I haven’t written anything in a few weeks. I have these words stuck in my head. I guess tonight is the night I’ll finally get them out.
It’s something I seldom speak of. And only a few people know about. I don’t know why, after all these years, it has resurfaced with such a vengeance. It’s a story about the absolute darkest hour of my life.
It was in the summer. Ten years ago. Just a few days after the Fourth of July.
I had spent the afternoon with my kids at the bookstore. At the time, they were ages 5 and 11. Around the age of 8 or 9 my son discovered a love of reading. A love I never enjoyed as a child. I did my best to foster his new found love. Establishing quite a home library. On this particular day we returned from the bookstore having purchased the latest in a series of books he was reading. I don’t recall the name of the book. Only that it was a paperback and cost $5.95. It seems like a trivial detail now. But becomes important later, as the story progresses.
My husband returned from work that evening. He became livid when he found out about the purchase at the bookstore. I was in the middle of doing laundry. He followed me back and forth from room to room throughout our home, scolding me for buying the book. There was nothing I could do or say that could rationalize the purchase. The scolding continued.
This was a common occurrence. But on this particular day I sincerely lost all ability to cope.
I sat on the side of my bed. He stood in the doorway to our bedroom. Yelling at me. The only thing I wanted in that very moment was for him to stop. The only thing I could think about in that moment was how much I wanted him to stop yelling at me. I couldn’t breath. I could no longer speak. I reached for my bottle of Xanax. Opened it and took a pill.
He yelled. More and more. The badgering continued. He demeaned. He criticized. And I just wanted it to stop. I opened the bottle again and took a couple more.
Still more yelling. No signs of letting up. Badgering. Belittling. How could this be? Over the purchase of a book that cost $5.95? I just didn’t understand it. It made no sense. I tried to rationalize it in my own mind; his anger. Tried to justify it. I couldn’t. And I just wanted it to stop.
I turned the bottle of pills upright on top of my desk. Scooped the pile of pills off into my hands and into my mouth.
I got up. Walked around the bed, past my husband, who was still yelling at me, and out the door. I grabbed the phone. Headed to our garage. The one place I thought I might be left alone. I called my best friend on the other side of the country. At this point I’m in tears. Sobbing. She answered. As I had done so many times before I began the conversation: I just can’t take it anymore. I am retelling the events. Interrupted. My husband isn’t finished with me yet. I make my way back to our bedroom. This time I am standing on my side of the bed and my husband is again at the door. He is yelling at me. I am sobbing to my best friend on the phone 3,000 miles away.
And that is all I remember.
I woke up about a day and half later in the hospital.
I found out only later that it was my best friend who sensed something was incredibly wrong. And at the point that I was no longer able to communicate, got on the phone with my husband, insisting that he call paramedics. He was hesitant. But after much coaxing did call. Otherwise, I would not be here.
I suppose some would say I tried to commit suicide that day. Downing a bottle of Xanax would certainly imply it. What I really wanted was for the insanity to stop. And it did, in fact stop. I lost a full day of my life. A day I’ll never get back. My sister told some of the things that went on at the hospital. I didn’t recall any of it. It’s an unsettling feeling. Not knowing what happened is more frightening than being in a situation where you can’t control what IS happening.
I spent another three days in the psych ward. At that point my eyes were wide open. I was angry. I was bitter. Not only had I lost a full day of my life, now I was losing another three days because it appeared as though I was suicidal. I wasn’t. What I wanted, and what I needed, was help getting out of a toxic marriage. No one recognized that because my husband, being a supreme narcissist, naturally came off as the doting, concerned spouse. No one offered the help I really needed.
So for three days I sat in a room at the hospital. Angry. Mad as hell. Refusing to see anyone. Refusing to talk to anyone. Refusing to eat. Refusing to take part in craft time and any of the other silly crap they wanted me to do. The one thing I did do; write. The staff was kind enough to supply me with a crayon. Not a pen or a pencil, it was too dangerous. So I took my crayon and whatever paper I could get hold of. And I wrote. Non-stop.
What I ended up with was the realization that my life is far more valuable that $5.95.
Whether I had tried to end my life on purpose, or my life was nearly ended quite by accident, I left the hospital knowing it would not happen again. Knowing that no one, no man, no person, would ever make me feel that way, ever again. Spiraling out of control to the point where I couldn’t cope.
I shouldn’t be here. I know that. I swallowed a bottle of Xanax in one fell swoop. I shouldn’t be here. But I am.
When my dad picked me up from the hospital he made me promise that if I ever got to the point where I felt that way again I would let someone know. I’m not going to lie and say it’s never happened. It has. And I’ve kept my promise. I always let someone know. That person might not even know they are the receiver of the message. But I do always let someone know.
I think one of the reason’s this is weighing so heavily on my mind lately is being reminded of my dad’s own mortality. When he is not here, who will hold me accountable? It does worry me that when he is no longer here, when there is no one left to keep my promise to, there will no longer be a reason to keep it. It scares me. A little. It scares me because I know I shouldn’t be here, but I am. Which means I’m here for a reason. I just don’t yet know what the reason is. If I could figure that part out, maybe everything else would fall into place.
– J. Ela