I was the invisible child who did all manners of crazy things to be noticed, the teenager who had suffered abuse, rape, and the suicide of her 30-year-old mother, who fell into addiction after addiction to escape the pain of every new day, and who finally at the age of thirty buried her 15 year old son and knew that life was over. I'd been thinking about suicide off and on since the age of 8, each year with new reasons why my life wasn't worth anything and why all that I would ever know was misery.
Kahlil Gibran said, "The deeper sorrow carves into your soul, the more joy you can contain." What does that mean? Today I understand. The smartest thing that I ever did -- at what I thought was the end of my days -- was to make the decision to try something that I didn't believe would work; knowing that if it didn't, I would kill myself. I attended a 12-step meeting for alcoholics. A man there said "You never have to be alone again." That one simple statement reached into my heart, twisted it until it hurt, and helped me to decide to go back... and live.
These became my reasons why:
•Through tragedy and adversity we are given an opportunity to grown and to change not only the way we live, but our perception of life and our place in the world. In my case, my past became my greatest asset, because I used it to help others in crisis... and they know that I truly understand.
•It took experience, every person and each moment in my life, to bring me to today and to the person I have become, doing what I am doing. I was not able to change what had happened to my son, to my mother, and to others in my life, but today -- through writing my books and working with people one on one -- I can be the voice of hope, joy, and perhaps even help someone else and those that they love.
•Loneliness is not about being alone, but feeling alone even when with others. The feeling comes from the fear of opening ourselves up to others because they might not like us, or might laugh at our pain. There are those out there going through the same thing, and when we become willing to open ourselves, to take that chance, it gives them permission to do the same. We are not islands, but part of the whole and what we do not only affects us, but those around us.
•No one is exempt from trauma and tragedy, and to set myself apart, saying in essence that I am special and therefore entitled to act out through addictions and behavior is nothing more than an excuse to not face my real feelings and deal with them. Just as I used addictions to escape, I used anger and self-pity to avoid sadness and hurt. Admitting the truth is the beginning of healing.
•What if when we pass on to the other side, whatever we haven't dealt with here has to be dealt with there? It's a question that has grabbed my attention. I do not want to go back through it all again. I think I'll stick around and see if I can resolve it here and now.
I am glad to be here. I have been given a life beyond my wildest dreams. I have been places, met people, done things that I never could have imagined. I know joy every day, even when seemingly bad things happen. My joy comes because I am grateful for the smallest things in my life every day. I thank the God of my understanding each night for clean sheets, a safe place to sleep and the love that I am able to accept and give to others. I wouldn't trade my life with anyone else.