My daughter decided to attend her junior prom, and it was pretty wonderful to be a part of — even though she might literally be the most ungrateful person on Earth. I simply tried to enjoy myself around her demands, attitude and sass; to see through them. After all, she was anxious and excited, and I knew none of it was personal.
It was truly an honor to drop her off, and I know later in her life – after the bitch wears off – she’ll look back and remember how I cried. She, of course, yelled very loudly for me to stop in what I can only assume was an attempt to embarrass me in front of the whole town – but whatever.
I wasn’t at all embarrassed. I was proud and grateful to be there bawling, because that moment was on my list.
When my daughter was four years old, I tried to end my life. It was beyond unbearably painful to live and, as much as I tried, I could not stop hurting myself and others. I didn’t know what was happening, but I was pretty sure I was the victim of Life, and just wanted the pain to stop. I had probably a couple of diagnoses at this point, as well as non-compliance with medication – medication that should not be mixed with alcohol.
I reached my end one night, after some insignificant event I blew out of proportion, and I was ready to die. I was of course intoxicated and sobbing, because it was two in the morning, and there weren’t many nights I wasn’t. That particular night had me feeling extremely overwhelmed and unable to climb out from the rubble.
I ingested a bottle of pills, and sat down to write letters to my family. I wanted everyone left behind to know how lost I felt and how very sorry I was for all of the things I was going to miss. I wrote a very long, guilt ridden letter to my parents and then started one for my daughter. Her letter read much like a list, because there was so much of her life that I would miss.
I apologized I would not be there for her first day of school. I was sorry I would not be around during the changes in her life and body; when she might need me most. I begged my daughter to forgive me for missing prom and graduation, her wedding, and the birth of her babies. I added these things to the list, and tried with all of my might to believe I had no choice in leaving. I convinced myself that I was not worthy of these beautiful moments with her, and that my presence would not be necessary.
Depression is a lying bitch, and without defense against her I was open to all suggestion. I was a loser, a terrible mother that couldn’t show up – a waste of oxygen. Self-pity City is a dangerous place to visit, and I was living there.
I continued that letter to my daughter, and it saved my life.
It was while I scratched paper with pen and made that wonderful list that hope found me. In that tiny room, surrounded by the mess I had made of my life, it was in that list that I found strength; a tiny voice inside me whispered, “be there.” I wanted so badly to be there, and so I began to fight.
I asked for help for the first time and I received it immediately. I didn’t feel worthy of it at first, but I accepted it on behalf of my daughter. Many remarkable things occurred after that amazing moment.
I got sober, I took action to make my circumstances better, and I learned how to take responsibility for my own life. I began to surround myself with people whom I admired, and I trusted them to help me become a better woman and mother. I started to practice certain changes in my behavior, and I started to feel better. Hope was restored piecemeal, and I was able to build a life for myself and my daughter.
So, on the day of her prom, I cried. I cried for the lost woman who didn’t understand how precious that moment would be and almost missed it. I cried for the list and the incredible opportunity to cross off one more beautiful event, because I was there.
I was not embarrassed; I was grateful.
I yelled back to her “So what? I’m crying because I love you, and I don’t care who’s watching!”
And I didn’t.