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15 Years Ago I Tried to Kill Myself

“January 31, 2002

Tonight’s the night I’m going to do it. I’m going to kill myself.”

It’s the start of an entry in my journal from nearly 15 years ago. An entry that would go on to be seven pages long, detailing why I was doing what I was doing. How I had reached this desperate point.

“This has been a long time coming.” I wrote. “I’ve known since I was a little girl that this was how I was going to die. I just didn’t know what it would take for me to finally have the courage to do it.”

I was 18 years old when I wrote those words, living in my own apartment after having just spent my first holiday season with nowhere to go. My stepmom, who had spent the bulk of my teenage years making it very clear that I was an unwelcome addition to her household, had packed up my belongings when my father drove me to college and issued the proclamation when he returned that I would never be allowed in her home again.

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Writing those words, I feel the need to defend myself. I hadn’t been a bad kid. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t steal or lie. I got good grades and was well-liked by my teachers and my friend’s parents.

I wasn’t a bad kid. But I was a broken kid.

My mom had lost her way when I was pretty young, and my dad had taken full custody of me at 13 years old. Less than a week after I moved in with him, my stepmother had cornered me and explained that me living there was not her choice. That she did not want me there. And as such, I was not her responsibility. She would never pick me up from school or drive me to school events. She would not purchase items I requested from the grocery store. And she would not allow me to get in the way of the life she had planned for her family—which included her, her daughter, and my father. Certainly not me. She made it very clear—not me.

I was broken. And desperate for someone to see me. To rescue me. To love me. So I’m sure that translated into plenty of cries for help.

But I was never a bad kid.

Still, I spent most of my life feeling very, very alone. So those words in my journal that night? They weren’t a lie. I had a long history of self-harm, to include the start of bulimia in my pre-teen years, and cutting, which began around the age of 16.

No one saw. No one knew. Or if they did, they didn’t see any of it for what it was: A desperate desire to be rescued.

That night, as I wrote those words, I took every pill I had in my medicine cabinet. There were a few prescription painkillers, some sleeping pills, cold and flu meds, anti-anxiety pills, some antibiotics I’d never finished. Looking over the list today (because yes, I made a list), as an adult with actual life experience, I can’t help but roll my eyes. My suicide cocktail was never going to do anything more than make me really, really sick (which it most certainly did.) It wasn’t strong enough to actually be fatal.

Over the years, I did get help. I moved away from that place I’d long called home—a place that always stood as a reminder of how many times I’d been cast away. The further I got from that place, from that person I had been, the more I was able to embrace the person I would become. And as I grew, I surrounded myself with healthy, stable people who helped me to slowly learn how to become the same.

I sat in my daughter’s room that night. I watched her chest rise and fall. And I thought to myself, “My God, I can’t believe I would have missed this.”

It’s a journey I’m still on. At 33, I still struggle with feeling unlovable. With believing that I am easy to leave. I like to consider myself a strong, independent woman today. But I still battle bouts of anxiety. I have my visits with depression.

The biggest difference is that today, I at least know that things can always get better. So when I fall into my dark spaces, I’m able to remind myself of the light that awaits me whenever I fight to pull myself out.

And the brightest light is my little girl.

At almost 4, she challenges me in ways I never could have prepared for. But she also pushes me to be better to myself than anything or anyone else I’ve ever had. Because with her, I know she’s always watching. And I know she’s learning from me how to better love herself.

I want more than anything to be that example for her that I never had.

I came across a quote from Asheligh Campora's "A Response to the Suicide Note I Wrote 15 Years Ago" recently that took my breath away:

“Fifteen years from now you’re going to look back on this. With a sigh, you’re going to ask yourself, ‘Why?’ Fifteen years from now, you’ll find yourself sitting in that same darkness you’ve always feared. But this time you’ll be quietly watching as your daughter’s chest rises and falls as she sleeps. You’ll smile and think to yourself, ‘My God, I almost missed this.’”

Seeing this quote reminded me how close I was to that 15-year mark myself. I couldn’t help but feel like this had turned up in my feed because it was something I needed to see.

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I’ve been falling back into my dark places lately. My daughter, whether she means to or not, serves as a constant light for me… even on her darkest days. But I’ve been struggling. Hurting. Feeling alone and not quite like myself. Needing a reminder to fight past that, to fight past myself, and to be the woman and the mother I’ve always yearned to be.

I sat in my daughter’s room that night. I watched her chest rise and fall. And I thought to myself, “My God, I can’t believe I would have missed this.”

I never want my little girl to feel as unwanted, as unlovable, and as easy to throw away as I did for most of my life. As I sometimes still do today.

I will do everything in my power to protect her from that. To ensure she always knows she has at least me in her corner—even though I don’t believe for a second that’s all she has.

But that all starts with quieting the voices in my own head first. With being kinder to myself. Because I can’t be an advocate for her if I’m not willing to be that same advocate for me.

And so, I continue fighting. Striving to be the confident, strong, independent, healthy and whole woman I hope she’ll always know me to be. Because I can’t believe I ever would have chosen to miss this. And I don’t ever want to make that same mistake again.

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