Broken Glass and The Suicide Note That Was Never Read
When you decide that dying is better than the life you’re living, you begin to collect everything.
I remember what I was wearing. I remember the last thing we watched on TV. The details, the mundane — what meant nothing was viewed with such profundity.
There wasn’t a fight. None of the yelling or name-calling I’d become used to. She just asked me to leave and left for work. Our “friendship” came to screeching halt. The reason was an elephant in the room and it took almost 20 years to fully grasp its weight. Looking back, she was as damaged as I was. Perhaps her defense mechanism was to hurt people before they even considered a process by which to hurt her. I understood that only in adulthood because my defense mechanism was to run. Always running. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow but in the short time I’d been on my own, constant movement was the norm. So in the moment, leaving was no big deal.
Then loneliness set in.
If you’ve ever walked the streets of Manhattan at night, there’s a strange dichotomy — you exist in this community connected by common desires yet you’re a speck of dust. We were all meandering through the streets searching for some thing. Maybe it was a $1 slice or maybe it was coming up with the next scheme to keep our heads afloat. I was a 6'1, black (possibly Hispanic) teenager in a white FUBU t-shirt and jean shorts. No one stared or balked or wondered why I was in the city at that time of night. I was nothing, a nobody.
The 2 train has always been my solace. Those rides were my sanctuary when I didn’t feel safe anywhere else. I’d wrap myself up in the warmth of babies crying and mothers’ chastisement in various dialects and teenagers arguing over who fouled who at the court. Although that night, my mind was drowning in dark thoughts. The trains seemed too loud. The chatter around me was deafening. I yearned for quiet…peace.
“Well since you’re here, you can do those dishes…and your room is a mess,” my mother greeted me in Spanish. Her tone was icy and dry. Predictable.
I hadn’t been home in weeks and was brutally reminded of why that was. It didn’t influence the decision my mind had already made up. If anything, I was even more convinced that killing myself was the best thing for everyone.
Sitting in my room, I can still hear my younger brother whining about not wanting to go to bed and my mother soothing him. I remember silently crying because I couldn’t remember the last time she’d been that loving, calm, or patient with me. I blamed myself for being too difficult to love. Maybe I was too disrespectful. Maybe I didn’t appreciate her struggle. Maybe I did ruin her life. Maybe I am the reason she was so angry all the time. These were the things that raced through my mind leaning against the crooked headboard ad I decided to write a letter to my mother.
I started with “I’m sorry”. For what exactly? I wasn’t quite sure. What was very clear, though, was that for once in my life — as short as it was going to be — I wanted her to love me more than she disliked me.
I don’t actually remember the glass breaking or me picking up the glass shard. I don’t remember sirens. I don’t remember white lights or doctors in scrubs or any of the emergency room stuff you see on TV.
What I do remember is waking up with my hand bandaged all the way up to my elbow. Millimeters. A fingernail. Thisclose. Those were the euphemisms people used all day to describe how close I was to bleeding out on the grass. “We almost lost you, mijo”, my Tia said tearfully one morning as she prayed by my bedside. I’d left the suicide note in one of my Air Jordan shoeboxes to be discovered on a day when hopefully my absence didn’t hurt as much.
Days later, I learned how much blood they had to put back into my body. Weeks later, I had reconstructive surgery done on my wrist in order to repair the muscle damage. Throughout that recovery, I recognized that I needed to stop blaming myself for the choices of my parents, particularly my mother. I couldn’t carry that burden anymore. And while she never understood what drove me to want to end my life, years later she realized that how she parented affected her children differently and for me, in the most gravest of ways.
While there are many resources and networks out there to help you deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, the crises of contemplating suicide never really goes away. People will tell you happiness is a choice but you also have to first have access to make that choice. That’s a crucial detail many of us miss in the conversation.
We’ve all know at least one person who has committed suicide. When it happens, we ask ourselves “what could I have done?” The answer is everything and nothing.
The simplest thing you can do to save someone’s life is to give a fuck! The people you tweet, text, or converse with on FB have likely thought about committing suicide over the course of their lives. Don’t read to react or respond, listen to understand and empathize.
I know it’s easy to push people away. Many of us don’t want to be a bother. We feel like our “drama” is going to cause people to think less of us if we live with total transparency. Let that go!
One thing I’ve come to know about myself and my struggles is that I needed someone to pray for me when I was too weak or too lost to pray for myself. If you have one person in your life who was sent to be a guiding light (whether you’re aware of it or not), let them live that role.