In life, there are always decisions to make. Some are harder than other, but all have to be made.
For children who have experienced abuse, even the every day decisions feel harder, more acute. We are more aware of the consequences of making a choice that might be disagreed with, we are more aware that every decision we make could affect someone else’s life. We have seen how people can be hurt by a seemingly simple choice, where even the right choice can have detrimental effects.
When I made the choice to speak up about my step-dads sexual abuse, it had negative consequences for me, and, as far as I could tell, no positive ones. It was still the right thing to do, and it paved the way for Lily to be believed 6 years later.
When my step-dad chose to commit suicide to escape paying for his crimes, it was the wrong thing to do, but it did have positive consequences, it saved our family from a difficult trial. It also had a lot of negative results; it allowed family members to avoid dealing with the emotions of his betrayal, his abuse, his decisions. It made suicide a more feasible option for those left behind, for Thorn, for me, for others.
Yet, it hurt. Despite all he had done, despite the abuse, the pain, the horror of his actions, his death affected us deeply. Despite his choices, we had loved him. The suddenness of his final choice was intended to cause pain, and it did. Despite our anger, we grieved for him.
When I was in my early 20’s, I came to a deep, dark place in my life. I didn’t know if I could go on. I felt like I had nothing to offer, like no one cared, like I had failed at life, like I had no value, like there was nothing for me to live for. I had experienced depression for many years, but nothing like that time.
I felt alone. I was desperate. I was hurting. I had given up.
Knowing the pain my step-dad’s death had caused when the most reasonable conclusion was that he was hated, I could not leave my family without reassurances that it was me who was lacking, not them. That I loved them even though I could not fathom continuing to live with the pain I was experiencing. That they held no blame in my death. I wrote them letters. I tried to address each of my loved ones personally. I even wrote a letter to God, apologizing for my decision.
It was while I was writing good-bye to God, that He reminded me of His love. When I was in high school, a family friend sat down one afternoon with Mom and me and we prayed together. During that time of prayer, I felt God surround me in His overwhelming and unbelievable love. It was almost tangible enough to reach out and touch, it filled my every sense. I had forgotten until I was writing my final letter.
God saved my life. In that moment I realized that His love was enough. I realized I could not leave my family and friends to suffer the way we had when my step-dad died, or even worse because I knew that I was loved where he was not. In that moment I made a commitment that suicide would never be an option for me. I chose to live.
There are times in our life when we have to make a difficult choice. We have to decide to do the right thing no matter how hard it is, no matter how much we want to take a different path.
It was not the end of my struggle with depression. I have had to work through it, with counseling, determination, perseverance and faith. I have had to cling to my decision that suicide was not an option many times.
Please, choose life. Decide that suicide is not the answer. Eliminate it from the options you have to choose from.
If you are struggling with depression
if you are feeling like life is not worth living
please reach out
You are not alone.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention offers resource information across Canada, including for those who have experienced loss by suicide and those who are thinking about it.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers resources and information for those in the United States.