I remember thinking about it.... I remember wondering what it would be like to leave. I remember wondering if I would go to hell for doing this. After all, the nun said it was a sin. I remember thinking I didn't want to burn in hell. Multiple times a week, when I was in a place I didn't want to be... having to babysit my youngest siblings who were 6 that June, while I was 14. Taking them for a walk to the corner store for popsicles, while my friends were at the park; hanging out, laughing and having fun. My middle brothers able to go out, play baseball and be with their friends. I was told it was my duty as the oldest of 5 children to help with the younger ones when my father had to work 2 jobs and my mother had to work a night job. Feeling detached from the social circle, but more than that, feeling so different and freakish at almost 6 feet at 14 years old. Maybe I didn't belong there anyway. After all, I was tall, skinny, and ugly and they were pretty. They had boys paying attention to them. No one looked or talked to me like that.
I remember the night of the "event" never talked about in my family. I put my siblings to bed and went to sit out on the front porch. It was a June night and it was warm and it felt nice to sit on the steps and feel the breeze and look at the sky. Then the unthinkable happened... My friend Mary, who lived down the street, had a boyfriend, Gary. He was walking up the street after leaving Mary's house and he saw me sitting on the stoop. With unbelievable eyes, I watched as he stopped at the bottom of the stairs, climbed up to the step I was sitting on and actually sat down next to me! He was so friendly and started talking to me. To ME! ME who was tall, skinny, ugly, and so different! At first, I wasn't sure what to do. I had never actually had a conversation with a boy! His kind demeanor helped me to feel a slight calm, enough to respond back. We chatted for what seemed like a while and time slipped by. Maybe I wasn't so ugly and different. Even though Gary was my friend Mary's boyfriend, it was ok to talk with him. I knew he wasn't interested in me like that, but the fact that a boy wanted to actually have a conversation with me was just astonishing to me.
Then, what would be referred to as "that time" in my family, started to unfurl. As we were talking, my mother pulled up in front of the house. I didn't really think anything of it. As my mother climbed the stoop to land in front of where we were sitting, she started yelling at Gary. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" Then she started yelling at me. "What are you doing with a boy at the house when you are supposed to be babysitting?" Then she did the most humiliating thing I could ever think of... She told Gary to leave. He left and I was in a pool of tears. What would he think of me now? He was just starting to think I was nice, normal, and someone he wanted to talk to and now...
As my mother instructed me to get in the house and get to bed, she finished off the last piece of my dignity.
She said, "Wait until your father hears about this….you will get the strap!"
I almost gasped with the thought of this! All I could remember was when we were little and had done something really bad, we would have to pull down our pants, bend over the hamper, and be whipped with his belt on the bare behind. It wasn't the thought of the pain of the belt, but of the thought, that at 14, I would have to pull down my pants in front of MY FATHER!!!
The thought of this was more than I could bear. My sobbing was uncontrollable. I went into the medicine cabinet and found the tranquilizers I knew my father had brought home from his workplace; a pharmaceutical company. I didn't want my mother to see me taking any, so I took the whole bottle into my bedroom with me and got into bed. I then proceeded to chew as many of them as I could get into my mouth and hope I would fall into the darkness I craved as soon as possible.
I don't remember anything after that until a few days later. I remember that I could barely talk; my speech was slurred and now I was so embarrassed that it hadn't worked.
When I was conscious enough to have a conversation, my mother told me that the people at the hospital had told her this was a cry for help and she asked me "Is that true?" I just wanted to pretend this never happened, so I said no. That was the end of the conversation about the whole incident except for weeks later when she told me she had been talking to another mother who told her not to allow me to use this to just get my way. So, my mother made sure to tell me not to think this in any way would be used to get the better of any situation. At the time I just said yes, but later in life I found it so shocking that she would make sure to leave me with this thought.
I remember my friends came to visit me over that week or so that I was home, and no one ever discussed "the event." It was just not discussed.
My mother quit her evening job and I was relieved from having to babysit my siblings.
I remember feeling so embarrassed when I went back to school, but decided I would do what everyone else was doing; pretend it never happened. I finished 8th grade that year and went on to high school and fortunately for me, found some confidence and expanded friends.
Within five months, we moved to a new neighborhood. I was told it was because they needed to give me my own bedroom as I shared both a a bed and a room with my younger sister.
It was never discussed with me again, except when my mother got angry at me she would say, "What we did for you to get you out of that neighborhood because everyone was talking about you and you're so unappreciative."
This year, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of our 8th grade graduation from grade school. After being contacted by several former grade school classmates about getting together for a reunion, I am brought back to that dark night and how there was absolutely no light I could see at all. It wasn't a split second decision; it was one I had been contemplating, but the events of that night pushed it over to that place that was completely void of any light or any hope. I was completely blinded by the darkness that enveloped me. In that moment, it is impossible to see out of the blindness.
This is what it is like for anyone who has attempted or succeeded in suicide. Suicide is a blinding darkness that takes over and there is no other way out. It is not selfish, it is the end of the pain in our minds.
I am so thankful for all my grade school classmates who never spoke of this and helped me feel welcome and a part of the whole when I returned to school. I don't think any of them know how grateful I am for their friendship in a time of great darkness for me. As I celebrate the 50th anniversary of our 8th grade graduation, I now celebrate the 50 years of life I have been given, to have my own family, find success, find the love of my life but most importantly finding my own love of who I am. Loving the difference of who I am, the uniqueness of who I am, and the gifts these differences are.