You can decide


Ruth Batke

The hot tears of defeat rolled down my face. I don’t like the way any of this feels. Maybe it would be better if things went back to the way they were before. 

You mean when it was dark and you didn’t really understand why things were the way that they were? he asked.

I nodded my head yes.

It was a hard week. A week filled with questions that don’t have answers yet. Choices that I’m certain I must make. Self-harm and serious thoughts of suicide.

A lot of the time, because I still find it so incredibly difficult to use my actual voice, my therapy appointments involve me writing–either before we meet or in his office. We’ll then go through it together.

The letter I wrote on Friday was difficult. It was about an incident that happened with my mother earlier in the week, how I actually stood up to her (in a nutshell I told her I was trying my best and it isn’t helpful that she’s so critical about everything I do) and her response to me for doing so.

Standing up for myself has never felt acceptable. With my father it would have resulted in quick and swift punishment. With my mother she’ll say what she thinks, walk away and absolutely refuse to talk to me. This time it was no exception.

Her responses are hard for me. They tend to ignite those really bad feelings inside. The ones where I am a failure, I am less and undeserving of anything this life has to offer. I usually start to really think about things after these incidents. I’ll feel trapped and feel like I want to scratch my skin off. I’ll want out of the space and out of this life. I’ll start putting into motion the final steps of how exactly I am going to kill myself.

The other night after everything that happened I could only think about how much I hated her. I was wishing she would die, which is a truly awful way to feel about your mother. I realized that she’s never going to love me the way that I want her to. She’s never going to change her thoughts and beliefs (she admitted that much out loud). She’ll never give me the things that have been missing—she would have done it by now if she really wanted to.

I couldn’t escape (I had the boys and nobody to watch them), she wouldn’t talk to me and I didn’t know what else to do. So, I burned myself.

Afterwards I got to thinking that maybe the boys would be better off living with their dad. Maybe I’m not the best person for them. Their father is an idiot to the umpteenth degree, but he loves them. His new wife is good to them and would help take care of them. I have a good life insurance policy that would help them in the future. Their father has family—more than what I have. So maybe it would be better for everyone.

It’s not about me. It’s about them and what is best for them. It’s about what’s going to get them through this life as happy and as whole as possible. And maybe that means somewhere else.

I brought all of this to my appointment on Friday after holding onto the feelings for the week. I could feel myself spiraling downwards. The information was hard to share, uncomfortable and took a really long time to get through.

After we had made our way through it I asked him some very important questions. What would happen if I died? Would they grow up thinking it’s because of them? Would they grow up feeling unloved and abandoned? Do you think they would they be okay?

Some of his answers were not unexpected–It would be really hard for them. When someone kills themselves, it’s horrible for everyone they leave behind. It would be incredibly difficult for them to understand. They might not ever get over it.

But then he followed up with something else which was totally unexpected–Saying all of those things, I don’t want to block you. I believe that everyone has the right to choose what to do with their own lives and sometimes people just get to the point where they feel there is no other way out. You have to know that I want you to live, but I would understand if you couldn’t. You get to decide and nobody can take that choice from you.

It stuck with me, the things that he said. Especially the part where he said YOU GET TO DECIDE.

His words felt really freeing. So many things in this life have always felt out of my control. So many decisions have been made for me and my choices were taken away. But this life? This is mine. I get to choose what I do with it from this point forward.

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