Forgiving My Mother For Attempting Suicide
I was a different person before and after my mother attempted suicide. Before, I really only focused on what I found cool, and I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. After, I wanted to become the person who seemed to have it all: I spent hours working on my skin, hair, and clothes, and made it my ultimate goal to be in a “cool group”. This change in cognition was due to the fact that I believed it was my own fault for her actions. Instead of healing by considering how our relationship could grow, I focused on the potential factors that could make her not love me. Was it because I was ugly? Was it because I got bad grades? Was it because I didn't have a boyfriend?
My mother was on a lot of pills during that time, and wasn’t watched by a doctor carefully enough. We were struggling with money, and she tried every which way to hide the pain of that struggle, which is why she initially went to the doctor. She was placed on a mix of sleeping pills and antidepressants; this combination had a bad reaction, which was unknown until it was too late. I was the only child of a divorced mother who was at that point struggling with money and losing a long-term boyfriend. The doctor told her the medicine was going to help. Because she was not carefully monitored, there was a day that everything snapped.
She dropped me off at school, went home, and stabbed herself between eight and ten times in the chest.
During my visits with my mom, she didn’t look like herself. She resembled a sick older woman I didn’t recognize, it was like I was watching a movie about someone else. When I saw her, I felt like we were strangers that knew each other too well. I felt that I had put her in this position, and the only way to bring her back was to change myself. I was told I was going to be staying with my father for a long period of time and that he now had full custody. I didn’t cry, I didn’t talk about it. Instead I was too embarrassed and saw myself as the only person to blame.
Eighth grade is hard for everyone. It’s especially hard if you aren’t sure what social group you fit into, and even harder when you’re going through a parent’s suicide attempt. On top of being the new kid, I was one of those girls who felt equally not smart and not pretty; everyone else seemed to think so too. At this point in my life finding the right social group was just trying to find anyone that will be my friend. I looked in the mirror and noticed my greasy hair, my large pores, my 110 pound body that I thought looked fat in every mirror I saw. I looked at myself and thought: “That girl is not pretty enough to have a mother that would love her.”
They had an assembly for my homeroom where they announced that I went through something traumatic with my mother. People heard from parents and gossiped, and soon the word had gotten around school.
“If I were your mother I would have done it the day you were born”
That comment has stuck to me, even 10 years later. I internalized that comment, and was first hurt, then that pain became anger. I found anything that I could hate that bully for and focused on it. His bad grades, his weight, his class, anything I could find a reason to think I was better than him. That anger towards him then got larger and I started hating groups of people, just to think I was doing better than anyone.
I looked at the people in my life who were hurting me with their comments about my mother. I tried to focus not on the hurt, but instead on the hate. I tried to find ways that I could pity them, in order to feel less worse about the current situation. I thought: “How could I take these comments and try to feel better about myself? Did I have more money than these people? Was I thinner? Was I better dressed?”
The pain and anger I felt inside eventually became uncontrollable. I yelled at my father constantly, I told him that I wished he were dead, that I wished I were never born, and that it was his fault all of the hurt was happening. I looked at the school bullies, I told myself they were white trash and I was better than them because I wore nicer clothing, anything to feel as though I was still worth something. I told my mother I didn’t want to speak to her, and when I did, I only wanted to go shopping. She bought me anything I wanted because she still felt guilty and wanted to feel like I was still the normal daughter she had raised. I still feel guilty about this. Once I healed and matured, I tried to have a healthier relationship with money and her. It’s not healthy to use pain as a way to get money, especially from a parent trying to do whatever they can to help.
Suicide isn’t often thought of as something you need to forgive someone for. At that point in my life I thought of suicide as something that a teenager would do, and the family would rally together to heal. There would be no forgiving. I didn’t understand why I was so angry at my mother and the world, and I felt like I was instead the one my family needed to rally around to help heal. I felt guilty that I took it so selfishly and that I was more embarrassed by who I was. I also felt guilty for and asking myself what I did to cause my own mother to choose death over life with me. When I told people, they would brush it off and say: “Obviously it’s not YOUR fault!” Those words never helped until I understood suicide and its causes.
When you’re in eighth grade, you’re insecure. You also don’t understand situations like these and you don’t understand how your own hurt can turn into anger. You don’t understand how long that anger can last. My mother and I didn’t speak about the “accident” until years later when I drunkenly called her and screamed about how much it had hurt me. At 24, I still struggle with these emotions. I usually don’t tell boyfriends and few friends know, which is why this article is anonymous. My mother is the most amazing mother I could ever ask for. She is the type of mom that checks in daily just to hear the small aspects of my day. On her office desk sits a big pile of projects I’ve done for work just to show off to anyone who will listen. She truly makes me feel like a special human being.
It has taken 10 years to not blame myself, to forgive her, and to fully understand how dangerous hurtful emotions are when they turn to anger.
What truly made me heal was understanding suicide and the causes. I found that for me, speaking to support groups was the most helpful. I didn’t want to be told “Oh no thats so sad,” instead, I wanted to hear that others had gone through my situation and ended up with healthy relationships with a family member that had attempted suicide. I never needed to change myself, I just needed to value my relationship with my loved ones by forgiving and learning to grow. I wish I could tell those people who were cruel to understand others pain, similar to what I didn’t understand at that time. I forgive them though, because I found myself dealing with pain through anger and being cruel at a similar time. Everyone is going through a different situation, and we all need to be sympathetic.