One night, during the summer after my junior year, was when I had “scheduled” my suicide. That night, as I went over the details of how it would all go, I fell asleep.
I don’t know your beliefs, but I grew up in a loving, Christian home. We never attended church regularly, as my parents had been severely scarred by the ministry they had been involved in previously. As it goes for many, they lost trust in organized religion and leadership but still had solid, true faith in the One True God. They taught us the truth about God, so I knew the basics of the bible, but it was all head knowledge until this point.
When we were old enough to start our journey of self-investigation and relationship with God, they told us that we were free to choose how we worshipped, and no matter what we decided to do, they would support us. Their love was and is unconditional.
So, up until that night, I knew there was a God who was supposed to love me just how I was, faults and all. Even knowing what I knew, the truth had twisted in my head because of the bullying and perspective I had after having a teacher who became my first bully. She convinced me that I held no value or worth in my existence.
I became convinced I was a burden to my parents, family, and all who interacted with me. Years ago, I found the diary I kept at about ten years old. One entry was concise and said it all. I wrote that I didn’t even belong in Heaven.
There was no way God could love me the way I was. I was a burden to Him, too, a mistake. I messed up what He had created me to be, even though I was still too young to understand everything.
When I fell asleep, I dreamed so vividly that even now, I remember every detail of that dream as if I had just dreamed it yesterday, even though it was 28 years ago.
As the dream began, I was watching TV in my parents’ bedroom. Since the air conditioner worked better there, it was a typical place to find me, keeping me away from my sister’s television choice in the living room.
As I got comfortable on their waterbed, I saw my dad standing at the foot of the bed to my left, taking out and cleaning a gun and a knife. He was very calm and asked, “So, which do you prefer to be killed with, the gun or the knife?” I thought for a second and realized that the knife would be messier and more painful, so I responded, “Oh, definitely the gun.”
He said, “Okay,” and focused on preparing the gun. I refocused my attention on the show I was watching as he continued, and after a moment, he said, “Okay, we’re all set. Just lay like you are, watching tv, and it will be really quick.” “Okay,” I said.
As I settled into position, my dad suddenly said, “Oh, wait. You might want to take your glasses off first so they don’t break.”
“Oh, yeah! I don’t want to break my glasses!” I removed my glasses, set them on the side table, and looked again at the tv, which was now severely blurry because I couldn’t see a thing without my glasses on.
As I looked at the blurry screen, my life, past and future, flashed before my eyes. I found myself catching my breath when it dawned on me. I didn’t want to die! I changed my mind.
I asked my dad, “Would it be okay to say goodbye to Mom first?”
“Of course! Whatever you want to do.” He was, after all, doing this for me because I was too scared to cause my own death, and I hated being in pain.
I walked into the kitchen to where my mom was washing dishes, her back to me. As I moved further into the kitchen, I noticed a man standing to her right, leaning against the corner where the counters met, staring at me with this strange, knowing look.
I knew I needed to get away. I didn’t say a word to my mom but snuck by her without her noticing, as though that man and I weren’t even there.
I walked around, watching him watch me as I made my way to our back door. As soon as I reached the back door, the man stepped forward and said, “Don’t look now, but Christen is trying to escape!”
As soon as he said that, I bolted out the door to the patio, and the man bolted after me. I ran around to the front of our house, where our crab apple trees were, as fast as I could. I stopped dead in my tracks as I found a rattlesnake hissing and rising in front of me among the fallen leaves, ready to bite.
The man running after me moved swiftly in front of me and grabbed the snake, draping it around his shoulders like it was his pet. As he did this, he said, “You don’t like snakes, do you?!”
He shoved the head of the snake in my face, taunting me.
He said, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll come with me back to the house RIGHT NOW and finish this!”
I hung my head and let him believe he was leading me back to the house. As soon as he turned toward the house, I immediately bolted again toward the road. I knew if he caught me from here on out, my death would not have been of my choosing. This fight became worthy of dying because I chose to fight to live. I knew the truth I had believed was all lies to keep me from true love: He loves us no matter what and has a plan even when we can’t see it.
The man soon realized I had escaped again and started running after me. I wasn’t going to give up, so I kept running toward the road, screaming as loud as possible for someone to please help me.
A delicate yellow Volkswagen Beetle pulled over as soon as I reached the road. I couldn’t see who she was, but the driver was a woman with long, dark hair. She shouted out the window, “Get in! I’ll help you!”
As I got into the car, I shut the door and woke up with a tremendous start, bolt upright, covered in sweat, and burst hysterically into tears. When I sat up, all I knew was the woman who pulled over to help me was Mary.
Knowing what I knew then, I remembered the symbolism of the figures I had seen in my dream. I knew the devil disguised himself as a serpent to Adam and Eve. I knew Mary was the mother of Jesus, that the delicate yellow color of that Volkswagen Beetle evoked an overwhelming sense of peace and calm, knowing I would be 100% safe once I got in.
I realized through my dream that I was given a chance to see what it would be like to have my wish granted to leave this world.
I saw the reality of what it would do to my family if I went through with it, the pain and suffering that would never ease if I did take my life.
I realized that no matter how much pain I was experiencing, the pain for my parents and family, who loved me unconditionally, would be far greater than any pain I had ever been through or would go through.
That was the moment I decided to live. I also determined it was time to learn more about God and find out why I needed to stay.
To continue reading Part 2 of this blog, click here.