Hi yall! This is Kourtney (they/them). This is my first post and I used the prompt “I remember”. Trigger for suicidal ideation. Written 1/22/2017. Thanks for reading!
I remember playing in traffic on Val Vista, the busiest street in my town. Palo Verde trees and cactus and loose dirt lined the roads. The thin median I stood on, two feet wide, weeds, rocks, dirt, bushes. Cars whooshed by me at 50 miles an hour, the breeze drying some of the sweat on my forehead. Sometimes the cars got so close and were driving so fast that I felt like I would be sucked up underneath them. I remember looking down at the black top. The heat rising and blurring my vision. Convincing me, a mirage perhaps, of what lies on the other side of life. I remember not looking at cars. Not at all. If I looked at them, then I would see the faces of drivers and I would feel more shame than I already did. And shame, as far as I have ever remembered, has always coerced me into making my death wishes a reality. Here I was, trying to avoid more shame than I already had while simultaneously walking around in traffic trying to make my death wish become a reality. I think it’s funny the way you can want to die and still feel the need to take care of yourself as you attempt it. Make it the least impactful as possible, as if dying is not already extremely impactful to your life.
I remember being 16 in the fall where everything is still green and 90 degrees. I remember jumping and grabbing Palo Verde trees just so a thorn would prick me. I’ve done this since I’ve been a child and my mom always thought I never learned my lesson the first five times. But really, I learned a lot about myself by those thorns and the little holes they made in my hands and the blood that would rise out. I will always get a rise out of knowing I am not invincible. I remember feeling stronger for this.
I remember heartbreak and a flood of memories and nowhere to deal with it all. I remember these being my reasons for playing in traffic. How did my 16 year old self not realize? I remember feeling crazy then but I never remembered being crazy. But I was crazy. I remember now, that I still am, always will be. I was never told to remember the history of crazy. I believe that is a disservice to me and my ancestors and all the family members that have killed each other or themselves out of crazy. If I had known crazy ran in my family, maybe playing in traffic would have felt so normal that I would no longer feel endangered by it. Probably not. I’m crazy.
Maybe my crazy ancestors guided me through cars, I don’t remember. I remember in and out, pacing around, back and forth, in between near death experiences. I have always navigated my mind best under pressure. Step from median to black top. Two paces to white line. Still not hit. Bounce to the next lane. Occasionally a horn, swearing, someone would yell a question like, “are you trying to get killed?!”. I remember yes. Maybe. Perhaps, if not, I live another day with a deeper understanding of myself. But I always felt bothered by that question. Like yes, I am trying to die. Why are people put in shock by this? I do remember though feeling sorry for not having a more appropriate place to play with my life. I remember being sorry because I was in a road where more than likely a friend, coworker, neighbor, family member, or professor would see me as they drove home from work or school. I remember shame, heavy on my heart as I took reckless steps into the street.
I was always walking from practice back to home. I did this thing where everyday that I walked home I would contemplate if it would be my last time, and I did this for months. I don’t remember much else during this period except I had a really good depressing playlist going 24/7 and now I can’t listen to those songs because I feel ashamed of myself for trying to get run over by a car when I was 16.. But I remember going home was like submerging myself into a bathtub, maybe one filled with blood. Why blood, I don’t know. Something thick enough to hold me under. If I tried to swallow it all down I would be heavier. I remember drowning to stay afloat. I remember playing in the street because adrenaline allowed me to elevate just above a panic attack. I remember playing in a busy street as a way to control my fate. I remember it allowed me to see clearly everything I wanted and needed, whether that was death or peace of mind or to solve some trauma riddle I had no tools to understand. Suicide, attempts, ideation, consideration, contemplation, preparation. All of it provides an element of control, relief, and certainty. All things I crave yet lack on a day to day basis. I remember promising I would never kill myself after my best friend had when I was 15, but here I was a year later realizing that was empty. I reached a point where I couldn’t stop remembering what happens at home, in my blood filled bathtub. I remembered too much, too vividly, and I had to let it kill me or I would drown in it eternally. A busy street was a place for me to have agency. I remember feeling stronger for always coming out alive.
I promised myself I would stop spending all my time writing subtly or overtly about my abusive father. But then I remembered the places I went when I repressed those memories, and those places had catapulted me further into shame and deeper into my drowning blood pit of death. But when I remember him and I remember his abuses I feel suspended. I feel like I cannot untangle my hurt, still. I have spent nearly four years writing about my abusive father, in nearly every piece. It feels like I’m still drowning to stay afloat. It feels like home will never change from the memory I have of it. It feels like I’ve been set up with all this crazy and all this trauma and playing in traffic no longer gives me a place to figure out my headspace. I remember walking around on Val Vista because I wanted to die and If I didn’t get hit then wow the epiphanies I would be able to go home with would be rewarding enough to keep me afloat until the next day walking home. But now I’m not so interested in getting hit by a car, and I’m not so interested in dying in this moment, and it kind of scares me because it means that I have to deal with what I remember. I never thought far enough along to figure out what I do when I’m not trying to kill myself. I remember reading somewhere that we, as adults with trauma, must learn from our younger selves skills on how to survive and preserve ourselves. My childhood preservation archive is filled with reckless suicide fantasies and attempts and I can’t imagine how to build off of that now.