Death Shaped My Life For The Better
Suicide of another is painful to experience. It crushes the world around us and leaves us questioning everything.
My coming-of-age story was just a prelude to the rest of my life. Painful experiences and what to do with them was the greatest lesson that thrust me into adulthood. It started the summer of my 17th birthday. I was a junior in high school and my cousin ended her own life. It sparked something in me that was fighting to be seen and heard. I too had wanted to kill myself at the age of 16. When I told my mother that she cried, and she couldn’t understand why I wanted to die. Honestly back then neither could I but I didn’t know how to live.
During this time was when I was finally able to see my father again after 8 years. I traveled alone up to Indiana to spend a couple weeks while the rest of the family attended the funeral. 8 long years since he walked away, 10 years since he had divorced my mom, and all of those years filled by immense pain for me. I wanted answers from the man who walked away from his family.
Before I went to visit, I had recently been rebaptized and thrust myself back into the church with the help of a friend. All the time I was also seeking answers from my higher power and how he could let such a thing happen to me, my cousin and my family. To me he was no better than my absent father.
So eventually after I was settled in, my father sat me down. He explained to me what had happened, why he had to leave and what he has done with his life. He had walked away to save his own life, and found purpose in the church. I was just a budding Christian still trying to understand the bible on my own terms.
I took notes on everything I read, how I felt about it and understood from it. My father tried to make up for lost time in those few weeks, but eventually summer had come to an end and I had turned 17. I went back to my home and started school with a new fire inside me. I didn’t hate the world as I used to, but I watched it carefully like a curious kitten. I started being kinder, less brash, and not so rough around the edges. I enjoyed the time spent with friends and I found a new freedom in my life.
The first lesson I was given my senior year of high school was this. Give back what was freely given to you. So, I gave back the love my friends had given to me and supported them on their journeys. Through one of those friendships, I met their little sister who was a freshman. I noticed something was off as she would walk away when the group was out hiking or exploring etc.
I decided to join her away from the others when I noticed why she hide herself from the group. She was ashamed of the marks on her arm from self-harm. I too had marks on my arm; I had burned myself to feel alive. We stopped and chatted for what felt like hours. I offered to let her read my notebook of writings I had started months ago and said nothing of the scars.
I gave her the book at school and the next day she returned it to me with a note inside. Telling me she felt the same way I had felt and she was self-harming. So, I did my best to support and understand her through my own experiences. I know I did the best I could back then even as a child on the cusp of adulthood.
The final lesson that was needed for me to become a man was the most important lesson to which I still struggle with daily. That our pain has a purpose. Our pain,and past experiences can be used to help others through the very thing we suffered. There I stood a man, no longer a boy. A man whose scars had purpose; his deep-rooted pain gave rise to great healing. Here was a way to live moving forward.
I'll never forget that summer that carved the most meaning into my life. How could you believe that at 17 I would be talking to someone else about my own attempted suicide. That I would actually find gratitude in those moments because it helped lessen the pain of another. It allowed the space for healing, for love, and for forgiveness.
I want to use stories and life experiences to allow others to be open about their own.
www.rediscoveryourgiftsinsobriety.com- my blog