When I was 20 years old a friend of mine killed his best friend, seriously injured his ex-girlfriend and then shot and killed himself. This was not a casual acquaintance. This was a man who took me to my very first prom when I was in 10th grade when going to prom as a 10th grader with a senior was the most exciting thing going on. This was someone who I took martial arts with. Someone I shared my heartaches with, someone I flirted with and danced with and loved. And then he wasn’t. In a matter of seconds he became someone I didn’t know. How could he do such a thing? What had driven him to such a place of madness?
I also had taken martial arts with his father. I went to my old dojo and sat with my former classmates as we listened to our sensei talk about the loss. I don’t remember a word he said. What I remember is the way my friend’s father looked. If you could let the air out of someone’s life that’s how he looked.
Last week the son of my husband’s coworker took his life. He was 18 years old. I didn’t know the coworker or the child. Eighteen years old is still a child. I cried. It brought me back to the loss of my friend. It even took me to my own dark places where thoughts of suicide blew like grey curtains over a dim life. Yes. I have thought about suicide before. I bet if you gently and honestly asked some of your close friends they might reveal that they too had let the thought linger in their mind. Explored it’s hard and finite edges.
I never had a plan. I never wanted to die. But I wanted to escape my pain. My life. My parents and I went through some rocky times. Times where we didn’t speak because not speaking was preferable for me than the absolute anger and frustration that I felt. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that is my journey. And it led me to Arizona and my husband and a road back to a relationship with my parents.
But I don’t want this post to be about me. I want this post to be for you. Or for your child. Or teen. Or young adult. I stumbled into someone’s wounded heart recently when I asked a friend how his family was doing. He revealed to me that his family was struggling and that his daughter was going through a tough time.
I know that I’m not 20 anymore and that my teen years weren’t just a brief time ago. I feel like they were. But my neighbor’s daughter made that abundantly clear when she made fun of how much time I was on Facebook and said Facebook was for middle aged women. But even so, I distinctly remember those awkward and torturous years. And I especially remember the difficulty I had my senior year when I knew that the life I had known for the past 15 years, going to school every day, summers off, doing homework, hanging out with friends and dreaming of the future, was ending. The transition into adulthood is not an easy one and I wouldn’t relive it for anything.
If you are in the middle of this angst-filled time, struggling to be an adult under the supervision of your parents, please know that whatever you feel today, is not how you will feel tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. There is so much possibility in this world. You just have to give it a little time. I know that teenagers can be terrible to each other. That parents can be assholes and that no one seems to get what you’re going through. But please just remember that there is a MASSIVE world out there just waiting for you to arrive.
Parents are people and screw up all the time. Your friends might be jerks to you because they are just as conflicted and confused and frustrated as you are and don’t know how to say just that. I promise you though that everyone is going through something and that you can come out the other side. And you might be able to help someone to the other side as well. Just please don’t take your life and all of your special talents and light and love. You were made for this world and your friends and family want you to remain part of the world for as long as possible.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide and you are looking for someone to talk to, you can reach out to the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or check out their website at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/