Our lives are like spider webs. When we are in the middle of them, it is sticky, we are caught, and we don’t know how to escape. When we step aside, we see the intricate beauty of the patterns. When we are depressed, we do not see our purpose or how our life connects with others. We only feel the pain, isolation and hopelessness.
I am sharing my story to break the silence of depression and the trauma that led to it: a dating violence relationship. This is not a story that will go into detail about what happen, that is personal. That is my story. The story that I share is one of a journey and twenty years later, I am still on.
On December 6th, 1996, I woke up in a cold sweat, crying. Sitting up, unable to shake it, I decided to take a shower. I stood there letting the hot water run down my back, still a little uneasy from waking up so suddenly. I opened my eyes and looked down at my arms and started screaming because I saw them all covered with blood and my whole body now was bleeding. I splashed water on my arms and my face, looking again, the blood was not there anymore.
I put my hands on my face, rubbed my eyes, and continued to cry. I just stood there crying. I crawled back in my bed and cried for three more hours. I did not think of anything in particular, my mind was mostly blank; I just felt everything from the last two and half years of my life.
I was feeling very tired. I wanted to give up. I didn’t think that I could ever survive this pain. I went in to the bathroom and looked at the girl in the mirror. She was crying just like me. I looked in the mirror and told her that I once had a dream to be a dancer but it never came true. I told her that I wanted to be a princess but for people like me, fairy tales do not come true. I was just a servant girl and people were going to use me until they would kill me. I was not going to let anyone have that satisfaction; I was finally going to play Sleeping Beauty.
I opened the cabinet and found a bottle Naprosyn and my roommates sleeping pills and I started to swallow them one by one. I took about five of them when a little voice in my head asked me “is this was really what I wanted to do? It’s not your time yet.” I somehow knew that if I tried to kill myself, it would work. Over the last year stuck in the relationship that I was in, I played around with taking too many pills to make myself sleep for a long time, in the hopes that maybe I would.
I didn’t want to die but I didn’t see how I could go on living with this pain. I looked down at the floor, crying, and between my tears saw the phone book. I opened the cover page, weak from crying for the last five hours, I called 1-800-603-HELP and spoke to a counselor. She asked me what was wrong and it was as if someone had opened the floodgates to my emotions. I told her everything that I had wanted to say for the last two years. Saying the words,” my ex-boyfriend use to beat me” was the beginning to starting over.
They arranged for someone to come and meet me that night for emergency counseling. For the next month, I went to counseling twice a week for an hour. The counselor explained to me that when I was in the shower, I was hallucinating the blood because I had incurred so much traumatic stress that it just built up inside of me until I exploded. The feelings of numbness over the last year was my way of protecting myself and surviving. Survivor.
The first three months were easy because I broke my silence, got an order of protection, he moved back to Iowa and I was happy, or so I thought. I stopped therapy. I partied with new friends. Drank too much. Danced late in the morning. Life was good except for the times when I was alone and the words that he said echoed in my ear. Walking down the street, I felt his hands reaching around my neck but wait, the cure is drinking, dancing and partying.
Until of course your alone. October. Sunday was dinner with my neighbor, Renee. She left for a moment and coming back, she saw that I had been crying and had gone blank. She didn't take “I’m fine” for an answer but she did take a “yes” when I agreed I’d go back to therapy. For months, she’d ask, “did you go to therapy today? I don’t need to know what you talked about, just that you went and when you’re ready, you’ll tell me what’s going on.”
To transform your life so that you don’t end up back where you are trying to leave, takes hard work. It took me on a journey of examining my relationship that brought me to this place but then understanding the links between my childhood, my self-esteem, my body image and all the collective experiences I’ve had. I have had to learn how to speak differently about myself, my feelings and others. I have had to learn how to stick up for myself, let go of people who are not a positive influence on my life and find my purpose. I’ve learned that even if you move away and travel, the problems are still there. You can not run away from things for they will always come back at you two-fold.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the path to healing is how to forgive someone in order to move forward. Forgiving someone does not mean forgetting, it’s about accepting what has happened, cutting the ties and moving forward. If someone receives your act of forgiveness and can understand what truly has occurred, they will move forward with you and in the act of doing so, forgive themselves for hurting you.
I see the world differently now. Being a survivor changes you. Renee touched me with kindness and it changed me forever. Since then, I’ve gone on to touch and reach so many kids and people through teaching, performing and speaking publicly about my life in the hopes that it will reach just one person to make a change.
I see the beauty of the spider web. I am in no means walking on sunshine all the time, for the sun does set but then a friend will whisper in my ear that I am loved, I take a deep breath and find center. My favorite poem as a kid was the “Road Less Traveled” because I seem to always do things differently then the people I grew up with and was related to. I’m not wishing anyone to go through the things I have been through. Instead, I am hoping by sharing my story it will create empathy and maybe someone out there is going through the same things will read this and know that it will get better, it just takes a lot of work.
It takes making a choice to say your worth it and find away to surround yourself with people who love you for no other reason then who you are as a person. It takes time, perseverance and love. It take loving yourself, living love and allowing yourself to be loved.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
#suicideprevention #suicide #domesticviolence #resilence #hope #love
Thank you Renee