It’s a long one, but this is on my heart to share in light of the tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain.
One of my greatest medals in life may seem shameful to others.
But I wear it with pride.
I earned it from the season I was struggling with suicide, tormented by all it’s lies, and didn’t give in.
I know joy.
But I know what it means to be desperate even more.
I know what it’s like to scream with all your might and yet not a sound comes out. No one can hear you.
If you have never heard me speak or visited my About Me page, you may not know there was a time in my life when I wanted to end it all.
A victim of date rape. Ridiculed by the courts. Unable to go home. Stalked. Terrified.
I lived out of my car for months and heard the invitation of suicide every day.
The lies said;
“You’d make everyone’s life easier if you weren’t here.
You have nothing to live for.
No one will really understand how much you’re hurting unless you end it all. Then they will know. Then they will regret not doing more.
You’re damaged goods.
Pain is your past, pain is your present, and pain is your future.
Why fight so hard? You’ve been through so much. You’ve done enough.
You deserve the break. You can only take so much pain.
Why not end it all?”
These lies and more shadowed me every day and through every long night.
The biggest hurdle with emotional trauma…
The biggest hurdle with emotional trauma and pain is that no one can see it.
It’s like we’ve been in a life threatening car accident on an emotional level.
But no one comes running.
No one calls the ambulance.
Unacknowledged pain isolates us.
Shame taunts us with feelings of failure.
I almost lost the battle to suicide twenty-five years ago.
I almost believed my life was worthless.
And in one last, desperate act to survive, to scream and be heard, i checked myself into a locked psychiatric ward.
You see, suicide had become such a fierce, mental bully, i didn’t believe i could be trusted to be alone anymore. I have never felt so utterly shattered in my life.
But the moment we acknowledge we can’t do this life on our own. Actually acknowledge we need help.
That is when life begins.
One of the hardest parts of our healing process is that we are the only ones who can ask for help.
We’re the only ones who know how much we’re silently hurting, struggling with suicide.
We’re the only ones that can call the suicide hotline, reach out to a friend, pastor or counselor.
And even willingly admit ourselves into a psych ward because we know, as shameful as struggling with suicide feels, we cannot be trusted to be alone because the option of suicide is too real.
Struggling with suicide became even fierce once my friend killed himself.
I had been a patient in the psychiatric ward for a month. Every day had brought deeper healing. My release papers were being drawn up. And then my counselor asked to speak with me.
There had been so much trauma and pain to work through in that psych ward. But when my counselor told me my closest friend had committed suicide, I literally thought I was having a heart attack. My heart physically hurt. I grabbed it, crumbled to the floor and began wailing. The fight to go on had just become a thousand times more difficult.
Now the voices of suicide shifted…
“If he didn’t hang in there, why do you have to?
See, it’s not that big of a deal.
He’s not hurting anymore. You can be free of all this pain.”
But there was another side.
I experienced the trauma of losing someone to suicide. How it turns your life and heart upside down. The first months are like a blur. Everything in you feels numb. For several months after, you think you see the person in the crowd. You follow a stranger into a mall. You’re sure that it must be them because you still can’t believe they’re gone.
But can i tell you one of the most powerful truths I’ve learned?
The most courageous and difficult thing you’ll ever do is face your pain, embrace it, and lead it to healing.
But it always, always starts with us.
The single step that only we can take.
If you’re hurting,
Be the one that tells someone how much you’re hurting.
Be the one that validates your pain by asking for help.
You deserve a champion in your life. Be the champion for yourself, your heart, on this real battlefield of life and death.
You are not alone.
No matter what the voices are telling you, you are not alone.
God will meet you. He is for you, not against you.
Myself and other warriors are fighting for you in prayer and choosing to never accept shame again.
We’re cheering you on.
We wear our battle scars with pride.
Our heart is always turned upward in thanks for our Medal of Life because we know how hard we fought.
There were countless times when the battle seemed impossible.
But we still risked believing the lies weren’t real.
Shame was never truth.
And hope was and is still alive.
The kind of awards dinner I want to host someday…
Every year, I see award dinners and events on television.
One day I’d like to host an award dinner for all of us who have faced our demons and lived to tell of life on the other side.
What a powerful gathering it will be.
What stories we will share.
If you’re in a desperate place, I want you to be at that award night someday.
There is a seat at the table with your name on it.
My deepest condolences and prayers to the families of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. The wake of pain left behind is impossible to put into words.
*A special thank you to @brookeshaden, phenomenal artist, Sony Artisan sister and dear friend, for capturing the side of me that fights like a warrior. Thank you for never letting fear stop you from creating work that is real, true, often dark, yet always hopeful.
In my first book, Beauty Restored, I write about my journey to restoration from the rape, struggling with suicide and finding my self-worth.
I’m finishing up the 25 year Anniversary Edition of this book. It’s going to be available soon. If you’d like to be notified of it’s release or know someone who needs it, sign up for my newsletter (you’ll get the Confidence Roadmap too). Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will make sure you know when it comes out.
What a powerful story. I love the idea of the awards dinner. Please sign me up when it comes to fruition. I often hide my struggles and don’t always ask for help. I feel so alone. Your beautiful and bright spirit always lifts me up. I’m truly blessed to have you in my life even if it’s only once in a while.
Thank you for sharing. What a gift you are to us. Brian and i treasure every moment we get to experience with you. You’re never alone. We’re always here just an email or call away. Love you girl.
I want to be notified when you add a blog post so I can follow everything you are doing to empower women!
Thank you so much Sarah! That means the world! I’ve been working to empower women for over twenty years. It is my life’s work through photography, writing and speaking. Definitely follow me on Instagram. I usually post there when I have a new blog post up. My handle is @merakoh.
Much, much love!