May 5, 2012;
•A beautiful spring day that promised to make even the most mundane tasks enjoyable.
•The day my husband of 17 years told me he no longer wanted to be married to me.
•The day when the quiet desperation in my head amplified itself to a dull, yet powerful roar.
•The day I chose to die.
Honestly, I don’t believe I thought much about what I was going to do to end my life that day. I acted as if a robot had invaded my body; my movements mechanical, my thought process stilted and feeling as if it was coming from outside not within.
I walked to my computer and sat down. I searched on hotels and found a lovely one that was close by. Familiar. A place where we had often gone together as a couple. I made a reservation for a room and spa treatment. I walked upstairs grabbed a bag and without much thought put in a few items I thought I would need.
I put my swimsuit in there thinking I would have a short soak in the hot tub before my massage. I grabbed all of the medication that I had unknowingly hoarded over this last year and stuffed it in my bag. Thanks to the cancer, there was quite a bit. I grabbed my comfy PJ bottoms and oversized top and shoved them on top of the pills, not trying to hide them necessarily, just didn’t want to deal with any questions.
Not that anyone would ask.
Once my bag was packed I threw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with slip on shoes. I grabbed the bag and my purse while reaching down to give tiny baby, my sweet furry girl of nine years, a love and a cuddle. I grabbed my keys and as I reached for the door handle I paused. I took one last look around my home. Our home.
I stopped at QFC and purchased paper, pen, envelopes along with a bottle of wine. I parked my car, checked into the hotel, confirming my spa appointment, and signed my name for what I thought would be the last time.
Why a spa appointment you ask… why not?
Once in my hotel room I removed the writing materials from the bag. I sat down in the stiff wing-back chair that was meant to lend comfort to the weary but appropriately uncomfortable in this moment. I struggled to get into a position that would lend itself to inspiration. I needed to write to my children and my family. I needed to let them know I was aware of how my choice would affect them.
And then I wrote…
First to him…
Then my oldest… then her husband
And my youngest… and then her husband
My Sisters… all three of them
I don’t recall the content of those letters with the exception of one thing; permission. I gave everyone permission to be angry with me for choosing this way out. I wrote to each and every one of them saying that I loved them but I just didn’t love myself enough to overcome the pain, loneliness and despair. I no longer had the strength to bear the unbearable.
I wrote those letters from my head not my heart. I felt nothing as I placed them one by one into an envelope and wrote each name on the front.
Why did I write the letters?
Because I didn’t want them to experience the same rejection I felt when my mother died and left me with nothing but questions and doubts. It was an ironic choice given I was doing the same thing to them as was done to me.
I did my best not to think about them as individuals.
As my children.
As adults being left with the legacy of suicide.
Instead I focused on nothing. I soaked in the hot tub, I had a massage. I came back to the room. I made three phone calls. In each call I simply said, “I want you to know I love you.”
Then I started taking pills.
I had plenty of pills with me; morphine, clonazepam, flexeril, etc. I felt as if I had enough to get the job done. I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and used that to wash down 6-8 semi-filled bottles of pills. As I swallowed these little envoys of death I struggled to avoid the feelings that were slowly creating cracks in the armor of denial I had encased myself in. I did not want to feel this pain. I did not want to acknowledge that the voices were right; I was worthless.
As I was sitting on the bed feeling a bit woozy, sleepy, light headed whatever you would want to call it, I decided that I wanted to talk to someone.
So I called the crisis line.
It was busy.
So I called the other number for the crisis line.
It was busy as well.
I thought, “Well I guess this is the universe’s way of telling me now is the time.”
However, there was some part of me that was still trying to live and it was that part that allowed me to see the tiny phone number printed on one of my prescription bottles. Somewhere in my body was the knowledge that if I tried just one more time there would be someone else on the other end.
So I did.
And there was.
The last thing I remember was the voice on the other line asking me repeatedly in an urgent tone, “Natalie do you want help? Natalie do you want help? Natalie. Do. You. Want. Help?
My answer was, “Yes.”
Three days later I woke up out of a deep coma feeling grateful for that small part of myself that had believed in me. That piece that wanted to live.
I’ve been told by the doctors and the paramedics that I have since met and thanked for saving my life, that I was lucky. If I had waited five more minutes I would be dead. I’ve been told that I’m lucky not to have brain damage due to all of the medications I ingested. Of course I have brain damage I joke. But for some reason they don’t find this funny. Too soon?
This Sunday, May 5th, will mark one year since I tried to take my own life. I’m not sure what my feelings will be on Sunday, however I am sure what my feelings are now and that his gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude.
I am mentally and emotionally stronger than I have ever been. I feel healthy and well. I am excited every day about my life and being here to live it. I am open to all possibilities and in that openness I have found true peace and joy for the first time in my life.
Just to be clear, I want you to know that my decision to overdose and take my own life had less to do with the end of my marriage and everything to do with how I felt about myself and my place in this world.
Instead of thinking of May 5th being the one year anniversary of the day I almost died. I am choosing to believe it is the one year anniversary of the day I chose to live.