Teresa was still a young teenager when she bought a one-way ticket to Prescott. Somewhere beneath the abuse and neglect, there was a kernel of recognition, even at her young age. She knew she had to leave. Despite the absence of a plan, she knew a change was essential to her survival.
It was a thirteen-hour bus ride. We had a layover from Idaho at Reno and I stayed in the station, waiting. I was still very calm and strong, and so far everything was okay. I had my money and my clothes—everything I needed. I was proud of myself.
Breaking free from the suicidal context reflects a desire to disconnect from the oppressiveness of the past and hope for a fresh beginning. It is a leap of faith motivated by the necessity for change. Although a person’s plan may not be clear at the beginning, many describe having an inner certainty—a “knowing”—that they are on the right course. Often, they pare down their possessions, simplify their lives, and try to discover just what happened to them and why. In making a fresh start, people report having a glimpse of a new world and a new possibility…where people are able to care, and have the courage to show it
At some point, this big and sleazy guy came over. He was trying to get me to go somewhere with him. I didn’t know what was going on then. I do now. There was this elderly couple. The man must’ve been in his seventies. He and his wife just came over next to me. He pulled out a knife and began cleaning his nails with it, kinda nonchalantly, suggesting to this guy that he might want to leave!
Then they took me to dinner. It was very comforting and nice. I felt even happy for a little bit there. We played cards and ate. I was happy ‘cause they noticed me, and I wasn’t being polite or “good.’’ I started thinking, “Maybe I should go with them!” I think that was the first time since kindergarten that I felt that about someone.
Teresa created a new life. Just off the bus, she saw a Help Wanted sign in a restaurant window, applied, and was offered the job that afternoon. The next day, she enrolled in school. Teresa wanted a new start, and within a week, she was back in school, had joined the track team, and was taking courses at the local community college.
Dissolving the Suicidal Context
It is essential to dissolve the suicidal context in order to rebuild one’s life. This may take a variety of forms, but essentially, one must radically alter one’s relationship to the environment of despair in which the suicide attempt occurred. On the road back to life, people learn to choose alternatives to old routines and to the people associated with them.
Teresa’s trials weren’t over. The long shadow of neglect and abuse in her family of origin would hover over her primary relationships, but these challenges would set the scene for her final victory over suicidal pain and despair. (To be continued).
Look For - Teresa, Part Three – Claiming Her Life
Waking Up, Alive is now Available on Kindle