I woke up this morning, and read this on The Bloggess. She's very inspiring to me, and it helps to know that someone as awesome as she is can suffer anxiety, and depression. It means that I can still be awesome too.
In honor of today, I'm going to share a deeply personal story. One that only a handful of people know, and that handful doesn't include many of my family members. So I'm sort of grateful they're unaware of the existence of this blog lol. This is a rather painful story, and it will be very hard for me to tell it. I'm changing the name of the other person involved in this story, because though I was just speaking to him in our usual morning ritual way, I was too nervous to ask him if he minded me using his real name. Plus he's ever so proper, and would probably be embarrassed by the showering of praise.
So for this we have to go back to 2004. I had, on a hunch, gone through my then husband's computer while he was out. I found email after email, and all sorts of instant message conversations with another woman who he professed to love. He told her he hated me, was leaving me, all the things you never want to hear from the man you've said "I Do" to. When he returned, I confronted him. He was so very angry at my prying, refused to discuss his online infidelity. When I wouldn't back down, he choked me, beat me, threw me into a wall, and then left. My son was (thankfully!) with his step-grandparents, and witnessed none of this. I sat on the swing outside the house until dawn. I couldn't think. I didn't think about why I wanted him back, or even if I wanted him back. I was just waiting.
He returned about two weeks later. I'll skip over the insanity that filled the two weeks before his return, because it's still uncomfortable even now. We'll just sum up with: Some people supported me, but others actually told me I'd gotten what I'd asked for. I no longer speak to the latter group of people.
When he returned, my husband told me he was sorry, that he never meant any of it, and that he loved me. Then he told me he'd decided to get us away from all of it, the poverty, the drugs. He said he was going to go to Minnesota and stay with a friend of ours, and get a job. Then he'd send for me. Now I know that you all following at home are shouting "Don't believe him!" I assure you, I knew very well what was going on. I happened to know that the woman he'd been talking to online lived 3 hours from our friend in Minnesota. I knew exactly what he was going to do. I bought the airline ticket however, I packed his bags, and I went with him to the airport. I've always hoped that he eventually understood that I had done all of these things fully aware that he was going to her. I would hate to think he felt he'd tricked me.
After he'd been gone a week, I got the instant message I was expecting. He informed me he was with her, and wasn't coming back to me. I don't remember what I said, but I do remember signing off before he'd finished explaining why he'd left. I didn't care. The why of it didn't matter to me. Just the fact of it. After seven years of marriage he was gone. They weren't even good years to be honest, and I was aware of that. He'd been abusive towards me, he was an addict. The only good thing I can say about him is that he never interacted with my son much, so my baby was spared any violence. (I feel I should clarify here that my husband was not my son's father. My son's father is a good man, and a good father. No one had any clue what my marriage was like behind closed doors, or they would have helped me escape.)
I sleepwalked through life for a few days, trying to figure out what the next step was. He'd been so controlling that I had defined my entire life by his desires and whims. Without his presence all I could figure out to do was dress my son, take him to school, then sit there while he was away until it was time to go get him. I was broken. So, on a Friday afternoon I decided to take my life. My son deserved better than a broken woman as his mother, I thought. His step-mother's parents were coming to pick my son up for the weekend, so I decided to wait until he'd left. He was so little, he didn't need to see this. My mom would have found me before he returned, and as sad as she would be it was better than my baby being the one.
I gathered up a massive handful of pills; Codine, valium and paxil. I put them in my nightstand drawer, and then waited. To keep myself busy while I waited for the school day to be over, I went to deviantART and decided to look at the chatrooms. There was one room I'd been in once before called "dAPensioners" and it was for people over the age of 21. It had seemed nice, so I went back in. The owner of the chat (the person who'd created the chatroom) was inside, and he greeted me cheerfully. From here on out we shall refer to him as Doodles, because it's what he does.
Doodles and I talked about nothing important for a long time, and then he offered to switch to instant messenger. It suited me, so when I returned from picking up my son from school, we talked privately for a while longer. We traded stories from our lives, while I packed a bag for my son and tried to not let him know that this would be the last time my C-monster would see me. I kissed and hugged my son hard, and told him I loved him more than anything else in the world. Then he left for the weekend.
Doodles and I talked some more, and I decided to wait until after dark to do this. I'd go to sleep and just not awaken. I smoked my cigarettes hanging out my window so that I didn't have to leave the conversation for even a moment. We had much in common, and much that was different. He lived in London, had a good job, never married and no kids but a long time girlfriend. We both loved music, talked about films, were passionate about art. He never seemed to tire of talking, even though he was eight hours ahead of me.
All at once I realized that the sun had come up in California. It was a new day, and it struck me that I could change everything starting today. I could make a new life, and that I wanted to see what sort of man my son would become. That I wanted to see what sort of person I could become. I could make the changes I wanted. I did not have to define my life by anyone else, and I could survive this.
That feeling of power didn't last, but the desire to live did. A few years later, over drinks and face to face, I thanked Doodles everything he'd done for me without ever knowing he'd done so. He was probably a little embarrassed, so I dropped it right away. I am without a doubt his most loyal friend to this day though. I would drop almost anything if he asked for my assistance. Though he's terribly British and probably wouldn't ever want to impose upon me.
That awful first day, the one where I went through the computer and was beaten for my trouble, was eight years ago next month. Since then I've made mistakes, had my heart broken, and broken a heart or two. I never changed my mind about being alive though.I'm so happy now, married to a really good man, my son is becoming a wonderful adult, I'm still great friends with Doodles and we talk frequently even though we live many time zones apart still. It doesn't escape me though that it could have easily gone differently. I could have not found anyone to talk to, or run into someone who was cruel and sarcastic. I could have decided to watch mind-numbing television until my son had left. I don't know why I chose to speak to people online before I ended things, maybe I wanted to live secretly, deeply inside of me. I know that I made sure to give no sign of my intentions. Whatever it was, it made all the difference.
Everyone struggles, everyone hurts. I know. I know you hurt, and you struggle, I know sometimes it's too much to bear. But I love you. I want to tell you that I love you, and I don't know who you are. I want to tell you that I am here for you, that I struggle with you. Some days I want to hurt myself, some days all I want to do is cry in bed. It's okay if you feel the same. It makes us brothers and sisters. It makes us human, and real and perhaps a little more beautiful for all of our cracks, and flaws.
I'm not really sure how to end this one, it's so deeply personal.
If you're in the US and need to talk to someone please call: 1-800-273-8255
Outside the US, this website has links to the help lines for everywhere in the world: http://suicidehotlines.com/international.html
To quote the great sage Christopher Robin: "If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."