She just pulled in the driveway from a long hard day at work. It was already dark because it was winter and she was STRESSED!
She had sworn she would never work in property management again, yet she is currently a property manager for over 600 doors. She is so consumed within all the fires she puts out in a day. She’s so focused on the tenants that yell and scream over a maintenance ticket barely a day old and yet another tragic story as to why they cannot pay their rent once again. She doesn’t even know the tenants who keep their house nice and pay their rent on-time.
She took this job because the money was good and she was a vital part of the company. She thought, “this time it will be different” and she had so much optimism and determination that it really would be different. That’s who she was, an optimist. Looking on the bright side was her default. Her default position was to lift people up when they needed it. She tried to always see the silver lining in every situation.
Tonight, she needed someone to lift her up and see the silver lining for her. And tell her!
Instead, she was parked in her car in the driveway talking to the man with whom she had a relationship, if you could even call it that.
This relationship started out fun and carefree but turned into an ambiguous and open relationship that she was unsure she even wanted to be in. This relationship was unhealthy for her but she felt this was the only person with whom she could be herself. She had tried to break free but ended up going right back, essentially an endless circle of toxicity and mass confusion.
She said to him crying over the Bluetooth speaker in her car, “I just can’t do this anymore!” and “I don’t know how much longer I can stand it.” and “I’m so exhausted!” She was talking about life in general but he thought she was talking about this job because he knew she was unhappy and stressed about it. But she was talking about everything, including him.
He was on the other line frustrated because all she could hear was her own voice. No one else mattered at that point. He finally said with a raised tone, “I don’t know what to tell you anymore!”
They hung up and she went inside her house with a desperate need to take away all the pain and anxiety. It was bad enough to cause a physical ache deep down inside. She purposely didn’t say the words, “I want to kill myself” because she was afraid he would call the police and she would end up in a psychiatric ward.
She remembered when she was regularly going to the therapist after her divorce and the therapist said something to the effect of “if you are thinking about suicide, I will need to report that.” So she kept that part to herself and kept talking about the messed up life she subconsciously created for herself that’s turned into a shit show! She remembered telling this stranger, her therapist, all her deep dark secrets and she had no expression on her face, just taking notes and asking questions. It was so great to not be judged or have a girlfriend say, “I’m so sorry this happened to you” with tears in their eyes. She didn’t like to burden her friends with her problems and was relieved she could do so with a stranger that does it for a living. So, she knew that saying the word suicide could be a threat of some kind. She kept that to herself.
Here she was in her kitchen, stressed out and tired and wanting all this anguish and pain to at least subside a bit. The emotional pain and dark thoughts wouldn’t give way at all. She could feel the darkness creep in around her and swirl like a black tornado around her body. The walls of her house felt like they were caving in and she was trapped in this shell of a life she couldn’t crawl out of this time. She was in so much mental pain, she didn’t think that anyone would miss her. She thought about what people would say at her funeral and if anyone would even show up!
This anxiety was not only due to her job. An ambiguous relationship coupled with the short winter days and cold weather just gnawed at her already fragile soul. She had been beaten down, lied to, stomped on, and torn to pieces from life and from people. She felt as if life wasn’t worth living and tonight solidified how hard life can be. Her optimism kept her alive most of the time. At times, she was truly happy. But tonight, her past and present kept trying to creep back in with deep shame and feelings of unworthiness. It was just too much to bear. Even though some people told her how much they loved her light energy and kind demeanor, she felt as if they were just being nice. She’d been working on herself and trying to face down her demons. Tonight, they might take her down for good and that’s actually what she had hoped for, anything to take away the massive amount of pain.
She looked around the kitchen to find something she could use to end the pain, which meant ending her life. Every time she would spot something, she just ended up being too scared. She doesn’t want to cut her wrists and wait to bleed out. And she doesn’t want to take a bunch of pills and end up in the emergency room. Why can’t she just go to sleep and never wake up? Once she’s on the other side, she won’t feel pain anymore and she’ll get to see everyone who is already there. She was fantasizing about what it would be like to be dead but just couldn’t do it.
She went into her living room and saw her dog look at her with fear and concern (probably due to her erratic behavior) and she started to bawl. These were tears she’d never experienced before: tears that were from the depths of hell, waiting for her to take her last breath, tears that wished everything could stop hurting all in one big swoop, tears that started to see that there is light in darkness. After catching the look from her dog’s eyes again, she started to realize that this, too, shall pass. At that moment, it felt like she would feel this way forever. But, those eyes, the soft fur and light kisses, brought her back to a state that she could manage. She is loved. Then, it felt like this animal was the only one who loved her. That wasn’t true, of course, but it was the one thing that saved her at the time. She focused everything she had on the love from that beautiful pup.
After several years of therapy and a new perspective, she is back to being optimistic and fun-loving again. She has solid boundaries, a self care routine, a new job, and a new healthy relationship. Suicide doesn’t even cross her mind and she is living a full life.
The flip side to this story is no one knew what she was actually experiencing that night. If she would have been thinking more clearly, she would have found a way. She went to work happy and fun-loving just about everyday. She hid her anxiety well and she enjoyed spending time with her friends. She was making plans for the future even as that night might have been the end of her story here on earth.
Her dogs would have been adopted out from the only home they ever knew, her friends would have been scratching their heads and running through the scenario of the last time they talked to her, and her mom would have been heartbroken. She would have never experienced true love, a life without anxiety, and an existence that she can only describe now as beautiful.
If you lose someone to suicide and wished you had seen the signs, just know that sometimes there are no signs to see. Many people dealing with deep pain don’t express how bad it truly is and hide it all with a happy face and a laugh. Suicide looks different on everyone and it can be very difficult to know what is too much for someone in a single moment, especially when they’ve gone through so much already.
I write this story because it is mine and it is hard to relive that night. I remember the deep dark emotions like it was yesterday. No one knows what I almost did that night because I’ve never told anyone. But I feel it is important to share now.
I have tools and practices in place now that keep me from going down that path again. I know the people upon whom I can truly rely when life gets hard. If you are in that place where suicide seems like a reasonable option, please put together your toolkit and team because there is a reason you were put here on this earth. The people in your life need you and love you but it’s up to you to keep those resources available and call upon them when you need them.
Call 988 to talk to someone at any time. Read about suicide prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/index.html. You might wan to add more things here, too. I’m not sure.