I've been more than a bit hesitant to publish what I'm about to write. There is a line, a boundary-- if you will, that most people have in regard to what they know about themselves versus what they allow others to see. I breach that line a lot already.
In my evaluation of whether to allow this part of myself come to print or not, I had to consider my overall goals for writing. They are to 1) provoke new thought processes 2) provide encouragement/support to others 3) inspire positive personal change and 4) exalt real life. I feel that the following fits that bill.
In the summer of 2005, my life had culminated to a crises point. Several things were occurring, some good, some bad but the key components were extreme anxiety, depression, change, uncertainty, fear and definitely not least of all exhaustion. There were also extenuating circumstances of receiving poor medical care and advice accompanied with sense of confusion in regard to medications that were relatively new to the world and misunderstood at the time.
As a result of all this, I attempted suicide.
People have understandably strong reactions to the causes, effects and situations surrounding such a drastic act. Please know that the point of writing this is not to trigger anyone. The point is to illustrate that being at the lowest personal point of your life can feel like an extremely isolated, lonely and desperate place. But, in truth, eventually everyone finds themselves there in one way or another meaning you are not truly alone in that place. The point is to show that if you find yourself there now, there is hope for life to go on. Where you are does not have to be the end point. It can be a completely new beginning.
Each year since my attempt, I celebrate a re-birth day on the anniversary of my own self-inflicted death. On that celebration, I write myself a letter about what I've learned from life in the previous year. This is the letter from this year.
Today, I am 8 years old.
This year, I've learned patience. I've often prayed for the ability to be patient. So, I guess that I should really be thankful for the circumstances I've been confronted with this year that have allowed me to realize the importance of the trait.
I am a reactive and emotionally charged person. But, throughout this year, I've learned that there are times it is best to let things play out on their own even if that means digging your heels in the ground and nearly biting your tongue off.
I've also learned that patience becomes easier when you are able to foster faith. This is a lesson that I learned several birthdays ago that has proven to be priceless. By faith, I mean, not only the faith in a higher power—which I have, but also a faith in the ability of others to make their own decisions and to handle problems on their own.
This may seem like a no-brainer. Of course people are capable of making their own decisions. I don't fool myself for minute thinking that I have the best answers for anyone all the time, including myself. But, by “people” I'm referring to not only my children but also to those who are closest to me. At some point, it is the task of all mothers to have faith that their children will be capable to handle their own lives effectively.
I've spent a large part of my life—nearly half of it so far, guiding, teaching and raising my children. And, I realized that a big part of my fear surrounding what kind of adults they would be stemmed largely from an insecurity about the decisions I've made and less from a lack of confidence in their potential.
Once I dealt with my own insecurities as a mother, I was much more optimistic about allowing (for lack of a better word) my children to make mistakes, foster their own success or failure and become adults. I was able to realize where my life and their lives diverged. And, I was able to see past the current circumstances and embrace the fact that we did have the ability to love one another through it, whatever “it” may be. And, I realized it did not have to be perfect. At the same time, I realized that there was divine perfection in life's little imperfections.
I am not responsible for everyone. I am responsible for me and my reactions to others and the various circumstances I find myself in. I've learned to make decisions based on that fact alone and, added to that, an ability to be benevolent to my future self. This means less cutting my nose off to spite my face and more of making choices that I can look back on and be at ease with. Not everything is a “react this minute” or a “do or die” situation.
At the same time, I learned that there truly are situations where you have to grab the bull by the horns and follow your instincts in reaction. Wisdom comes with realizing the difference. A sense of perspective greatly enhances one's ability to foster this wisdom.
In those “do it right now” situations, I've learned that you have to pull from that part of yourself that is authentic. I had to question, is this really me talking or acting? Or am I reacting from fear, frustration etc.
Unfortunately, one never knows when life is going to throw one of these crisis points your way. So, it's best to know yourself at all times in order to be prepared.
There was an event this past year where I had about a five minute window to say something that I felt was crucial. It was crucial because I knew it may be the last opportunity I had to really speak my heart. It was also crucial because I knew the audience would not be receptive. I faced a difficult choice with only seconds to decide. I could be quiet and not be seen. I could not make waves OR allow my authentic self to do what she felt was important.
I spoke. I was rebuked. But, in my heart and with my new sense of perspective, what I had to say will have a greater meaning to the audience in the future than it did in that very moment. Though it may seem like what I said fell on deaf ears and was rejected there will come a time when those words will be reflected upon and understood. I have faith in that. Although, I have been able to foster a sense of detachment to the reaction and focus more on the fact that I did, indeed, speak from my heart which will allow my future self (not to mention my current self) to feel a sense of inner peace.
I learned that nothing in life is constant. For me, knowing this is a big deal. What it means is if you find yourself in a situation where life feels wonderful and completely blessed, you should drink that in and fully be present in every second of it because it's not guaranteed to last. Moments like these are indeed gifts to be cherished.
At the same time, horrible circumstances are also fleeting. Just as joy may dissipate, so may sadness. There is hope in that. Life has a tendency to evolve, change, convolute, bloom, whither and grow again. I've learned not to give up so quickly and easily.
Overall, I learned that growing up is hard yet rewarding. Pretty astute for an 8 year-old in my opinion.