I decided I was going to chime in.
I’ve been a mental illness/suicide advocate for a few years now, but I’ve never written anything like this. I just went with it.
Strength is hard to find within yourself when you’ve been depleted of it for so long. And the sad thing is, you’re the only one who can refill your strength. When you’re so deflated, how are you ever supposed to work “overtime” and then have to actually refill your own source of will, purpose, and the fight to also sift through that thick, dark, awful fog when your crystal ball is showing that fog as your only viable future?
We are only so strong. To wrap that rope around your neck. To masterfully plan it all out because you think it will make everyone else OK? It won’t. What about all that anxiety associated with all this googling and planning? It’s exhausting. Will it work? Will you live and be damaged goods? How painful will it be?
But you have nothing left. How can everyone take all your strength from you and expect you to just bounce back and refill your own strength that other people stole from you?
It’s in places you never knew existed. Places you never felt inside of you. Way back in your brain. You have to go through a hellacious web of lies, hate, pain, guilt, shame, and doubt to find that last centimeter of your brain to find some strength; a place you thought was gone a long time ago, but it’s there.
My younger and only sibling/sister self-medicated. She thought that was strong. To live the childhood we did? How could our mother physically and emotionally abuse us like she did? My sister, two years younger than me, went through rehab for addiction THREE times. Do you know how hard that is to do? All because an adult decided to bully her as an innocent child.
Not taking 25 pills a day is strength.
Then, she relapsed. Lived the nightmares all over, yet again. Her fight wasn’t over. She stood the test and gave it another round in the ring. My mother picked up the phone when my sister would call her at midnight. My sister found strength–enough to yell at my mother and tell her she did this to her!
But on May 2, 2008, my sister accidentally took one too many pills. That one pill was the one dose that made the rest before it too many. She died in her bed, cell phone clinched to her ear. I look for strength every day to deal with the what-if she was trying to call me? She would always love to call me when it got too rough. I was the only one on this Earth who witnessed what she went through.
We were so close. I miss her terribly
I remember picking up the phone that morning when my mom called me to tell me “Samantha is DEAD.” I dropped to my knees. My mother dropped the phone, screaming, as I physically felt something leave my body that I never got back. My stepdad picked the phone off the floor. I found strength to utter the words “I’ll be there as soon as I can drive.”
I took things on a little differently than my sister. I wasn’t going to let something I obviously had no control over, and certainly don’t as a self-sufficient adult, make me or break me. Yeah, there was “stuff” I had to work out in my head. But hey, we all do, right?
So, me and my mother were actually close as adults. Especially after I had my first and only child in 2002. I needed to focus on being strong for my daughter.
I couldn’t use my strength on being angry at my mother. I was in control of my own path. And I was in control of this young child. I was going to do everything differently than my sister and my mother. I found the strength to. My daughter is 15 now. She’s excelling and thriving more than 90% of kids her age. She’s alright. I’ve had 100% custody of her since she was two and a half. Yeah, I did this on my own. I had to leave her Dad.
No child support.
No every other weekend.
No sick days to sleep in as “he” got up with her.
I pulled myself out of bed to spend all day on a softball field several times a year. She’s a left-handed-pitcher. She’s going to scholarship academically first and then she’s going to scholarship on softball. I opted to bust my ass, to make sure she would have a few options. My option to find strength to raise a child on my own, completely differently than my mother raised me, is now giving my child options. I found strength in my choice of options. I found out that I could do it!
Hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Harder than cleaning up the wall in my mother’s bedroom on March 23, 2015 after her suicide. I found that strength out of nowhere just so my step dad wouldn’t have to.
My mom knew what it felt like to lose a sibling! How could this be happening? How did we end up, seven years after losing my sister, to cleaning up the room after my mom’s suicide? My mother lost her brother when I was four years old to suicide! She knew the pain I felt after losing my sibling!
I understand the guilt started to overcome her
She knew she ultimately was the root of my sister’s addiction, but we talked about what my uncle’s suicide did to everyone. She related to my pain of losing a sibling. Now, she left me? And MY DAUGHTER? Who adored her?
I dug into the deepest places. I thought I went deep when my sister died and I had to dig deep in 2008 to be strong for my mom since she suffered from mental illness! Now I had to be there for my daughter. My heart was hurting!
My daughter is the only thing in my life I haven’t failed at! Damn everyone for leaving me! Damn her father for being a dead beat. He was a wonderful husband and father to this precious child! Until his work colleague turned him onto meth! He ending up choosing drugs over family! Is everyone plotting against me?
I finally got enough balls to file a show cause for no child support in 2016. We had a court date. Finally. I need help. She’s getting older. I have no one. It’s okay if I ask for help, right? Or does that make me weak? Noooo, it can’t make me weak if it makes her life improved! He did not show for court. The judge puts out a warrant for him not showing up to court almost a year ago on 9/8/2017. He turns himself in on Sunday, July 8, 2018! Is this a turning point? He’s finding the strength to man-up! He’s owning it. He’s taking responsibility.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018, two cops knock on my door. He’s dead. He died in jail, in his sleep at age 48. Twenty four hours after turning himself in. Now, my daughter’s father is gone. I never kept her from him over child support. If he was clean and sober, and he asked for her, I’d allow her to see him.
There’s no price that you can put on a little girl having a relationship with her father. She loved her daddy. Did he help? No. But, he was there for her physically, at times when he was clean and sober.
I never talked bad about him. His health was failing. Diabetes from the depression he’d gone through and the weight gain that accompanied it. The deputy told me he couldn’t even walk into the jail to turn himself in. How could he give up?
I found strength in the last 10 days or so. Yet again. This time, I found it in the gorgeous eyes she got from her father of a 15 year-old young lady. Unfortunately, my stepdad has moved on in life and love which meant he eventually moved on from the stepparent life as well. Oh, well. I mean, everyone else left. Why wouldn’t he? Good for him.
Your story is NOT over
I’m exhausted of turning the pages of my story. But, I am choosing to do it.
Choosing that option means I dig. I dig deep every day. I’m 40. I’ve made mistakes as a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a step-daughter, an employee, a citizen, you name it. I didn’t ask for them to deplete my strength! Damn it. And they all left this Earth, so I’m definitely the responsible party for refilling the “strong-tank,” and reading all of your stories in this particular blog post by Anne Moss has touched me.
Please dig. You can do it. I believe in you! Do you believe in me? Cause I need you to. I’m still picking up the last few pieces of my daughter’s shattered heart, but I am choosing to. I’m looking for strength from you this week. I need it.
Brains get sick. It’s okay! We get strep, we go to the doctor. They evaluate us, give us their opinion, give us something to clear it up, we follow their directions to take a couple days to heal and refill our strength, and we suddenly feel better!
See if you can find the strength to reach out. You can do it! Your next chapter of your story could be all you’ve ever imagined.
I believe in you. And I hope for today, that’s enough.