I can always take a bus to Mexico.
This is what I would tell myself when life got too hard.
Last year I struggled with suicide. A very close mentor committed suicide and I found myself going to the dark place of “God, not existing would feel really great.”
If she couldn’t do it, what makes me think I can?
What’s worse, I fell in love.
I met the man of my dreams and I was terrified my darkness would be too strong one day and I would break this precious man.
I held him off as long as I could, but my heart was longing to open.
I had lost my desire to live. I remember the spark coming back, staring into the eyes of an 18 year old Puerto Rican boy from Harlem.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“I want to live.”
Hearing myself say those words out loud shocked my system. I wanted to live! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but I wasn’t sure if you’re supposed to talk about this. Would I be coddled? Would the validity of my work be questioned? Could I be trusted?
So I kept my secret. Tampering my victory. Telling only a discreet few about my battle.
When I was young, I’d been through it all. My only solace was the bathroom. No one could bother me there. I was taking up to 2 baths per day before the age of 13. Wanting to escape, but not knowing how. There was a voice inside of me that said “If things get too hard, take a bus to Mexico and start over.” That is how I made it through my childhood. If things get too hard, there’s always Mexico.
I didn’t have to wait until 18. I escaped right before my 17th birthday. I began creating a life I desired. Dancing, friends, art and sex. A part of me didn’t feel deserving. I craved my parents’ love and approval. I wanted them to see me as good.
In my young eyes, my dad can’t stand when you’re happy. He loves a good victim. The only time he is soft or gentle is when you’re sick. But I just couldn’t play sick anymore. It wasn’t who I am. So I battled internally: How do I make him love me?
I eventually met the answer. Marry someone just like him. It lasted a good 8 years.
Except the fighter in me couldn’t handle the misery. So instead of Mexico, I went to Paris. I met God there.
I came back, moved to New York, and then created a life I loved. Dancing, friends, art and sex.
When I met Her I was instantly shaken. A miracle for someone like me. The desire for her to approve of me immediately raised my guard, but the more I worked with her, the more I could feel. She wanted to help me be successful. To be powerful. To be rich.
Her background was a lot like mine. Mental, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Strict religious doctrine. And a heart so big, she carried the world’s pain. I felt safe. I had direction and a guide to measure myself against.
Until she couldn’t. Some say she was murdered, but the destitute tone in her voice the week before she died, I knew that voice.
The “I’m so tired, it would be so nice to rest” voice. There was a cloud that was following me after. Looking at me. Waiting for an introduction. As I scrambled to keep going, it came.
Telling me dark things. Offering solace. It would come and go, but when I hadn’t slept, drank too much wine or lost a contract- there was that voice.
“I know it’s hard, poor girl. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could rest…”
But I persisted. Suicide was not my path, and not a voice I felt at home with.
A friend of mine, sick of my cloudiness, enrolled me in an intensive leadership course. 2 days of breaking down old constructs and stories. I was free to admit that I was in pain, and that I actually wanted to live. I decided that day to file for bankruptcy and to move to China.
Huge milestones of choosing myself, choosing love, and everyday choosing life.
Giving up things that bring me down (alcohol, not eating, oversleeping, trying to prove my worth), I was able to connect with myself on a deeper level.
As I see this ripple through my life, I will never forget the time that I almost gave up.
Not a bus to Mexico, not a plane to Paris, but a deeper connection to life.