*** TRIGGER WARNING. GRAPHIC MENTIONS OF SUICIDE AND SUICIDE ATTEMPTS ***
Eric Charles Parra.
March 9, 1994
It’s been 19 years and I still tear up when I say his name. I still remember every single detail about the day I found out he was gone. I remember what I was wearing the day before, when I hugged him before I left school. Then he went home, went into his closet and took his life.
I had only known the pain of death once before. It was my great grandmother and she was older. This was different. He was 13, I was 12. He took his own life, in his closet, his brother found him and tried to save him but couldn’t. I tried to grieve but couldn’t. I still struggle. Not just with his death but with my own struggles with thoughts and attempts at taking my own life.
The first time I tried to kill myself was a year later. I was 13, in 8th grade and I lied on my bedroom floor and swallowed an entire bottle of anti-depressants that I was given “to help me concentrate” I awoke in a pool of my own vomit that in the night I had apparently tried to clean up myself. My mom came in to make sure I was awake, saw the vomit and said “Oh it looks like you got sick last night”
I don’t know where the pill bottle went.
I went to school that day and slept through every single class. No one said anything. No teacher noticed, or called my parents to ask why I literally slept through school AT school.
I was not noticed. It wasn’t the first time and it would not be the last.
When hope is devoid everywhere you look there doesn’t seem to be anything to live for. There wasn’t anything to live for, for the next 12 years.
A bitter battle was brewing in my soul. Trauma, neglect and wounding without any proper channel to heal, grieve and grow out of that kind of pain left me feeling like I had one choice.
I don’t know if I really wanted to die. I wonder if I just wanted a way out, or someone to see how much pain I was in and NOTICE.
Notice me. My heart, my pain and the struggles. To see beyond the external and go into it with me.
See that everything hurt and I could not do it anymore. Medications and hospitals became the solution though and it only seemed to add to the problem. Labels and diagnoses became the fix it and the “well this is who you are now so if you do THIS thing or that thing you will get better”
But better meant nothing to me; hope was still devoid.
Crystal Meth and Crack I am sure did not help the feelings in my gut that there was no way out, that I could not see past tomorrow and that the rest of my life was going to be spent taking 14 different medications a day and going to the mental health center.
*I do have a lot of frustration towards the mental health system that I was thrown in as a 13 year old. A lot of that came from my family wanting a “quick fix” for these symptoms they saw. Now that I am in the place I am in I have realized that the “symptoms” I was experiencing were trauma reactions and absolutely appropriate for what was going on in my family system. Where my struggle lies is those symptoms were pushed and forced on me to the point where I gave up and said “Well fuck, everyone believes this about me so I might as well live it UP” It is important that mental health professionals are aware of everything of everything going on and aren’t just quick to diagnose and medicate*
Hope did come at the age of 24. By way of a God-man named Jesus. He offered me something I never knew was possible. Life. It just wasn’t the life I thought it would be.
It didn’t have a pretty bow like I wanted. It wasn’t wrapped in a shiny box with pretty blessings inside. I am not trying to push aside the straight up fact that God (and me) has done a shit ton of work in me; inside and out.
Life still hurts. People still take their own lives. Believers, lovers of Christ; those who KNOW He offers that water that can quench that pain.
I haven’t tried to take my life in over 8 years but I will not lie and say that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind since then. Although now it’s more of a mere fleeting thought. A gut wrenching prayer:
“Jesus I DO NOT understand this anymore and I feel like if I were to just be gone that it would be easier”
But NO it WOULD NOT.
I have a babe. A seven year old babe that God chose for me to mother; in the midst of that shit I was in. My life is worth more, SHE is worth more, I AM worth more.
Yes, I AM WORTH MORE than those feelings that drive me to think that death would be the easiest option.
I only wish that Eric had been able to see that, to feel that and to have people speak that kind of life and truth into his weary soul. I know he had been battling a very heavy load in the six months prior to his suicide and what it all included I do not know. I can empathize with where he was; his death was almost a catalyst in my own journey.
Life is messy, it hurts, we thrash and crash against the waves of pain. Sometimes they are so torrential and never stop and there is a tragic ending to some stories.
My prayer this week and even beyond this week (being suicide prevention and awareness week) that ALL of our hearts as people would be open to the stories of hurt and pain.
Leave your theology at the door. Check your opinions before you start talking to someone with a painful story. If you have never experienced this kind of grief, from either side it might be best to just listen; wrap your arm around and hold that person close.
Let’s go beyond trying to just change people and reach deep into their souls and become willing to enter the messy, sit on their kitchen floors with them and LOVE (TWLOHA) them.
September 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Bethany, this whole post struck me deeply. You are so precious. I want to sit on the floor with you and wrap my arms around you for every time that you went unnoticed, for every time you were not heard, and for every time you couldn’t reach for hope.
You speak from a place of pain and experience, and that will comfort others as they search for hope. I’m cheering your courageous story onward. Xo
September 12, 2013 at 8:47 am
It’s a hard and beautiful thing to learn to hear the painful, to listen to the messy. Thanks for this honesty.
September 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm
My beautiful Bethany, the Bigs to my Yeti, I love you, I love your story, and I’m honored to be a part of it now. I see you.