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Suicidal Sweetness

When I was a little girl, I always felt an underlying sense of sadness. I had anxiety problems, labeled "nervous stomach" and could rarely go for a long drive in the car without becoming sick. Maybe it was the one pound bag of M&M's that my parents gave to us when we started a road trip? Was it the sugar that made me so ill? Perhaps something else was going on, too?

By the time I was in my early teens, my Mother had labeled me "crabby" and "a bitch." I was asked over and over; "Why can't you be cheerful, like your brother? Nothing will ever make you happy! You're sullen, that's what you are."

Deep down, I felt no one knew me—who I really am. I didn't feel crabby, but I did feel sad. I often imagined running away, but we lived well out into the suburbs, where would I run without a car? I couldn't even drive. I didn't have any money. I felt trapped.

I was lucky enough to live near a wooded area. I could spend hours alone, walking along the dirt paths, examining plants and flowers, listening to the birds sing. I often brought my sketch pad to a secret place I found. There were four or five large boulders surrounding an old tree. I could easily climb the rocks or the tree and just be away from the world—the world that labeled me freak, fat, crabby, weird, nasty, bossy.

As I grew older, the sadness deepened and the tension I felt in my home grew worse. My Mother and I battled. My Father came after me with a shotgun when I got fed up and spoke my mind. I cried a lot. I wanted to die. I felt so alone and helpless.

I would try to cut my wrists, but I was too cowardly. I never made more than a light scratch on myself, but the seed of self-hatred grew inside me. The only thing that saved me was feeling connected to my cats. They loved me and didn't judge, but they also needed me to care for them and look out for them. It gave me a purpose and a reason to take another breath, wake up another morning.

Eventually, I went away to college and thought I broke free of those labels, but the sadness was there and growing worse. The complications of having relationships with boys my age, drove me into yet more suicidal rages. The stresses of taking a full course load, working part time, and being very involved in school events was driving me over the edge. I did not know how to work with my own mind, my own feelings.

As an adult, I began to understand it was not that I was just sad, but that I did suffer from depression. It was only really starting to come out that depression had serious effects that are lifelong and debilitating. I saw the same thing in my Father's eyes. The anger, pushing us all away, the inability to have fun without feeling guilty, the self-hate—my poor Father.

I was lucky that I went into therapy for awhile. I was lucky, too, that I met a man who helped me learn to work with my mind. I became a Buddhist. I found support systems in my close friends. After many years of not having cats, I began doing animal rescue. It opened a door for me. One where I could just stop thinking about myself and think about these poor creatures who so desperately needed a safe place to land until they were adopted. It became a refuge for me.

Sadly, my Father didn't have the same opportunities or understanding I did. Though I tried to help him, the day came when his own demons reared up, one last time, and the temptation to silence them was too great. That hideous voice that whispers; "I hate myself. I hate my life. I don't deserve to live." The one that can't remember he had a family who loved him and would be devastated by his actions. That he had friends who considered him a warm and caring person. That he loved his children more than anything. That voice is so loud, it drowns out even a grain of joy.

I have a legacy now, from my Father. Will it be passed down to me? It is my lifelong fear and my lifelong challenge. I'll die some day, but will I die at my own hand or nature's? What keeps me here weighs a pound. To many people, it's completely insignificant and not worthy of any effort, yet...

...when I'm at my lowest point, I may have to force myself to open the door. The door to the foster room, where tiny hearts beat and little paws investigate everything they touch. With wide awestruck eyes, they look up at me. If I've done a good job, they'll race over to me for some cuddling or play. Lifting one up, I feel her squirming, then settle. She'll peer over my arm and revel in the view from being at such a great height. She's scared, but she knows she's safe with me.

Sleeping on my shoulder

If I'm really lucky I'll hear my favorite sound; purring. The bubbly, curious rumble that comes from such a tiny chest. The little sound that saves my life for one more day. The tiny face that looks up at me with a silly smile. The world is a happy, exciting, wondrous place. Through her eyes I am reminded, this is the world I want to live in. This is the world I hope to find myself in one day, too. Perhaps they show me how to live, more than I show them?

For now, I'm simply grateful.


Thanks for sharing that, Robin. Thanks for making yourself vunerable, and thanks for reminding me of the almighty power of the purr.

This is such a sad, sweet, beautiful post that brought a tear to my eye but ended on a note so full of hope.
I'm glad you have those kittens and I'm glad they have you.
Animals are so strong. And I feel like they really help us to be the same.

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