“I couldn’t get my 270lb self over the side of the bridge fast enough before the cops got to me and pulled me down. “
I didn’t want to live anymore.
Depression, memories, intrusive racing thoughts.. The internal anguish that festered inside of me on a day to day basis had worn me down. All I wanted was one day of peace. I wanted a lobotomy. I wanted someone to take my mind and erase it. I wanted nothing,more than anything else in the world I wanted it all to stop.. But it never did. I’d cycled thru the psych hospitals, doing the two step back to “balance” more times than I could count. Medications and therapy.. The magic cocktail.. But it had never worked for long periods of time. The medications turned me into a zombie if I took them, and therapy was pointless since I never really talked about the exact nature of my demons.
February 13, 2013.. I reached the end of my ability to cope. My fiancé was cheating on me with my best friend.. My son had been sexually abused, and I had zero legal authority to protect him.. I was financially stressed, lonely, and haunted with memories from my past. Flashbacks and panic attacks came daily, and I just had zero desire to carry on.. And couldn’t fathom a worthy enough response to “what’s the point?”
I used a bottle of vodka to swallow my meds, one every minute or so, until I felt full of liquid courage and made my way to the bridge. I’d always had a fantasy of free falling from a bridge at night.. The full moon reflecting off of the water, with Sarah Brightmans’ “Time to say Goodbye” filling my ears with her beautiful voice. That’s how I wanted to go out.. So poetic. I found the song, inserted the earphones and pressed play. Just as I got out of the car, a cop car pulled up behind me, lights flashing. I panicked. I was too intoxicated to be behind a wheel. I hurried to the front of the car, and began trying to get up onto the side. It wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it to be, but there was no going back. I couldn’t get my 270lb self over the side of the bridge fast enough before the cops got to me and pulled me down. I’m thankful for that today.
While in the psych hospital, I protested to the same staff I had been institutionalized there with in the past. This time felt different. In the past I’d landed there following cries for help, and threats of suicide.. This time I felt so hopeless that being there merely felt like an obstacle to the inevitable. I repeatedly told them they were wasting their time.
I was outside on the patio smoking my first cigarette of the day… Staring out between the cracks in the fence, and I saw a bird land of the grass at the base of a tree. I watched as it pecked at the ground. It hopped around pecking away, feeding I was sure. I watched it for a few minutes, and thought about how it didn’t go to work.. It didn’t earn money.. and yet it was provided for. No matter what, it would find the resources to survive. I thought the things I had been through.. And even during times of homelessness, I never went hungry, I had clothes, I figured out places to sleep, and eat, and even provide orange juice and diapers for my son. In those moments something shifted in my perspective. The stress of finances were lifted. Technically, I didn’t need a home. All I needed was food, water, and a change of clothes.. And I would survive. Everything else outside of that were things I wanted, but I didn’t need. I never forgot that little bird.
I never forgot that shift in thought. Over the next few years, it repeated in my mind as a reminder of the only things I really needed. I didn’t have a higher power at the time, and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go on living.. But in later years, I would hold on to the minimization style of living, and find a freedom that has helped mold my life today.
Thru working the 12 steps, I came to believe in the universal energy of life as my higher power. I never know where the wind is going to blow me, I just know that I’m willing to go wherever that is, and do whatever being in those places provides me an opportunity to do. It’s taken me all over the world at this point.. Literally on a dime at times. In September 2015 I was in NYC with $19 to my name, a bus ticket to DC, and a flight from DC to New Orleans booked. I had ten days before I would land in New Orleans, so it was definitely a time to be frugal, but I wasn’t stressed.. I had a way home, and $19 can go a long way in oatmeal if need be. I’ve never gone hungry, yet I have stressed going hungry a million times. Part of me wonders if its that fear that causes my body to store food, but that’s another topic.
In March 2016, I found myself in Athens, Greece. I accompanied my friend on a trip of her lifetime. We were regular tourists, viewing the Acropolis, taking a ferry to the islands, buying the souvenirs, eating the food. On our 6th day we discovered that the Syrian refugees were at the port we had sailed from .. Hidden in terminals and tents around the other side. We decided to go and see what we could do to help. Boy did our hearts hurt. I don’t think either of us were prepared for what we would witness there. That too is another blog.
Upon returning to the United States, the images of the refugees stayed wit me. They filled me heart, and have had me questioning what I can do to make a difference. My heart has been pulled to the point I’ve found it difficult to take care of myself without feeling guilty. It’s no mistake that after flying into Houston, and staying with friends for a few days there, that I was introduced to a new person in my life. She has shared her experience with her faith in Jesus and God. These are two words that have always automatically shut me down, but Initially she tailored her belief to accommodate my belief in the Universe. Connecting about faith in general helped me to remove my premeditated stigmas of organized religion, and become open minded to the church.
Yesterday I attended church with my AA sponsor and her son.. A family that has loved and adopted me as their own. I spent an hour crying as I related to the words of the songs and the sermon. At the end of the sermon, Brother Ben left us with two questions.. “When was the last time our hearts wept for others in the world?” And “when was the last time we wept for the brokenness of ourselves?”
The refugees came flooding to my mind as I wept again.. I then recalled the moment last week that I stood in a field of a dog park in Florida and cried from my gutt for my own pain and feelings of lost and alone. I decided to stay behind and talk to Brother Ben one on one about what was going on for me.. The feeling that I was being called for a higher purpose, but not really knowing how to go about serving that purpose. He spent 30-45 minutes with me, listening, and sharing his experience as a follower of Christ. He remained respectful of where I was in my beliefs, and refrained from telling me what I should do. He gave me a Bible.. A book I’ve vowed many times that I would never read.
This morning I woke up near Baton Rouge, in a place where I had zero cellphone service. It gave me three hours of quiet time to sit and read.. I opened the Bible and flipped to random pages… And then I came across this…
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
My story of how that little bird had lit a small spark of faith.. Right there in black and white inside the pages of the Bible.
I don’t know where this road is leading, but I know I’m on the right road. As I talk about my experiences in Greece, and how heavy my heart is for the refugees, I often hear “you’re just one person, you can’t save the world” and a feeling of defensiveness comes over me, because I disagree. Mother Theresa was one person. Nelson Mandela was one person. Martin Luther King Jr and Princess Diana … Jesus Christ was one person. One person can make a difference.
I truly believe my purpose is to make a difference. I don’t yet know what that looks like.. Whether it’s giving a voice to those whose cries go unheard, whether it’s doing missionary work, or sharing my experience of recovering from life with PTSD and addiction… Maybe even something I don’t yet have the capability to imagine?
I DO know that I can make a difference. I WILL make a difference.