For today's Mental Health Monday, I am sharing "Dying to Wake," as written by Jessica Hauser who you can find at Anchored Strength and Weathered Storms. Jessica may have made some choices that you personally disagree with. That being said, her story is very real and intimate, and she has been brave enough to share it with all of us in the hopes that it may help someone else out there struggling in the same ways with thoughts of suicide. If you choose to comment on this post, let your comments be respectful and not judgmental. We are all human, and there is forgiveness for each of us, and that grace can always start with you.
Here is her story:
Waking up that morning I felt two things, violently ill and heartbroken. Between the extreme vomiting and crying, I continually asked GOD over and over, why? why wouldn’t you take me? Why?
A few months prior, being sixteen, and living in a home where my father either didn’t love me, or just didn’t know how to show it ever – I hated my life. A senior in high school, that really hadn’t done any of the typical bad things kids do, my dad still managed to not like me, or trust me, or ever create that safe space to talk when things weren’t okay or if I was in trouble. Two things happened that would forever change me as a person, and my life.
The first was, well my first. Of course I thought I was in love, I thought he was the man I would marry and that he would never leave my side. The only time I ever snuck out, I snuck out to see him. I drove a VW cabriolet, which was a stick, so I found quite easy to hop in and roll it down the road and pop start it once out of ear shot. Arriving at his house, there were a few kids there and some drinking – something else I had never done. A few drinks later, and a couple uncomfortable – painful moments later I gave myself away to that boy. It wasn’t romantic, but it wasn’t horrible either – but I was terrified.
Within a few short weeks, my stomach was in excruciating pain, and my father took me to the hospital. My father accused me of being pregnant, although I swore up and down that wasn’t possible. He demanded the doctors check that and required them to report to him in person that I was in fact was still a virgin. Once in the private room with the nurse and the doctor, I found out I was pregnant – and begged the doctors to not tell my father. He had told me in the car ride over, that he would take a coat hanger and remove it himself, if I was. When I say my dad was not a nice man, I am not exaggerating. Somehow, the doctor and nurse protected me, they told him I was not pregnant and that I was still “intact”. I made an appointment that afternoon with the nurse to come back the next day to make a choice I never thought about more than one second, or how to keep my father from killing me.
The next day at about 4 weeks pregnant – I went alone to have an abortion. Alone, because my boyfriend didn’t want to come, not because he didn’t want me to do it, because he did – alone just cause he was busy. A short time later, tears rolling down my face, it was over. Somehow, I knew then I would never be the same. I went home and pretended I was okay. The truth however, was that if were up to me, I would have kept my baby, and being raised Catholic I knew full heartedly what I had done was wrong. That I would never be forgiven – and that there was no point to life.
Writing in my journal, as I did often – I shared my secrets, my fears, my lies. A few weeks later, I came out the parking lot of my high school, to the second biggest shock. There was a piece of paper on every windshield, as I grabbed it – the handwriting was familiar. It was a photocopy of a hand written note of sorts, and as I read further I realized this handwritten note – was a copy from my journal. Turns out my father had gone into my room, and searched to find my journal and not only read it, but photocopied a page out of it, and shared it with all the students at my school. Mortified – I wished I were dead.
So, I planned it. I would kill myself that night – and it would all be over. The hurt, the manipulation, the embarrassment, the constant failure to be anything of importance to my father, the failure of a 4 week mother, and a child by GOD looking down on me with disappointment – it would all go away. Being the “mother” of the house, not having to raise my brothers, take care of the house, take care of my father, be reminded every day I was ugly, that I would never amount to anything – that my own mother had not wanted me – would all be GONE. Immediately a sense of calm peace came over me, I felt happy.
Those letters told them how much I loved them, how this was best for everyone, they could all be happy now – that I wasn’t around. A piece of my decision to kill myself was to teach my father a lesson – to make him live with the guilt that he was a horrible parent and made his daughter go to the extreme to get away from him. He deserved it, he didn’t deserve me. After I finished the letters, I cried myself to sleep – and waited to fall into a deeper sleep. I never did.
Waking up, I ran to the bathroom, my body was forcefully and violently vacating everything I had swallowed. My brother came in to check on me, and asked what was going on, and I whispered call grandma and grandpa and 911. He asked me why, thinking I was kidding, and I told him “do not say anything to dad – I tried to kill myself.” Instantly, he flew out of the bathroom, and before I knew it – the bathroom door flung open, and directly across the hall was my father sitting up in his bed – legs off to the side, holding a bottle of pills. He began to mock me, and tell me I couldn’t even kill myself right, and through a bottle of pills to my feet, telling me to “Finish it off right!”
He didn’t rush to my side, he didn’t hold me or care for me, or show care or concern in anyway, he just continued his hatred for me, and made me wish more that this had worked. Soon, the ambulance and my grandparents were there. People that care. In the hospital, they stabilized me, and they sent a man in to ask me questions to decide whether this was a call for help, or a true attempt. Telling him, this was
a true attempt was the easiest thing to say – because I seriously wanted out – this man, my father made me not want to live anymore. He didn’t believe me; he thought it was a scream for help, and that I would be okay. Soon, I was sent home.
Life at home was even worse, so I left – and I never returned. At seventeen, I graduated high school, living on friends couches. My father attended my graduation secretly, I found out years later – for what reason I am unsure. After he passed away, a couple years later – I found out that he cut my head out of all the family pictures, or cut me out completely, he had took on a story that he had two sons, and no other children. He was just a mentally ill person – and still to this day – creates an emotion within me that makes me want to scream and cry with loss and confusion.
Am I okay today, having survived this attempt on my life? Yes. Was it a cry for help, now that I look back? No. This week I will be turning 33 years old, and I can tell you I desperately wanted to die that night – but I what I can’t tell you, is why I never attempted again. Did I think about it? Absolutely – all the time. However, I never acted on it. Possibly, because I figured that GOD didn’t want me yet, and partly because, my father wasn’t around me anymore.
What I learned from this is that giving up my life, wouldn’t have hurt my dad. It would of hurt others, it would cost me marriage, children, a life in a happy home which I dreamed of creating. Allowing someone to take that away from me, made no sense – it also let them win. Since then, I refused to let “them” win.
My children are loved, they are safe, we talk, we share, and we are committed to each other’s lives, whether good or bad. They can come to me about anything, and they will never be made to feel like anything less than the amazing individuals they are now and will become as they grow older. As parents, we owe it to our children to instill belief in themselves, confidence, and self esteem. It is our responsibility to teach them that life may get hard, but the easy way out, is never easy and never free. We created these lives with the expectation to care for them, to guide them, to look out for their best interest, and create a safe place for them to develop and grow into whatever type of person GOD has planned.
Do I regret the attempt on my own life, no – because as with every trial we endure – there is a lesson. A lesson that is more than saving one life, but saving many. The abortion, I still think about here and there – I have found myself wondering what if, and at times feeling like it was the best thing I could do, to keep that child away from my father. This is something I will never truly understand, until God and I meet face to face on a day that will be his choosing, not mine.
For now, I struggle with a low self-esteem, sometimes lack of confidence, and days of where I feel ugly both inside and out. It concerns me that this may never change, but I do try. There is some solace in the fact that I am aware that these feelings come from him, from him failing as a parent – and not because I am truly a bad person, ugly or inferior. When I step back and remind myself it is him creating these feelings, I make progress. Each time I look into my children’s’ eyes, and hear them thank me for being their mom, or tell me the love me – I am thankful that GOD wasn’t willing to accept me.