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Gratitude For Being a Failure (sensitive topic)

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Something happened the other day that’s really been on my mind lately.

The son of someone that I went to high school with committed suicide.  A mutual friend told me that he hung himself in his garage.  His name was Alan.  Alan was 14. 

Even as I type the words, chills run up and down my body.  Horrible.  I feel just absolutely, completely, utterly HORRIBLE.

His father was who I went to school with.  I wasn’t at that school long and I didn’t really know my classmate very well, I hardly knew him at all, actually.  He, like me, was a quiet kid in school.  I just remember that he seemed gentle.  He was a slow walker but, always seemed to want to smile

It was clear by seeing Alan’s Dad’s Facebook posts over the last couple of years that Alan & his Dad were buds.  It made me wonder what was going on in Alan’s life that he couldn’t talk with his Dad about how he was feeling or what may have been happening to him to drive him to end his life.  I can’t describe how it makes me feel other than just a dark sadness – sorrow even. 

Alan’s suicide also creates another feeling for me.  Gratitude.  Let me explain.

Throughout my teenage years and into my mid-twenties…I tried committing suicide. Three times.  I had an emotionally tumultuous childhood that carried far into adulthood.  Maybe, for many, it was no big deal but, for me & my extra sensitive heart, it was very big stuff.

When I was a small child, in the middle of a huge fight between my young parents, my father pulled me from my hiding spot under a coffee table to force me to make a choice. A choice to choose between he and my mother.  “Who do you love more, me or your mother?” was my life choice to be made when I was under 5 years old.  My choosing my mother would, apparently, forever be a punishment of  emotional neglect, skipping out on daddy-daughter weekends in exchange for skiing, a mystery ride to a short move into a hospital mental ward & three half-siblings who would turn out to be more important than “difficult” me.

My Mom was busy working at being a single mother in her early 20’s, not getting much help from her former husband, dating and impressing poor choices in female-male relationships on her young, broken daughter who she seemed to not really know what to do with at times.  She kicked me out at age 15 for a man and once told me, “I gave up my life for you, now it’s my turn”.   Throw in a dog attack that scarred my face at age 5.  Yeah, it was a little bit rocky.  Awesome.

Take the ball of emotional, unworthy, unwanted, unloved shit that was my emotional state and keep rolling it downhill to a gigantic, cesspool of bad choices in men, peers, toxic situations … all of it. For years.  And years. And many years.

At times, a continuously broken heart was far too much for this misguided, sensitive, broken girl to handle.  “If only I could just sleep it all away. Forever.  No one will even miss me when I’m gone” I would write in my journal.  As it turns out, I didn’t take enough of the sleeping pills … any of the 3 times I washed them down.  Each time I would wake up and feel so pissed at myself that I couldn’t even kill myself right. What a loser.

Wrong. What a lucky, blessed, Divinely Guided girl I was …and I am grateful for whoever it was that was watching over me, even to this day.

Clearly, talking to my parents about what I was going through wasn’t an option for me, at least I didn’t think so.  I didn’t know Alan but, maybe he felt that talking to his parents wasn’t an option either. 

For me, however, I was fortunate to be able to talk with some VERY good friends and worked through talking about my feelings through years of therapy.  I also scraped and clawed my way through life to learn who I was…at my core.  I took classes, learned about the metaphysical, traveled to exciting places, found new and interesting friends. I learned to say “yes” to the right people, places & things that were good for me and, “NO” to old habits & people who I knew, deep down inside, were not good for me.  In short, I put in the work and continue to do so.

Life isn’t perfect and sometimes it’s hard, REALLY, really hard. The same is true for everyone right?  But, I’m so grateful that I was a complete and utter failure because, I wouldn’t be here today to openly talk about my life struggles & suicide failures.  Some people would say “why talk about it?” Well, what if, just what if, I can help one person to get through a time in their life when they don’t think that they want to or can.  Doesn’t that make the struggles and discomfort in talking about it all worth it?

With what I know now…YES, yes, it is.  What if any one of us can change someone’s life for the better simply by talking about our life challenges?  Would you do it?

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, I want to encourage you – fight for yourself…you are WORTH it!  You have people who love you.  They might not be the people who you want to love you right now but, there are others, many, many others.  You may not know them right now but, they are out there and will find you if you shine your light BRIGHT and ask for them to find you.  You are special and important. You have a purpose and a mission and we need you!   

Please, ask for help.  Ask anyone – a friend, a coworker, a stranger, your church pastor, the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) or even me.  You are NOT a bother or a nuisance or irrelevant and, yes, you WILL be missed if you are no longer here.  I promise you that.  

And to poor, young Alan, I’m so, so sorry that you couldn’t shine your light in time for the others to find you.  I didn’t get the chance to know you but, dear sad one, you are loved.   

If someone that you know needs to hear this message, please share it publicly or privately. 

Leanne Shafner

Project WE Society

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