I’ve been sharing a little with my therapist about my feelings of wanting to end my life. I’ve been feeling this way for months. We argue about it, he tries to switch my thinking and paint a darker picture of what the end result of this would look like rather than what I will face in moving forward with my life. His points are valid, and though I try, not really arguable, so I shut down and stop talking because I don’t know how to explain what I need to say. I love my children. I would hate to hurt them and abandon them. It would be messy. On a logical level, I get that. But for some reason, that doesn’t motivate me as much to want to stay anymore. Sometimes, the thought of me leaving them seems more attractive to them (from my perspective) than being here in the state that I’m in right now.

The last time we talked about this he asked me what I wanted my legacy to be. He probably asked me this to distract me from my negative thoughts. It didn’t work. I immediately started thinking of what I perceive my legacy currently to be, and that just became greater justification to act upon my current state of mind…to get out, and end it all. The pressure building up inside of me is so intense. I can’t figure out what it is. Or how to release it. It’s becoming unbearable. It’s the heaviest of weights. I feel trapped with no way out. It’s getting darker and scarier and more and more confusing. I think I’ve actually really lost my mind. I haven’t ever felt this before. I feel like I have no control and no where to go to escape the torture I feel. I’m completely frozen yet completely on fire all at the same time. I’m afraid of myself and who I’m becoming.

My therapist talks a lot about dissociation when he tries to explain why I feel or remember things the way I do when I can’t find any understanding of it on my own. I still don’t grasp the concept of this or how it works so I’ve been reading a lot about trauma to try and find answers to help me understand myself better. I was reading the other day and came across some things that resonated with me. One author was discussing the impact of our inner critical voice and stated that it causes us to contemplate suicide. She also states that the critical voice is also hope-phobic. It doesn’t want us to hope because disappointment is so excruciatingly painful and it’s very good at predicting the worst possible outcome. She goes on to say that having no hope, the critical voice doesn’t want change. It doesn’t believe change is possible. I feel that sometimes. Another author I was reading touched on suicidal tendencies as well. She states, in reference to past childhood abuse and resulting dissociation, “Fight and flight driven aspects of the self that are suicidal or self-harming developed as a way of increasing the child’s sense of having some control (“If it gets too bad, I can die—I can leave—I can go to sleep and never wake up”) and may continue to have strong self-destructive impulses in the context of loss or vulnerability.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple days and I wondered if this feeling of wanting to escape, to end my life, is not necessarily because I can’t endure or cope with the “whatever it is I’m experiencing feeling” as much as it is a symptom of what I have experienced. In a way, that perspective shifted my thoughts around my desires. They’re there because something happened to me. It was a way I tried to cope and have control when I physically didn’t and I’m using this strategy again now as an adult as I relive some of what happened to me as a child. I felt a small twinge of freedom from the stronghold this desire to end my life has had on me. Maybe this quote about another woman I read about experiencing something similar can explain better what I’m trying to say. “…As she began to label the panic symptoms as “memories” and refrained from either “believing” them or exploring them (just noting that they were not a reflection of her present), she found that she was less overwhelmed by them and more able to reassure her traumatized child parts (and thus, herself) that “it’s not happening now—you are just remembering how afraid you were…” (source). 

So as I translate this information into my own experience, I’ve begun to wonder if these suicidal thoughts are actually “memories” of past distress as I sift through the ones that are continually surfacing from the depths of my mind. Even if they’re not, and I am truly feeling all hope is lost for me, which I genuinely feel sometimes, it releases some of the pressure somehow and frees me from the desire to act on these thoughts to a certain extent. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it clicked with me on some level.

I’ve been in a very low emotional state for some time now with a very strong “flight” desire burning within me. With this new thought process digesting, I realized I need to take whatever steps I can to prevent myself from unknowingly trying to reenact these suicide attempts I made as a child while dealing with my seemingly very traumatic past and the emotions and thoughts that are coming with that process. I don’t really trust myself right now. I think it’s because I don’t have a conscious awareness of ever feeling this low or lost or confused. Without explanation, I asked my husband to remove all the medications from their normal places in our home and put them away somewhere. He did it without asking questions and I appreciated that so much. I think he’s smart enough to understand why but he didn’t make me tell him.

When I was 12 years old, and my parents were out at the bar, I sat on the floor at 2am in my bedroom closet and methodically swallowed over 100 aspirin. I was horrifically sick and violently vomited for days and my parents did not take me to the hospital or my primary doctor. They left me alone at home during the day while they continued on with their lives and went to work. I don’t remember what I was feeling or thinking, but it must not have been good as I went on to repeat the process again only a couple weeks later. Again, my parents neglected to care for me and this time around even barked at me for vomiting in my bed and cracked jokes that I was “still sick.” They never knew why I was and I never told them or tried swallowing pills again.

When I think about what I want my legacy to be, what I leave behind for my children to treasure and what others would remember me for, it doesn’t look at all like my parents do to me now. My inner critical voice speaks loudly to me that I am a failure in so many ways. Because of the neglect and abuse in my past, and the emotions (or complete lack of them) that I experience, I too have neglected my children unknowingly on some levels. As I realize more and more why I live the way I do, as a reaction to my past, I feel more and more damaged and inadequate. Compound this with the feelings of abandonment by my husband and his lack of love and faithfulness, it makes for an impossible situation to feel anything but inadequate and like a failure sometimes. But on a different level, I have this information now, and I can use it to change for the better in ways I didn’t know I needed to change before. I don’t know if I can articulate yet what I would like my legacy to be when the end comes and that’s all that’s left of me here on earth, but I hope that my children and others would see me as authentic and bold and brave and learn that one way to honor God is to continually strive to be real, balanced, healthy, and the best we can be. I genuinely want to keep fighting to see what God might have in store for me. I want my children to see my faith and watch how God can work bad situations out for our good. I believe He can.

It’s hard sometimes to cling to that hope offered from God. I don’t always do it or find comfort in my faith or His promises in my circumstances, obviously. I’m easily overwhelmed and anxious and scared and skeptical that God actually cares at all about me. It’s hard for me to trust. And I think God requires full trust in Him. I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I can’t leave that journey of discovery behind if I cut myself off from fighting and trying. So I guess I’m still trying to fight for control and my freedom, just in a different way than my mind has been trying to convince me to do. I hope I can stabilize in this place for awhile and as I get overwhelmed with doubt or become distressed, because I know I will, I can remember that maybe the feelings aren’t real in my current moment, but are a memory from my past and old ways of coping and surviving. And I hope I can also remember that if I made it through then, I can do it again now.

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30 thoughts on “Leaving A Legacy…

  1. I have read your post a couple of times and I sit here with this reflection. Sometimes I feel I am so bad at expressing what I have gone through and what now has become a consuming thought and desire, to die. Reading someone else’s pain is my pain and it leaves me speechless but satisfied that you can do it for me. I want people to know what some people live with and hide every day. The consequence to other people’s actions can leave a life devastated into infinity. My darling I want to give you words of encouragement but I want more to acknowledge your truth and tell you you are not alone. I didn’t expose myself/pain until I started my blog and google page 2 years ago. It has been excruciating but I believe I am more enlightened and wiser for what I have learnt by doing it and reading other peoples stories of truth such as yours. Learn from your pain and don’t try to run from it, face it head on as you are doing for something good will come from that. What, I don’t know but I just know it will let our soul soar with the knowledge that we took the bull by the horns and looked into the abyss and came out a better person.

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    1. Thank you so much for this. I think sometimes when we truly feel understood, that’s enough to keep moving. I appreciate so much that you understand, yet I am also so heartbroken you know the pain and heartache yourself. Thank you for acknowledging my truth, and in so doing, encouraging me. I’m so glad we have connected.

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      1. I want to tell you a short story. The other day I took my dearest friend to my lawyer with me to sign off as executrix and representative for me should, or rather, when I die. I don’t discuss my wanting to die with anyone so this was on the most part just conducting business. But in this important paperwork I had to make it clear that if something happens “I do not want to be resuscitated” and that I must be left to die in peace when that time comes. Afterwards my darling friend said to me, “Louise, you are very tired aren’t you”, I said “yes, honey I am, when you have been fighting all your life to protect yourself from such a young age, and you are left out in the world to survive on your own there comes a time when you have just had enough”. There is a consequence to abuse and molestation and it wears down your heart and your ability to keep on fighting and bounce back. I think on issues like this many people must take responsibility for those of us who just go “I am out of here”. There are many ways to break down a soul. And when that happens it is merciful to let the person go and sleep forever. Don’t let people tell you it is a selfish act because I believe it is an act of mercy and love to take someone out of there pain. We give people pain killers for physical pain, but there really isn’t anything for the mental pain we are in, therefore, we have a right to “die in dignity”. Life without dignity is not acceptable so let me have it in death. I demand the right to choose to die when I am ready, not someone else.
        Dear Secret Keeper, I too have kept lots of secrets but if you wish to pass them on continue writing to help unburden yourself as much as you can. Write to me whenever you life.

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      2. “…when you have been fighting all your life to protect yourself from such a young age, and you are left out in the world to survive on your own there comes a time when you have just had enough”.

        Yes, there are definitely times I feel this way. I too am very tired. Thank you for sharing this with me.

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  2. You’re a great writer, that’s for sure! I used to contemplate suicide from time to time but it was a relief when I made a rational decision not to ever do that, which freed up quite a bit of time more gainfully spent! At the very least I had drawing, making grim collages, writing in my journal and/or eking out poetry with which to vent. I did subsequently learn that having a family member who suicided increases the likelihood that someone else in the family might also.
    After treating sex offenders–including incest offenders–in a prison setting for 12 years I did research for a book which I subsequently published via Amazon’s Create Space. The research was so enlightening, and I did so much of it! And memories started falling in place. I really had not realized how much of me had been shaped by the incest. I used years of excellent therapy to remain functional. Doing the research helped me make some sense out of it, and helped to put it in some kind of perspective, instead of being just awash in it all. I see you haven’t been very active on your blog. I hope writing can be as therapeutic for you as it has been for me.

    Take care!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I too have found that drawing is one way to get images out of my head that I can’t find words to yet. And I also journal and write in here when I can’t seem to articulate things out loud. For some reason though, I find writing hard now too. It’s been overwhelming to begin to put the pieces together and learn myself how my past abuse has shaped me. But as you experienced, researching and gaining understanding around everything does help and give things some perspective that has always been missing. I am thankful we have connected and for your thoughts you have shared here of your own experience!

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  3. I believe that we often don’t value ourselves as much as other people do. We do not see what they see. We do not realize what we mean to them, what we actually give them, even if we think that we have nothing to offer. We still do. For them. Because they don’t see us the way we do. We are more. We are. We can just not see it. But they do. Sometimes it would be good to see ourselves through the eyes of someone close to us. You are worth so much. Just simply only by sharing this post. You leave a legacy, you give, you inspire and you move people.

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    1. You are so right about this. I need to remember that my lens is not their lens and my idea of value is not theirs. Just the fact that God created us means we have value. But as you said, it is hard to see past our pain and see it. Thank you so much for your kind words here. I appreciate them so much.

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  4. My wish for you is a Legacy becomes of survival. The yet unborn generation your children will foster will need you (someone with experience) to guide them through their journey. This Legacy is not one you share by leaving but one shared by being present.

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    1. I really appreciate you sharing this perspective. There is truth in this, because right now I wish for this very connection…someone who understands and can help walk me through my present circumstances. My presence in the future has value for someone who can learn from my experience. Yes, that is a good thing. Thank you for sharing this.

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  5. I want to say that I am hearing the pain, hearing the distress, and also hearing how much insight and amazing work you are doing. I have so much love both for 12 year old you and adult you. And I’m sending you a big hug if that’s okay. Xoxo

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  6. I am so sorry for all the you have been through and for all that you are experiencing now. I am so glad that you haven’t given up on yourself, that you are searching for answers and trying to understand what you cannot. Finding missing pieces and clues that help us understand ourselves is so important. Even if we don’t know how to fix them, understanding ourselves a little more feels like a victory. And is an opportunity to get the help we need. “The pressure building up inside of me is so intense. I can’t figure out what it is.” I am wondering if this pressure and not being able to figure it out is coming from therapy and facing some of your past. I wonder this because I have been feeling this confusion ever since I opened up to my therapist and began to feel things I haven’t before. It is frightening me. We have been conditioned not to feel, that we don’t matter, that our lives are about others, that we are not important. We have been taught that to exist at all brings further pain and humiliation. I don’t know how we recondition ourselves out of a lifetime of this. To feel our own pain raises fear inside of us. You are helping me through articulating your struggle so beautifully. I haven’t been able to find words and the ones I have written I am afraid to share. Maybe all the confusion is a part of the abuse and the inability to exist or matter or be important to anyone throughout our lives. I guess what I am saying is that maybe the confusion isn’t us, but the result of what happened to us. My heart goes out to you.

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    1. It’s interesting how just gaining some understanding lifts the weight a little. I do think the confusion does come some from therapy. The more I open up, the more confusing it gets. The more I reveal, the more complicated it feels. It’s so different from leaving it all stuffed inside unknown and ignored. But once you let even a little out, you can’t go backwards, no matter how much you want to…at least if you want to be an authentic person. It just forces it’s way back up into consciousness. I know what you are saying about feeling feelings you have never experienced before. It’s wild. I don’t even know what I was like before. How did I not know I didn’t have any emotions?! I know now just how numb I’ve been my entire life. I remember getting so mad at my father not long ago for saying to my niece “oh you’re fine, get up..!” after he accidentally knocked her over. He wouldn’t even let her cry! I now know, this must have been how I was raised as well…instantly told to stuff all emotions if they were inconvenient or annoying to him. He was so heartless sometimes. It must have been how he kept me quiet about the abuse. I do feel a lot of fear, just like you. It’s all so foreign, and I think that exasperates the feeling of “losing my mind” as well. It’s not my normal. Numb and frozen was my normal. I definitely think the confusion comes from the abuse. We have been treated one way by loved ones who were supposed to be absolutely trustworthy and safe. When we realize that wasn’t actually what they were we wonder why and how and what and try to make sense of the disconnect from what was happening because deep down we knew it wasn’t right. The confusion could very well be a “memory” just as the suicidal feelings and desires could be. We are remembering as we process the past how confused we were as the abuse was happening. That makes so much sense to me if I look at it through the same lens I did above. Don’t be afraid to share your words. I’m learning that mine have helped others and yours have definitely helped me! I think sharing opens the door to new perspectives and greater understanding. I know it’s hard, though. There are a lot of things that are still too hard for me to share. Thank you so much for sharing when you do. And I wish I could take your confusion away! I’m sorry it’s so hard for you right now as well.

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      1. I think I have come to realize that the confusion comes from complex trauma. When you experience multiple traumas, and especially simultaneously as a child, it had to have been extremely confusing then. So it would make sense that feeling the pain now would be very confusing. This has at least helped me to understand the confusion. It doesn’t change the fear of these feelings. But understanding why they are there helps to know that we are sane. I am so sorry for all that your father has done to you. How could you not be confused. Lots of hugs!!!

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  7. This is so troubling. I feel so bad for you. A virtual hug doesn’t help you much.
    Here’s a verse I lean on what I know the Bible says. Even the hairs of our head are numbered, he loves us so much. God is not like neglectful parents. He is love. He’s not expecting you to just try hard to be as good as you can be. He only wants you to believe. He asks so little of us. What else matters but to love God and love people. Maybe that’s the core reason of your hurt, they didn’t show you that degree of love. I don’t know what I would do without the love of my children either. Their hugs! Oh, their hugs are healing. Love is healing. I hope you find hope. I hope you claw your way out of this depression, with God’s help because we can’t do these things alone. We need God to tell us what to do. Last time I was as depressed as you are right now was 3.5 years ago, and I laid down on the floor, nose to carpet, and begged God for help. Begged. And I saw a doctor b/c mine was actually postpartum depression, and I needed help. And I just kept loving my babies and praying for help. And it came. I have not been that depressed since. I hope that you will find a way out of yours. I pray you will rise above. You are worthy. You are loved by God. You are loved by your children. I know you are.

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. I’m so used to having to do things to feel loved or give in to even the negative attention just to feel noticed. I think I transfer that into my relationship with God sometimes, even though I know in my head, he doesn’t ever ask that of me. I will keep praying. I do hope to claw my way out as well. And yes, I think the only reason I’m still here is because of the love I receive from my children. Praise God that He put them into my life, even when I don’t feel adequate enough to be their mother.

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  8. Dear Secret Keeper,
    My heart just goes out to you for all the pain that you are suffering from your past and the darkness that tries to engulf you now. Your parents neglected you as a child but God never left your side. He was there in the midst of your suffering and kept you alive despite your efforts. He has a plan for you. There are many young children in similar situations who have been broken by their parents and abusive events in their lives. Your story will help so many. As I read your posting, I thought of this song and you. I pray that God’s Light will shine through the darkness and that He will bring healing to all the broken places in your life. That you will see the calling that He has on you to help others. I will be praying for you.

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