The precursor to "The Beauty in Pain"
This topic has been on my heart a lot since initiating this blog. I have frequently found myself wanting to write about my experiences, but have seemingly lacked the gentle intimacy needed to convey them. As I have just signed up to participate in the Out of Darkness Overnight Walk in San Francisco in May, I thought it timely to write about what happened leading up to my near suicidal experience on February 15th. Before I continue, this walk is a fundraiser to raise money for suicide awareness. All individuals are welcome – whether you are a survivor yourself or you’ve lost a family member or a friend to suicide, or you just simply support the cause, all members are welcome to participate. Here is the link to my donor page. http://theovernight.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=19973
So it was Thursday the 12th of February when it all sort of began. Actually, I lied. This began a long time ago, probably when I tore my second ACL. A lot happened in between that moment and the 12th of February, like me spending New Years in Ridgeview (a mental institution), tried and failed medication, and many, many conflicts. Rachel and I were in a rocky, unstable place. We were in a vicious, destructive, and toxic cycle – we would make up during the week, but then we were fighting by the weekend. And it wasn’t the kind of yelling or physical fights, it was passive-aggressive fights. Emotionally abusive. Probably me more than her if I’m being entirely honest. Anyhow. This Thursday morning I had asked Rachel if she could please pick me up from the autoshop before class because I wanted to get my clutch checked out. She agreed and we decided that I would need to leave the house by 7:30 so that she could be leaving for class by 8. 7:32 rolls around and I haven’t left mine yet. But the reason, I think, is a justified one. Before leaving the house, all I did was get changed and make Rachel breakfast in bed, coffee, and make her lunch for the day. So, I was running a little late, yes, but only because I was trying to be a thoughtful and loving girlfriend. Apparently that backfired. “Why haven’t you left yet?” … Shocked and pretty hurt, particularly by the accusatory tone, I responded, “I’m sorry, I was making you breakfast, coffee, and lunch for the day…I’m leaving now.” I left mine shortly after and was pretty disappointed. I was really trying to be considerate given that I knew she wouldn’t have time during the day to go buy herself lunch. I got to the autoshop and the guy who usually checks clutches wasn’t working that day, so I immediately called Rachel and informed her that she didn’t need to pick me up…except she didn’t answer her phone. Ugh. Okay. So I texted her. No response. As I’m driving home, I saw her car driving in the opposite direction. I did a quick U-turn and walked up to her window. I’m frustrated. I snap. “If you just answered your phone you would know that you didn’t have to pick me up.” I had so much spite, hurt, and frustration in my voice and naturally, Rachel didn’t take to that very well.
Throughout the rest of the day, communication was tense between us. Something that wasn’t very compatible between Rachel and I is that Rachel is a distancer and I’m a pursuer. When things were tense, I wanted to fix them. But for Rachel, she wanted to avoid them. Not a very constructive combination when attempting to resolve issues is it? Given this personality trait, Rachel decided that she was probably going to stay at her friend’s place that night because she really didn’t like the way I spoke to her. And, rightfully so. But for me, staying out and avoiding the issue isn’t really resolving anything. I tried to respect what she had said and decided to take 45 minutes to myself in Panera after coaching that night. I even left my phone in the car and read a book (people can do that these days?!). When I got back to my car, I felt relaxed, calm, and very level-headed. Until I checked my phone. I had numerous missed calls and voicemails. Some from my roommate and then some from an unknown number. I checked the voicemails. They were from ADT security. My alarm had gone off and the police had been called. Whatever “zen” I had garnered during my time at Panera had vanished almost spontaneously. I was freaking out. Has someone broken into my house? Is someone still there? Do they have a gun? I texted Rachel and told her that the police are at my house because my alarm went off and no one was home. I pulled up to my place and there weren’t any police cars. Have the police come and gone already? Is it safe to enter my house? How do I know there’s no one in there? My heart was racing. What do I do? I was scared. I didn’t want to enter my house given the unknown circumstances I could potentially be walking in to. Nothing from Rachel. I call ADT and I ask them if it’s safe to proceed. I grab an umbrella out of my trunk and remain on the phone with them as I entered my house and checked my surroundings. Everything seems okay except for the hallway light that is on. I’m scared to walk up the stairs, but I garner the courage given that I was still on the phone to ADT. All clear. Phew. I can breathe. Rachel texts me: “Are the police still there?” I respond and say “No they came and left because I think it was a false alarm.” I check the back door though and it looked like someone had tried to jam it open. Maybe it wasn’t a false alarm after all. Rachel: “Okay. Glad you’re safe.” And that was it. No offer to come home (which is where she had lived for 10 months). No offer to support me. No offer to make sure I was okay. I was hurt. Was I being unreasonable to expect my girlfriend to come home when she found out that my house had potentially been broken into? If roles were reversed, I would not have hesitated to forget whatever fight we were in to offer my support during this potentially scary time. But Rachel wasn’t me. And Rachel didn’t respond to situations the same way I did. I was once again, extremely hurt by her actions, or more so, inactions. And I conveyed that in my texts. Rachel was staying at her friend’s so in complete and utter spite I text her stating, “i hope you know i’m not sleeping alone tonight either.” I threatened infidelity. That’s what that text was. Did I intend to do that? Yes, I did. Did I have intentions to act on it? No, not at all. If anything, I was just referring to sleeping with Simba, my cat. But the truth is, I intended to hurt her with that message. And I did. To no surprise, Rachel retreated. She didn’t fight back. I didn’t get the reaction I was seeking, I got nothing.
An entire day went by and I hadn’t heard anything from her. I caught up with a friend that Friday night and we went out to Mazzy’s to play pool. I left my phone in the car because of the anxiety it gave me. I was hoping that Rachel would text me and every time I checked my phone and there wasn’t a message, I was a little more crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. I smoked a cigarette or two because why not? Fuck it. Fuck my situation. I was hurt and I was doing whatever I could to try and get a reaction. To try and get someone to notice how much I was hurting. My friend and I played until it was after midnight. Valentine’s Day. I joked with my friend that I’m sure Rachel hasn’t even text me despite me leaving my phone for four hours. I wasn’t really joking. I was hurting. I was hoping. And I, was right. Rachel didn’t text me. So I text her. “i know things aren’t very good between us right now, but i want you to know i still love you. happy valentine’s day.” No reply. Rachel didn’t reply until Saturday night around 6pm-ish. The entire Saturday I was hurting. Distraught. I realised that it’s more painful to be with someone on Valentine ’s Day who doesn’t want to be with you than it is to just be alone. At least when you’re single you’re not holding on to hope that someone will contact you or spend the day with you. So Rachel and I exchanged a few texts. I apologised profusely for my actions and for what I said. I felt terrible. I wanted physical comfort. I needed physical comfort. That was my sanctuary: physical presence. I started drinking that night. I drank to the point of throwing up. I was in agony. My heart was breaking. I felt rejected. Depleted. Crushed. I begged Rachel to please come home and see me. I was making myself entirely vulnerable because I needed her. I wasn’t doing okay and I wanted my girlfriend there to comfort me. She said that she was too tired and that she would see me tomorrow. To which I responded: “if i make it til then”. Her response: “please, just wait until you see me one more time.” Wait until I see you one more time, and then what? And then I can kill myself? I didn’t reply. And intentionally so. I was desperately crying out for help. My text alluded to suicide. And I wanted her to know that’s what I was thinking about. I wanted her to care enough to come home, to show me that I meant something. That she was scared I might actually go through with it. But she didn’t. She stayed out. I wrote this that night:
a valentine’s day poem
my heart breaks at the thought
of you leaving me forever
for when you entered my life
you became my purpose.
you stole my heart, you stole my love
now, you might steal my life.
Sunday rolled around and I had coaching all day again. Before I left that day, I left a journal entry on my bed from when I was in Ridgeview and a note accompanied with it. The journal entry, written one and a half months prior, was me talking about how much I love this girl. How I’m going to marry her one day. How beautiful she is. The note, however, stated this: “I’m too hurt by your absence, I’m too far gone.” I was hoping, because Rachel hadn’t heard from me, that she would be worried and would come by the house to check on me. So I left both of those there. Coaching came and went and I hadn’t heard anything from her. I drove home hoping to find her black Mazda in my driveway, but there was nothing. She hadn’t been by to check on me. My heart broke a little more. Constant disappointment, that’s what I felt. I couldn’t trust myself to be in the house without self-harming in some way. So I took my laptop, paper, and some pens and went to McDonalds just up the road. I sat there and watched a couple of episodes of Gossip Girl, still not having heard anything from Rachel. I guess she didn’t take my suicide threat seriously. Then I had a light bulb moment. I was going to write her a letter. So I did. And this is what I wrote.
Let’s go back to the beginning when our feelings were pure, uncomplicated, and uncontrollably real. I had such a fascination with you; you were a fantasy. Someone I could only dream of being with. Someone I did dream of being with. That feeling has never faded. I’m still in awe that you’re by my side. I still have dreams of being with you when we’re apart. It’s my subconscious telling me that I was always supposed to be with you. From the moment I met you, I was connected to you. Not in a superficial way either, but deeply. A soul-like connection. Our time was not then to pursue a relationship. And you might be thinking our time is not now, either, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just imagine the people we will be, imagine the couple we will be, when we get through this. I say when and not if because I have every confidence that we are going to get through this. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be exceptionally hard. And we’re going to want to quit. And we’re going to have to fight for it, every day. But I want that because I want you. I want you by my side, then, now, and in the future. You’ve become my purpose for living. You’ve become my oxygen. You have always been everything to me, but right now I am dependent on you. Albeit as unhealthy as that is, it is only temporary. I lost a big part of me; I lost the only other thing I was dependent on and it’s going to take me a little bit to regain my independence – I need to find something else; I need to find myself.
Separation, you say, is the solution for me in order to find myself and save yourself. But I fear that we will grow apart. Fear that we’ll find ourselves again, but it won’t be with each other. Apart from losing you, that is my biggest fear. And the biggest reason I don’t want to be away from you.
I need work. I’ve been saying that for a while now and I have meant it for a while. A few dead ends with therapists and medication and I didn’t make much progress. My support system is larger now. I don’t just have you, I have others too, but none of them are you. None of them can fill me like you fill me. They’re like my nitrogen; although the dominant element in air and although I am permanently surrounded by them, I can’t use them to breathe.Things have to change, I know that. It would be ignorant to think we can keep living like this because we aren’t living. I’m destroying you which in turn is destroying me. The guilt, the shame, the self-loathing; it’s all consuming me from the inside out. I’m doing things I was adamant I would never do just to numb the pain. Although your absence is undesirable, it’s not what is destroying me and leading to my destruction – that’s on me and that’s because your absence is caused by me. I’m not only destroying you, I’m destroying a part of me because that’s what you are. That’s what you’ve become. You’ve become my greatest memories, you’ve become my life ambitions, you’ve become neurons in my brain, you’ve become a part of my amygdala and my hypthothalamus (I know you like it when I talk dirty). I live and breathe to inhale you, your scent, your unconditional love, and your beautiful soul. I want all of you, now, forever, and always.
I can’t promise my wellbeing or predict my behavior, and that scares you. Shit, it scares me too. I hate being unpredictable. Although there’s a certain sense of excitement from unpredictability, there’s a sense of danger too. I need to find a healthier coping mechanism, one that doesn’t destroy you and cause you to wall up and to destroy your vulnerability or desire to be with me. I want you to feel safe with me; I need you to feel safe with me. I want you to have a home with me like I have with you.
I’m working on me, that I can promise. And I promise to never stop trying to be a better me. My belief in a better us is the only thing still keeping me alive. I will never forgive myself if I ever did anything to completely destroy you or us. Never. I’ve forgiven myself for last week and my heartbreaking words, but I haven’t forgotten. My phone is toxic and I need to rid myself of it. I need to better myself without technology. I need to better myself without expectations. I need to better myself without dependence.
In the words of Stephanie, I hope you can see this, see what we are going through as a season. A season that is going to make a beautiful story out of you, out of me, out of us. A season that is temporary. Just imagine reflecting on our survival and triumph through this season. I can see it. Only because I’ve never lost sight of the future and the plans I have with you. I refuse to give up and I refuse to stop fighting for that future. Better is possible and better will be obtained. Wounds will scar and scars will fade. But scars will always tell the story of resilience, of strength, of love, and of perseverance.
This season will end, but we will not. A promise I will keep, with only your approval.
I poured everything I had left of me into that letter. I made myself vulnerably raw. This was it. This would either make me, or break me. I needed to give this to Rachel right now. So I texted her at 9:15p.m. Sunday night: “where are you?” No reply. I called her. No answer. “please rachel i need to give you something”. No reply. I called her again. No answer. “please rachel tell me where you are.” No reply. I called her once more. No answer. I texted her best friend. “hey is rachel with you?” No reply. I called her friend. No answer. “please rachel i need to see you. my life depends on it.” No reply. I checked Facebook and I saw that her friend was online. Something inside me snapped. I broke. She sees that I’ve been texting her and she’s ignoring my calls. She doesn’t care. I can’t do this anymore. Panic. Rage. Hurt. I added one more line to the note I left on my bed: “But you ended me.” I left the note, I left my phone, I left my house. Tears poured down my face. I couldn’t spend one more minute inside that house without seriously harming myself. I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t trust life. I had been hurt too much. I was in too much pain. I just wanted to end it all. I needed to end it all. This suffering, it was too much. The only way I could survive and escape this pain was to take my own life. And that’s what my brain told me to do. End it. End the suffering. Escape it all. Please help me. I can’t do this anymore. Please. Somehow I made it to Stephanie’s house. Seemingly in once piece, but completely broken. I was a mess. Uncontrollably crying. Uncontrollably shaking. Uncontrollably anxious. End it for me. Please. Take this pain away. Somehow I composed myself enough to drive back to Ida’s apartment on campus. But she wasn’t there. I climbed through the window and left a note on her desk because I didn’t have my phone. “I’m not okay but I’m going to my doctor’s house.” So I drove to my doctor’s house. I showed up at midnight. At first, I had my hoodie on and then realised that probably wasn’t a smart thing to do, ring someone’s doorbell at midnight with your face covered up. My doctor answered the door, “Oh thank God. We were all so worried about you.” We? I was back to reality. For the past two hours, I had thought of nothing else other than surviving. I didn’t consider anyone else. I didn’t think anyone else was worried or was looking for me. I didn’t think there was a world outside of my desire to survive. But I did. And I made it through the night. Little did I know the damage I left in my wake. The irreversible damage.
Looking back, I learnt so much from this experience. Rachel left me not long after this night and for justifiable reasons. I blamed suicide on her. And that’s pretty fucked up. I loathed myself for months because of what I did, because of what I wrote. But then, I forgave myself. In my defence, I was driven to that point. I constantly made myself vulnerable only to be greeted with rejection and disappointment. Each occurrence destroying me a little more. I’m not justifying my behaviour by any means, but I can understand why and how I got to that point. I was extremely emotionally manipulative. And that undoubtedly took a toll on Rachel. Particularly because her mother was that way for 22 years of her life. I came to find out that the reason Rachel didn’t come home that Thursday when my alarm went off is because she thought I made the entire thing up. From my perspective, that hurts. She thought that I would try to manipulate her into coming home by falsifying events. For those of you that know me, know that I’m not that creative. Nor that manipulative. But in Rachel’s defence, that’s what her Mom did to her numerous times. And I had evidently displayed many signs that reminded Rachel of her Mom so it wasn’t all that farfetched to believe I would make something up like that.
What I’ve learnt from this experience is the importance of communicating exactly what you need rather than insinuating it through passive aggressive texts. People aren’t mind readers. And you can’t get angry at a partner or friend for failing to read your mind – that falls on you and your inability to effectively communicate what it is you need. I also learnt that I need physical presence to comfort me. And that probably stems from quality time and physical touch being my two top love languages. In Rachel’s perspective, sometimes she intentionally wouldn’t come home because she didn’t want to reinforce these manipulative behaviours of mine. But from my perspective, I was crying out for help. And each time she didn’t come home, it was a rejection to me. A disappointment. And it continued to weigh heavier through each occurrence. Although this is a series of isolated events, our relationship had been building up to this climax for months. As I mentioned, we were in a vicious cycle. We were destroying each other. I firmly believe something as significant as this needed to happen to force change. And that change was Rachel leaving. Without significant change, individuals lack the motivation to change themselves. Without this climatic, near-suicide experience, Rachel might have lacked the outlet she needed to leave. And who knows where I would be.
Just last November I wrote a letter to Rachel thanking her for the decision she made to leave me. Because it was the right one. I cannot imagine how difficult it might have been for Rachel to leave her significant other in the place that I was in; dark, helpless, broken. But again, it was the right decision. I apologised sincerely for the pain and damage that I had caused, my one hope that it did not leave any lasting negative effect.
So why did I share this piece? Perhaps it was because of the timing of me signing up for the Out of Darkness Overnight Walk, but I think a large part of it is because I want to speak openly about my experiences. Suicide isn’t always a consciously made decision by individuals. And it certainly isn’t selfish. Through what I have written, I hope that I have conveyed the degree of pain and suffering that I was in in order to consider even taking my life. It’s an oxymoron. Your brain tells you the only way to survive is to take your own life. I was asked by my cousin a few months ago whether I am thankful that I didn’t go through with my decision to take my life, and I was taken aback by that question. Because to me, I never actually made that decision. I was never conscious when I had intent to end things. I was driven to that point, entirely unconsciously. Death scares the shit out of me. And I would never, in my conscious state, want to take my own life. But that’s just it, I wasn’t conscious in this state. I was ruled by pain. Agony. Heartbreak.
For those of you who have made it this far in this post, I would be beyond grateful if you could please support me for the Out of Darkness Overnight Walk that I will be participating in next month. My goal is to raise a minimum of $1000 and I have exactly one month to do so. The link to my page is at the top of this post.
If you have any questions or would like to share your own personal struggle with suicide or that of a close family member or friend, feel free to email me on my Contact Me page or leave a comment believe. Thank you all for reading.
Please note: Some names have been altered to protect the privacy of those mentioned.