TRIGGER WARNING: suicide
I’ve been training to be a sexual violence response advocate for the past three weeks, and it’s been very difficult. Aside from the material itself being upsetting, the training has triggered unpleasant memories as well. I’ve also had multiple nightmares about being drunk.
Here’s what being drunk in a dream means: “To dream that you are drunk suggests that you are acting careless and insensible. You are losing control of your life and losing a grip on reality. Perhaps you are trying to escape from a waking situation.” -Dream Moods (.com)
As you can probably imagine, this training is emotionally exhausting. I leave the trainings upset and a little depressed…especially because of memories that it brings up for me. On my days off, I really try to focus on taking care of myself to make sure I’m mentally okay. It’s really hard to feel okay sometimes though, hence the nightmares about being drunk. I’m trying to escape my past and escape the awful stuff I’ve been learning about in the trainings.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to be an advocate because I want to help people. Sexual and interpersonal violence are issues that I’m deeply passionate about and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the intricacies and how to help victims and survivors. I proudly tell people that I’m doing this training because I don’t believe that people should be uncomfortable talking about this type of violence and by telling people what I’m doing, I’m also opening up a conversation about sexual violence. This training has also reaffirmed the future goals that I have for myself after undergrad. So there are a lot of positives coming out of this…but there are also negatives.
I’ve been struggling a bit with my past lately. Mostly my early high school years. I touched upon some of the issues in my posts “Putting My Life Back Together,”(2012/2013) “Getting Naked”(2013) and my essay “Acceptance,”(2014) but I neglected to include the time I contemplated suicide. In fact, I’ve never told anyone about that time. I’ve written a lot of suicidal and depressing poems and stories before and after that time…but none of them were about the actual experience that I had.
I’ve been suppressing the time when I contemplated suicide for years…in a way, I still am. I’m not sure if I would be ready to engage in a verbal conversation with someone about this, but I’m happy I’m writing about it at least.
I was sixteen at the time. I was depressed, sexually confused and in love, self-loathing…alone. I had isolated myself and sought company with people that were also depressed. They wanted to smoke pot and drink all the time…I wanted to do that also, but I thankfully didn’t get too engrossed in that. My grades slipped a bit. I had bleached the shit out of my hair and dyed it fire-hydrant red. I also stretched my ears to 2G. I really wanted to “fit in” with the heavy metal crowd…I was listening to a lot of that type of music at the time.
Here’s a picture of me then…
The whole incident that triggered me contemplating suicide was that my mom didn’t know I was stretching my ears.
One day, she asked me to drive her somewhere. I turned my head as I backed out of the driveway and my mom looked at me funny and said, “Wait, what’s going on with your ears?”
In the photo above, I’m wearing solid gauges. (They were awesome because they glowed in the dark.) But at the time that I was in the car with her, I had the hollow gauges…the ones that allowed people to see through my ears.
She pulled back my hair and shrieked when she noticed she could, in fact, see through my ears. (I cursed myself for forgetting to exchange them for the ones that I’m wearing in the photo above.) Her discovery led to yelling, crying, her driving away, me cutting up those gauges, and her returning to punish me. But before she returned, I was alone in anticipation of what was going to happen to me.
Prior to this, I had never been so deeply in trouble with my parents before. I have a long history of arguing with my mom and giving her the silent treatment for a couple of days, but I’ve never actually been in real trouble before. I was a good girl and I’ve always held myself to high expectations. It terrified me that I had gotten caught for doing something that is perceived as “wrong” in my parents’ eyes, which ultimately entailed that my “good girl” persona was shattered.
As I cried, screamed, and gasped, I ran into the kitchen and pulled out the biggest knife that we had. It was dark, but the light in the other room illuminated the silver blade. I remember pointing it at my chest, contemplating the potential outcome of what I wanted to do.
“How much damage would stabbing myself do? Would I have to stab myself multiple times? Would it be a slow death?”
“What about my family?”
“God, I hate myself.”
I’m not sure what ultimately caused me to put the knife away and accept my punishment and my title as the “good girl,” but I put the knife back and then I texted my cousin until my mom got back.
I passed off my contemplation of suicide as something insignificant. The only two people I talked to were medically diagnosed as depressed and suicidal, so what I experienced wasn’t really a suicidal one.
It wasn’t until I saw the Breakfast Club that I accepted that time as a contemplation of suicide.
BRIAN I can't have an F, I can't have it and I know my parents can't have it! Even if I aced the rest of the semester, I'm still only a B. And everything's ruined for me! CLAIRE (with pity) Oh Brian... Brian bashes a chair over. BRIAN So I considered my options, you know? CLAIRE No! Killing yourself is not an option! BRIAN Well I didn't do it, did I? No, I don't think so! ALLISON It was a hand gun? BRIAN No, it was a flare gun, went off in my locker. Link to script
I really related to Brian’s character.
Anyway, I didn’t revisit this memory for many years. Ever since, however, I’ve been fearful of knives. Movie scenes with people getting stabbed or just seeing someone twirl a knife skillfully makes me tense up. A couple of months ago, suicide came up in a therapy session but I was too uncomfortable to talk about it. Then, it wasn’t until this training, that I thought that maybe I should at least write about it.
So, that’s my story…I’m glad I finally shared it.
**title taken from FOB song lyric