I lay on the bathroom floor, in my own vomit (I didn’t even have the strength to make it to the toilet anymore) and I felt the presence of God in a way I can’t describe. I had a relationship with God. I had felt his presence many times but that night it was different. “Do you want to die?” The question screamed in my head. “YES!!!” I screamed back. Fifteen minutes and much retching later the question came again “Do you want to die?” “Yes.” Another ten or fifteen minutes went by. Time is relative when you’re lying in a pool of your own vomit. “Do you want to die?” “What to do you want from me?!? LEAVE ME ALONE!” “But do you want to die?” the question came again. “Yes…no….I don’t know” That was it. I had survived the night. I got my mess and I cleaned up and spent the day burying myself in books. We didn’t have a TV so this was as close as I came to vegging out. Every time I stopped reading the same question pounded in my head…..Did I want to die? I continued to ignore this in every way I could; putting off the inevitable confrontation with my choices. I am a master procrastinator so I was able to escape myself most of the day. Finally there was no putting it off any longer. “Do you want to die?” I stopped and thought a long time. “No I don’t want to die. I just want the pain to go away. I don’t want to feel this anymore.” Never again after that day did I even think about killing myself. I realized something very basic in that moment. I truly did not want to die. I needed to heal. This is not the end of my story. My parents did not know about my suicide attempt but they did know something was very wrong. They sent me to live with my Grandparents for a while. It was the best thing they could have done. I needed the solitude, the quiet and honestly the pampering that they gave me during that time. My grandparents didn’t know what had happened, to this day they probably don’t. But they gave me a deeply needed respite. For a few months I was able to just be.
I don’t know what happened to Amy Winehouse. I don’t know if she took her own life or not. I am very sorry for the loss of the people who loved her most. No one can fill the whole that someone leaves when they go. I don’t share my story lightly. Some of the wounds and pains that needed healing in me took years and much counseling. I share this only because maybe, just maybe my story will make someone reconsider an irreversible mistake. If I had died that night I never would have experienced the greatest moments of my life. The moments I could not see while I was in that dark, dark place: a wonderful summer when I was 17 and I made lifelong friends while living at the beach and working in a mission, going away to college, falling in love with my husband, getting married, having my five beautiful baby boys, learning and loving all the differences God has given each of them, moving to TX and meeting many more beautiful friends, so many, many good things that I cannot even begin to list them all. My life has been so very full of wonderful, awesome things. My life has had some hard roads and painful loss but in walking these hard places I never once thought about ending my life. Instead I cling to life in the good, the bad and all the in between. Life is so very precious. Thank you God for your grace.