(Originally posted 1- Sep-2017)
“I want to die, and God won’t let me.”
Those were the first words I was able to send across Instant Messenger after a stupid attempt to decongest myself to death.
All we had were common, over-the-counter drugs in the house. Cold, cough, allergy, inflammation — I dumped pills from a half-dozen different bottles into my hand and swallowed them.
I have trouble swallowing one little pill to this day.
Nothing happened. I mean, I was nauseated, dizzy, out of it — but that’s not much different than feeling suicidal anyway.
I sat at the kitchen table, and stared.
It was September 2000, and I was home alone. I don’t remember why my children were gone, or where my husband was. I think we’d been fighting. I think we’d all been at home, and he took off with the kids to his mother’s house, where he liked to take them when we were going to really get into it, and he needed to make sure he had total control of the situation.
But I do remember what the trigger was — why it was so important that I die that day.
She’d told me — his mother, my mother-in-law — that I was abusing my children and that I just didn’t remember doing it.
I believed her.
Don’t ask why — couldn’t tell you to this day why I believed her.
But my husband’s mother told me that I was physically abusing my child, screaming and hitting and bruising, and simply telling myself it wasn’t happening.
It wasn’t happening.
It wasn’t true.
But for whatever reasons, she and my husband could so easily make me question my own sanity. There had been a number of other events recently, where they both swore I’d said or done something and I had NO recollection of it happening. They agreed on the details, it was two against one — it must be true.
I believed I was a danger to my own children, and for that reason, I had to die. To protect them. From me.
So I took the pills. I don’t remember how many. A dozen? Two dozen? I honestly don’t think that I knew at the time that they wouldn’t kill me. I wanted to die.
When he returned home, there I was, sitting at the table, quiet, just staring.
What’s wrong? Oh, I just took a bunch of pills.
He didn’t believe me.
He didn’t believe me.
He dumped another pile of pills in front of me.
My Irish flared. From defeated to defiant, I dropped a handful in my mouth and swallowed.
Oh, he believed me then.
The next hours are a blur. He called 911, he swept the remaining pills and bottles into a bag. The hospital first, and repeating what I’d taken, and why. Yeah, I was going to feel awful for a while, but I wasn’t going to die. The mental health evaluation next. Inpatient treatment? Didn’t care. Whatever. I was admitted to the “stress unit” of a non-local hospital, the nearest one with a bed. Who did I need to call? No one, really. The only family I’d had much to do with anymore, seven years into this marriage, was right there ready to order me to be committed if I didn’t agree to treatment myself.
It would be better for me if I went voluntarily, the hospital staff said.
I hadn’t been betrayed yet, though. I learned of the betrayal months after I left the hospital.
The husband that was so very concerned about me — while I was hours from home, in group therapy with young people with bandaged wrists or red marks on their necks — was on the phone with a men’s rights attorney, trying to figure out how to use this “incident” to gain full custody of our young children.
That was his priority. Not my mental health after a suicide attempt, not my recovery, but how to use it against me.
In all honesty, his mother’s priority. A lot came out during the divorce proceedings months later. Things are still coming out.
He threatened that he’d learned while I was in the hospital that he could use my suicide attempt to get full custody of our children if I left. I’d only have supervised visits, if that.
At the time I thought it was an empty threat — I’d not yet gotten the September phone records. I’d never heard of such a thing, and I really didn’t think he’d already been on the phone with a divorce attorney in September.
Things were over long before my hospitalization, to be certain, but it was those few days away from the gaslighting that helped me realize two things:
- I wasn’t crazy. (Not that kind of crazy.)
- I had to leave. Soon.
October and November 2000 were pretty blurry. It wasn’t easy squirreling away a few belongings and important files at a relative’s house without it being noticed. But in December — after he disappeared again with the kids and before he returned home for what was bound to be another memorable “incident” — I got out. For the last time.
One call, and my rescue began.