It was early in the morning when I came to. I was emerging from a fog and quickly became alert… and then panicked.
“What had I just done and how do I undo it.“ I had to involuntarily throw up and I was terrified. It wasn’t “normal” throw up, something was desperately wrong and I wasn’t sure if I was dying. There was an unimaginable fear that pulsed through me when I saw the site of dark, grainy blood-like liquid pouring out of my mouth. Once I could stabilize myself enough to find a sliver of rationale, I reached for the phone and called my friend. I called the same friend who told me to go to bed the night before. I’d called her out of desperation, foreshadowing what I was about to do in a desperate attempt to seek out any shred of solace. She told me to get rest and that we’d talk in the morning. She. Didn’t. Understand. My boyfriend had just left me and my heart had felt like it had just been ripped from my body.
Can you relate?
I called her that next morning to let her know I was in trouble. The next thing I know, she and a friend were driving me to the hospital. In the hospital bathroom, I continued to throw up, my body was doing everything it could to preserve my life. Immediately, I was admitted. They had me drink a thick tasteless, chalky liquid and then they proceeded to pump my stomach. Once I was stable and changed into my hospital gown, they moved me over to recovery where I’d spend the next couple hours lying among a sea of patients. I was groggy and lethargic, limp with defeat and sadness, just utterly disappointed with myself.
Over the next three days, I was a patient in the psychiatric ward where I’d spend time reflecting and recovering alone in a room for one. “What. Had. I. Just. Done?” The shame that I felt was so intense, I’d opted out of telling a single soul. I was eighteen at the time and had no legal bind to inform my mom and dad or anyone for that matter. I decided I’d keep it a secret.
After all, secret-keeping was something I’d mastered from the age of four.
The room they moved me to was barren and cold, there seemed to be nothing in it but the bed that was bolted to the floor. All I wanted to do was escape and I couldn’t. Luckily, I was obliged for my request to have something to help me sleep. Nothing says rest and recover better than a crunchy plastic pillow covered with a low thread count pillowcase.
On the third day, I was run through a series of evaluations with a therapist, I vowed to her that I wanted to live and that this was simply an isolated and desperate attempt that was chosen from a place of overwhelm, heartbreak, and desolation. I was released.
I can still see in my mind’s eye the moment I arrived, that same feeling of shame and embarrassment resurfaced as I was about to have to face everyone. My boyfriend was there and I was likely in shock and I felt a trigger of emotions course through me. You see, the night that I attempted suicide, it was because I’d been so desperate for love and when he left me, I lost it. The single worse moment in my life at eighteen, was when my boyfriend left me. We’d gotten into a fight. I’d heard that he was physical with his ex-girlfriend and that night, he had a slightly physical reaction in the heat of the moment with me. We were sitting on a bench and he leaned over with his shoulder to give me a slight shove. Earlier that day he’d uncomfortably squeezed my fingers a little too hard out of sheer annoyance with me. I wasn’t going to be the girl that put up with any of that, in fact, I’d make him pay for his disrespect. I reacted from the most rebellious-fuck you possible and seduced our mutual friend. I felt so seductively powerful for a very temporary and fleeting moment He saw me leave his dorm room apartment that night afterward and he just knew.
The next thing I knew, he took his basic belongings and he left. As toxic of a situation it was, he left and it crushed me. It left me feeling completely out of control. I was alone in the dorm room we shared together that night and the only pacification I had to soothe my heartache was in a box of Franzia Zinfandel. I lamented while playing Sarah McLachlan’s Adia on repeat.
“Adia, I do believe I failed you
Adia, I know I’ve let you down
Don’t you know I tried so hard
To love you in my way
It’s easy, let it go
Adia, I’m empty since you left me
Trying to find a way to carry on
I search myself and everyone
To see where we went wrong”
That night, in my moment of despair the feeling of being unsupported, unloved and alone, I reacted from desperation. I swallowed a bottle of pills and chased them with NyQuil I continued self-soothing with the zin until I eventually passed out. I would later, eventually come to. The pain of the idea of not being with him at the time was inconsolable, and at that moment I didn’t want to live anymore.
When I got out, he was there, like the hero I knew him to be when the times were good. He was waiting for me and I went back. I can still remember his eyes staring at me and his smile that got me every single time. He knew what happened, the whole dorm did. Nobody from the hospital would release my information so they weren’t able to visit me.
The intensity of our relationship was enough to spark back up after I was released because it was the perfect scenario, I got to be broken and he got to save me and for a moment, all would be forgotten from a few nights before. I desperately craved love.
We went straight back to our routine; snorting, smoking, fucking, and drinking. Escape was a solace we found in each other, we got to shut the whole world out and it was seductively intoxicating.
I somehow kept myself in a cycle of destruction. It was my first semester at college and I dropped out almost as soon as I got in. I had no boundaries and once I started dating the bad boy, my thirst for rebellion was unquenchable. Once he and I got together, I had access to all the drugs I could ever snort and smoke. In only one semester, I narrowly evaded death, jail, and everything in between until the day I received what was probably the single most fateful call of my life.
It was my dad on the line, “Jen, Jennie called me and told me what’s been going on, what are you doing? I love you so much, you have to do something, you can’t continue to live like this.”
I was completely shaken, hearing his words through the sound of his tearful plea caught me completely off guard. I’d never felt so relevant before, it was the most vulnerable experience of my dad’s love for me. He’d been paying for my tuition, dorm, bills, and my spending money. That all ended when my roommate made the call that saved me from myself. Once my dad found out, he refused to continue fronting the expense of my destructive living situation and I had to move in with him. I moved my stuff into the tiny two-bedroom house that we would share for the next six months while I tried to get my life back on track.
After I moved home, I would see my boyfriend intermittently. He’d get us a room at the Super 8 motel for us and we’d have a brief encounter that was all too familiar, short escapes that included the usual offerings he provided; smoking, snorting, and fucking. We tried to maintain a long-distance relationship. Our escapades became diminished down to phone calls that would lead to horrible fights, me trying to defend myself out of a situation that’d never even happened. The jealousy from the fear of not knowing what the other was actually doing while not being in the same vicinity was what tore us apart. Eventually, he stopped taking my calls. One drunken night and once again painfully desperate for his love, I had a friend drive me to his house. He refused to see me. Once again, I was devastated. I’d heard from some acquaintances that he’d moved on. It was yet again painful, only this time, living with my dad, I had to learn to suck it up.
I eventually created some stability in my life. I had no more access to drugs, nor did I really care. Living with my dad was not the most exciting adventure for my eighteen-year-old self but it did serve a higher purpose. It was during those six months where I’d kind of sort of got my shit mostly together. We had some really special time together, growing up a product of divorced parents, it gave me the opportunity to know him more than I was able to from our weekend custody visits growing up. It was the opportunity I had to really know my dad on a deeper level. He even taught me how to cook, something that may seem insignificant but that was really special to me not having a lot of time with him throughout my adolescent years.
About six months later, I moved out on my own again. I often share that I sometimes wonder why I’m not a prostitute or a stripper because I was on a destructive and dark path that a lot of women don’t get off of. I was literally one fateful phone call away from being the girl on the street you see that’s disheveled, scabby faced, and living in an alternative reality. We all are only one experience, one family member away from being the disheveled person on the street.
There are distinct moments in our lives that shape us. The call from my dad was a pivotal happenstance that changed my life in the most mountainous way. I can say that today, I’m incredibly grateful to have been a suicide failure. All experiences in life can serve a purpose. We can take those colorful experiences and use them in one of two ways, they can be the thing that keeps us in victim/survivor mode, or they can be the thing that fuels our purpose and give a voice to the voiceless. It’s our choice to make. I believe we’re all one decision, experience, or situation away from being that disheveled woman on the street. Life has a funny way about it and I’m grateful every day I was given a second chance to enjoy it.
Eventually, I made peace with my ex. Years later we reconnected for a brief encounter and left things in an amicable manner. He still had that magnetic lure, all in divine order though, the timing was not right for continuing any sort of relationship. My life had taken a new turn in a direction I would later become to realize, I WAS WORTHY OF.
As for my parents, it was just this past December that I had my “coming out party.” It wasn’t the easiest to share and I felt that way more so for them than me. I’ve already done a lot of deep inner work since the event. It hurt more for me to tell them because I’m now a parent and when you have kids, it’s literally like having your heart walking around outside of your body.
When it comes to life, remember we’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have. My story is far from unique. Yours is too. I know you can relate on some level.
Ther’s no happenstance you’re here.