Mother and Daughter: An (In)Complete History of (Almost) Suicide

pacific_coast08

One of my earliest memories is this: Sitting in the passenger seat of an old, beat-up blue Volkswagen, tracing a raindrop with my finger as it slides down the window and swallows up other raindrops along the way. My bare feet don’t yet touch the floor. I’m barely tall enough to see the gray world outside. My pajamas are twisted up, cutting a red line into my neck. My mother’s boyfriend opens the door and ponderously shoves a wastebasket full of my socks into the back seat. He is a bear of a man; I adore him, but he can be scary. This morning he is scary. Just sitting next to him brings anxious tears to my eyes.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

“I’m taking you to some people. You’re going to live with them now.” He forces the car in gear, and we begin to drive away.

“Where is my mom?” I cry, a keening sound too big for my small body.

“Who the hell knows. Probably going to the ocean to drown,” he looks at me. “She doesn’t want you anymore. Now shut it.”

 

 

Long before my thoughts of suicide, I was living with my mom’s thoughts of suicide. Her daydreams, fixations, and passive wishes to be non-existent constantly loomed over me. “You know what happens when we die?” she asked me right before my first day of the 1st grade. “Nothing. There is nothing after death. We are a candle snuffed out. No heaven. No reincarnation. We just cease to be.” I froze with fear at the cold, wistful tone in her voice. Like an anchor in my heart, it stuck with me that any moment, my mom could whisk herself away, make herself gone, and I was powerless to stop it.

Her preoccupation kept her unreachable. She locked herself in her room for hours. I’d wait tensely upstairs, watching T.V., unable to help her, unable to leave. Later she smoked her joints and told me her plans. “As soon as you’re eighteen….” she confided, letting the rest of the sentence fall between us.

“You’re the only reason I’m still alive,” she told me other days. Spoken as if to suggest my life had thankfully saved hers, but I heard the trace of resentment hidden underneath the platitude. It was my fault that my mom had to continue to live. Stuffed to the brim with guilt and fear, I’d hide in my room, full of my own resentments. Full of my own budding urges to cease to be.

Holding suicide as a viable option to end suffering was normalized for me. I didn’t question it. I embodied it. When I lived in foster care for the first time, I hoarded the single razor allotted to each girl to shave their legs; hid it under the bunk bed to bring out on those rare moments when I was alone. I traced my veins with the sharp edge the same way I’d traced raindrops on a car window long ago.

The older I got, the stronger the compulsion to tempt death became. At sixteen, newly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and armed with prescription medication, I stalked my ex-boyfriend and pushed his anger triggers relentlessly until he shouted what I unconsciously sought to hear: I don’t want you anymore. He left me at the bus stop, where I swallowed a whole bottle of Nortriptyline. I called my mother, who drove me to the emergency room and flicked my ear every time I tried to close my eyes. “Stay awake,” she murmured over and over. When the doctors pumped my stomach, I went into a seizure and almost died.

The only way I knew how to cope with the burden of my illness and the incessant need for destruction was to follow my mom’s example: become a ghost. I shut the world out. Cut off connections to people, places, things. Experiences. I was haunting my life.

Once, I stood on a bluff over the ocean and was hypnotized by the murky depths below. The pull to just let go, let my body go slack and fall passively into the water, was almost irresistible. It frightened me. How am I so untethered, I wondered, why is the veil between death and me so very fragile? I thought of my mother, how her experience of my earliest memory must’ve been. Did she stand above a bluff like this one? Did she feel a similar impetus to collapse and swan dive into the water? Was she filled with this same heavy sadness? Maybe we were born with a biological imperative to snuff our corrupted line of DNA out. Maybe we were made to self-implode.

With that thought in mind, I went home to sit in a warm bath with a razor at my wrist. I felt under a spell. It would be a suicide that represented all the clichés: relief, revenge, a gift to all those whom would be better off without me. This suicide is inevitable, I thought. This suicide was decided before I was born. I waited it out, teeth clenched, knuckles white, until the moment released me. I was alive, after all. No suicide. No death. Just myself, alone in a tub.

I found out something that day: I didn’t want to die. Suicide was not a ‘truth’ I held dear. It was more a combination of faulty wiring and thinking I assimilated when I was young. With help and effort, I have learned to distinguish between my own, actual beliefs and that other voice that is just a misfire occurring in my brain. Not so for my mother. When I tell her these things, that there is hope, that we do not need to stand so close to the cliff, she doesn’t believe me. She’s still stuck in her moment, flirting with death, unable to tear herself away.

discover-badge-circle

272 thoughts on “Mother and Daughter: An (In)Complete History of (Almost) Suicide

  1. Thank you for teaching us a whole other side to suicide. The one we don’t get to experience. We see suicide as a brave or cowardly. Never any in-betweens. Never thought of it as being inherited. You shared a deep part of yourself. Awesome read! I am glad you have chosen to live!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder if there are many that are living “in-between”. It was difficult to learn that most times suicide can be viewed as a symptom of mental illness. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Such a beautifully written piece on such an incredibly difficult thing to talk about. It warms me to hear how far you’ve come. Reading this reminded me of how long it’s been since i last wanted to leave this Earth, and how far I’ve come since then. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Today marks the two year anniversary of my Brother-in-law’s suicide. He hung himself from a branch in a tree, in lonely little town, only for his niece and nephew to discover his body. They were 12 and 15 years old. I used to think people who committed suicide were selfish, that it takes real bravery to live out your life no matter how hellish. I wish I knew then, what I know now that he is gone. He was brave. He fought for his life far longer than others would have. He struggled with depression, drugs, an abusive childhood, and a failed marriage. The drugs took a major toll on his body, and his mind. He feared for life. He thought that HE was his only way out. That out there in the real world, in the woods, and in the dark, lived the bad, the evil and death. He was only 31 years old. He left behind two little girls, and a hole in all of our hearts. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t save him. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, and for showing people like me, that there is hope for those that struggle with the thought of Suicide.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Just stumbled in here by accident. I have my own blog in which I write, among other things, about being bipolar and suicidal.But this…..this is truly beautiful. Thank you for bravely sharing your pain. There is no telling how many you have helped. You can find me at heathersavann.com

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I can not even begin to imagine what you must have gone through! You’ve been brave and you’re an inspiration to many. Thank you sharing your story with us, in such a natural way. Hats off and so glad that you’ve found a way to overcome the instincts and find light.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was just wondering the safe grounds of the world wide web this morning, as if I would every early morning 5 days a week. Its 0545 Friday morning. I don’t work. I did but my endless infatuation with my chaotic and confusing life dragged me to a halt. But that halt was a blessing because it has given me a chance to restart my life , a life without the influence of my mother. I’m 39 and I started my life over about 2 years ago. When my guilt trip, not being able to make my mom proud at everything I did growing up even to adulthood.
    Your essay is beautiful in a sense. Its beauty is raw,scary, and relieving. I don’t know much yet about what’s been boiling within me since I was born, but I can tell you that I saw myself in your essay. That was the relief because I’m just finding out that I was not alone or different growing up with a undiagnosed mental illness mother. Where my experiences were in parallel with others experiences in a different time zone. I find myself being able to take a deep breath that fuels my hope for a understanding of what was not my fault and forgiving those who choose to deny their disabilities.
    –I have been dx with BPD yet to be treated with CBT. I have been on many Rxs. Nothing giving me the relief . I need to learn to get past my issues and CBT is my way to move past my horrible Anger I have developed for everyone. I am possibly BiPolar after I told my therapist I attacked my mother in a rage at the last meeting we had where she always put me down angle treated me as a child. My father I do not know because she left him when I was 2. He was Schitzophrenic. Anyway, I find it calming writing about my crazy experiences so maybe I will start writing? But that’s a whole different fear I have that keeps me from doing so. I am embarrassed about my grammar. English is my second language yes , but there is so much more…
    Thank you for your essay. It gave me hope and motivation to get help and find myself.

    Like

  7. Correction on my paragraph…. When my guilt trip began to start making sense, when I stopped trying to make my mother happy, by being awesome. I never heard the proud word, but I always yearned to hear it…

    Liked by 3 people

  8. So inspiring. How true it is that our children give us life back. How powerful they are without them even knowing. How meaningful their lives are to ours. Thank you for finding the strength to overcome those thoughts. & thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So this was bugging me so much, I had a team of people helping me look it up. And look. Here’s the first one. Where city lady moves to the country and shares the first of many coffees with single dad.

    Like

  10. Beautiful. I dont know anyone whos committed suicide. However, Ive flirted with the idea a few years back. I wanted to swerve off the highway, into the river. What is it about bodies of water, that make people consider it a suitable place to die? Anyway, I thought about suicide because I felt like I helped the whole world, and when I needed help, no one cared. I cant feel your pain all the way, but I understand. i hope that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This has connected with me greatly. I to have suffered from these thoughts due to my life experiences. Hold onto the light and all will be well. This is the best thing I’ve read online ever. Keep up the great work and NEVER let go of the light.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have lost my father to suicide when I was very young. For a long time I held so much resentment towards him and recently have decided I want to forgive and have nothing but love for him. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought. Thank you for sharing…it helps me see the other side of his decision. I wish he could have been as strong as you are. I can’t imagine what you must go through each day. I admire your bravery!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Everything in life happens for a reason.we tend to think that we are always in control of our lives and do what we want to do but I have come to believe that it is not so. We are pawns in the chess boards of life and someone is moving us around to decide the end game.Be always brave and do not hesitate to make bold life changing decisions.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s