I’ll never forget waking up in the hospital room. Lying under crisp white sheets, an IV in my arm. I was dazed and so fucking confused. The heart rate monitor at my bedside beeped sure and steady.
Apparently I was still alive.
Light was streaming in through the window at the far side of the room where my husband sat sleeping in a chair. Not by my side. Not holding my hand like a loving husband should. I can’t say that I blame him. I’d scared him half to death.
I had swallowed handfuls of antidepressants and antipsychotics and had somehow survived.
No, I didn’t meet God. I didn’t get a glimpse of Hell. I’m really not even sure what that means. But I’m sure that my husband’s feelings and withdrawal were justified. How does one even process the fact that their spouse tried to kill herself?
He was angry. Or worried? I’m not sure which. He just sat with his head in his hands. And I laid in that bed looking up at the ceiling, wondering how the hell I managed to survive. It still hurt to breathe, to think, to…live. The pain that led me to swallow a shitload of pills was still there.
He’d been yelling at me. Another one of his PTSD episodes. In hindsight, I can’t remember what triggered his outburst. The reasoning behind them never made sense and they weren’t entirely his fault. But the fallout from those outbursts were never fun.
I usually spiraled into full blown panic attacks, but this time it was worse. I’d been curled up in a ball on the floor of my bedroom closet, crying uncontrollably while struggling to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. If I could just get my breathing under control, I’d be okay.
But he came in screaming, standing over me. All six feet two inches of him. My ears began to ring as I closed my eyes. I fell to pieces while he continued to yell. My head was spinning. I began to spiral down a wormhole back to 1992.
My seventeenth year. The year that my grandfather sexually abused me.
When I opened my eyes, he was there. My dead abuser. He’d come back for me. Trapping me in a corner deep within the closet. Yelling at me while sliding his old wrinkled hand into my crotch.
But I fought back this time.
I kicked and screamed. Get away from me! Get away! He kept yelling and coming at me while I struggled to breathe. I thought each breath would be the very last. And it hurt, so so much. It pulled me under and wrapped itself around my neck, choking the life out of me. I wanted it to stop right then and there. So I did the only thing I could do.
I swallowed handfuls of prescription drugs that, when used as prescribed, were meant to help me and keep me alive. Surprisingly, they went down easily. I wielded those pills like weapons of mass destruction. They’d completely destroy him and make him go away. They’d save me from the pain. They’d bring me peace.
And for a few short hours they did.
But when I came to in the hospital, safe from the clutches of my grandfather, the gravity of what I had done hit me hard. I’d tried to kill myself. I tried to leave everyone and everything behind. My husband. My children. The life we had built together, good and bad. The bone crushing pain I’d felt was so overwhelming in the thick of the moment that I thought there was no way out. That there was no choice but to end things.
I was wrong.
I’m not sure what I could’ve done to save myself in that moment. Reliving childhood sexual trauma through flashbacks is a bitch. And unfortunately while I was in it, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t real.
Three years later, I still have a lot of remorse surrounding my suicide attempt. And regret. So much regret. I regret swallowing those pills. I regret hurting my family. I especially regret the $12,000 emergency room bill.
But above all, I don’t regret having survived.
Because the truth is, I want to be alive now more than ever. I want to hope. I want to dream. I want a fighting chance at healing. I want as many tomorrows as I can get.