“You’re Awake.”

The first things I remember were the restraints. I couldn’t move my right arm and leg. I was in such a fog that, at first, I thought it was my own inability to coordinate my body, but I soon realized I was strapped to the bed.

Then a voice from across the room said, “You’re awake.”

I couldn’t speak. I just reached across my body and started pulling at the restraints. It was then that the bed and room started to become clear in my head. A hospital. I was tied to a bed in a hospital.

“He’s awake,” the voice from across the room said loudly.

I looked in the direction of this voice and noticed another bed about 6 feet away with an elderly man sitting up in it. He stared blankly at me.

“Someone will be in soon. Probably. ”

My mind was so thick and it felt as if every movement was happening in mud. I was thirsty and with this thought I noticed a water bottle on the tray next to my bed. I was able to reach it and drink. With each sip I started to realize where I was. And why.

I had tried to kill myself. Pills. A note. Relief. Then fear. Then nothing. Void of memory until now. I was soon to discover that it happened three days prior and I was slowly coming off the pills that had entered my system before my stomach was pumped and the charcoal was given.

I wasn’t dead. I had failed. I felt like a trapped animal. Defeated and filled with shame.

That was over thirty years ago.

So why am I sharing it now? I’m not 100% sure of all the reasons. It somehow feels like the right thing to do. I no longer feel the shame surrounding my suicide attempt. I haven’t for years. I believe by putting it out there I can, perhaps, remove some of the stigma attached to such an act.

Most of the people I know may very well be surprised or shocked by this revelation. Some may be angered or disappointed. Others may have a difficult time understanding.

And there will be some that have gone through it.

This is for the ones who have tried and lived. For those who suffer the pain of living with depression and mental illness. For those who still contemplate doing it. You are not alone.

The path out of darkness is different for everyone. My way out may not work for someone else. It has taken years. It has sometimes come at a cost. The darkness still visits me from time to time. There’s a part of me that wants to embrace it like an old friend. I have a hard time seeing the selfishness in suicide. I’m not advocating for it, just recognizing that mental illness can be terminal like any physical disease.

I have lived more of my life walking away from that moment than walking towards it. I have been fortunate and am filled with gratitude for all that has been good in my life. For all the love I have received and have given. I was blessed with a second chance.

A long time ago I failed in my attempt to end my own life, but now, I like to think that I have succeeded in my attempt to live life.

I just wanted to say

The last three years have been both a sorrow and a joy. My marriage ending, and with it the promise of forever, has been the sorrow. The fear was, I had taken something away from the people I loved most, that I had failed. With this sense of failure came anger and resentment. Two emotions that want to devour all that is good and noble in us. I didn’t want to heal myself, to move on, to grieve. I wanted to wallow in it. My ego was threatened and needed to be proved right. I allowed something beautiful to slip through my fingers.

The joy has been to see all three of us, Stella, Lindsay, and I begin to grow, in small ways and large, that have transformed that promise of forever. I have begun to grieve the loss of something I held dear, and with grieving, the clouds are parting. Exposing my ego to light has stopped the festering of not only the wound of this failure, but, hopefully, old wounds that have caused harm to many relationships.

The constellation of “We Three” spinning through the cosmos still exists. It has merely changed into something different. Something bigger. Other stars have, and will, join its orbit. The dance will continue with a new promise. The marriage may have ended, but that hasn’t changed the love that we give Stella or our ability to nurture her.

There is a center to this new constellation.

Stella.

Her light will always shine brighter than all the others.

This past summer has seen a burst of growth for her. She has become more confident emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Curiosity abounds and compassion flourishes. Mornings start with a smile and she walks with joy throughout the day.

“Dad.”

“Yes, sweet.”

“I just wanted to say I love you.”

This simple dialogue which occurs daily, at such random moments, is a constant reminder of the light that is within her and her ability to be in the moment, recognize it and express her delight in the purest way.

I’ve also experienced some growth this past summer. I’m learning to let go of resentment and shame through compassion and self care. Stella is showing me how to walk with joy and to allow myself to be in the world again. To embrace the moment with a sense of wonder and delight.

To all the stars in my constellation,

big and small,

near and far,

old and new,

“I just wanted to say I love you.”

Wish you were here

"Wish you were here."

There will be a couple of people my daughter will not get the opportunity to meet. Two people very important to me. I speak of my parents, who have both been deceased for close to twenty years now. In fact, there are many people in my life now that never got to meet them, most significantly, my wife, Lindsay. She has heard many stories about my parents, especially when my siblings and I get together, and has seen quite a few old photos of them, but that’s not the same. One can understand a person a little more when you meet their parents; when you can observe the dynamic between parent and child.

My daughter will have grandparents, Lindsay’s folks, who are wonderful, kind people, who will shower her with love that only a grandparent can. But it makes me sad that my parents aren’t around to do the same. The sadness, in part, stems from the fact that they don’t get to see how wonderful my life is now.

It wasn’t always this way. I put them through a fair share of concern and worry. It took me many years to get my act together and I’d like them to see the result. They weren’t perfect. No parent is. You’re going to make mistakes and recognizing that is important. My hope is to act from love, kindness and compassion. To help guide my daughter to find serenity and joy in whatever way she can. To be prepared for missteps, hopefully learn from them, and move on, undaunted.

These are the things my parents gave me. Yes, they made their share of mistakes, and regrettable choices, but, I weathered the storm and when I look back, I always felt loved, unconditionally. They allowed me to follow my dreams no matter where that took me. And for that I thank them.

So. Mom. Dad.

The weather is beautiful, wish you were here!