I only told this story in 2016. That’s 15 long years I held it inside.
I suffered with depression, this much many people already knew. The extent of that depression I had hidden from everyone until 2016 when I have admitted it to my counsellor.
There was one night when things became intolerable. It was March 2001. I look back and have no idea how I withstood the abuse I did. I know there are others in the world far worse off and that chokes me, but there was one moment where I could not actually take it anymore. We all have our own tipping point and I reached mine.
6 months of rape. 6 months of no voice, no outlet, no escape.
I wanted out. Just wanted to step off the world. Yes, I was suicidal. I seriously meant it. There was only black and more black. All the life in me had gone and all that was left was a hideous, hollow pit of nothingness. Not planned at all, but very deliberately, and quite quickly, I decided to take action.
He would not stop contacting me, upsetting me, blaming me, seeking me out, frightening me, constantly on a mission to break me.
I was on my way out.
That night he rang me multiple times to play the puppeteer, dangling me this way and that. I couldn’t take it anymore. If that was life, I didn’t want it.
I don’t wish to disclose the details of the moment I chose to quit this world.
But clearly, it wasn’t successful or I wouldn’t be writing this now.
So what happened? Well about 2 seconds prior to what would have been the end of my life, my phone rang unexpectedly and the ringtone jolted me so severely I instantly stopped in my tracks. The phone had been ringing all evening – him – calling me to give me more abuse, to stress me further, to play with my mind in his sick twisted way.
But the ringtone sounded different when it rang this time. Technically, it can’t have actually been different because it was an old Nokia and it only had 1 ringtone.
But something changed. Lightning bolt. Sudden jolt.
Very strangely, I reached for the phone. As though I was in any mood for conversation.
My friend called me.
So just to recap, there was 1 moment in my life when I attempted suicide. And right at that exact moment, my friend called me and effectively stopped me. Completely unwittingly and at the exact split second necessary. Literally 1-2 seconds later would have been too late. This is very difficult to articulate. I kept this secret because for so long because firstly I didn’t want to alarm anyone (hi, I attempted suicide is not a conversation opener) and the timing was just so out of the ordinary it spooked me.
I was saved.
I am no mathematician but even I can work out there is an extremely low probability of a call coming in at that precise second. I can’t believe it was a coincidence. I definitely don’t believe that it was.
Even more bizarrely, I answered the call. Yes, I actually picked up and spoke. It’s hard to look back and explain that. My friend said there were a few people out at a pub in town and would I like to come along? I said yes. I SAID YES! Not like my brain was working and not like having a drink was a good idea. The only explanation was gut instinct. I felt safer with my friend than with myself.
God knows how I was in any fit state to get to the pub. My friend did a double take when I walked in. I must have looked horrendous. I remember being pale with smudged make up and a terrible slobby outfit. I was like a shell. I don’t recall speaking or any conversation although I still had some small ability to operate on autopilot which I’d perfected over a few months.
I sat next to my friend all evening and gradually withdrew a little from the precipice that I’d been standing on (metaphorically) enough to get through the night and stay in the world.
The person who I finally found the guts to tell about this story in 2016 was the person who called me up. I wanted to thank him from the bottom of my heart for catching onto whatever wavelength was necessary to call me right at that moment and miraculously, to save my life.
Afterwards, when I’d recovered enough to be in a less dangerous place, I felt that I was ‘saved’ for a reason. I can’t explain that, but I felt that it was an act of God and that since I’d been given such a remarkable second chance at life, I ought not to waste it.
Once I’d started to make progress on the first stages of recovery (using medication, rest and quitting my job) I knew that I needed a change of direction in life and career. If I couldn’t speak up about the abuse I’d sustained, I would have to work out my gratitude by giving back to the world. Teaching seemed like the most logical conclusion for me. And so it was that my failed suicide attempt was turned into my initial desire to become a teacher.