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Departure: For Anyone Who Has Considered Suicide When, the Rainbow Is Not Enough

Excerpted from the forthcoming memoir, “Death of the Good Girl.’

By Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams

 

It was the end of a long and exhausting week. I had been invited out to an event by a female colleague who knew I was sinking. But that night she flashed her success and bragged about all things important to her–her career, children, travel, husband, and luxury item purchases, were the topics for the entire evening.

 

The place we went was an establishment I had frequented with my late husband– a reminder of happier times. This “friend” had invited me because someone else had backed out . I was her “guest” she said. I was constantly reminded by my surroundings of how much my life had changed because of the betrayal of my husband. I had fallen. And this so-called “friend’ had taken the liberty of reminding me that now her life was better than mine in less than obvious hints.

 

That night plunged me into a level of despair that I had not felt before. By the time that night ended and I was alone in my car I had decided that it was time. These thoughts had plagued me off and on throughout the most dire times and now I faced a trigger that I thought had sealed my fate.

 

This was the night. I cried deeply and held on to the steering wheel as if it could turn into an anchor.  But I had no anchors and I was ashamed of my dire situation–mostly for my children–to see their mom like this.

 

I would not live this way-believing I was defeated, helpless, a victim and die a slow death at the hands of those who rallied in my problems.

 

I had chose to end it when I thought the time was right. I would ring the final bell- before the celebration began.

 

What was my solution to stop the pain and suffering I was living with each day? The S-word. Yes, I am talking about suicide. And yes, I was seriously considering it.

 

Suicide. Say it out loud. Difficult? You are not alone. Many of us are so shaken by the word and rightfully so.

 

And yes, we have hotlines and organizations that can provide suicide counseling and immediate phone help, but if you never face the fact that one day you could be calling the suicide prevention hotline or contacting a counselor to talk about it–then the impact on our lives has not forced a reality check. Situations and conditions can force you to stand and face the ultimate test of your “strength” in many ways  as you ask yourself, “Could I really take my life?”

 

Suicide is not discriminating. It  is an equal opportunity threat. In fact, the darker side of something we use every day like social media has pushed some as young as eight –years- old to end their young lives rather than face a bully every day.

 

Suicide is not discriminating. it is an equal – opportunity threat.

 

The statistics are a startling reality of the test of an individual’s ability to endure until they either break or hopefully realizing they are close to breaking and make the right choice and reach out for help.

 

On average, there are 123 suicides per day. In 2016, the highest U.S. suicide rate (15.2) was among Whites and the second highest rate (13.5) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The suicide rate among Black children is on the rise and has actually almost doubled since the early 1990s. This while the suicide rate for White children has dropped.

 

I can recall very vividly the first time I thought of suicide. I was around  15- years -old. I was always different from others around me. I dressed differently, appeared differently and constantly caught the unwanted and threatening attention of what is now called bullies. In my youth they were simply the mean girls.

 

I was an easy target for the mean girl  crew. I was always in the gifted classes, wore dresses and shoes that were better suited for attending a private or parochial school, had a ton of long wavy hair, freckles that they called dirt on my face and I never got in trouble. Target? Absolutely.  Was I defenseless? Yes, I was because I had never encountered this kind of prey before. “The good girl,” was probably a better moniker for me than “the popular girl.”

 

And now I will tell my story my forthcoming book, “Death of the Good Girl,” in which I ponder my dance with the idea of suicide promoted by the shock of my husband’s death and betrayal and my breast cancer diagnosis.

 

The years that have followed have forced me to face devastating information about an affair. This information coupled with  a decade of legal battles has pitched me numerous times into a tailspin. Most of these years,  I could only see hopelessness and darkness.

 

So with the loss of my husband,  the endless legal battles, the fatigue from maneuvering and successfully keeping a balanced professional and personal life,  took every ounce of intelligence, resolve and faith that I had..

 

I had admitted to myself that evil -doers had won and like the young girl threatened by the mean girls, I was no match for the mean girl, the mean company, the meanness and cruelty of life. For the first time, I had to consider a drastic measure—to  end my suffering

 

 

So I had finally reached the point of taking a step I had never done before. I  decided to compile a list in my phone called: Departure.

 

This list consisted of my plan and steps to leave.

 

As I made the list, it revealed a life with so many responsibilities. So many people to tell goodbye. It contained the black and white of life -how to resolve bills, the most simple and generic details like even  what days the bills should be paid.

 

I am stronger because I faced the reality of this word, realized its power and allure.

 

It also contained information on my ceremony but only one entry–the song to play as I am rolled down the aisle in my casket–”Perfect  Peace” by Marvin Sapp.

 

I awoke the next day after making my list. As I read it I realized this was going to take more than a day, a week or a month to get done. Looking at the list it became clear that I needed a few months to wrap up my life in a way I could easily leave, which was to make everything perfect for my children and loved ones.

 

Again, that word “perfect” had interjected its way into my thoughts. The overwhelming task of preparing to leave became a message to me that I can’t leave– Why? Not because my therapist who I now returned to regular visits said so, and not because the one friend I shared my plan with cried and begged: “please don’t.” I decided leaving would be missing out on watching how God saves me. And finally, I realized, my death would not result in perfect peace…It would have only left a lifelong unsettling for those I love.

 

So where am I today?  Instead of waiting for that one day of peace, I now find comfort in the gradual and methodical  improvement of life. I face each day with confidence.

I still listen frequently to ‘Perfect Peace,’ but with a new interpretation:  in faith and belief that God is fighting my battles including protecting me from the mean girls – who have grown up to be the mean women, predators and those who enjoyed, even celebrated the storms that hit my life. Do they really know how harmful they can be?

 

Well if they didn’t know, I hope they know now.

 

And yes, the S- word still frightens me. I have a healthy respect for it and a realistic fear. None of us know what life holds for us in the future. For me,  I am stronger because I faced the reality of this word and  realized its power and allure. I no longer consider it an option to greater peace.  I find the greater pull towards survival, thriving and victory!

 

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hours a day, at 1-800-273-8255

 

 

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