…for a reality check.
I’ve been wanting to post this for a while:
June 29, 2015
Daughter, sister, auntie, mother, mom, grandma (Umma), friend, confidant…these are just a few of the titles that I am very proud of. I assume that many share these, and similar titles (son, father, dad, brother, uncle, etc.)
These are a part of who I am, and while carrying these titles is sometimes difficult, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Recent events have led me to evaluate and reevaluate why I have these titles and why I choose to continue to live in this difficult and harsh world despite the hardships that I face in life. Life is full of choices, and every choice (good or bad) has consequences. The consequences of holding a child in your arms and telling them that you love them may range anywhere from a small hint of a smile to a tantrum with that child screaming that they don’t love you, and everything in between and beyond.
I want to talk about one choice in particular that has had an impact on my life and the lives of everyone I know. Suicide.
Now, I know that some of you will read this and say to yourselves “I’ve never considered suicide” or “I don’t know anyone who has killed themselves”, but I promise that it has still impacted some aspect of your life.
My dad made this decision almost 31 years ago. I was 8. I don’t know if he realized what an impact this decision would have on the people in his life until it was too late. I don’t know if he considered the impact this choice would have.
I have spent many nights (and some days) blaming myself for his choice. I know, I know, it’s not my fault. But let me tell you something. I was not good enough for him to live for. Do you want to know what else? Neither were my brothers, my mom, his siblings, his nieces and nephews, his friends. No one was. If only I wasn’t such a brat. If only I didn’t roll my eyes when he told me he loved me, if only I had not told that lie and gotten caught, if only I had not thrown a jealous fit over something my brothers got praise for, if only…if only…if only…
For those who wonder how my dads decision has impacted their lives when they never even knew him, let me clarify. I know that the choice was his, and it was a choice, regardless of what led to it. In my mind, and in my heart, I know he made this choice not as a result of anything I did, but as a result of his feelings of depression, desperation, and despair. That doesn’t remove the blame that I placed on myself at the age of 8, and some part of me still finds reasons to take the blame. I am a different person because of his decision. I approach people differently, I have a different outlook on life, and I handle situations differently than I imagine I would have if he had decided to stick around. My attitude about life and relationships is different. That has had an impact on the lives of everyone I have come into contact with. Based on the 6 degrees of separation (look it up), his decision has impacted you too. You may, or may not know someone who has contemplated, or decided on, suicide. You may, or may not know that someone close to you has thought about it.
I too have contemplated suicide when life has been difficult, but I have also taken time to consider the consequences and the impact it would have on those I love. I have considered what I would miss out on, what I would force others to miss out on. This is where I return to those titles I mentioned earlier. Based solely on my decision, my brothers, mom, children, nieces and nephews, granddaughter, friends would not have me to turn to in times of happiness, sorrow, or need. They would not be able to text or call me when they have something to share. Sure, I could take away my earthly pains by choosing to take my own life, or I can choose to live, realizing that these earthly pains are just a reminder of where I came from, how much I’ve grown, (and even though I find it hard to admit at times) how much I love my life and value the relationships I’ve made.
Recently I had a very close friend tell me he wanted to take his life. He has a young son, T, he has raised alone for most of the boys life as his way of supporting his wife’s Navy career, and he has done an amazing job. His boy is not perfect, but man is he smart, and full of piss and vinegar. My friends life has not been easy…full of disappointments, abandonment, addiction, prison…the list goes on and on. But despite his very difficult life, he was able to marry an amazing woman, have a son, and raise him to be one of the most respectful 6 year olds I’ve ever met. This boy is my friends whole world…yet, while his boy was in his care, he chose to try and end his life.
I drove over 26 hours, by myself, to go pick T up. When I got there, my friend asked me why his life is so hard. I told him, and I believe every word of it, “because God knows what a strong person you are, even if you don’t.” I reminded him of the many pity parties I had as a teenager with him on my porch swing about how I blamed myself for my dads decision. I pointed out his son, and the burden he would be placing on his son if he took his own life. Then, he had the nerve to ask me a question. He asked “What about me?” I felt the blood rush to my head as I responded “What about you?” I mean really! You choose to give up with no regard to the consequences everyone else has to live with, and you really want me to answer that question! Honestly! I told him his life hasn’t been about him since his son was born. As the sole caretaker of that boy, and claiming that his boy means everything to him, he made a decision to leave his boy and attempt to end his life…had he succeeded, had his wife not called me to ask for help, his boy (his world) would’ve ended up in foster care with the potential to follow his dad’s difficult life path.
He had lost his dang mind. I knew he needed to have his mental state evaluated, and the stress was sending him into seizures. I chose to call an ambulance. I needed to do whatever it took to protect his son, who, by the way, was telling me what “medicine” to give his dad to help him recover from his seizures, and where to find it. I had to argue with a 6 year old about the best way to care for someone after a seizure. The sheriffs department arrived first. My friend has NEVER had a positive experience with officers before. I explained that to the officers and they were able to miraculously put his mind at ease and he had a conversation with 2 officers for the first time in his life. (Thank you officers Jace and J.J.) They asked him to go to the hospital to be evaluated. I was in shock when he said yes. Relieved, but shocked. After arriving at the hospital, I let him say bye to his son, and we started on the long drive home. I now have temporary custody. His mom deploys in a few months, and wants him to be in a stable environment while she’s away.
Last night was the first night he’s stayed over with us in a couple years. He had a meltdown, not because he is here away from his dad, but because he knew what his dad had done. He asked me what’s going to happen to him if his dad kills himself. He is worried that he will never see his dad again, and he’s worried about the “house” they lived in, and what will happen to their stuff. A 6 year old boy worrying about how he’ll get food, and take care of himself. No matter how much I tried to tell him I would worry for him, he couldn’t let go of that stress he had been carrying around since he witnessed his dad’s first attempt to take his own life. T told me of 3 separate instances that he knew about.
The messages I want to send to anyone who may read this…
- Suicide is a choice.
- Suicide is a selfish choice
- Suicide affects everyone
- It’s not all about you
- The world revolves around the sun…it does not revolve around you
- Your life may be very difficult, but someone else has it worse
- There is help out there, and you can find simply by asking
- You are not alone
- If you are thinking about suicide, even just a little bit, talk to someone