For those who know me or have been following me for a long time, you know that February 18th always gets a celebratory post. It's not my birthday or wedding anniversary. It's not the day my daughter was born. No, this is a different kind of anniversary. When I was 8 or 9, my parents got divorced. Mom and I moved into our new apartment together on February 18th. I remember something else similarly bittersweet coming to pass on February 18th, but for the life of me, I'm not sure what that was, only that I remarked on the date coming up again. But that's not why I celebrate today, either.
February 18, 2000 was the day I almost died and chose to live.
The short version is that I was suicidal (again) and almost did it. Someone called me, a stranger. She told me that my friends had called the campus hotline and said I was having a "rough time"....that I'd been "thinking of hurting myself". I lied my way out of that conversation within a few minutes. I wouldn't talk to my friends about it, why would I talk to a stranger? I was so fucking pissed off, so angry that my friends could be so worried about me that they would pawn me off on a stranger then go out for half-priced appetizers, that I stuck around so I could bitch them out the next day. I chose not to kill myself out of sheer spite and vitriol.
They saved my life.
At the time, I didn't see it that way. I saw them as traitorous bastards, but in the past 11 years, I've been able to look at that time with more experienced eyes and I know that I needed that kick in the gut. I needed that anger to light a fire in me to stick around even for just another day. That gave me purpose and it was enough.
I had a cycle. Every five years I fell into this dark place. In 2000, I thought that cycle could only end one way. Thankfully, I was wrong. Five years later, I threw a party. February 18, 2005, I had moved to Arizona, I was with my Ohana, my very own Bee People. Sean and I had been dating and we were talking about getting married. I was at peace and I'd broken a cycle that had started turning when I was in single digits. Five years had gone by and not only did I not want to die, but my life had blossomed.
Last year marked ten years and two broken cycles. I haven't used self-injury as a coping mechanism in ten years.
Because I chose to stick around, I experienced some exquisite hurts and drama, but also some of the most amazing moments of my life. I auditioned for Blue Man Group with my idol! I found a place of peace. The story of my molestation ended with the biggest punch line imaginable! I would've missed that belly laugh! I am surrounded by people that love and support me. My relationships with my parents have deepened. I have an amazing husband and a child that I just can't stop hugging. I am on the cusp of realizing another life-long dream.
I know it's become a bit of a cliche, but I have to say that hell yes, it does get better. It took me a few years to develop it, to find it and to understand it, but it has gotten so much better! I know that I will never fall into that place again. I won't be allowed to. I have too many hands to support me and catch me. I had that before, I just didn't see it for what it was.
I would have missed this.
That would have been the real tragedy.
So today, I celebrate not what happened, but rather what didn't happen. I celebrate that I am here to write this.