The world is filled with stories of loss and survival. Everyone has a story of their struggles, and at some point, those stories need to be told. What follows is my story. I can speak to my experiences and only my experiences.
There are just some things that you, and it is absolute, even at a very young age. From my earliest memories, I was a tom-boy. My preferred clothing was jeans, a tee, and my boots. If it was considered ‘boy’ apparel, then I wanted to wear it. It was torture for me to have to be in a dress. I felt awkward, and I hated it. While my sister and her friends wanted to play house, and with dolls, I wanted to play cowboy and Indians, cops and robbers. I wanted to be outside, riding around in the tractors and trucks with my dad. Toy guns and tonka trucks were my favorites. I loved getting dirt under my nails, riding a motorcycle when I got older. My preferred clothing wasn’t the only thing I knew different. I also knew that instead of liking boys the way girls should, I liked girls.
Luckily for me growing up in a rural farming community, it wasn’t all that odd to see girls driving a tractor, or wearing jeans. Then school starts and everything changes, I feel that disconnect then. We notice the opposite sex and the girls are thinking this boy is so cute or that boy is cute, and they start having crushes and giggling every time they are around certain ones. I never got that.
For me it was the cute girl in the class that I thought was cute, it was the female teacher I developed crushes on. Now trust me when I say that the same rural community that didn’t bat an eye at girls driving a tractor so totally didn’t accept a girl wanting to hold another girl’s hand, or kiss another girl let alone wanting to marry another girl. Now add to that, a religion that condemns same-sex relationships, along with being from a traditional Hispanic family.
Clearly, for me, my lot in life was to be living by the rules and do what was expected, marry a nice young man, have children and be a good homemaker. So that’s what I did. I had three sons that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Yet there was always that part of me that knew I was living a lie. And I would bury that voice, only to have it resurface and have to bury it deeper over and over again, and it was always louder. That worked, for a few years. Then the kids grew, and I grew unhappier, and that voice got louder, and I could hear it screaming at me.
You know the problem with lies? Especially the ones we tell ourselves . . . At some level even if you don’t want to admit it, you and more than likely everyone else, know your lying. They might not want to acknowledge that lie any more than you do, but they know it, and it’s always threatening to surface.
I managed to keep that lie through almost eighteen years of marriage. My secret eating away at me, day by day, minute by minute and I hated myself more and more as each of those years passed.
A person can only lie to themselves, to hate themselves for so long. Eventually, the loathing you feel each time you look in the mirror before it becomes too much to handle and you start to look for ways to stop feeling. At some point, you’ll do anything to make it stop. Maybe for me, that answer would come from mixing alcohol with the assortment of pain meds, and R.A. drugs
Suicide wasn’t an unfamiliar thought for me. When I had been in college, I was still grieving the death of someone I felt understood me completely five years prior and was dealing at that time with a relationship gone bad, and well let’s just say it was a bad time. At the time I figured it would have been so easy to fall from a curb into oncoming traffic. I mean a college town, kids walking home after one too many beers, a car going a little too fast in the middle of the night… accidents happen. Or maybe while on a drive on one of the snaking roads of a mountain drive, a bit faster than should be not enough time to make a curve, some areas there are deep drops, surely that would do the trick.
Fortunately for me, I had a person on my side that cared enough to stay with me and even though they didn’t have the answers, or exactly what to say, they knew enough to not leave me alone, to make sure I got the help and support I needed. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Flash forward, I have three children, and have reached a point in my life that I can no long hide from myself; from my secret, my feelings, from that lie I’ve told myself and everyone else. I look in the mirror, and the reflection I see disgusts me, and each day for me is a struggle to survive, and I just wished for it to stop…the lies, the pain…I needed it to stop.
And through all of that, the one thing I know without a doubt is that I can not subject my children, my mother, my sisters to be the ones to find my body. Hell for that matter I couldn’t let the man I married be the one to find me; after all, it wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t be what I wanted or needed. His only crime had been that he loved someone I pretended to be.
I’d hit the point that I couldn’t keep lying, I couldn’t keep that lie going, and I couldn’t die. So I did the only thing I could—I told one more lie, and I ran. I hurt the people I loved the most, I ran from the people that LOVED me most. In the matter of a few months, I’d lost everything, my home, my family. The man I had married, filed for divorce, and custody of our kids, and was granted temporary custody of them.
The day I heard that they were headed back to their home was the worst day of my life. How was I supposed to live without the three most important people in my life, without MY reason to keep going? How could I keep them somewhere that they were miserable, away from their family, the ones they loved, and that loved them? I couldn’t… I couldn’t fight for them, and I couldn’t come back to them. I felt that I had made such a mess of my life at that point, and I couldn’t see how I could not make a mess of theirs, so I let them go. That day I felt the worst pain I’d ever felt. I felt as though my heart had been ripped through my chest and while it was still beating simultaneously being squeezed and ground to dust. I felt sucker punched and like I was suffocating. Looking back through unclouded glasses I imagine that’s how my ex-husband felt when I told him I wasn’t coming back to him. The bottom of my world had fallen out from under me, and I was utterly lost.
With my world already upside down, I didn’t think life could get much worse. I was wrong. The life I had given everything up for, the life I’d dreamed of was not to be mine yet. Relationships don’t always work out, and sometimes you end up wondering if you gave up on the wrong things. I’d hit bottom and was now having to face all the people I’d hurt, my parents, kids, sisters, ex-husband. It’s not easy accepting responsibility for your actions and begging for forgiveness for the pain caused.
I’m telling my story now because our stories are important. We have to as a community acknowledge that depression and mental illness play a huge part in suicide. We as a society have to stop being afraid to speak about them and find a way to address the problem. In my area since the school year started, (late Aug), we have had at least 7 suicides in one local high school. (We have two high schools, in town several middle schools, and that doesn’t include schools 20 miles away.) Think about that, 7 young people who felt there was no hope.
This problem has bothered me for a while. Actually, it has touched my family in that so far in the last two years, I’ve lost two cousins to suicide and a little closer to home a niece attempted. I’ve felt helpless, as I watched my aunts, and other cousins and their immediate families, struggle with the question why. I’ve felt the anger, while not to the same degree as their immediate families, that goes along with that action. This last week I’ve bounced from tears to anger to fear, from wanting to nothing more that to hold my niece close to being so angry at her that I don’t want to see her and the guilt at those feelings. And I struggle with the knowledge that I can’t do anything to stem this senseless permanent solution to a temporary problem. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to do what can, I’m going to take some training and learn the signs, of a suicidal individual, and learn what I can do to help them. But I know this problem isn’t going to be solved unless we all do something.
I started this by telling my story, well the thing is, my story isn’t over yet. I survived a divorce, I’ve reconciled with my family, and I have a relationship with my kids. I have a beautiful granddaughter that I adore and that life that I was dreaming of . . . Well, I have it, I’m living it. I have a wonderful woman who supports me in everything and loves me unconditionally, I have a home I enjoy taking care of, I’m involved in my church community, in my community as a whole, and I’m a published author. Not once throughout the telling of my story did I say it was easy because life isn’t always easy. But the one thing I will say is, never give up hope, or your dreams. It’s in those things that often we find the strength to move through the things we never imagined we’d get through.
If you need someone to talk to please just reach out.