As my writing and my poetry were showing, I was slipping into a deep pit of utter despair. My mind was painfully confused about who I was and where I was going. My solid standby, my intelligence and my grades were merely average in a sea of greatness. I did not know how to handle any of this and I just wanted to disappear.
When I look back in the fact that it was my infatuation with my closest male friend that put me over the edge, I feel shame. The woman I am today would never be weak over a man. I have always taught my daughters that boys are a dime a dozen and that you don’t get your mind twisted over one. But that wasn’t me then, or for years to come. It would take me years to overcome my insecurity when it came to the opposite sex and at 18, I was overly vulnerable.
I guess we were socialized different back then too. We were taught that we needed men. At least where I grew up. It was an implicit message that your value was tied to your ability to attract a partner. So my inability to do so increased my feelings of worthlessness. My inability to achieve high grades – mostly because of my excessive drinking – added another layer of worthlessness.
One weekend when my friends were all going out and I couldn’t for some reason, I was overwhelmed by this despair and I overdosed on a bunch of Xanax that I had stolen from my father. I obviously had been planning this because I had stolen these pills and hid them away. Something important to remember is that this was 1988, Xanax wasn’t a household name back then. I had never taken anything more than an aspirin or cough medicine in my life. I only knew that my dad said that it made him sleepy and I wanted to sleep. Forever. So I took them.
I was hanging out with some of my other friends in Wilkinson Quad and drinking beers. I must have showed one of my friends that I was taking pills so when I became non responsive, they knew why.
I actually remember my friends trying to get me to walk around and wake up. I know I scared the hell out of them.
I remember going to the hospital and getting my stomach pumped. I remember they gave me charcoal to counteract the medicine. And they tried to get me to throw up. I finally did when they stuck the tubes down my nose to pump my stomach. That was the last thing I remember until I woke up in a hospital and my sister, LaNor, was sitting in the chair next to my bed crying.
I really didn’t know what to think. I know that my first thought was “I’m still here” with disappointment and I wanted to cry. And I felt bad for my sister because she was sad.
Everyone was sad. Nobody could understand.
My friends bought me a ballon and a grey teddy bear that I kept for years. They were also so good to me.
How could I explain? I didn’t understand myself. All I know is that I was still here and I really, really didn’t want to be.
But I had to pretend like I did. So no one was sad and confused about me.
So they would let me stay in school.
If there was one thing that I knew how to do, it was pretend. I was good at pretending and numbing my pain.