I Bet You Never Knew
On March 11, 2020, I swiped and tapped through Instagram stories, just as I do on any other day when I have downtime at work though on this day, things were quite different. One of my homegirls appeared to have randomly posted a picture of our childhood friend. I instantly smiled thinking, “Oh, he looks good,” and swiped to the next story but then something within whispered to me, “Wait, go back”. I obeyed, took a closer glimpse of her post, and noticed doves surrounding small text reading, “Rest In Peace”.
I freaked out immediately! My hands began to shake. I found myself hiding my face behind my computer’s monitor in hopes that my co-workers would not notice my state of panic. I reached out via text message to my homegirl inquiring about what was going on. What had happened to our beloved childhood friend? She responded saying that he had committed suicide though specific reasons as to why were unknown. All I could do in that moment was flashback to memories he and I shared growing up and conversations we shared in adulthood. I blamed myself for not keeping in communication with him. I wondered if perhaps he and I were still cordial and if he felt cared for, would there possibly be something I could have done to prevent his departure from this earth.
I was no longer able to hide behind my computer screen or keep my knees from shaking beneath my desk. I got a sense that someone would feel that something was off with me. I knew I had to submit work and had appointments scheduled though I felt I had to let someone know that at that moment, and perhaps for the rest of that day, I was not okay. After sharing this news with a trusted co-worker and my supervisor, I asked to go home and received support from my team with my tasks for the rest of that day.
I drove home in silence. I drove home in shambles. I drove home feeling eerie. I drove the speed limit, or so I think, over a bridge from one state to the next back home with my phone in my right hand as texts from other mutual childhood friends interrupted it’s stillness.
When I got home, I threw myself into my couch and allowed it to soak up my tears and muffle my screams. I wondered if my childhood friend had lost all hope. Did he not feel loved in the slightest form? Was what he had not enough to feel that life was worth fighting for? After checking my other friends’ text messages, I wondered why I felt so affected. Why did I feel so broken by such news? These thoughts clouded my mind for days upon days before my WHY finally hit me...
(Please, do not text and drive)
Not long before March 2020, I reached out to my best friend as I sped across that same 1.35 miles bridge one sunshiny morning with my phone in my right hand and left hand clenching my steering wheel. I decided to send a text message as I felt it was too early to call her with such concern and I knew my voice would be too unsteady for her to even comprehend what I wanted to make her aware of. My best friend was the only person who I felt in that moment would grasp what I had to share with her and bring me back down without breaking me into pieces or sending me to a place I feared, the psych ward. To some extent, my text message to her read,:
I'm telling you this as my best friend. No, I don't plan to pursue it:
I've been having suicidal thoughts. This isn't the first time. I have ways to approach it such as overdosing on drugs or jumping from a bridge... any way that will be as fast as possible. I often feel like shit and that the world would be better without me or more so that my pain and anxiety would disappear if I'm gone.
The only thing that keeps me is knowing that I have friends like you, (other names removed for confidentiality)... family like (my nephew and God daughter)... (my closest cousins) or thinking about the pain my death would bring to my mother. I sometimes hate being alive and just want things to be over.
People don't get that about me because I don't say anything in fear of being placed in a psych ward. I tend to shut down when I feel this way, which I have been doing these past weeks but people take my silence, locked doors, and long face personally internalizing it as if I am problematic so I try to put on a facade that doesn't last once someone upsets me, which has been happening in several environments. I hate it here.
I'm emotionally frustrated, feel worthless, am walking on eggshells, and feel disrespected on occasion.
I just thought I should tell you that. I don't wanna talk. Just wanted to text that…
Shortly after, I received a response from my BFF, which included a prayer and a reminder that I am not doing this thing called life alone. In her prayer, Monie asked God to protect and cover me. She asked for me to receive reminders that I am loved, am destined for greatness, and am capable of fighting through even when I feel incapable. Monie informed me that she too has been in dark places and she appreciates that I felt safe enough to lean on her in that moment. She added that she loves me and emphasized that if ever I feel the slightest of such thoughts again, “CALL ME IMMEDIATELY”. This was a promise we made as she had been losing people in her life and hopes to not lose another one any time soon. That would be unbearable.
Though it took some time, I felt a sense of relief.
It’s the fact that I could relate. I know what it feels like to hurt, feel less than, and to not belong. I often wonder if those who actually go through with committing suicide felt unloved or not even cared for though that’s something that I will never know. I tend to hate that I care about what others think though in retrospect, it’s what has kept me alive. I care about how my departure from this world, at that magnitude, may bring sorrow and pain to those who I love. I couldn’t hurt them in that way, which gives reason for my purpose of not taking my own life. I try to push through and be stronger than my weakest times, no matter how dark in a hole I may feel. I don’t want defeat to win.
This blog was scheduled to be completed over a month ago though it has been difficult to do anything more than watch the cursor go in and out on my screen. The thought of me being vulnerable to this extent pierced me. It was bothersome. I felt some sense of shame though I’ve been encouraged to push through and opted to submit this text as I am aware that I am not alone in this. There are other girls, boys, men, and women who too often find themselves in pits so deep and feeling so weak that even if someone were kind enough to fetch you with a rope, it’ll feel impossible to climb out. Let me remind you that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”- unknown author. Let me remind you that God would not put you through more than you can bear. Let me remind you that those things we call diamonds were once kicked around and simply called rocks though they had to go through some shit before they were even seen as beautiful. Let me be clear… It is okay to ask for help… it is okay to not be okay… it is okay to feel weak… it is okay to start over. No one is perfect and I believe that this quarantine is definitely showing us all that we cannot “do life” alone. Call on a trusted friend, spiritual leader, mentor, counselor, therapist, or family member in times when you feel down. I’m sure that person wouldn’t want to do life without you.