The Time I Almost Killed Myself…

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
~Carpenters, 1971

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Two weeks ago, give or take a day, I had a really a no good, really bad day.  For that day and the next I struggled with life and death, and the importance of my life as it intersects with other lives.  The short version of the story is that a lot of pain that I try very hard to ignore on a day to day basis hit me all at once.  I described it later, like a stack pancakes, one on top of another, until the stack became so big that it just fell apart.

At the base of the pain, one might call the biggest and heaviest pancake was the pain that came from a perceived rejection of my want to help my (mentally challenged) son.  In my mind, I had to choose one over the other:  my partner or my son.  I told my friends that if I wanted a really real divorce all I had to do was invite my son to stay on this property again.  That is STILL the reality that I contend with.  The truth is though, that this was not at the base, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The pancake stack was probably leaning, and someone threw this big, heavy pancake on the stack—and what we got was this big emotional train wreck.

My son, is currently 26 years old, and has a laundry list of diagnoses now.   Bipolar with psychosis which by definition includes depression and mania, Autistic Spectrum Disorder (not long ago referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism), PTSD, borderline personality disorder …..But wait, there’s more…. (Learning disabilities galore also are on the list)

And it is certainly no laughing matter.  He’ll probably need professional help the rest of his life.  And there is no amount of denial or turning one’s back on him that will change what he is, who he is, and what he needs.  Keeping this mind, knowing that I DID bring this kid into the world, there is absolutely NO chance in hell, that I will EVER turn my back on him.

One of his older sisters flat out told me I needed to “cut him loose.”  A judgement made from a person who can very easily distance herself from someone she perceives as a “looser”.  In her mother’s mind however, there is a difference between a ‘looser’ and someone with a condition that came built in with the package.  One never ‘cuts loose’ their children, if they can help it.  To be able to “cut loose” even a grown child, the emotional price tag has to become bigger than the perceived ‘worth’ of the child.  There has to be some mighty painful situations come up to force a good mother to let go of even ‘grown’ children.

I could not understand how someone who supposedly loved me could not understand my dilemma.  In order to keep the man around that I loved, I had to “CHOOSE” to not help my son (again).  I felt about as misunderstood as a person could feel.  I felt let down, as if the world’s biggest rug had been torn out from under me.  The one person in the world that I had chosen to throw all my trust into (after deciding he was pretty healthy-emotionally) basically let me know my son was not going to live on his property.

He let me know by showing his anger.  He doesn’t stomp around the house. He just makes the household know by the way he carries himself, and with this huge frown that shows he is very unhappy.  His body language, his lack of conversation, it is all made quite clear.  And it’s not like I didn’t know what was wrong. I did.  I didn’t need his “passive aggressive” messages.

But he sent them anyway….

The more I tried to figure out what to do for my son, without letting him come back to this property, the more this ‘partner’ of mine sent out the signals that he was pushed out of shape.  Over and over again—as my son’s situation led to him becoming more mentally unstable, so it pushed me more and more into a feeling of helplessness.  I had no realistic way to help him except to listen to him and try to help ground him.  Even that wasn’t working very well.  I told my son he could not come and live on this property; else I’d be divorced for real.  He asked me if it was really that bad.  I could only answer him honestly.  “Yes, it is really that bad.”

On the heels of this, came, the news that my 2nd eldest daughter would not be attending my 18 year old’s high school graduation.  Take into account, that this 2nd eldest daughter is adopted.  Her own biological mother did not show up at her graduation.  I did.  She has made it clear over the years how much that meant to her.  I simply could not fathom how she could not show up at her younger sister’s graduation considering how important her own was to her.

My two oldest daughters do not speak to me.  Each has their own reasons.  To be honest, I don’t see the reason in either of their stories.  They are both in their own way and for their own individual reasons laying an awful lot of blame onto me for things that may or may not be going right in their own life.  And so they have the right to treat me like shit.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to give into whatever it is.  It’s just what they think they want from me.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to change a thing I do in my life.  Not for them.  Not anymore.

That Saturday morning, my “partner” and I had had a major argument.  He offered to leave.  I told him to just go then.  I have to say here and now, that living under his cover of anger is too much for me to take.  I have informed him more than once that we need professional help.  If I don’t leave this time, I sure will leave another time, if he continues to ‘rule his roost’ in this manner.

Nevertheless, feeling that perhaps the 2nd eldest was staying away from the graduation so that she’d not have to confront her feelings about our non-communication, and in essence making her little sister pay for anger that she feels towards me, I offered to not go to the graduation so that she would go.

Almost instantaneously, though it may seem silly to those who read this, I felt absolutely the failure and unneeded, unworthy, and unloved.  I was suddenly moving, at least in my mind in slow motion.  I felt like I’d been run over by a Mack Truck.   My reality at that moment, suddenly, and too my great surprise, IN MY FACE:

1 Mother: Not speaking to me
2 of 4 Children: Not speaking to me
1 adult (mentally challenged) child: In need, I cannot help.
1 partner, whom I considered the love of my life: Offering to leave, and obviously angry.
1 child, who I’d just offered to not go to her graduation, a once in a lifetime ceremony, and rightfully should be the happiest time of her life at least for now.  I gave that up.
= It all came to be ONE MASSIVE FAILURE in my mind.

If anyone knows me, they know that I have worked very hard to be where I am in this life.  There has been nothing come without struggle in one form or another.  Either I literally worked hard physically (as in providing for my family as a single mother), or literally trying to learn enough about people, psychology, and myself to FORCE myself to be the best that I can be: to be a very good person, who takes everyone’s feelings into account, to give without the need to receive.  I have lived it: “The children always come first.”  I did not and do not want to be accused of ever abusing another person…. Well except perhaps a rapist or molester.

Everyone always came first. I wonder now, if anyone even considers what I might want or need when they make their final determinations about me and who I am, and why they think they are so damn angry with me.

Consider my EGO-growing from a little girl to a young woman:

I am a daughter
I am a granddaughter
I am a mother
I am a wife
I am a domestic engineer
I am a worker
I am a volunteer
I am a writer
I am a student
I am a gardener
I am a genealogist
I am a photographer
I am a lover of music

These are written in the order of priority in my life, at least to a certain point.

I have noticed the past couple of years that my boundaries and priorities are changing. It is my understanding that this is a natural outgrowth of a woman who is coming face to face with the ageing processes.  She feels her body beginning to fall apart.  She is losing her physical strength and endurance.   She is coming to terms with mortality and the time limits of life come screeching to the consciousness.  In my case, the thought that I am actually pushing 60 years of age, is just mind bending.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d live to see the age that I am let alone anything beyond it.  And while I am grateful for every day that I live, I also know beyond a shadow of doubt that my days are now most certainly limited.

And so over the past year or so, my priorities have changed:

I am a lover of music
I am a photographer
I am a genealogist
I am a gardener
I am a student
I am a writer
I am a volunteer
I am a worker (no longer realistic)
I am a wife (Retired?!)
I am a mother (Retired?!)
I am a granddaughter (no longer realistic)
I am a daughter  (no longer realistic)

But these turn overs in priorities do not come painlessly.  They do send ripples out on what can often times be perceived by others and myself as a very calm sea of needs, wants, desires, —and demands from those all around me.    I hope their children never treat them the way they have treated me.  They are blind if they truly do not see, just how hurt I really am.

So, that Saturday morning, feeling like I had been run over by the world’s largest vehicle, I determined to have my very own last supper, and to go by the local ER and ask for my pacemaker to be turned off so that when I found the wall of snow that I was determined to find, I could plow into it, and die quickly.  I had no desire for my pacemaker to keep me alive while the 911 crew raced to save my life.  I was going to drive out of state in a quiet and determined manner.  I had a plan, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

This is how seriously I felt my failures.  That I just wasn’t worth the air that I breathed. There was nothing left to give.  I suddenly had no reason to live.  It was time to just go away, disappear—eventually, it would be taken for granted that I was dead.  That is how far up a mountain I was willing to go.

But, I realized that if I asked for my pacer to be turned off that I’d more than likely be put into a 72 hour hold.  I had no reason to let anyone force me to want to live.  So, I chose not to ask for my pacer to be turned off.

I began my long drive. And even in my dark mood some things about me are truly consistent.  “I always wanted to see if I could find that little town, maybe today is the day,” and so I took of the exit to Anluf.  I wound under I-5 and wondered at the scenery.  How in the world had I missed this road!  It is my curiosity that feeds me and keeps me utterly alive.  I have always, as long as I can remember, wanted to see it all, feel it all, hear it all, taste it all, know it all.  Suddenly, as I realized I was on part of the Applegate Trail, I began to form photos in my mind.  I also began conversations with my ‘partner’ about encouraging him to take this drive with this camera.  But, it was also a good bye conversation: Find yourself a good woman, enjoy and celebrate life, but tell her that I have dibs in heaven.  After a little drive I ended up in Venetta, and first thing I saw was an FCR office.  One of my kids works for that company, or at least did.  I thought perhaps she should transfer there; she’d be closer to the big city, and lots of fun things to do.  I got myself a chocolate, chocolate, chocolate blizzard.  I bought paper, envelopes and stamps.  I wrote two letters: one letter to the man that I thought was my beloved.  To him, I put down in words my conversation with his perception.  One letter to my youngest, letting her know that I loved her so much, and that I knew she was going to be ok.  That I was glad that she was growing up to be a really good person.  I ate my blizzard, I wrote, stuffed, stamped, and mailed the notes.

I headed towards the driveway and took notice of a sign that pointed to Eugene going one way, and to Florence going the other way.  I was very much away from my original plan of ‘visiting’ my great grandfather in Springfield, my great great grandparents in Eugene and the rest of the family in Silverton at Miller’s cemetery.  I’d already had a conversation with my father.  I’d let him know that I’d see him really soon.  It was and still is hard not to see it as a reunion, when the time really comes.  I turned away from my plan and towards Florence.  I decided that it would be ok to see one last sunset from the beach.  In my own quiet way, I was throwing myself a good bye party.

Where I made my mistake, and it’s one I will not make again.  Is that I called Clyde to just let him know that I was ok.  Except that I was not ok. During the conversation he let me know that my youngest was worried about me. I had not given my plan away, at least not blatantly, until now.  Without any forethought to it at all, I told him to tell her that my dad died when I was 21 years old, and my sister was 18 at the time.  The message was that we both survived it and are doing ok.  His response almost sounded unreal, “wait, what are you thinking? What are you going to do?”  I told him I loved him, I hung up, and I turned off the phone.  (My battery was getting very low, and I had no charger, and I did not want to be deterred from my goal)

Either way, from that moment on, no matter how badly I did not want to face the next day I knew that my kid now knew what I wanted to do, and I could not live with her “knowing” this.  Looking back on it, I really don’t why this bothered me so much.  But, it did.

You know, it’s two weeks later, and I still am rather flat feeling about the whole mess.  I do not feel like a successful person, I am fairly sure that soon I’ll be looking for my own space, and will begin to end my life—spend the last days, weeks, month, or years on my own terms.  No matter how much I love someone, there is nothing left in me that says, “I must change him.”  It is just not happening.  If you love someone, you love them as they are.  If one cannot accept his/her other as they are, then it’s just time to move on.  It boils down to, “to thine self be true…”

I got to Florence.  I found a battery charger.  I found a road along a jetty where I could watch the sunset.   I watched a bird literally surf the water.  I saw at least two seals.  I saw a small fish jump.  Florence has a great radio station. The sound is just high quality.  I wallowed in the music, I wallowed in the sea breeze, I absorbed the flight of the seagulls, I took photos with my eyes of the clouds that were breaking up the light from the golden setting sun.  The tide was raising, and I noted that the water was coming closer to me.

What do I do to make you love me?
What do I have to do to be heard?
What do I do when lighting strikes me?
Sorry seems to be the hardest word…..   ~Elton John

It was getting dark and it was time for me to get somewhere.  I thought maybe a room.  I could always kill myself tomorrow.

I turned my key, and the engine did not respond.
I was in Florence, but don’t ask me what road I am on!
I turned my key – now, who do I call for help?

I called Clyde.  I told him my predicament.
The long story short, he drove three hours to jump the car
and then he chaperoned me into town, offered me a room.
And that I took.

I absolutely tried to make the best of the situation.
I invited him into the shower where he let me know how attractive I am to him.
Where his soft and loving words turned almost instantly into another pancake-
“I can’t wait for you to lose weight, so that I can ”   -You know… do this, or do that.
We got clean with hotel provided toiletries.
He made love the best he could.  I knew he was tired.
We went to sleep on a huge kingsized bed.
I was not and had not been sleeping well.
Tears kept interrupting my sleep.  No matter how much I wanted to be with him the truth was in those moments, it was terribly painful to be there, knowing that separation was probably inevitable.  I ended moving to a chair in the room, to cry, trying not to wake him.

I tried to contain the tears, and to keep them quiet.  But the pain was really, really big.  And somewhere in there I turned to a little girl….  Who was just fighting to stay alive, who just did not want to be trampled by someone else’s anger…

No matter who they were and who they are…  I’m tired of dealing with all the anger.

He woke and came to me.  He tried to comfort me.  By this time, I could tell him how specifically I was feeling pressured, and I let it all out except the remark made in the shower…. I realized that I had again attached myself to people who were going away, I missed my friends who were not really gone.. yet.

While my children hurt me, and it had become quite obvious that I needed to stop the bleeding on an emotional level, the biggest hurt that I  am still not sure is recoverable is the hurt of lack of understanding, along with lack of love and support once he decided to show his anger.  It still really hurts. I can wake up tomorrow, and swallow it, and pretend it never happened.

Except that it did

I agreed to go home the next morning.  Every mile was a fight.  I had absolutely NO interest in going home.

My plan at the moment, is to go on, at least until my youngest is graduated.  Her plan is to live with her dad. He is closer to the college and jobs.  I think that is a smart way for her to go.  I cannot in good conscious discourage her from that choice.  She graduates in two weeks.

Nine school days left.

Then the wait for her to move.  Helping her move… and coming back to a house where I get to pretend everything is ok, until the next time he gets angry, and I can’t live with it.

I have reminded him that we need professional help.

He has not answered me.  I think that he disagrees.

With no kids to keep me tethered to a certain place,

It’s about guaranteed that the next time I leave,

It will be for good.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry in Motion

Tygh Valley, Oregon (Hwy. 197)

Tygh Valley, Oregon (Hwy. 197)

Wanted,
A Human
A Friend
Someone who dances
Who is free
Who will wait and see
Tomorrow, Today, whatever day
Seizes the moment,
Sings happily-
Cries when they need to,
Does it with honesty.
Remembers their friendships
Treasures them all,
Bereft of the moments
that need to be thrown to the atoll.
Human to touch,
Human to feel,
One that loves,
One or many.
Makes no excuses
Won’t live a lie
Harmful to no one
Loyal to goodness
Mirror thyself
Walk on the beach
Take a book
Answer to no one
Except yourself
Innocence gone
Nevermore Naive
An Equal to this Mess
A Friend to the end.

Copyright 2016, Peggy Ann Rowe, Duplication/Modification with permission only.
for what it’s worth: written on the 33rd anniversary of my father’s death.