I hated my college experience. It only reminded me how little I felt like I belonged there or anywhere. And I was so resentful of the kids whose parents supported them while I was waking up before sunrise and slinging eggs at a diner for $2.79 hour.
College was also the first time I was away from my family home and that space seemed to draw out all the emotions and pain I had spent a lifetime suppressing.
Throw in a combination of drugs and booze plus a sexual trauma from high school that I never addressed and it was a recipe for turmoil.
Not at first though...it wasn't until my junior year that it all came crashing in on me. It started with panic attacks that scared the shit out of me and lead me to see a psychiatrist. After 50 minutes with me he sent me on my way with a heavy dose of meds and a wave.
A week later I woke up in a hospital room, unable to move, with my family members standing around me who were clearly upset and me wondering if I had died and gone to hell. Especially because in the distance I saw my parents talking to my boyfriend in the doorway of my room. I should mention my boyfriend was a local cop who happened to be married.
The cat was outta the bag. Both the affair and that I was most definitely not okay despite a lifetime of pretending to be the strong one.
I had overdosed the night before. It wasn't planned but it was intentional. I had come really close to death. The cardiologist called it a miracle.
It didn't feel that way. It felt like a nightmare. More shame piled on top of the thick layers of shame I already carried.
There's a million little things that contributed to my decision. What really sent me over the edge though was when I called my mother two nights before crying and asked her to come over. This was out of character. In fact, I felt pathetic reaching out but I was in agony and I just wanted her to hold me and tell me everything would be okay.
She didn't come. And her rejection affirmed my worst fears that I was unloveable and that I was a burden.
Now, life before my suicide attempt was hard. Life after was even harder. I had eyes on me all the time. Literally. After I was medically cleared I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital.
Being hospitalized meant being stripped of many of belongings, freedom and my dignity too. I wish I could say that it helped me heal but it didn't. It did keep me alive though. I was discharged with no meds and an appointment a week later.
There a nurse practitioner spent 15-minutes with me and gave me another hefty prescription. I went right to the pharmacy and pulled out a pill book where I read the effects of overdose. It scared me to have those pills. I ripped up the prescription and I left.
I would eventually go to an intensive, outpatient hospital program followed by another inpatient stay and then into therapy where I would experience profound healing.
I came to see the ways that my childhood had shaped my self-image and how growing up in an alcoholic home has lead me to become who I thought others needed me to be which meant abandoning my true self. The more resourced I became, the more capacity I had to tend to the lifetime of untended emotional wounds I was carrying.
I was twenty years old when I got a second chance at life. At first I was angry. Then I felt guilty. Then I got curious. My curiosity lead me to earn a Bachelor's degree in psychology and my Master's degree in Counseling. I was determined to understand the effects of trauma and to serve others from a place of deep compassion, wisdom and knowledge because those early days of healing left a mark on my heart that I'll never forget.
I talk about dying often. In part because I danced with death and it became one of my greatest teachers. My therapist used to ask me, "what needs to die today so can have life?"
I've experienced so many deaths since that day. The death of beliefs, of false identities, of dreams that weren't mine, of relationships that didn't serve me. Each time grieving the loss and creating space for new life to seed.
Now at forty years old I have my eyes on my legacy. If I were to die tomorrow, what would I like people say, how would I like be remembered, what would I like to read in my obituary? Am I living this way, NOW?
It took a decade of solid healing to find myself again. It took another decade to feel safe in my body to really take up space, share my gifts, tell my stories and let myself be seen in the fullness of who I am.
Combined it's been two decades of healing and growing using a wide variety of modalities (you name it and I probably tried it),
learning and unlearning,
reading and studying,
releasing and forgiving,
returning to the earth of my body
reclaiming my truth
realigning my life
re-mothering and showing up for myself the way I needed my mother that night she never came....
So that I can serve others from a place of compassion, integrity, wisdom and knowledge.
I have walked through my own darkness to reclaim my light. And now I guide others to do the same.