Yesterday was Suicide Awareness Week’s kick-off day; in the past, I shrank from raising awareness about causes that impacted me in really big ways. I feared it would slice me open: my vulnerability would hurt more than silence. I worried about the second glances, the whispers, the judges.
Fuck you, judges. I survived. I fought back. I’m the lioness in the desert that wasn’t poached and head hung above a desk as a trophy. I’m a victory, not a victim. I’m a survivor, not a statistic. I lived damn it. And my story needs to be shared.
I always tell people I hate October. My grandpa died in October, and that loss reverberated through my bones and echoed in the spaces unexplored in each crevice between bone. There’s more. I almost died in October. It wasn’t something unexpected, but it was something unplanned. I had been a caretaker and a lover for about two years, helping my ex cope with trauma, psychosis, posttraumatic stress. I had given up my world, albeit an uncomfortable world, but my world nonetheless. I was a thousand miles from home, and comforting my lover through nightmares and flashbacks, kissing porcelain skin, vowing forever over bowls of steaming hot Ramen noodles…that became home.
Until it was not. We created knots where there formerly were loops. Really impossible knots to untangle. Vows and words were not enough. I was stranded. My anchor became a raft, and I was traveling farther and farther away.
There was no solace. No home. No comfort. I remember sitting on the fire escape, a lit cigarette in my hand, feeling lost at sea. I called friends from the ocean. I begged for rescue, but my voice was swallowed by waves. The metaphor may be extended, but my hope was on a taut rope.
I was a thousand miles from familiar; my ex on the verge of leaving me; no job, no hope. Chance of survival was decaying by the second. I drank nearly every night from the bottle. I was a fun drunk, but by the time everyone went home for the evening, I was back facing misery in the mirror. No hope.
Too late for trigger warnings. I was gobbling down bottles of pills, washing them back with booze. I almost died that night. My ex had made me an egg salad sandwich earlier that night, compassion outweighing hate, disgust. I barely took two bites. Egg salad still makes me curdle from memories.
I passed out on the bed, every intention to forget the world. To puncture a hole in the raft and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Instead my ex lover shook me awake. Begged me to throw up. I could have died that night. The pills weren’t coming up. My ex lover called paramedics. I was furious as I wobbled to my feet, yelling at the top of my lungs obscenities. Only to be told later, I barely managed a whisper. Stamping my feet in fury. Only to be told later, my feet barely tapped the hardwood.
Don’t let your voice be a whisper. If you need help, shout it out. There are angels among us. Mine happened to be an ex lover.