part twenty-one

My husband did visit this therapist for quite awhile. I really think he knew he had no choice because I’d told him that if I was going to stay with him, he was going to go. Would I have left him at that point? I don’t know. I’d like to think I would have however I also remember being relieved that I didn’t need to deal with that particular kettle of fish at the time. Our youngest daughter was only one year old and, as odd as it sounds, it was *comfortable* where we were.

I managed to finish school during all this and was a certified medical assistant at a birthing center in our area. I liked the job but began having some issues with getting my duties accomplished. I ended up leaving there after a few months to stay home again with my children as my beliefs, about myself, my family, my life, came crashing down around me. It was becoming more and more clear that I had some serious issues to deal with and I’d avoided them as long as I could.

Several years later I ran into someone from the preschool the girls attended and as we were talking about the school and some experiences we’d shared there, this woman told me “You look like you’re doing well. You seemed pretty out of it then.” I remember thinking “Honey, you have no idea…” and simply told her “Yea, it was a pretty tough time for awhile.”

I had been doing some hard work in therapy. I was experiencing lots of pain in my body. It would keep me awake most nights. I became familiar with anxiety attacks so severe it was nearly impossible to function. I remember very clearly the night in mid July 1994 when I woke from a nightmare, sat straight up in bed and said “Ohmygawd, it’s not me. It’s THEM.” For so long I’d been trying to figure out why I was nothing like my family and why things were the way they were with them. I felt guilty for being such a terrible daughter, wife, mother, niece, grandchild, cousin, christian, insert whatever word you want here, person.

During this period my therapist and I talked alot about my thoughts and ideas and what it was like growing up. Some people might find it odd to know that whatever I told him (and what I believed) was not reality. It was the story I’d held on to for as long as I could remember to maintain some kind of normalcy I guess. I remember for a very long time I was certain that my family was wonderful and that they’d be there in a heartbeat if I needed them for anything and that we were all so close it was amazing. As I look back to that time while writing this I am stunned at the difference between the reality and what I believed for so long.

I reached rock bottom in March of 1995. The 22nd to be exact. I’d been in pain for more than 24 hours straight. I had three young children who were being babysat by whatever was on t.v. as I called my therapist and left a message. His receptionist was a friend and when I called and begged for an appointment, she told me there was nothing available. I asked her to give Chris a message and she told me he wasn’t back yet and she didn’t know when he would return. I said, and I quote, “I guess I’ll see you at my funeral then.” and hung up.

I had a plan. Between the meds I took and the meds my husband took, I had more than enough to crush up, mix with my children’s food, feed them (there was no way in hell I was leaving them alone with their father or anyone in my family) and then as they were falling asleep for the last time to take the rest myself, and we’d all four go to where ever it is we go when we die. I just wanted the pain to stop. But I refused to leave my babies.

I sank to the floor and curled up in a tight ball and sobbed until I could sob no more. I was exhausted physically and mentally and as I began to realize I needed to check on my children, I heard sirens. I walked into my bedroom for a moment and then came the banging on the door. My little girls ran down the hall to me yelling about the door (those poor babies) and I managed to get there and open it. On my front porch were what seemed like hundreds of firemen, paramedics and police officers. Of course there weren’t anywhere near that many but dang my living room was crowded.

One of the paramedics asked if I was Traci. I said “Yes.” He said “We had a call that you were having some trouble here.” My therapist had returned to his office, gotten my message, the receptionist told him what I’d said and he called 911.

I have to say that all those emergency personnel were so good to me. They were very kind and concerned and checked me out well. I talked with them honestly and said I was ok now. I told them that I had planned it and had the meds in my hand and my two year old had come into the kitchen doing something sweet and I simply could not do it. That was the night my motto was born…

::: I survived what it took to get me here and I will survive what it takes to get me out of here :::

I thought I had convinced the emergency folks that I was ok enough to stay home. I was wrong. All the firemen and paramedics had left and two kind police officers remained. We talked and the guy in charge asked me if I had anyone who could come be with my children for awhile. I told him I didn’t know but could make a call. I got ahold of a friend and her husband who was an elder in the congregation that I didn’t attend frequently enough. I explained that the police were there and I thought they were going to take me to the hospital. To her credit, she came immediately. Now that I think of it, I don’t believe I ever thanked her properly. She took my daughters home with her to play. Her oldest daughter babysat my girls quite often and her youngest daughter was a year older than my youngest. My girls LOVED her girls. It was a good thing.

As Gloria arrived, I wrote a note for my husband that said “They’re coming to take me away, oh my” and also told him where the girls were. The officers escorted me to their car and kindly waited until my daughters were gone before hand cuffing me and placing me ever so gently in the back of their patrol car. What a odd feeling that was. By this time I was numb. Completely. I was also exhausted.

After arriving at the hospital, I got a first hand lesson in how mental health patients are treated. I was placed in a room just off the emergency floor and left there. For what seemed a very long time. Gloria and her husband arrived after quite some time and we talked. Paul was fabulous. He told me about his own suicide attempt and what it meant to him and to my children that I hadn’t carried through with my plan. He said “Traci, I understand the pain and I promise you there is a better way.” What a kind man he was. Together we convinced the social worker who arrived that I was not a danger to myself or anyone else and they eventually let me go home.

Paul and Gloria drove me home and my husband was there wondering where the hell I was. I said “You got my note didn’t you?” He replied “Yea but it’s a song lyric. That doesn’t tell me anything.” I told him I’d been arrested and escorted to the psych ward and he just looked at me weirdly and walked off. That. Was. It. He never mentioned it again. Not. Once.

to be continued

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. You have certainly come up from the ashes. The consolation is that when you have survived something like that, it can only make you stronger. And your husband’s reaction?! There are no words. (Apparently he had none, either.) Which reminds me of the words to another song: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” So true.

    Reply

  2. You’re an amazing woman, Traci. And your motto is a good one for anybody. In fact, I’m borrowing that, for WTF.

    Reply

  3. I love that just as you gave your girls life, they gave yours right back to you. You are my hero, Twinnie.

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  4. Oh, Traci. My dear, sweet friend. I know what it is to stay here for the children. I really do. I’m glad that you and I both want to stay here for ourselves now. Even when it’s hard. {{{{{{{{Traci}}}}}}}}

    Reply

  5. Traci, my heart aches, and I have tears in my eyes. I’m so glad you found a different solution. The world would have been worth much less without you. :’)

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  6. You are so much stronger then you know. And I second what Lynilu said.

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  7. “I survived what it took to get me here and I will survive what it takes to get me out of here” – brilliant. Others will take strength from you sharing that.

    Reply

  8. I can vividly remember actual dates of trauma too. I third what Lynilu and Caroline echo!

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  9. Posted by Boston Pobble on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    TTG for Paul and Gloria. TTG for kind officers. TTG for YOU!

    (and yeah, I’m back…)

    Reply

  10. Thanks so much for this post. I have been through some of the things you have written about (especially the part about family). Your motto is extremely profound. I am so glad you found another way instead of taking your life.

    I think anyone who has gone through what you have and survived is DEFINITELY much stronger than they realize.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have quoted you on my site as well as added my own experiences in brackets. I started my blog as a way to “talk” out what I have gone through and to let others going through similar situations that they are not alone. Please let me know if quoting your post bothers you and I will edit my last post.

    Thanks so much for your strength and willingness to share your experiences so that others can take strength through you. Please remember that you are not alone.

    Reply

  11. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom to start up again. I’ll bet today it fills you with horror to think about what you might have been capable of doing at that time.

    Sending love and warmth and light and hoping that you are surrounded by care and laughter.

    Reply

  12. That’s an amazing motto. I’m so glad that you survived.

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  13. Wow. I’ve been down that low before as well, complete with time in “the ward.” SO wonderful to see you’ve made it back.

    Reply

  14. So great that he went. It is a big first step.

    Reply

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