I remember the very first time. I was 12 years old. Bad perm. Too skinny. Clothing that was not from the right stores. And a home life that was a little different from my friends. I had watched an after school special about it and thought – that’s my way out. That’s what I can do. When I’m old enough. That will stop my pain.
I didn’t do it because I didn’t know how.
The second time, I was 21. Sitting in my loft bedroom of my very first apartment. The pain and loneliness I had lived with for so long had been masked for those first three years of college by classes and parties and Greek life and activities. But my heart had been shattered and I did not know what to do next. I held the bottle of pills in my hand and cried. I told myself that when I stopped crying, I could take them.
Instead I called my mom.
The third time, I was a new mom home with a baby who had not slept more than 5 hours at a time in 9 months. I could not stop shaking or crying. This was different than the hormones my friends talked about. I thought about leaving this miraculous boy home with his dad and just driving off of a cliff.
Instead I went to my doctor.
As I write this, I am crying for that girl – at 12. At 20. At 35. I want to hug her and tell her that she is enough. That she will be OK. But, you see, she wouldn’t have listened. The thoughts were too powerful. The feeling of worthlessness and despair too overwhelming.
This morning I was reading a story about suicide. About how it is hidden from shame or embarrassment or fear. And I was reading, I realized that those of us who have been in those dark places NEED to tell our stories. Because someone might hear and someone might pause. And pick up the phone or go to their doctor or put down the pill bottle.
Those in the darkness need to know there is light. That there are solutions and they look different for everyone.
I have shared here that I was NOT an athletic kid. I loved the escape of books and quiet. When I found running in my late 20’s, it was like this whole other person had been hiding somewhere inside of me, waiting to get out.
And in those first miles, I started to find the light.
When the despair returned in my 30’s, after stabilizing with my doctor, I laced up my shoes again and that feeling came back. And this time, I found friends just like me who have no idea that they helped save my life. And helped my beautiful little boy keep his mom.
I run because miles and goals and endorphins, along with medication and yoga and self care, keep me here. They keep my mind, body and spirit in line so I can be a mom and a wife and a friend. So that when bad things happen or challenges arise, I have the toolbox to go to. I am calm enough and present enough to get help when I need it. I can recognize the dark before it fully envelops me.
This is not the first time I have shared this story, and it will not be the last. But I know…
That I am here.
That there is always a solution.
That life is a beautiful miracle.
That I am worthy of love.
And you are too.