The world can be so cruel sometimes.
Hold your horses, I am not feeling suicidal at all…at least not at this particular point in my life. But there was a time when I entertained the thought.
I was crushed yesterday when I came across the news of the death of a Kpop star, the frontman for the Korean boy band SHINee by the name of Kim Jonghyung. He was beautiful, talented, famous and appeared to have everything going well in his life…until he took his own life and left a very sorrowful letter behind explaining why he felt he had to take his dear life. For me this was the second death of a celebrity in 2017 that broke my heart to the core, the first being that of Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington.
Perhaps what upset me more than the news of their demise was the condemnation by a certain population of the world that felt these people were cowards to take their own lives. In his suicide note to his closest pal Jonghyun lamented that despite being famous he felt alone. The words in his letter that tore at me were:
I am damaged from the inside. The depression that has been slowly eating away at me has completely swallowed me, and I couldn’t win over it.
I hated myself
I was alone…. I suffered and I worried. I never learned how to turn my pain into happiness….
Pain is just pain.
They told me not to be like that.
Why? I can’t even end things the way I want?
They told me to figure out why I was hurting….
It’s amazing how much I’m hurting. People who are hurting more live well. People weaker than me live well. I guess not. Out of everyone alive, there’s no one hurting more than I am and there’s no one weaker than I am.
But they said I should live.
Those are very painful words written at a time when someone felt their most weakest. It’s a time many of us have not faced and probably never will…and I hope you dont. But guess What, it’s a time that SOME people have gone through, are going through…and will go through in future.
It’s so easy to say that people that commit suicide are selfish, that they’re weak and so on and so forth and maybe some of them really are but have we ever tried to see things from their point of view? Most of the people that have battled suicidal thoughts suffer from some form of mental illness, that literally means that there’s a battle going on in their mind that they’re failing to decipher, miserably so. It can happen to anyone, even the best of us.
It almost happened to me.
I am the type of person that would confidently and most arrogantly tell my friends that “am too sexy to kill myself ” whenever we talked about people committing suicide and my friends would belief me. I believed myself too! But then the most painful thing happened to me and suddenly, I couldn’t bring myself to chant my famous words.
Like Jonghyun I felt alone.
I had been betrayed by the one person I trusted the most, the very orbit of my life. See, where everyone else had a god of some sort, I had my husband to worship. He was incorrectly so the reason for my breathing, the source of my happiness. There was no me without him. I told him those words frequently and I meant them…until they came alive and I had to bite them, word by word.
Now imagine someone with a mindset like me suddenly discovering that that perfect world I had created for myself was not a real representation of my life? That my very source of happiness was actually the source of the most excruciating pain I will ever feel? Imagine yourself in my shoes, with such a mindset and then imagine the following events am about to share happening to you:
I thought long and hard about sharing this part of my life but now I want people to have a glimpse into the mind of someone that once contemplated taking her own life. Am way over my divorce now but am not yet done learning and teaching from it.
Both my parents are late so I was raised by the eldest in the family, my brother who still happens to be my legal guardian. He was the first person I called when my world came tumbling down and the words I said to him were, “Am hurting, I can’t take this pain anymore. Get me a divorce lawyer.” After giving him a brief of what was happening his reply came in the form of, “it’ll be alright. Just calm down and don’t make any rush decisions right now. I will travel to come and see you soon.”
And travel he did. He arrived at my former home in the company of his lovely wife and with them was a Bible. As we talked it became clear to me that no one was interested in my pain. But they were very interested in fixing my broken marriage. In fact, my pain they said they understood but the issue was that we do right by God who hates divorce. My marriage needed fixing and that was what we were going to work on. A lot of prayer and dedication. It would all be just fine.
You see, my brother truly believed that he was looking out for me. And I appreciated that he had travelled miles just to be by my side and yet…yet I kept feeling so alone. As far as I was concerned, no one was by my side. No one addressed these complex feelings going on inside me and why the very thought of breathing felt so suffocating. I just needed to forgive my wayward unrepetentant husband and everything was going to be okay.
But I was not okay.
And then came my conversations with my mother in law. This was a woman I treated like my own mother. But of course she never felt like my mother as she constantly and most repeatedly kept me at arms length. Unlike other mothers in-law out there, I was lucky that she never once mistreated me. But that didn’t mean she treated me like her daughter either. And this became clear when I called her to lament about her son’s extra marital curricula activities.
She said, “am so sorry that this is happening…how can he do this? I will send someone tomorrow to deal with this situation.”
I believed her. I trusted her. She was the only mother figure I could rely on…until i saw the family representative she sent to come help me fix my marital issues: a man with his fare share of women and children outside his marital home coming into my home to come and tell me that “it happens, it’s very normal for a man to live like this.” I cannot tell you how many times I kept hearing those words.
Later that evening my dear mother in law calls and nonchalantly asks me, “mwapola manje?” Roughly translates to ” feeling better now?” Somehow, all my problems were supposed to disappear just like that!
I felt so guilty and so worthless for feeling so much pain when everyone else seemed to be taking things so lightly.
I was a woman that had just discovered certain things about her spouse that no woman should ever have to discover…or let alone witness.
No one questioned his lifestyle or talked about getting him help which he needed desperately. They were mostly concerned about fixing me who appeared to be overreacting. If they convinced me to stay, then my problems would be over. Somehow, it was very important for all these people that I stay. It was the only thing that made sense.
But for me it wasnt.
My pain. Dear God my pain was unbereable.
It was as if I was being beaten from left, right and center. It felt like the whole world was against me. My older sister was thousands of miles away in another continent and yet she was the only one I felt closest to. But every time I looked around me, she wasn’t there. I was still alone. My baby sister was there but she was just a child. How could I burden her with such heavy sorrow?
Everyone that knew about my issues kept praying for my marriage to work out. But they didn’t see me at all. Apart from being Mrs So-so, the human being Anisha didn’t exist.
I wanted someone to teach me how to feel less hurt. I wanted a thick long hug – someone to tell me it’s okay to hurt like this. I wanted someone to help me make sense of what I was feeling because no one seemed to understand just why I was hurting so badly.
They kept telling me, “it happens. With time you will get over it.”
But they didn’t show me how to get over it.
I had to deal with an unrepetentant spouse acting arrogant and pompous around me. I remember how he would tell me, “I don’t understand why you’re still mad.” It had only been a week since the discoveries but somehow I was supposed to have sobered up from the pain.
And it hurt even more.
When the one person who’s supposed to protect you ends up being the inflicter of pain, it hurts a thousand times more.
“The problem with you is that you want things to be better soon.” He would say. “It takes time! And I also need time to adjust to being the kind of man you need me to be.”
Perhaps what hurt even more for me was the realization that I could not share the sordid details of what was really going on with anyone. Not even his relatives. Not the pastors. Not even his friends. More than it would embarrass him and break many more relationships, I would suffer the most. Because I was his wife.
The church would tell me to “keep loving him and showing him the honour he deserves as my husband and that would win his heart over…maybe move him to start behaving like a good boy.”
And he also expected that from me. So much so that every time I would get emotional, his reaction would be, “how are you supposed to win my heart over when you keep upsetting me like this!?”
I was the one who was hurt and yet I was expected to attend to him like a king. I cooked, I cleaned the house, ran him a bath, got down on my knees to serve him meals, washed his underwear (hand wash) even when I knew where they had been. Dear God what didn’t I do?
Do you have any idea what if feels like to literally serve someone like a king when all you want to do it kill them?
I mean, I had to bloody kneel down before him every time I was serving him a meal, hold a bowl of water before him to wash his hands so that he could chew a meal I had spent 4 hours cooking!
I had to welcome him home with a smile on my face, get his bag like a good-ol African wife, run a bath for him (even when there was a perfectly functioning bathtab where he could service himself).
And I also had to sleep with him.
*Shaking my head*
I had to stifle my pain because the world told me that if I projected, that if I let my emotions out, I might lose him.
And so I slaved away at his mercy.
I had to smile when all I wanted to do was cry. I had to take care of his relatives that came through our home as if everything was okay. I was taught that no one needs to see my pain. I was an Oscar winning actress in my role and I played to the beat of the world.
With every service I rendered to him while my heart bled inside, I lost grip of the will to continue living. If I could not even show him how much he had hurt me, then what was the point of crying even?
How was I supposed to spend the rest of my life resenting another human being like this? Gosh i hated the sight of him. How he chewed, How he laughed. Even his breathing suffocated me! I just wanted to end it all. To stop the pain.
I would have done anything to make the pain go away. Anything. Even taking my own life.
Because it hurt that much.
To everyone it appeared that what I was going through was just one of those things. I mean, it’s just love. We all get hurt every now and then. What’s the big deal? Maybe that’s the problem. If truly it’s just one of those things, why was I hurting so much? I wanted to understand that and when I couldn’t, it made me feel even worse. I thought I was pathetic. I thought I was a weakling. I thought I was enough. I felt like a failure.
I felt abandoned by those I expected to walk me through the pain. They knew me as this strong woman so of course I was dealing with things perfectly. I would be fine in no time! I felt rejected by my husband who was supposed to love and cherish me but to him keeping his pride felt more important than getting on his knees and begging me for forgiveness…promising me that he would fix things and become a better man…assuring me that it would all work out. More than anybody else, I needed him to say those words to me even if he didn’t mean them. But those words never came.
They never came.
Big question right now is: how come am still alive?
There was no one to teach me how to be strong. They all thought I was already strong. They all thought they were there for me but truly they were there for themselves than they were for me. The adults around me, the church, and just everyone who thought was there…i didn’t see them.
They too didn’t see me. But they saw my problem.
I had to pay someone to finally feel someone on my side. And it took me first buying some meds and failing to consume them…then grabbing a knife and standing beside my husband in the middle of the night….drinking myself into oblivion….researching how to easily kill your spouse without shedding much blood more than five times on Google…and then starring at my husband with evil thoughts playing in my head while he slept soundly next to me as if he had no care in the world.
I mean, how could he sleep like that when I couldn’t even get myself to doze??
No amount of Bible verses seemed to take the pain away. It took a lot of doing to find my sanity. My church of course was a great help through the Alpha course but only because for the first time, I was addressing religion from a personal perspective. It was the first time I was seeing God as someone that mattered to me and in a world where I felt completely alone, putting my trust in someone I had not seen was not so surprising because He was making promises to me and giving me assurances that nobody had ever made!
So maybe it’s true what they say about religion, that it’s an escape mechanism for the weak who can’t deal with their real life issues. Either way for me it worked perfectly fine. It was the only reason I suddenly felt worthy and wanted to live…not just for anyone. For myself.
It was because I escaped there that I finally got the courage to see a therapist.
But here’s the thing, I didn’t just end up at that church Alpha course by accident. I had in my life something that most people that have gone through depression don’t have; a very stubborn friend.
Instead of just letting me be and assuming everything was Okay, she took a step and signed me up for something she felt would help me deal with what I was going through. I might have appeared okay but somehow my friend reached out and did more than just say some comforting words to me. She got me help and she made sure I committed to it all the way.
I am not trying to convince anyone that suicide should be accepted. I agree, it should be condemned, the act should be condemned but not the person behind it because we don’t know just what forces they were fighting on their own…in their minds. It’s easy for us to say we were there for them, that we held their hands and prayed for them…that they didn’t look depressed…that they were just weak….
But did we actually do anything to help?
Sometimes it’s the very people sent to help that do more harm. In my case it was my brother who thought he was showing me love in the most brotherly way possible but he never once addressed my pain. It was the church pastor who read a few scriptures and then danced in excitement every now and then whenever he imagined the magnitude of the sins presented before him. It was the married women around me that kept telling me I was no different from them that had stuck by their wayward husbands. It was the men that kept telling me that all men are the same in that regard. It was society that was so judgemental towards divorced women. It was all these people and more.
All these people didn’t see my pain. All they saw was a common problem they needed to fix which was saving my marriage.
And we do this to the people we love. Instead of seeing them we only see the problem they’re struggling with. And sometimes we don’t see anything at all.
Just because we handled the same problems a certain way we assume everyone else ought to feel and act the same way. We don’t see their minds. We don’t see what demons they’re battling.
Instead we see what we want to see.
And then judge them when the inevitable happens.
For once, try to walk a mile in another’s shoes and if you can’t then please, by all means keep your thoughts to yourself.
Not everything that happens in the world makes sense. Not everyone is able to make sense of certain things happening to them.
You can be surrounded by billions of people and still feel alone. You might think you’re helping but only do more harm.
You might think you’re better than those that have taken their own lives because somehow you managed to live through it.
But truly, how better are you if you can’t encourage others in a time of sorrow, instead you condemn?
Because I have been there before, I know for a fact that taking ones own life isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, there is nothing easy about it!
Oh my gosh this is the longest post ever! My fingers are even hurting because am typing on my phone.
My final message is: for those hurting, truly, suicide is never the answer. Yes it’s normal sometimes to feel like it would be easier to just end it all, but we should learn to give ourselves second, third or more chances to do things better, to feel better, to heal. It might feel like you are alone but really, are You? I have found that the best people to keep us company sometimes are strangers…these come in the form of therapists for some, others a stranger on the train.
But wouldn’t it be so much better is those around us paid a little more attention to our pain? If they can’t see it on their own, how about just breaking down in front of them and telling our thoughts to them. It might look and feel ridiculous but guess What, if it can save your life, why not?
If there’s something I learnt from my experience, it is that I have to love myself more before I can love or expect love from other people.
Now the questions that remain are; how can you turn your pain into happiness and how can you love yourself more?
– There is a way, there’s always a way!