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What a 'Close Call' With Suicide Taught Me About Life

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The last few weeks have been especially difficult. My therapist and I have been tackling the “elephant in the room” kind of topics, you know, the big, heavy topics that stare me in the face, glaring at me, daring me to bring them up! These are the topics that I have been wanting and needing to address for more than two and a half years! We’ve touched on the edge of both of them in session, and now my therapist feels I’m finally ready to tackle them, and really dive in.

Neither one of these topics is easy to talk about.

In the past couple therapy sessions, we addressed the memories of childhood sexual abuse, and that was very painful and exhausting. The memories had been buried deep within my subconscious, completely out of my awareness for decades! These sessions were very intense, we did make progress, but I know we’re just starting on that journey.

Then this week, it will be the times I attempted suicide following those repressed memories returning. To make sure I didn’t chicken out, I sent my therapist an email asking her to make me accountable for addressing this difficult topic! She did, and I’m grateful for that. This too is a journey we’re just starting on.

So after my therapy session this week, my husband and I were watching TV, and something one character said hit me hard! I stopped dead, and had to ask myself some hard questions. I wrote this poem as a result.

A Close Call…

“Close calls make you live harder”
That was a quote from one of the characters on NCIS
After another character almost got blown up — twice!
What does this have to do with anything, and why does this statement even matter?
Because it hit me like a freight train…
Why haven’t I “lived harder”? And exactly what does that mean?

Is this what’s behind me working so incredibly hard on my recovery process?
Or what pushes me to do everything possible to get past the trauma?
Is this what keeps picking me up again and again and again?
And even when I get knocked down, I may get down into the depths of depression
But I never completely give up? Do I?
My therapist said “it was a close call, it really did profoundly change how you are living”

Is it because I tried ending my life? Attempting suicide — twice?
As I think about this question, it makes me feel fearful again
What if I had died in that suicide attempt?
Instead of my husband and I sitting here peacefully watching TV
Casually conversing about whatever show we’re watching…
What would he have done with me gone??

This whole thought process has brought me to a very different place…
Of fear, shame, guilt and so many more emotions
It made me think about the repercussions of what might have been
Of the impact that my suicide would have had on my husband
And the caliber of grief he would have been engulfed with
At the loss of his wife — me

I was overwhelmed with this idea
To the extent that I couldn’t say the words
I couldn’t speak them out loud to myself
Or to my husband, or to my therapist
I struggled to even acknowledge them to myself
For fear they may ever come true

I now question myself on what kind of impact it would have had
Not only on the one true love of my life
But on the rest of my family — my four children, my ten grandchildren
Who would not have understood why I would have done that
It would have torn deep holes in their hearts
And wounded them in ways I couldn’t imagine

At this moment I’m realizing how suicide can impact those closest to us
Those who our lives intersect with every day, in ways we can’t always grasp
Because in that moment of impulse, in trying to get rid of that pain
We can’t — no, I can’t fathom anything outside of my own thoughts
Of escaping that intense emotional pain and anguish
When suicide seems the only option

In those moments before my suicide attempts
That was the only thing on my mind, the only question I had
How do I escape this horrific, terrifying pain?
There were no thoughts outside of that very narrow lens
That focus of escaping, running away, because that pain and terror was so intense
I couldn’t see or discern anything else

I couldn’t perceive the ripple effect it would have on anyone else
Or how it would impact their lives
Or the pain and anguish they would endure
At the loss of someone they thought would always be there
It never occurred to me the devastation they would feel
Or the emptiness that would result if I took my own life

All I thought about was where I was, and the pain that enveloped me
Sucking me into this chasm of nothingness that I longed for in that moment
The emptiness that wanted to eat me up whole
Leaving a gaping void where my life once was
And sucking the life out of others because they couldn’t make any sense of it
Of why I would create that crater

Just as my husband can only imagine what I felt on that night when I attempted
I can only imagine what he felt on that night
He didn’t know where I was after the ambulance took me away
The police wouldn’t tell him anything, and he didn’t even know if I was still alive
He was awake all night, sick as a dog, torn up, shredded to the bone, heartbroken
Months later, that terrifying pain was there again to torture me, and I attempted again

So what now? How do I get through this crap?
How do I reconcile what might have been?
I want to pull back time like it never happened
And create a safety zone around me and everyone I know
As though the knowledge of my attempts never existed
To start with a clean slate — but I know that’s not possible

What’s next? This brings me back to the beginning…
“Close calls make you live harder.” So how will I “live harder”?
I will dive in deep. I will never give up. I will pursue healing
I will not only survive, I will thrive. I will not only exist, I will live
I will find my meaning, my purpose for being on this earth
Because everyone has a purpose

I will put myself and my life out there for others to see
And for you, to support and encourage you in your journey
So you too will find a reason to stay alive, and will find the courage
To ask yourself whether your life is worth anything or not
YES! You are worth it!! You are worth saving! You are here because you matter!
You are valuable! You are precious!

You have a purpose! You have a reason to be alive!
None of us are here merely to exist, but to LIVE!
Life is worth living! Grab onto it!
And even if right now in this moment you don’t feel like it
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you may be feeling
And plunge into your life!
I’m still learning the “big picture” of what my life is
How about joining me in this search
And finding out what the “big picture” of your life is!

If you too are on a trauma healing journey, visit The Tie Dye poet’s website to see more of her work, and check out her book here.

Originally published: February 18, 2021
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