Trigger warning: This post deals with the topic of suicide.
They Need Me.
Last night, I threatened suicide to my husband. It wasn’t the first time I made the threat. I’ve never meant it. I’ve never actually wanted to kill myself. Complete the act. I’ve wanted to die. To escape. To run away. To get sick. To time travel and be given the opportunity to start over. To erase the past. But I have never actually wanted to kill myself. And I have never made any attempt. But I have said it many, many times.
I started making those threats in college. Over the phone to my mom when I was having an episode. Or when I was really angry at something she had done. Or not done. Or said, or made me feel. Or because of a childhood memory that randomly came up and flooded my soul. Maybe I threatened once or twice to my brother who, in his own haze of depression and anxiety, probably responded with some futile words and understood that my state would pass.
And today, I still threaten. To my husband. To my 10-year old daughter. I think I wanted to test my husband last night. I was angry at the world. I was mostly angry at myself, for not being a good mama to my girls. For causing them the same kind of pain I felt as a child. For being inadequate. For not being able to take back my mistakes. The list goes on. These feelings cause more trauma on top of what is already there, simmering, bubbling, waiting to be awakened. Wanting to tell its story. These are not just mama-having-a-bad-day thoughts. These are the pain. I live in this pain. And when it gets too much to bear, or when I have not been properly medicated, I want to vanish.
So last night, I skipped out on family movie night. I didn’t feel deserving of sitting and snuggling with my daughter on the couch because nothing else felt right. While my wise mind wanted to sink in and hibernate with my sweet girl for two hours while the little one slept soundly upstairs, I couldn’t. My pain paralyzed my ability to take pause. To breathe. To just be with myself and my child. For two fucking hours. That’s all she needed from me. I didn’t have to talk. I didn’t have to share. I didn’t have to be anything at all. I literally just needed to sit on my ass and stare at the screen. And I couldn’t.
So I said goodbye. And I told her I love her soooooo much, as she says to me. And she cried. And she begged me to come home that night and not go away. And then as expected she said back, “I love you soooo much, mama.” To which I responded, “Well you shouldn’t.” I told my 10-year old crying daughter that she shouldn’t love her mama. Because in that moment, and even now hiding behind a keyboard, I knew that I had caused her, and would continue to cause her, so much pain. The kind of pain I feel. The unbearable pain that I know and have wanted so desperately to prevent her from understanding. In that moment, I thought that by telling her not to love me, I was letting her off the hook. I was telling her it was ok to hate her mama who wants to be so many things for her and just doesn’t know how. I was telling her that she deserved more than I have given her. And I drove off.
About an hour later, I was sitting in the parking lot at Target. I was texting my husband horrific phrases about how he needed to make sure that my girls know I love them. He must always tell them how much I love them. I was threatening something, although the words weren’t clear. This was my test. I wanted him to come to me. To sweep me up in his arms and let me cry and allow me to try to push him away. I wanted him to hold me through all of this. He told me he loved me over text and to please come home. I kept saying “You don’t need me there,” and he responded with “All we want is to have you home. Please come home.” But still I pushed. I tested some more. Until finally I wrote “What’s going to happen the one time I actually do something to myself? Are you just going to keep telling me you love me and you want me to come home? What if I don’t actually come home?”
A few minutes later, a cop showed up at my car window. And then another one showed up. And another. Fucking fabulous. Male police officers arrive to help the crazy lady. The thought of how little they know about this human condition enrages me. One of them actually said, “You can’t drive home if you took your antidepressant. Is it ok for you to drive on that kind of medication?” The ignorance about depression and anxiety, about what it truly is, reared its ugliness.
These guys didn’t know a thing, and it was so patronizing listening to their attempts at getting through. I told them what they wanted to hear: I was having a bad day. Yes, officer, I have a therapist. I told them that, if they walked through the parking lot into Target, they would find other local mamas wandering the aisles trying to escape their lives, too. But they persisted. They told me not to feel ashamed; they were just there to help me. No one fucking understands. Not a man, or another woman for that matter, can understand the pain a depressed mother feels when she is at her lowest, unless she, too, has been there.
I certainly did not need them to stand there and poke at me. We, the anxious, the sad, the ashamed, the guilty, the angry, the lonely, the numb, the overwhelmed, DO NOT NEED YOUR PITY. OR YOUR EXPLANATIONS. OR YOUR SUGGESTIONS. We need you to be there. To hold us. To help us learn to feel safe in a very scary world. To stop saying “I’m sorry you feel this way,” and just say “I know. It hurts.” To come when we threaten. Because maybe you will be the only one who has ever come. And maybe that will mean something. Maybe, for a split second, it will abandon a piece of the pain. And maybe that will help.
When the cops finally let me leave, they followed me to my home, where they harrassed me in my driveway and then chatted on my block, underneath my innocent toddler’s bedroom window, for another hour or so.
I eventually went inside and asked my husband what he was waiting for. Why was he showing my girls that it’s ok to stay in a relationship like this. An emotionally abusive relationship is how I define it. And he shrugged, exhausted, drained, knowing that any answer he gave at that moment wouldn’t be enough. The only answer I can come up with myself is that he sees me. He actually sees me. He knows me. He knows that my depression and anxiety are not me. They are my demons. He knows that when I’m good, I’m so good, and that I am the best God Damn Mama my girls could ever have. Whenever I ask him why he hasn’t taken them and left me yet, his response is always the same: “Because they need you. They need you healthy. They need you in their lives. They love you. I love you. I need you. And they need you.”
I slept on the couch last night. I didn’t want to sleep next to him in my own bed. Maybe it was a way of punishing myself. Or maybe it was to piss him off. I don’t know. But I woke up this morning. And I will wake up tomorrow morning. And somehow, I will keep on fucking fighting.
Because I have to. My girls need me. They need me to stop blaming myself. They need me to stop thinking such negative thoughts about myself. They need me to prove that I am better than my illness and stronger than my pain. They need me to show them that I am a capable woman who can face it all and learn to cope. They need to see me fall off track and find my way back again. I will wake up tomorrow because I love them so very much and they unconditionally love me back. I will wake up tomorrow because they need me.
If you are struggling with thought of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.