Inhale. Exhale. I’m awake. Light flickers in through my eyelashes like fireflies on tree branches as I blink slowly and close my eyes to block the sunlight as it comes in through the blinds. Thoughts rise, swirl about and drift away like smoke leaving a cigarette at the tip of my mom’s lips. We’ve come a long way from the little boy who drew the double sided Ninja Turtle for you huh?
I’ve been all over the world but sometimes it feels like it means nothing because I couldn’t share it with you. In truth, I walk around feeling like I’m letting you down every day. I just want you to be proud of me. Sometimes I meet you in my dreams hoping you’ll say something reassuring. Please just say anything. When I wake up I close my eyes as tight as possible hoping you’re still there to no avail. Fireflies are back. It’s just me.
My mother’s funeral was on June 25, 2005. I turned 20 five days later. I’ve lived my entire adult life without her love or advice. On my 20th birthday I went in a box I kept in my closet and got out a card she gave me when I turned 18. I still have it. I get it out on my birthday if I thinking of her and I need to feel her presence.
10 years later I spent my 30th birthday in Paris with my best friend and the woman I loved. A year later I was sitting on the floor of my apartment around 3 in the morning with a knife to my wrist.
I felt like I was a kid again sitting outside in the dead of winter waiting for my dad to come get me. He never came. Or more recently on June 4, 2016, sitting outside Brussels Airport in the rain, watching the person I loved the most walk out of my life. Maybe I was partially mad at my mother too because she left me. See? To me, everyone always leaves. It doesn’t matter what promises they make or how much they say they love you. They always leave or leave you waiting.
That morning I didn’t want to be left waiting ever again. I sat there for hours wishing to God I didn’t exist. I couldn’t stand the thought of turning 31 and possibly living another 30 years hoping someone would love me. Or see that I mattered. I was just tired. I have been on this road for so long and I just felt like I couldn’t take another step. When I closed my eyes, there she was again staring back at me, my mom. “SAY SOMETHING!” I thought. I just want to be with you. Then I realized what she would think of what I was doing and thinking that morning. I’ve never felt more ashamed.
We all spend our lives searching for something. Whether that’s meaning, purpose, love or just something real; the human experience often feels like an eternity of being left wanting. Even when we find what we thought we were looking for it comes with new questions or it inevitably fades. If I had to put my finger on the thing I’ve searched my entire life for, it’s validation. I often hope if I’m the best person I know how to be then I will get it but it still eludes me.
Today is June 30th, I am fortunate enough to turn 32 today because my mom saved my life. The thought of disappointing her is the only thing that stopped me from doing something really stupid and irresponsible. I can’t say was an easy year but I’m here. Please understand, I’m not writing this because I’m feeling sorry for myself. I felt like this was an important story for me to tell. It isn’t an easy one but if it helps someone it’s worth it.
No matter what anyone does or says we have to find our own validation. Sometimes that means we have to let go or love ourselves twice as hard. More importantly, it’s ok to admit you’re not ok and ask for help. I compartmentalize everything so it was hard for me. I know there’s a stigma around it but I can’t say enough how much seeing a therapist helped me.
Lastly, if you know someone who is showing signs they’re struggling reach out and help them. Don’t gossip about them or ignore it. Reach out. Let them know you care. It matters. We need to be more cognizant of how we treat each other. It’s something I’ve learned the hard way. I know it can be really easy to tear someone else down because you don’t understand them but try to be better. You just never know where someone is in their personal life.
Here’s to 32 more years. I know it’s been a minute and this was a heavy post to come back with. This was risky but I needed to get it out. As always discussions and comments are always welcome
If anyone needs it.
Provides help to those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.