My Suicide Attempt: What I Would Tell My Younger Self

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I have been dreading writing this blog because I would have to reflect deeply on my emotions, issues, conclusions about my life at the time, and the poor choices I made as a teenager.  Sometimes, I feel like it happened to someone else and it wasn’t me who battled all her emotional issues, took all those pills, and gave up on my life.   For the most part, I have blocked this event out of my mind and rarely come back to it due to the shame and hurt I caused not only my family but myself.  However, as part of my healing process this year, I realize reflecting back on my suicide is a way to forgive myself for not knowing better and for not loving myself at the time.

It has been 22 years since my first and only ever suicide attempt.   I was 15 years old at the time.  I returned home from running away.  I won’t defend myself for running away.  I was a defiant and temperamental teenage girl— full of all the attitude and trouble  that came with it.  I made bad choices, which hurt my family at the time.  I was definitely not a perfect child by any means.

One day when I was at home, my father started questioning me about the men I had been with when I was on the run.  What were their names and did I have sex with any of them.  He got so angry and kept questioning me.  My father is a pretty calm man with little words, so his reaction although warrantedscared me.  He was persistent on finding out what sexual activities had gone on.  I know he found it hard to believe, but I actually had NOT had sex with anyone.  Although, I ran away from home and worried my parents, I was not out there being promiscuous and luckily, I also was not harmed in any way.  I was very fortunate at the time.  In hindsight, I had been a very naive and selfish girl who made poor choices.

Later that evening after my father’s interrogation, I became quite upset.  My anger and resentment over their non-belief of my non-sexual activities grew and took over me.  I was angry that they didn’t believe me that I had been sexually abused as a child and now, they believed I was a very promiscuous teenagerdespite me telling the truth.  It seemed, no one ever believed me no matter what.  I felt so deeply hurt, that no one cared for me, that no matter what really happened, my parents and family would always have their own version of the truth.

As an adolescent, my emotions and struggle with child sexual abuse left me under a dark cloud  of confusion and hurt.  Because my parents didn’t believe me and I didn’t have any way to express myself nor did I have the support to understand how to process my thoughts, emotions, and also heal from such traumatic experiences.  These feelings intensified after my father’s interrogation and accusations.  I decided enough was enough and I didn’t need to live and there was no purpose for my being.   It felt that the only purpose I served was that my body was used for other’s temptations.  I felt utter despair and I decided to end my life.  I took 3 bottles of aspirin and the ringing in my ears wouldn’t stop and eventually my aunt took me to the ER.

At the hospital, I was treated for an overdose and also spoke to a psychiatrist as standard procedure.  In the Asian culture, especially back then, no one talked about mental health and it was taboo to speak of it.  Therefore, I did not end up getting follow-up treatment and my parents never spoke of it ever again.  The only time it was ever brought up was when my father’s health insurance would not cover a portion of the medical treatment.  Life moved on and I tried to move on.  The aftermath of my suicide attempt was not pretty.  I was the joke of our ethnic community and gained the nickname Looney.   I moved on and did not look back on the suicide.   I tried to resume back into high school, working part-time, and being a normal teenager.    I shut the book on that chapter of my life knowing it would make everyone’s life easier—including my own.

So why am I reflecting back on this suicide and my past today?  I want to heal, I want to be a better person, and I want to let go of all my anger and hurt.  I know I am meant to live a happier and fuller life.  I have been blessed with a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and I know I am a talented and hardworking individual.  However, my own demons have gotten the best of me from time to time.  Today, I am looking them in the mirror and telling them “no more and I am not my trauma and my soul and true self is  more than my circumstances”.   But, I can’t let go of the past and its hurt and anger without, telling my story not only to others but myself.  I have to revisit it, so I can tell my younger self “I forgive you for giving up at the time.  You didn’t know better and you didn’t know another way”.  I forgive myself.

From time to time, I have thought about giving up on living but with kids and a husband, I can’t and I won’t.  With life experience—wisdom—I have come to know life is full of ups and downs.  Life is meant to be unpredictable and the way to survive it is to take in the beauty that happens during those small moments, such as the birth of a child, a beautiful autumn day with the leaves full of color, or watching people enjoy their families at the park.  In between all the ugliness that can happen in life, there is such beauty that is worth the suffering.  This is is what I would have told my younger self; to be patient and let the suffering pass.  For tomorrow, it will only be a memory and new beautiful memories will be made.

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Stories of Kindness and Why We Should Remember Them

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Often times, we only hear about the terrible experiences people have had.  It is human nature to want to complain or even want to hear about gossip or terrible news in the world.  It is the drama that we all ache for and wait for.  Perhaps, it is the sad, pathetic assurance and comfort we receive knowing that we all suffer in some way.

I, myself, am guilty of venting on a regular basis about what has happened to me that day or what I don’t have enough of in my life.  Let me just clarify this is not a story about gratitude either.  This is a story about remembering the kindness that one experiences, so they don’t give up on life— more importantly that a person doesn’t give up on becoming a better person.  Having an experience where you are shown kindness without any expectation in return should motivate one to do the same.  To see another individual extend him/herself without any restraint is an example to do the same.

My very first memory of true kindness—the genuine concern for a human being kindness—was back when I was 8 years old.   The memory has always stuck in my mind with such remembrance that it has significant meaning today.   On a spring day, I decided to step outside and ride my bike around our apartment complex.  As I was riding my bike with great speed, I lost my balance and fell off head first with my knees hitting the pavement.  My knee scraped the pavement pretty bad.  At this point, I was bleeding heavily and crying my head off.

Out of nowhere, this older woman came out from her apartment to help me; she was like an angel at my side.  This elderly woman  with  permed white hair was towering over me with a band aid and wipes to clean my bleeding knee.  I was scared that she would hurt me but instead she tended to my wound with such care.  She made sure I made it back to my apartment safely too.

Some people can choose to not see or hear those who may need help but on this day, this woman for whatever reason chose to help a crying and injured girl.  Remembering how she treated me with such care without any judgement has always stuck with me.  To know that there are people who will help you and reach out when you are hurt or down on your luck is an act of grace.  The best we can do is remember there is good in this world despite all the negative things going on.  We can also choose to be a part of the good that is happening and give back for those times we were given a chance.

 

 

What Healing Means To Me

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I grew up in a  small Midwestern town where you could walk or ride your bike to most places.  I remember a childhood filled with bike riding to the beach,  getting ice cream at the local Baskin-Robbins, watching movies with my friends, and having crushes on boys.  It was a good childhood for the most part; me and my siblings were never without.  My parents were immigrants who worked many hours in their low-paying jobs, and they were able to provide the basics and then some for us.   They did their best to survive in a  country that was so foreign to them and they lacked the language and skills to move ahead.

My parents’  long work  hours and lack of funds to pay for childcare, left us in the care of family members during their absence.  Unfortunately, I experienced sexual abuse as a child in the care of some of these family members.  It happened when I was very young from ages 3-6 years old.  The long hours our  parents worked left us with these assailants who had access to us; they knew they could abuse us at their leisure.  I can’t and won’t speak for my siblings but for me, I can say the abuse occurred many  times for me.

The physical act of the sexual abuse was not what traumatized me,  but it was the fear that someone—a close family member—could hurt me whenever they wanted to.  Thinking back to my childhood, I experienced a lot of anxiety and low-self esteem, which I still struggle with today.   I used to think I did something to attract these abusers and something was wrong with me.  I tried to tell my mother a few times that the family member was taking my clothes off,  but she hushed me and didn’t seem to believe me.   I was really left with no one to help me.  I was too scared and ashamed to mention it to anyone…even my own siblings.  As I got older, the abuse stopped and I was relieved.

However, little did  I know the total damage wasn’t quite done.  Even though the sexual abuse stopped, it very much was still a part of my psyche.  It inhabited much of the way I thought about people and situations…were they out to hurt me if they wanted to talk or see me in private.  I always had so much fear that anyone could strike again at any time.  Although, I never was diagnosed, I can say with much confidence that I had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As an adult, the impact of the abuse caused me not to trust people, not want to be social, and I felt isolated most of the time.  I told my parents about the sexual abuse when I got older and was a married adult.  The rejection from my parents in their belief of the abuse created more resentment and strain in our relationship.  My mother blamed me for the abuse and said it was my fault.  I couldn’t even understand her rationale, but I am sure it was denial to the largest degree.  Most of all I was hurt that the people who were supposed to protect me—my parents—they did not do their job, and in the aftermath, I felt I still didn’t have the apologies or support I needed to move on with my life.

My adulthood consisted of resentment, hate, and distrust of anyone who I felt was overstepping their boundaries with me. It could be comments, expressions, or interactions with people,  and I would be filled with rage.  I built a physical and emotional safety net around me, that not even my husband could get in.  I was a force to be reckon with.  It wasn’t healthy for many reasons, but mostly because I was only hurting myself and giving energy to those who hurt me.   The abusers probably had forgotten and moved on with their life, but here I was sulking, angry, and resentful as hell.

There have been a series of events that occurred in my life where I really had no control over  the situation once the sh*t hit the fan, and these events have taught me that I need to let go.  I had to make the daily efforts to move forward; I couldn’t lie in my sorrows or ask anyone to feel pity for me or even feel sorry for myself.   I knew I was the only one who would be able to pull myself out of the emotional distress and take action to get out of the situation and move ahead.   The truth is that life happens and whether it is good or bad, I know I will be okay because I can’t control it and I can only do my best.  I am only a small part of this world, but I can try to make it better or make it worse with my attitude and choices.

Healing to me means letting go of those who hurt me, those who won’t say sorry for their actions, and those who wont’ believe or support me.   We are all a part of this universe, so our actions impact each and everything out there whether it seems to be a negative or positive impact.   I learned that some good can come out of the bad that happens in this life too.  Today, I am here writing and sharing my experience with you.  For anyone who has experienced abuse and/or trauma know that there are definitely better days, don’t let the hate consume you.  We can’t give those who hurt us all of us— we can’t give them the good part of us— our soul.  There is still so much good in each and everyone of us that we need to share it with others, so that they too can move forward.  Hang in there, have faith for a better tomorrow, and remember to love yourself even on your ugliest days.