I was 10 years old the first time someone saved my life.
My parents had recently divorced, my brother was no longer living with my mom and I and when he visited, the encounters were filled with anger and drunkenness from my mother’s side and anger and fear from my brother and my side (at least, I assume he was at least a little bit scared, but maybe I have projected that onto him all these years since).
My mom and I had moved to a new house where I was the new kid in school. I was awkward and shy, didn’t know anyone and had no idea how to fit in.
I needed an escape.
The small round tablets tasted sweet on my tongue as I swallowed handful after handful, waiting for the ache in my heart to disappear.
Like many young people who attempt suicide, death wasn’t really a concept I fully grasped and therefore not really what I wanted. I just wanted the soul-sucking ache in my heart to stop for just a little while.
I awoke under huge, glaring lights with what appeared to be dozens of people surrounding me, but it was likely only 3 or 4. I had overdosed and had fallen into a coma. I was in the hospital having undergone stomach pumping and a spinal tap. I was pelted with questions from every direction.
Why did I take the pills?
Had my brother made me take them?
What were they?
Where did I get them?
I did my best to answer all of the questions but trying to put my brokenness into words at the ripe old age of 10 was more than I knew how to do. I yearned for someone to see past the action itself and try to understand the aching of my heart; to see me and try to help.
Two people did.
Or maybe it was just one but he dragged his partner along.
I wish I remembered their names, but it, along with many other tidbits of my life has fallen away. But I do know that they were the drivers of the ambulance that carried me from one hospital to another (and suffered a kick to the groin in thanks for giving me a spinal tap).
They came to visit me several times while I recovered in the hospital and somehow with their presence in my room, I felt they understood and my heart broke when they came to say their last goodbye.
I was 15 when I was saved once again.
I had been at rehearsal for a play – my first.
We had worked endlessly to perfect a dance number for the opening of Carnival and I was finally dropped off at home around midnight.
I recall clearly that the person who dropped me off told me she didn’t want to leave me at my house; that something was wrong. It was no secret that things at my house were often sketchy, but this was different. The entire look of the house was dark, foreboding.
I got out of the car telling my friend she could leave. Whatever was going to happen needed to happen.
Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure that my answer would have been the same.
The normal drunkenness which typically met me when I returned brought with it more violence this night than it ever had before. Had the chair I sat in not broken, I likely would not have survived the events that transpired.
Two days later, after telling my high school boyfriend of the terrible events, he and a dozen or so of his closest friends piled into 6 cars to drive me to my mother’s house and move me out.
To say I was terrified would be an understatement of tremendous proportion. I knew the potential violence that awaited me and warned every person that offered to help. I gave them strict orders to run if I said to and to not look back.
They got me out.
The move and the days that followed were so tremendously traumatic, I honestly do not know if I ever thanked the people who I believe helped to save my life that night.
I was 39 the last time I was saved.
My marriage had ended and, as I’ve said before, I had nothing. A very loving and generous couple from the church with which I sang offered me their pool house to live in while I got my feet on the ground. Their kindness was a salve to my wounded heart and mind. I know that I was likely not the best tenant they had ever had and I am certain that I have never fully expressed my thanks in way that would let them know how truly grateful I am for their assistance.
All of these people – those that I knew and those I didn’t – sacrificially gave me something that nobody else could offer.
They gave me independence.
Independence from fear, from abuse, from homelessness and starvation.
Each and every one of them has a piece of my heart that will never be replaced by another. They were all physical representations of God’s love for me at those specific times and there is no way I can ever possibly repay them, so instead I choose to take this moment to express my gratitude.
Thank you for your sacrifices – monetary and otherwis – which you freely gave with no expectation of return.
For those known and unknown,thank you for believing I was worth saving and for working so hard to do so. Because you believed in me, I was able to believe a little bit as well.
Most of all, thank you for hearing that voice of God inside your hearts and heeding it so I could grow to become the person I am today. I realize I am far from “finished”, but your gifts were and continue to be blessings I carry forward with every opportunity.
I pray that as we enter into this celebration of the liberty of our country each of you know that I would gladly light up the sky with fireworks if it would give you a glimpse into my overflowing heart. Since I cannot do that, please think of me when you see those beautiful sparks fly and know that each and every one of them represents just a piece of the gratitude that I have for each of you.
9 thoughts on “A Different Type of Independence”
Thank you so much for reading and sharing my post.
Thank you for your brave and honest words. I can relate to this on so many levels; our stories have a lot of similarities. The fact that you persevered is a tribute to those who helped you, but also to the fire burning inside you that craves life, creativity, and healing connectedness–and independence as a whole and loving human being. Lovely and authentic post.
Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. I am so sorry that you struggled with similar things, but so glad that we can come together this way to grow, grieve and guide others who pass through the same waters with us.
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Yes, it’s a ministry and a purpose of mine as well. Thank you.
Absolutely beautiful story!!! You are such an inspiration to others and God is obviously using you for something so powerful!!! So thankful for you.
Thank you so much for reading. God is good – all the time! I only pray that I act on the things that He places in my path so I can be the servant He created me to be.
Happy you are here to share.