Christmas Eve, 2014, I quietly celebrated an anniversary. It isn’t one I talk about much, and you can’t buy a card for it.
20 years ago on Christmas Eve there was a 50/50 chance I wouldn’t live through the day. Yes, I was in an arthritic flare and was utterly exhausted, but I was going to kill myself.
I just couldn’t see the point of continuing on the way I had been. All I did was work, travel for work, go home and sleep the entire time I was there.
There was little time for holiday festivities and Christmas shopping was not its usually enjoyable pastime. Most of the gifts I had were from a Hawaiian travel trip I’d taken so there was little to do when I got home.
I was married to a man I simply call the mistake husband. I don’t say his name, ever. I’ve tried to put it behind me, but at the time he was in my life, I realized he married me because I had a cool job and the steady source of income it provided so he didn’t work much. I had recently realized this and was gutted over it.
There I was. I tried to think of reasons to live. I knew my brothers would take care of my mom. I had a will so things would go where they should, and there would be everlasting peace and no more sickness for me. I could make it stop.
I planned to drive my little two-seater sports car into a bridge abutment at an excessive speed. I figured it would do the trick.
I had taken my brightly wrapped Christmas presents to my mother’s house and to all my brothers’ houses, saving my little brother’s place for last so I could see my newest nephew, who was getting a cute little Hawaiian onesie from Aunt Sandi.
I left their house, headed for the highway for my date with a bridge. I felt good about my decision. I was ready to stop.
On the highway I started to pray, apologizing for not being able to keep living.
The sun was out, the car radio played as I shifted through the gears. A stray thought came through my prayers, whispering a question, “Can’t you wait until after Christmas at least? See your family once more, and then decide?”
It jarred me out of my trance. I could see my family once more, kiss them, hug them, laugh with them. I could hold out one more day.
I drove home. Spent Christmas with my family and decided to wait until after Christmas so my family wouldn’t think of death along with the birth of Jesus.
That one stray thought kept me going until my doctor’s office opened and I could call there and confess I had nearly killed myself Christmas Eve.
I went right in to see him and started taking a popular antidepressant that did save my life.
Still, each Christmas Eve I go back and review my choice. I know I did the right thing by driving by the bridge and going home.
I’ve been in therapy since and learned that suicide is the single most selfish thing you can do to the people who love you. The only person who is at peace is the deceased.
If you are at this point and reading this and think no one understands, e-mail me and we will talk. No matter how bad you feel right now, someone can do something to make you feel better. Know people love you and please don’t do it.
I didn’t, and I like where I’ve landed 20 years later.