A Lesson In Hope

I was only fifteen when I tried to kill myself.  It happened nineteen years ago today.

Both of my sisters left home. One left a note behind and didn’t look back. The other moved in with a different family just a few houses away. I stayed. I had a medical condition I couldn’t get my family to face and I hid from the rest of the world. I had just been diagnosed that September. The following month, a boy who went to my school and lived up the street died by suicide the same day we received our report cards. He had gotten a B. Two other students attempted suicide. Then, I became attempt number three.

We had just celebrated Thanksgiving. A couple of days later, my parents went to granny’s house for turkey leftovers, but I stayed home that night. Maybe it should’ve been a sign that I planned it. But the truth is, I was so ambivalent in my attempt I was blinded. While the rest of the world could see what was on the surface, if you asked me, I was just trying to get rid of my migraine.

Years later, a college essay forced me to reflect on that day. I stayed in denial about a lot of things. I stood by that migraine, which I did have… and shifted the focus to home. I lived in a pretty abusive household. At the end of the essay, I needed to choose what side of the fence I was on when it came to legalizing physician-assisted suicide. I couldn’t choose one. So, I took a break from college to decide.

Ambivalence, once again, crept into my life. Attempting suicide during my youth, amid familial religiosity, made me a black sheep; sinful, troubled, tormented… outcast. I fought against that with lies.

“I didn’t try to kill myself! I had a migraine.”

When suicide isn’t talked about in the community or the home, it’s easy to feel like we have to hide those things. So, at age thirty-one, I repeated the past and my self-destructive uncertainty with a suicide prevention campaign on Facebook. Ambivalence has always been tricky with me, and it’s hard to detect.

Like when my sister told me, in the middle of my campaign, she was “broken but not suicidal.” I think she really believed that. Or wanted to. I know I did. I should’ve known better. Maybe I would’ve saved her if I had known what to look for and was listening with my heart. But I didn’t know how. I didn’t know anything about suicide; the risks, the warning signs, they were lost on me. Until now.

While juggling suicidal thoughts, grief, and denial… I educated myself. But the one thing I kept running from is why feeling suicidal is a daily fight for me. I finally know the answer. When I tried to kill myself as a teen, it wasn’t because my sisters were gone or because I lived in an abusive home. And it wasn’t depressive disorder like the inpatient doctors at the youth facility tried to throw at me. It was because I couldn’t leave like my sisters did. I couldn’t fight for my life on my own. I couldn’t escape. Because the biggest thief of my hope was looking in the mirror, seeing the diagnosis I was facing, and knowing there was a solution, there was a way to address it—for the rest of the world. Not for me. My father’s insurance wouldn’t cover the treatment.

Some say I survived, but I didn’t. The following summer, I deleted me. Although, I couldn’t have told you back then. I wouldn’t have been able to explain why I wrote a new first name on every paper at school.. or how I went from a bully to one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet overnight. But I know now that it was the onset of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

I kept myself hidden, protected, for as long as I could. I ran from the reason for my suicide attempt as long as I could, until I had my daughter. Until my lack of fighting for myself began to impact more people than just me. Then, I rose from the ashes to face the demons still burning inside… and I learned the hardest lesson of my life: Hope is temporary if solutions are out of reach.

I don’t know if you know how it feels for the cure for your pain to sit just out of reach. But I can tell you how to survive. Fight. Even when there is no hope.

It’s okay to fight dirty when you’re fighting for life.


If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741 to chat with the Crisis Text Line. 

Take Your ‘#MeToo’ and Shove It

The day I was raped was the first time I wore a jean skirt. OMG, I was so excited. Was that the case with you too?

It was up against my green Firebird, just after eight o’clock. It was beginning to get dark. He pushed me against the car, whispered in my ear, and looked behind him to make sure he had an audience. I swear I saw my head go through the window. Was that the case with you too?

And when he was done, I’m not sure how I got home. But I remember his smile. I said “I’m okay” for two days. I tried to scrub him off my skin in scolding hot showers. Was that the case with you too?

For nine years, I couldn’t even say the word “rape.” He took away every success I would ever achieve. He destroyed me. He still owns my legs! Is. that. the. case. with. you. too?!

I am ashamed. I am enraged, watching the world minimize my rape as if it is just a number; as if I am just another name on a page. As if every rape is exactly the same.

Do you think the numbers aren’t out there? Do you think men and women don’t know rape is almost like a handshake these days? Here we are posting #MeToo because it’s the next viral tag stamped on our pain. And the alleged victims who indirectly inspired this tag, can you tell me their names? Don’t you dare Google! Are you listening?

Can you say “Me too?” Am I making you angry? What does my rapist look like? Did you forget?! Did you forget how it felt when you told your best friend, mother, or sister? Maybe you wrote a poem or a blog and shared it online, did you forget?

Did you forget how it felt when all you were trying to do is find your way back to yourself and when you needed support, when you needed to be heard, the world shouted, “Me too!” And shared every detail of their rapes with you as if somehow that pain would keep your head above water? Did you forget?

Because I still have nights I can’t close my eyes and I would risk my own life to avoid seeing his face in my dreams. I have days I can’t take the weight of every way I’ve been violated. I violate myself just to cover the scars! And you don’t get to say, “Me too.” You don’t get to make me feel reduced…

Unless you can name where they are.

When topics like this start trending on social media, it can be overwhelming for survivors. If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault and you are struggling, please reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE).

Your rape did not happen to the rest of the world. It happened to you.

Here’s What A Tone-Deaf Christian Taught Me

I love to hear people sing. I love to hear voices blended together, no matter how perfect or imperfect they are.

I grew up singing in church. Many members of my family serve as ministers in the community. My grandmother’s late husband was one of them. We were just getting to know him when we visited his small church in Denison Texas.

I was barely a teenager when I realized the power behind a broken, tone-deaf voice, not afraid to stand in front of a crowd and belt it. The recognition came from another person, but I don’t know her name.

She was skinny and frail with short red hair and probably in her late 40s. She definitely wasn’t dressed for church the way my family would’ve expected. We wore dresses in the church as a sign of respect. She was dressed in rugged jeans and a T-shirt.

Before his sermon, Reverend Logan Harper asked the congregation to share their testimonies. He asked people to raise their hands and speak. I sat there, like any regular kid, bored to death and counting down the minutes until lunchtime offered religious relief.

The crowd was small and the church was pretty quiet. She was two rows in front of me. I saw her raise her hand once and put it down. After someone else spoke, she raised it back up. The pastor called on her, and she stood.

She didn’t look around like most people did. She held her head down and didn’t say much. After a few seconds of silence, she started to sing…

All to Jesus I surrender.
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever learn to trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

She definitely wasn’t a singer at all. And back then, I wasn’t a very good Christian. I knew how to walk with the poor and broken a lot better than I knew how to walk with Jesus. But her testimony captured my heart. It touched me.

Looking back now, I understand that emotional rising was because I was looking at the whole picture. I was looking at all of the things I just described. I wasn’t listening to the imperfection in her voice. I was listening to the story she wrote out with her life. I saw her that day. I’m not sure many people can say the same.

She left a mark on my soul and it wasn’t because of the Holy Spirit. It was because she sang. The truth is, if she had just stood up and spoken, I wouldn’t have listened. Eventually, every “praise God” sounds the same. Not that day. That day, I learned love has a language all of its own, mixed with blood and sweat and tears.

As the congregation sing with her, I swear, my age advanced beyond my years. Because it wasn’t about Jesus. It was about survival and acceptance. It was the way she held herself, the way she doubted herself… but she was brave enough to stand up anyway. She was on a mission to inspire someone else that day. She reached out for a purpose.

I never got to tell her she attained it. And I never really got to say thanks. But I think of her often. Usually, in the middle of sinners and beer and midnight karaoke that I have to sleep off the next day. And I’m okay with that.

Because she reminds me that rags might be torn, loads might be heavy, love might be lost, mistakes might be made, but we all deserve grace.


In loving memory of Reverend Logan Harper.