Thursday, September 13, 2012

My life wasn't his to give, but he gave it to me anyway

My last entry was about my own suicidal thoughts and feelings. BJ pointed out that I could have said so much more. He's right of course...

I tell the rest of this story VERY CAREFULLY.
Please stop reading if you are dealing with your own depression or suicidal thoughts. I don't mean to be triggering, but this could be.

I don't tell this story lightly. There was definitely a time that living for other people kept me alive, and I am grateful for that. I don't know what would have happened if the timing hadn't been perfect. I don't have to know, because the timing was perfect. I'm not giving advice - only telling you MY experience.

On with my story:

I had felt suicidal for as long as I can remember, but when I was 29, I became a different kind of suicidal. I don't know why it happened when it did. I know some of the things leading up to it, but for whatever reason, my brain broke. I can't think of a better way to put it. I felt shattered, broken into a million pieces. I was in so much pain: physical, emotional, mental... every single second felt eternally, despairingly, painfully long. Flashbacks. Weeks and with NO sleep. When I did sleep, nightmares. Pseudo-seizures. Crazy thoughts. Dissociation. Pain so intense - there really are no words to describe it. I wanted the pain to end, and I saw no end in sight.

It was kind of like I had to experience ALL of the pain of being abused. All of the pain that I hadn't been strong enough to feel when it happened, I felt in those few months. Years and years of being used, abused, raped, and beaten... experienced all at once. I eventually got through it all, but in the middle, I didn't know if it would ever end.

 I didn't want to stress anyone out or hurt anyone with my pain, so I hid it as much as I could. BJ convinced me to share with him and to talk to him. I'd try to smile, but he'd look deeper. He saw the pain even when I was trying to protect him from it. He created a safe space on the floor (at the time beds and homes weren't safe. Too triggering.) I'd curl up in a ball and he would sit with me for hours. In the worst of it, I'd hear myself crying, "I just want to go home. Please..." He understood that "home" meant heaven or God or someplace without suffering. Death felt like the only way out.

He'd tell me I needed to stay... How lonely he would be if I died. How sad. How much I meant to him. I kept on living, so he wouldn't be lonely. I kept on suffering, so he wouldn't feel sad. And then one day, he stopped saying that.

Instead of begging me to live, he said, "Jen, I love you. I want you to stay alive. SO MUCH. But I won't be selfish. I won't ask you to live for me anymore. This is your life, and your choice."

At first, this thought scared me. If I wasn't living for him, how could I stay alive? If I wasn't living for other people, what reason did I have to live?

I almost said, "Okay. I'm done," but I didn't, because I also felt excitement. Hope. No one had ever told me it was my life before. No one had ever given me permission to live or to die... My life wasn't his to give me... but he gave it to me anyway. MY life? MY choice? What did that even mean?

I had spent every second of everyday worrying about, thinking about, and considering what everyone else needed or wanted. I analyzed and tried to anticipate everyone's needs. I'm not saying I succeeded at my endeavors to take care of everyone, but I never stopped trying. Somehow, he was able to show me that I didn't have to live like that.

The pain didn't go away. Everything was still just as intense, but I felt a sense of peace. If it ever got to be "too much", I had permission to end it. It was MY life. MY choice. It seemed whenever I was faced with the choice after that, I WANTED to live. The freedom to choose death finally gave me the freedom to choose life.

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