I am lucky. I am lucky because my Step-Dad killed himself when I was seventeen. I am fairly sure that some people will read my second sentence and automatically make the judgment that I have “issues.” After all, how could someone that has never been abused say they were lucky that a parent killed themselves? Well it is true, I have “issues” and have for almost fifteen years. However, I am lucky because I am alive. I am alive because he shot himself in the head on our back porch.
My “issues” are depression and anxiety. I have been depressed since I was fifteen. Notice I did not say I have “struggled with depression”, because I have not struggled with it since about two days after that shot in June of 1999. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school was supposed to be a memorable summer and it was, but not for the right reasons. But let me back up because that’s where the point of this really lies.
It’s dark, I do not remember the time, but it’s late at night or early in the morning and I am standing in my Mother’s kitchen holding a knife. I am fifteen years old. I am intelligent, a member of several groups at school, but I felt like a bother and a disappointment to my family. I was so sad. It was not a sad like crying. It was a deep down sadness that honestly felt like I had a blankness inside of me. I was alone. I knew if I cut my wrists (mind you, I knew the correct direction) that once I lost enough blood I could just lie there on the floor and smile and float away. I do not know how much time I stood there going back and forth about things in my head. I am sure it wasn’t all that long. I did not do it though. I did not want to “bother” my Mother with having to clean up another of my messes. So, I made just a little scratch to see how it would feel. It didn’t feel bad, I knew if I so chose it was an option.
Distractions came and went. Driver’s license, work, prom, and more school events. Then came that week in June. I was seventeen and spending it in my state’s capital. I had been chosen to represent my school in a weeklong program learning about the government and how it functions. Wednesday comes around and a girl finds me to verify what school I am from. She said her mother called and said my school had burned down. A good deal of practical jokes were going around so I informed her that was not funny. She insisted we find a television because it was on the news. I knew she was serious then. It was true my high school was burning and almost completely gone. There were fire trucks from all over our county trying to save any of it. My Step-Dad was on the ladder truck. Once again, let’s skip forward to Friday of that week. The week was almost over and my boyfriend would be picking me up in a few hours. I guess it was a good thing that my mother had agreed to that. Apparently, as I was meeting with our State Officials my Step-Dad was meeting my Mom. They were separated and he wanted to talk. I now know that within an hour he committed suicide. Right there on the back porch.
For a long time I felt guilty. I thought that because I did not want to kill myself anymore that somehow, he had taken that thought away from me. I had transferred that thought into his brain and he did it for me. People were saying it wasn’t my fault but secretly, on the inside, I thought if they only knew that it was. I had thoughts and somehow projected them onto him. What else could explain it? My Mom and he didn’t exactly get along and it was definitely not a secret that he and I did not get along. Shouldn’t he have been happy to separate?
It took me several years to realize that I did not cause it. It did not matter what I had thought. It actually wasn’t my fault. It took longer than that to even be able to talk about suicide in general. Yet even longer to be able to talk about my Step-Dad.
I have shared bits and parts of this, my story, with different people here and there. I have never shared the whole story with anyone. I have not included even half of it here, but the highlights of it are. I believe in awareness, so I have written this in hopes that reading it will make someone else a lucky one too.