It does take a village!

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it takes a village’, and I’d typically scoff at it thinking some politician must have come up with that saying for political gain.  I’m not one for trendy catch phrases, so you won’t hear me using those words!  Keep in mind, I’ll also never throw down a hash tag! 
I’ve been talking and sharing with a friend lately as they’ve been trying to work through some personal issues. Wanting to share a secret, your secret is a process.  Sometimes just saying the words out loud for the first time is daunting, a fear of opening the door.  I refer to my own secret, my OD as an overflowing trash can that I kept pushing the garbage down and doing my best to keep the lid tightly secured, and it’s true!  Once that lid pops off,  its gonna come out, it’s inevitable. Putting yourself in a mental state of mind would be the optimal way to approach this, but life doesn’t always play fair and we don’t always get to have things roll out the way we hope!

So in my conversations they have told me several times that I am so brave for sharing my secret, and the truth is, its a reassuring to be told that because the fear was always that I if I did share it would be devastating, maybe disastrous.  Why?  Well, I feared that I would be looked at like I was weak, a quitter.  I already felt like that inside, magnified by 1,000 so the last thing I wanted was to have that “look”, like oh, you’re one of those people.  I’ve already admitted I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, so I don’t want to look into someone eyes and feel shame.

The truth is, I am brave for sharing my secret, but not just because of me, I was also given the strength by those around me.  I am very lucky to have a husband who’s loved me before, during and after the overdose.  I know I caused him great pain then, and the times I would threaten to take my life. Sadly, that was not the first time I  had threatened to end my existence.  I have my son, and though we went through a few rough years,  I know how first hand how hard it is to loose a parent and I am grateful I am still here to see him go through his highs and lows; marriage, children, and everything in between. My niece, she was visiting us in Texas the night I OD, and since then I’ve been in her wedding, and soon the birth of her son.  I called my closest cousin who is like a sister to me, and my best friend whom I’ve known my whole life!  These people let me know they still loved me, that they were there for me, for whatever I needed.

The test of my bravery, if you will, started when I sent that text to Kerry.  She had already lost someone to suicide, and I felt comfortable with her; I had no idea the impact that text would have on my life. She just let me know that she was there and if I wanted to share, she would be there for me, I happy to report she was, and still is.  She reassures me that when, and if I want to share my story that she will always be there to hold my hand, and I don’t doubt that for a second!  She’s just that kind of friend!   I recall sitting with her and her husband Boz at their dining room table, sharing my story and not feeling overwhelmed with shame or judgement, they could relate to my pain.   Even though I was able to share my story, the humiliation did not away. That night was just the beginning.  The meetings moving forward were hard for me, I think in part because I didn’t feel the same comfort with the rest of the committee.  I had an idea of their losses, but they didn’t know my story, or that Doug could have been the one sitting there without me.   In my opinion,  the real work started at the walk when Kerry mentioned wearing the green beads.  I did wear them, and I did share with a stranger, and felt more free that day.  It was like I had taken the lid off the can myself, not a gust of wind if you will, but I did it and I was able to let some of the garbage out myself.  Its a lot easier to take garbage out of a can and put it somewhere else, than to chase it down the street.

Once the walk was over and I (finally) accepted Melissa’s offer to attend the celebratory dinner, I shared my story with her on the car ride, in the process I felt more in control of my story.  Not just because I had shared my story, but from her reaction.  There weren’t the feelings I had spent several years avoiding, I simply felt her compassion.  She encouraged me to share my story, that the feeling I would get would help me heal, and help others in the process.  It still took me a few months to get to a head space to consider sharing.

Jump forward a few months and we are at the first committee meeting to plan the Out of the Darkness Walk for September 13, 2014 with last years members and it felt good to be there, to be around them.  I was still uncertain if I would be able to do the walk this year, but I was hopeful I could.  The 2013 walk had been a turning point, and I wanted to continue moving forward in my recovery.  When new members started to arrive, and we discussed the meeting, and eventually why we were there, I wasn’t sure I could share.  I did, I shared why I was there, not my whole story, but that I was sitting in that room because I had attempted to take my own life.  Sitting in a room full of friends and strangers, saying the words aloud, that was a big step for me. The warmth I felt that night ignited a fire in me, it gave me the courage to share my story on a larger scale.  I came home that night full of hope!  

It took me several days to compose my story and I sent it out to my core group of people, testing the waters, how did it sound?  Can I do this, really do this?  Their responses gave me that much needed push to share on a social media scale.  To date,  I have not received a negative comment, and that was, and is a fear.  Will someone say; what, you need attention? Why cant you just keep that to yourself?That’s another post for another day, because its got a back story.

I am grateful that I can sit here today, having started the journey to recover my spirit from what was holding me back for so long.  Its not just sharing a story about attempting to take my life, hiding behind what I had done,  but healing myself in the process.  Its not just getting back to who I use to be, but a better version of that person.  My hope moving forward is when I have a bad day, week or month, thoughts of ending my life will not be an option!

My ultimate goal is to share my story at the Out of the Darkness Walk this year, and I know that if I am chosen as a guest speaker, I will, in fact have a village of people beside me!

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