written by Deborah Lowrey
Let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household. Every moment that I would start to assert myself as an individual, to have my own thought, to grow or want to be a functional person, it was crushed down. I was told that I could not make a decision for myself and that I would have to rely on others to tell me what to do.
My world came crashing down right after my 30th birthday. I found myself sitting on the toilet seat in my apartment bathroom with a straight razor. I was balling my eyes out. I had grown up in what seemed an endless ocean of tears from childhood till then, but this was body and heart retching; the deepest I have cried and ached in all of my life. I was rocking back and forth, holding the razor and pleading with all my being for God to give me one reason to live. Just one. Because I didn't even have one reason to live.
Hours before the bathroom, I had called everyone that I knew. And in some unconscious way, I had basically told them my final goodbye. No one but Gram (my grandmother) realized what I was doing. And even she didn't realize until the split moment after she had hung up the phone when our conversation ended.
I sobbed the hardest and most painful tears for at least three, maybe four hours. Just rocking back and forth. Pleading out loud for God to just give me one reason to live. Then suddenly I realized that I was dry. I could not physically produce another tear. And felt failure at even that.
For some unknown reason I got up from that toilet seat, placed the razor blade on the basin, walked out the bathroom door into the hallway and turned and started walking to the bedroom. I took three or four steps and was just to the bedroom door when I heard it. "I can't stand another day with this pain. NOT ONE MORE DAY!". My voice. I heard my own voice for the first time in my life!
I felt like I had been hit by lightening. Scared, afraid, exposed, electrified, energized, alive and dead. So many things at once. It was like a huge ocean wave had just slammed right into me. I was stupified. My own voice. I am alive! And a fierce determination hit me. "NOT ONE MORE DAY! I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I can't live like this one more day". There it is again. My voice. It's like thunder that courses through me. It echoes throughout me. I am so scared. I HAVE HOPE! So much went through me standing in that hallway. Floods of emotion, thoughts, and MY VOICE!
At some point I realized that the phone was ringing. I finally answered. It was Gram. She was sobbing. "Please don't kill yourself! Please, please!" she pleaded over and over. She finally calmed down and we talked for the next few hours. She told me that she had desperately been trying to call me for hours. She thought maybe she had been too late. I told her that somehow I was going to change things, get some help or something. We ended our conversation.
A few minutes later the phone rang again. It was Gram. She said that she had gotten off the phone and was sitting at the kitchen table. For some reason, she grabbed the newspaper and opened it... Right to an advertisement about an alcohol counseling organization. She gave me the information and number and said that maybe they could suggest someone that I could go to for counseling.
We said goodbye and immediately I called this number. I was put on hold, and for a brief moment I thought I should just hang up. But I heard my voice once again. And I realized I couldn't stop. I couldn't hang up. It was now or never. I made the appointment for the soonest available time. New Year's Eve. Everyone was partying and spending time drinking, singing Auld Lang Syne. I was going to a counseling appointment. And I really wanted to. I looked forward to it.
It was New Year's Eve. The weather was dismal. Sleeting rain. It was eerily dark. But I carried a small grain of hope. I met Mark. We talked for about an hour and a half. I looked at him and saw the same glow that I had seen from another man, Hubert. I saw life and love and an energy. I looked at Mark, thought of Hubert and said to my self in my voice, "that's what I want to be! That's what I want to see on my face, if even for a day". I wanted to glow. I wanted to live, I wanted to love, be loved, BE love.
Mark gave me a reference for a counselor who he felt confident would be extremely helpful for me. I went home and called Gram and we talked well into the night, right through midnight and beyond.
At some point, I had been watching TV and saw an infomercial on "Making Love Work". I don't know why, but I felt compelled that I really needed to get this video seminar. It arrived, just at the moment that I needed it the most. I took time off from work and barricaded myself in my apartment for three days. I didn't talk to anyone, didn't answer the phone. I listened to the tapes, started to work the exercises and started to cry till my eyes felt like raw sores.
At this moment I had the most intense fear I have ever experienced in my life. Now understand, in my life growing up, I was terrorized at home to the point of not knowing if I was going to live to see the next day. I had also been held up at gun-point, another time at knife point, beaten, raped... many tragedies in and out of the home and many intensely fearful situations. Yet it was THIS moment that scared and terrified me the most... Right down to my inner core. I was petrified.
What if everything my mother said about me was right? What if I was really this horrible, worthless, evil demon? What if it's true that I'm really not special? What if I will have to rely on other's to tell me how to live my life and they need to tell me what to do? What if there really is no hope? I was seized in this most horrible grip of extreme panic and fear.
And I realized... To change, I have to look inside and really see, honestly see, what was inside. I was sure that what was there was pitch black, a wretching stench, an evil that would be my hell to bear for all of eternity.
I made the leap of a lifetime. This crossroad was the hardest one of my life. But to tell you what it did for my life is utterly impossible to verbalized. Those I tell in person feel the intensity. But in short, I saw inside. And realized instantly that I had been lied to. I was not that evil horrible demon with no chance or hope.
And for the first time, I touched myself. I found myself hugging myself. Telling myself that I was so sorry. That I was going to change this. I was going to heal the pain. I didn't realize that I had taken my first real step. I reached out within myself and I loved me. Never did I think how life transforming this moment would be. I felt like tons of weight had been lifted off of me. I felt free for the first time in my life. During the next year I would have dreams every night that I could just close my eyes and I could fly because I was so light and free. And after awhile in my waking hours it almost seemed a reality. I could breathe.
Shortly after this I started going to counseling with Patrick. And actually, I was doing all the growing and changing and then going to his sessions to tell him what I had discovered, what I had changed. But I really felt that I needed someone to act as a guide. I had never been functional, nor had even really been around anyone that really was. There had been a few people that very briefly entered my life, but were not there more than a day here or there.
So I had nothing for me to be able to see or use as an example. After four months of seeing Patrick he finally told me that I didn't need to be seeing him. He said I was doing just fine. I had progressed farther and faster than patients that had been in therapy for twenty or more years.
But I was afraid. What if I have to face something and I don't know what the right or healthy thing is to do? What am I going to do? But I couldn't say it to him. So our sessions stopped and I realized that for the first time in my life I was alone.
But not alone like before. This time, I finally realized, I had myself. I would never be alone ever again. And with this, I set out on another step upward in my growth.
One year later, I had an allergic reaction to some food. I stood suddenly feeling like the coldest ocean wave had beaten down on me. I felt my knees give and went to grab someone's shoulders to steady myself. I briefly remember starting to slide to the ground but don't remember anything that happened the next ten minutes or so except one thing.
My spirit left my body. I had a near death experience. Those that have experienced this understand. It is very difficult to explain. Words fail. But I finally saw people that had died. My great-grandmother... my grandfather. I loved him so. I wanted to stay here. The intensity of love I felt there is beyond anything that I could truly relate. I was home. I was loved, I loved, and was love. An eight year old's prayer answered. It was all that I had ever wanted.
Then I was told that it wasn't my time yet. I had to go back. All I wanted to do was be home. Here. But I knew the truth. I had to go back. I wasn't finished. I knew that one day I would come back home. To stay. And so I went. I remember slamming into my body and my first thought was, "all I have to do is sit up". And finally I did.
Within moments EMS had arrived. I was told that I had slid down someone and fell to the floor and went immediately into seizures or convulsions. After an estimated five minutes they stopped. As well as my breathing and heart. I was lifeless for an estimated five minutes then suddenly without warning bolted up into a sitting position and had flung my arms up on something to help hold me up. I apparently babbled for a little while, arguing with the EMS guys that I did not want to go to the hospital.
I felt so disconnected from my own body. I could barely make it work. It was like wearing something that wasn't mine, that weighed me down. It took days before I could start to really function being back in my body.
But I came back with something more than I had thought. I took a part of that intense love with me. Each time I touch the area just below my collar bone (and for some reason do the sign language sign for 'I'm sorry'), I am able to touch this special place. Tranquility, love, peace, that place, comes rushing into me. I carry that with me every day. Even the days that I forget that I have that place with me, it's always there.
Oh to wish that all people could have this place for themselves. But with growth and time, I have come to realize that to wish this upon everyone would seem a wonderful thing, but would truly be a terrible thing. It would rob everyone of having to experience their own self-empowerment. The staggering realization of how transforming it is. I have that personal power of gaining one's own self awareness. There truly is no greater gift to one's self. A true embodiment of love to one's self. And with this gift, the ability to extend beyond one's self and express and pour out love to others.
Since I have changed my life, become the phoenix come alive and afire from the ashes of complete destruction, as I would say, I have learned many things. I have had many thoughts. Many revelations. Many lessons learned. Through time, I will continue to write and share these lessons learned. Come with me on a continuing journey of love, life and awareness.