Dear Mom and Dad: This Is What I Wished You’d Known When I Tried to Take My Own Life

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Dear Mom and Dad,

If only you had known.

I didn’t want to take my life; it’s never what I wanted. But I just wasn’t sure how to live it anymore.

I felt so confused. Like I was all grown-up, except I didn’t have any of the answers, which made me feel like a kid again.

“You never listen to anything I say,” you would tell me. But I was listening. I heard you when you told me to just ignore the mean kids at school. I heard you when you said that my broken heart would pass, and that one day none of this would matter.

But it did matter, because all those things that you told me would pass were my entire world back then; and the only thing that I understood was that you didn’t.

“This is just high school,” you would say. “It will be over soon, and you will have the rest of your life ahead of you.”

But what you didn’t see is that a future seemed insurmountable to me. I couldn’t think about tomorrow when I could barely get through today.

I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere.
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I was always listening to you, and it made me feel alone when I thought that you didn’t understand me. I was desperate to connect with anyone who might see how unsure, broken, and lost I felt; but I was terrified to let you down, and to let anyone see my failures.

“Just be yourself,” you’d tell me. “Keep your chin up!”

But I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I was afraid of the life that I was leading, and the future I wasn’t sure that I could survive. Yet you seemed so sure that I would be fine, that I didn’t know how to tell you that I wasn’t.

So when I took that handful of pills and laid down on the bed to die, it wasn’t because I didn’t love you, or even that I didn’t want the future that I might have had … it was because it was just all too much.

And I was tired.

Tired of trying to learn who I was, and who you wanted me to be. Tired of everyone around me telling me what to think, that it didn’t leave me any time to figure it out on my own. At 14, I thought that I should know by now.

I needed one person to tell me that they saw me struggling, and that they would help me find my way through it.

I needed to know that it was okay to admit that I wasn’t alright.

Thankfully, I didn’t die that night in my room, but I’ll never forget the thoughts I had as the darkness was closing in. If I had known that just one person truly saw how broken I was, and would be willing to walk through it me, I think that I would have believed I could survive it.

I’m older now, and I understand that time does not necessarily bring all the answers with it. As a parent myself, I think I know what you were going through back then. I’m certain that you saw me struggling, but you weren’t sure how to help me. And it probably scared you, even though you didn’t show it.

Just as I was trying to protect you, I know now, that you were most likely doing the same for me, and it hurts me to say, that I wish you hadn’t.

I watched you, and I thought that you had it all figured out. It made growing up appear unattainable. Everyone seemed to know exactly how to handle life, and I was certain that because I didn’t, something must be wrong with me, and I would never figure it out.

I’m sorry that I put you through that … I didn’t know that you were struggling, too.
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But if I had only known that it was alright to not have all the answers, maybe I would have understood that we weren’t so different after all, and that I could grow up to be like you, even if I felt just like me.

Maybe, we would have truly heard each other.

I’m a mom now too, and it’s not an easy job. There are days when I can’t figure out what to do, but if there is one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that kids will tell us what they need, if we aren’t too busy trying to tell them first.

There will be times when my daughter feels lost, scared, and unsure of herself, but the only way to teach her how to get through it is to show her that I am doing the same. Maybe there will even come a time when we find ourselves in that confusing and scary place together too. I can only hope that by the grace of God, I will hear her cries for help.

I won’t have all the answers for her, but I will certainly be there to take her hand, and walk with her until we find them.

I’m sorry that I put you through that, Mom and Dad; I didn’t know that you were struggling, too.

I didn’t know that life is difficult for everyone sometimes, and that at the end of it, there’d be light.


14-year-old me

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