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 warranted—scared 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 teenager—despite 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.