This post is dedicated to my friend Leah, and her sister who did not survive That Day. I will never be a substitute for Leah's own sister, but I am grateful to have her as both a friend and sister.
After reading this, it brought back a lot of memories, and I realized that I am not sure I was ever asked what happened before I started to swallow pills on that afternoon. In therapy we talked about the big issues in my life, and those big issues were more than enough to justify that me going over the edge. We addressed the dysfunction in my family, especially the conflicts with my father. The fragile emotional state I was in was after I was raped was obvious to everyone. My boyfriend breaking up with me, after I told him about the rape, was a piece of the puzzle. (The miscarriage after the rape, that I told no one about, certainly increased my feelings of isolation. Even now, 20 years later, the shame and joy of that haunts me. The joy at not being pregnant with my rapist's baby.)
The big stresses in my life were legitimate and I have spent years in counseling because of them. None of those "huge things" happened that exact day. Most days I woke up on that razor thin edge, but I had woken up to much worst days, and by the time I fell asleep on those days, I was in my own bed.
I got asked a lot of questions during two weeks of inpatient therapy (which truly saved my life) and I answered those questions, learned about myself from my answers, and the answers of the other teenagers in the program. Still, no one asked me why I snapped that *particular* day, instead of two days earlier, or another week later.
After reading my mom's blog post, I realized it is important to talk about That Day. To put it down in black and white, words that bear testimony to That Day. I am sharing this story, in several forums, because any one of us could have been the person who was the last straw, who tried to take away the last thing that gave my world a center, a grounded space. That Day, my final straw came in seminary.
The rest of this post will make the most sense if you go read this blog post first, since it is written as a letter to my mother.
********Trigger Warning: Suicide attempt, rape, physical and emotional abuse, grief
|That Day I felt small and alone, only half of me even there.|
Mom, I don't think I have ever told you what happened that led up to it being that *particular* day.
That Day I said my morning prayers. I had been praying to Heavenly Mother for a while at that point. I had never heard it wasn't okay, until That Day in seminary. She was a substitute teacher, I have to assume her intentions were good, that there was a reason she didn't teach the regular seminary lesson That Day. Instead, she chose to have us read and discuss excepts from several talks. She thought we needed to know what was in them, to keep us from becoming apostate. She made it clear that praying to any divine being except God the Father, by way of His Son, was blaspheme and worshipping False Gods.
That Day there was something that triggered each of the worst things of the previous few years. Dad yelling because I hadn't rolled my pad up with enough TP and he could see the red when he was in the bathroom. He told me when he got home that night I was going to wish I was dead. (That pad wasn't mine, but I didn't want who ever it belonged to, to have to have that conversation with him.)
That Day, before I made it to 1st Period, I was yelled at by several YM for setting a curve too high on a test in Pre-Calc. I was accused of purposely trying to lower the GPAs of the LDS boys in my classes.
(My lack of desire to go to BYU, was twisted into the taunt that I hated Mormon boys because they wouldn't date me. From freshman year on, any time I set a curve, I was accused of purposely trying to keep all LDS YM at my school from getting into BYU.)
On top of that, That Day I was still being taunted about being dumped by my former boyfriend, just days before. My tormentors didn't know why I had been dumped, or that I had been raped, but I doubt that there would have been increased compassion if they did know those details.
That Day the very last straw, was "learning" in seminary that a prophet said it was a sin to pray to Heavenly Mother. In my personal prayers, the only way that had ever worked for me to pray to my Heavenly Parents was by first searching out my Heavenly Mother. As I sat in seminary I felt sucker punched, that I was being told that every spiritual truth I had even known, my entire testimony, my faith; all that made me who I thought I was, only brought more sin down on me. That Day I was being thrown out of the reality and center that had helped me survive so many things, and so I wandered through the rest of school in a fog.
That Day I went home and made it through dad yelling at me on the phone. I did not start crying before the call ended. I thought of having to pray only to Heavenly Father, of being forced to give up praying to Heavenly Mother. Asking me to give that small piece of hope, and hand it over to a father, even a Heavenly Father, was too much to ask That Day.
That Day I couldn't see a way to keep going. Even more, I didn't want to keep going. I had gone through enough hell. I was ready to sleep, without a nightmare. That Day I wanted out of everything. I locked myself in the bathroom, and took everything in every Tylenol bottle.
That Day, at That Time, I started praying, to Heavenly Mother. I asked Her to let me be anywhere but where I was. I asked Her to let me out of the Hell that was my life!
After the police, fire fighters, and EMTs showed up That Day, everyone was asking questions, and I didn't know what the *right answers* were. For that matter, I didn't care what the *right answers* were.
That Day, for once, I just told the truth about how I felt. I told the truth about the bruises. I said, "Yes" when they asked me if I was afraid of my father. I didn't think through every answer. I wasn't trying to figure out how much trouble I would be in, or what I would be blamed for.
That Day, I felt like a failure. I was not "pure," and had not been at any time that I could remember. Growing up was not an innocent time, nor was it a place of perfect tranquility and love. There were lots of days over the years that could have become That Day, but always I was blessed with something that reminded my I was smart, hard working, and a Daughter of a God and Goddess!
That Day I wanted and needed my Heavenly Mother, and I had been told that my desire was a sin. When I was at my lowest point, when I was willing to make this The Last Day of my Mortal Life, my Heavenly Mother and my Heavenly Father heard my cries. I felt She was worth dying for, They asked me whether my relationship with Her was worth living for!
At the end of That Day, my face had no make up, my body was adorned with no jewelry, I wore no clothing of my own, and I was in a space where I could cry. When I was finally in a room all by myself, with a pillow, blanket and my scriptures, I reached out in the most tentative of ways, and in That Space, on That Day, my Heavenly Mother was THERE. She is always there, as my Heavenly Father is. Both of my Heavenly Parents are always waiting for me to come to them.
I wrote this for myself, to put in to words the memories of that day, that in some ways have held me captive. By not sharing the details of that day, those details have held power over me, in my dreams, in my nightmares, and at times in flashbacks. I am ready to take back that part of myself.
I am sharing what I wrote so that every person who is not sure if today is That Day for them, can know that it doesn't need to be. There are so many people who would be there for you ,if only they knew how much you were hurting. You don't have to tell everything at once. It took me 20 years to be at the point where I have told most of it. The parts that are left are emotions, and I don't yet know how to use words to describe them.
There are words like loneliness, shame, despair and joy, which have so many nuances in different situations, that I may write a hundred thousand poems in my life, and never come close to sharing anything specific enough for you to share in the emotion I was, or am, feeling. It will be the same for you. There will be things that other survivors will understand better than someone who has not walked for a time on the road through hell, but even they won't be able to interpret your cries as well as they would wish. I found that I could pore my heart out to my Heavenly Mother, and feel heard, and feel that I could then share some of the burden with her. I feel Christ as the mediator of those experiences, the one who paid the price for my sins, so that I might be able to talk with Her when I need to.
There is not One Way that works for everyone and will be the way that works best for you. Whether it is meditation, prayer, service, screaming into a storm, or any other thing that makes you feel that you are able to give away some of your pain, Do It! You were not meant to ever have That Day be the end of your life. If talking to me, is something that you think might make your load a little lighter, my (email) door is always open. I am always willing to help you find a professional close to you to help you find your way out of the despair you find yourself in.
Looking back on That Day, I can not say that I regret it. It did change many things in my life, that I did not know how to change. If you read my mom's post, then you know that it changed the lives of my mother, father and siblings. Not all of them see that as a good thing, and some think that I was very selfish. They are entitled to "their truth" and I may have been selfish.
I certainly was not sad to have the changes that were made come, but I know others were. I do wish I had known that there were padded rooms and inpatient psychiatric treatment that could help me, and that I had found a way to be in a program like that, without hurting my body. I wish I had fought harder to make my life better, instead of deciding to give up. In the end, I can't go back and change any of what happened. I can't change the big issues, and I can't change the small things of That Day. What I can do is share them, and hope that in sharing them, someone else and that person's family, is saved from the very real fact that not everyone who has had That Day, is still alive.