This is not the first time I have sat here like this unable to breathe, unable to think a single thought. Words jumbled in my mind, searching for others to be pieced together to bring me back or push me further into the night. At thirty-seven years old, I know what this is. I know these feelings, this is not the first time.
This is not the first time I have sat staring at the wall seeing nothing. It is not the first time that everything has felt unclear and hopeless. That the rattling of a pill bottle is anything but calming.
“Breathe to live,” I began to say. Those three words became a mantra while I tried to return from wherever I had retreated to. I began to say my children’s names and the name of my girlfriend, clinging to those reasons to live.
I should call her, I should move, I should turn on music or open a book, I should do anything but just sit here glancing at the bottle on my bed.
This struggle does not diminish with age. The contemplating, the attempting, the deeply negative thoughts do not just vanish. This takes time, maybe even forever. But that night, I knew I wanted to heal. I knew I wanted to figure out how to move forward.
The next day, the sun rose like any other morning and so did I, as though the contemplation of ending my life had never happened. When my girlfriend asked over the phone how I was feeling, I made a choice to be honest. Little by little I opened up, breathing through the tears as I told her. There was no judgment, no anger, she simply asked, “Why didn’t you call?”
My reason was one that doesn’t always make sense to those who don’t struggle with these things: “Because I couldn’t think to call.”
“Okay, what do you need now?” she replied. That is what you want and long to hear, but to give an answer is difficult.
What do we need after we contemplate or attempt to end our life? We need no judgment, we need someone to listen even if we don’t speak, we need time and caring souls. Or perhaps this is what I’ve found is needed. After traumatic events in my youth, attempts were made. But I was brought back from the edge, only to be ridiculed and judged. I have fought demons, some days survived minute by minute.
It is not easy being a lesbian even as a grown woman. I was raised in a conservative household where no other option but to marry a man, raise children, and be a good wife was given. Although I had secret relationships with women, I did marry a man. I drank to forget, to escape my reality. I endured very low lows and sought out high highs in my attempts to achieve happiness. Following my divorce and in rebuilding a life, I tried to lead what I thought was a normal life, not realizing my unhappiness and struggles were still present. It was not until I decided to honor who I truly was that I witnessed life getting better.
Dark thoughts pass through me and some days they try to hang on; other days I barely notice them. When you’re a survivor, no two days are the same. Whether you’ve contemplated, attempted or just struggle, you are a living, breathing survivor.
I am good with who I am and I strive to be better in ways that matter to me. Still, there are those around who don’t accept and judge every chance they get. It has taken me a long time to sadly realize that not everyone is here for your happiness. Nor is everyone in your story meant to remain part of it forever. But others need to hear your story, even just a sentence. My story is not done and I have a lot left to say. There are many moving pieces and parts. Rainy days and dark nights come, but I am here, reminding you to look up.
None of this is easy, but it is worth it.