The S Word



"WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU?" my insides screamed.  "How could that even cross your mind????"

It was day two of my trip to Washington state. I had gotten up early. Not woken up early, because I had been awake all night. I couldn't remember getting a good night's sleep since well before the break up. This morning Aunt Angela and I had plans to visit Snoqualmie Falls.

As Angela and I hiked together to the falls, I had great hopes that the next couple of hours could have a little bit of a healing effect on me. I had always enjoyed that sense of reverent awe I felt when I saw something majestic like a waterfall. A wonderful sense that this grand piece of work could crush me but that it was made by my Father in Heaven and He loved me and was in control all rolled into one. As we came upon the falls, I was floored at what I felt instead.

Jump.

I was alarmed at the thought. Just the fact that it had crossed my mind sent adrenaline pulsing through my body. I rejected it immediately and continued commenting on the gorgeous sight with my aunt. She pointed out an eagle on a ledge far off in the distance.

I felt a longing to be where that eagle was, several hundred yards from my current view. From there it would be easier to jump. I had been terrified and confused at the constant rush of panic going through my body for the past several days. I was completely flustered at why every attempt to help myself feel better resulted in spiraling down even further. That waterfall offered the escape I craved. I wanted to jump.

I was mortified at what was going on inside my head. Killing myself was not the answer to my problems. In elementary school, a boy in our community had accidentally shot another boy while playing with a gun and then turned it on himself. My teacher had given our class a powerful talk in which she expressed that no matter hard life gets, the answer does not lie in ending it. She had won me over in my first exposure to this difficult concept. I wholeheartedly rejected the idea. But like everything else lately, I feared my attempts were going to be futile.


While I tried and tried to smother the thoughts of jumping off the waterfall, what concerned me even more was the idea that it seemed like something irreversible had happened inside of me. I was mortified that what would be a normal healthy human reaction to a waterfall had been removed and replaced with a desire to jump off of it. Like something natural and innate within me had been stolen.


*****

SEVERAL WEEKS LATER

Morning.

Today had to be the day. Every day I woke up in this bed was one more day I was dragging everyone around me down into my pit.

I tried to remember what it felt like to feel. How would the used-to-be-me react to knowing that her once happy home was being smothered by the effects of my wretchedness? I recognized now that that first thought of jumping off a waterfall would have been the most merciful way to go. Instead I had come home and selfishly required my whole family to swim in my misery with me. The longer I stayed, the more damage I did. Getting out of the picture was the best thing I could do for them now. I had heard it said that killing yourself is the most selfish thing you could ever do, but now that I stood on the edge, I wanted to shout from the mountaintops that this would be the most selfless thing I had ever done.


*****

There was one major condition. There had to be a note. It could not just be an afterthought. The taking of my life was going to have a monumental effect on the people who meant most to me in this world. Getting out of their lives would, in the long run, be the best thing I could do for them at this point. I prayed that any good I had done in my life would be payment for somehow granting them the ability to understand that. Through the note they also had to understand how much I loved them. I loved them so much. And that nothing they could have done would have saved me. My wretchedness was my own doing. They must know that. I would not go until the note was written.

On at least three separate occasions I sat down to write my letter. So strange, I wasn't even able to compose a sentence. When I picked up the pencil, my mind would cloud over and all I could manage was, "Sorry. Love you." That was not going to cut it. On one occasion, it was as if someone was holding the pencil, preventing me from writing.


 *****
"Are you suicidal?" my bishop asked me.

"No," I lied. I had always been a truthful person, but once you're on your way to hell, the sins add up pretty quickly. I did feel bad lying to him, he had devoted a lot of time to meeting with me in his office at the church and even visited our home a time or two out of concern for our family. 

He pulled a notepad out of his desk. "I am going to give you my home phone, my work phone, and my cell phone. I don't want you to do anything drastic without calling me first."

I nodded and this time I meant it. He had my respect and admiration. He was a good man and I trusted him wholeheartedly. I owed that to him. It didn't mean I wouldn't go through with it. I pictured myself in a number of terrible scenarios with my cell phone by my side. I would keep my word by calling him first no matter the outcome.

*****
"Fine," I thought as my dad left the room. "But you don't know what you're asking. You'd all be better off if I was gone." 

The future was definitely going to involve padlocks and padded rooms.

Whether it was inspiration or the whisperings of concerned people in my life who had picked up on the thoughts I thought I had been masking so well, my dad had met me in my room that night with a special request.

"Do not take your life. I beg you, do not take your life. You don't know what that would do to us. We will do whatever it takes to help you, but taking your life is not the solution."

There was nothing he could do to help me. He'd already done it all, and I was still hopelessly broken beyond repair.

However, I would do anything for my daddy. Including getting out of his life because I was ruining it. He had done nothing all my life but earn my trust and my devotion. He had provided the kind of childhood that dreams are made of. Tickle monsters, bike rides, and daddy/daughter dances in the living room. And because he asked me to stay, I had to. I could not deprive him of that. 

I would never need the bishop's three phone numbers. I wouldn't need to finish the suicide note. Even if it meant all hell was going to rain on our house, I would not take my life.


Next Chapter: Doorways 



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