***Trigger Warning this article includes subjects of suicide, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Please be advised. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800–273–8255***
It was a warmer day than Buffalo, NY was used to in October. I woke up that morning, called a really good friend of mine to find out could I come by and see her and her newborn, and I drove to my job at the mall to pick up my check. My finances had been a shit show for months as I took care of everything and everyone except myself. I could no longer get direct deposit because I owed the bank an exorbitant amount of money. I was hiding from the repo people, I was driving with bad brakes, and I was coming off of two bad breakups. I didn’t have any health insurance. I had quit college. I was battling undiagnosed seasonal depression and major depressive order. In another piece, The Darkness Creeping, I detail the conversation that took place a month earlier with my parents when I divulged my fears of spiralling out of control. With no help and no clear path of what to do next, I had made up my mind that my time was up and the last day of my life would be October 5, 2007.
I could go into exact details about the day. I remember everything except what I was wearing. I remember the way the air felt on my skin that day. I remember my dad rushing me down the stairs in a fireman’s carry, my lungs screaming as his shoulder pressed my ribs into them. I remember how disgusted the EMT looked as it heard everyone around me lying saying I had accidentally taken too many pills. I remember my mom sitting beside me when I woke up in the hospital. I remember all of it but, more importantly, I honor everything that happened afterward because there wouldn’t have been an afterward if I had had my way.
I remember early 2008 I realized that I had to press charges against my ex-boyfriend or else I would be letting him get away with the abuse. I remember realizing I needed to leave Buffalo in order to take back my life. I remember the first day I got off the bus in Columbia, SC, in August 2008, to restart my college career. I met some of my best friends that year.
I was sexually assaulted in April and May of 2009. I wanted to be done again but instead, I decided to quit drinking. I started what would become a 9 and 1/2 year sobriety. During those 9 and 1/2 years, I met my husband, joined and left the military, completed my Bachelors, had three sons, bought a house, completed my Masters, and made countless friends. I went to the ocean for the first time and have gone back several times since. I have become an award-winning writer and a published author. I have had to admit when I wasn’t doing well and I have had the courage to get help. I spent a few nights in a psych ward. I have been on and off medication. I have seen both my older boys ride bikes without training wheels and lose teeth and read stories to their baby brother. I have stayed in the fight. I have watched my baby boy become this crazy little person who perfectly completes our family. I have grown beside my two sisters, the three of us closer as we age, appreciating the differences as much as the similarities. I keep a therapist on speed dial. Even after I complete a treatment plan, I reach out for help if I feel a little shaky. I have had some really dark days, days when I cried and raged because I was terrified of going back to rock bottom. Those days pass, with grace and breath, they pass.
On the 13th anniversary of my suicide attempt, I sit in my living room as my two oldest do virtual learning and my youngest commits himself to distracting them. Like all black women in America with black sons, I am exhausted and tired and terrified given the current/historical state of affairs. Months of quarantine have taken a toll on my mental health but I am still in the fight. There are days when I live like I am on borrowed time because I still feel that I cheated death. There are days when I feel like I may live forever and I’m okay with that because I wouldn’t mind seeing my great great great grandkids be all that I never thought I could. The biggest thing that I know now that I didn’t know at 20 is that tomorrow will come and there’s a strong chance it will be better than today. So many things can change in a day/hour/minute/second. I didn’t know that then but now I try to never forget and I always remind my sons that what hasn’t happened today is still a tomorrow away. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s so true. If I hadn’t walked in front of the boys’ dorm that day, I would’ve never seen my friend and never went for that pick-up game of football. My life could’ve gone in a drastically different direction.
So, to anyone who feels like they are at the end of their road or that they have nothing left to give, please remember that tomorrow may bring something greater. If not that tomorrow, then maybe the tomorrow after. You’ll never know if you let today stop you from getting there. I can honestly say that as of today, I have had some bad yesterdays but I’m still very optimistic that tomorrow might just surprise me.