My Brush with Suicide
I’m in fourth or fifth grade and my parents have separated, which has left me living with my mother. What does this mean to my developing emotional mind? At that time it meant that my father didn’t love us enough to stay and even though my parents told me that it wasn’t my fault, what I remember is them fighting every morning about issues that seemed to involve me. I am the youngest of three, being the only boy and the baby by 13yrs. It’s just me and my mom and certain expectations start to develop that I don’t understand and I’m not even sure my mother is aware they are being set. As a child I felt a great deal of responsibility to keep my mother happy. What I knew of her work life was that the people she worked for didn’t appreciate her as much as she would like and there were even instances when her training of a colleague would lead to them receiving a promotion over her. She was no longer with the man she had fallen in love with, my father, and was now a single parent making all of the decisions. Her home was the one area she had control of and at some point it became necessary that I maintain that in some way.
Things were never a mess in the house and I wasn’t a problem child by any means. For some time my experience with being the only child at home is that it’s just you. Whatever is right or wrong leaves you as the only person to turn to. I felt as if I had to be the functioning positive constant in my mother’s life. She never told me that these were her expectations, but seeing what she viewed as the things that were “wrong” in her life, I thought I had to be what was “right”. This is the most pressure I have ever felt in my entire life and I was a child. The way I saw it was that she is my mother and I have to not be another problem in her life. With that type of mindset any faltering is detrimental. My mother seemed to be at her breaking point more times than not and that impacted me as well. Based on how I viewed things, if anything at home wasn’t working in a way that kept her happy, I looked at it as my fault, therefore thinking of myself as the problem. If I would upset her it would bring up her unresolved issues with my father and I felt as if I were a reminder of that disappointing relationship. In a very erratic and misguided attempt to solve the problem I attempted suicide at the age of 9 or 10. If I no longer existed there would not be any problems for my mom to deal with at home because since I saw myself as the problem, the problem would be gone. I am thankful to have been blessed with what is now a best friend of 26yrs that was there to stop me. She has been such a wonderful presence in my life and I am thankful to not only call her a friend, but also Sis.
At that age I couldn’t see what was there; a mother who was doing everything she knew to do in managing her feelings in every area of her life. Could she have made different choices, of course, but if we all looked at our lives there would be countless areas where we could see that different choices could have been made. Looking at what you or someone else did or didn’t do and staying mad at yourself or them about it only keeps distance between the both of you. I have learned so much from those experiences as a child that has benefited me as an adult and I am truly grateful for that. There is a gift in being able to see how the choices other people make for themselves works or doesn’t work. Many people will see someone close to them make choices that don’t work for them and simply judge it or even ignore that it’s happening. Really look at it for yourself and if you’re lucky, somewhere down the road you’ll be able to pull from that experience and help yourself through a rough time.