So I had survived. Right?
I was alive and this was a good thing. Right?
I wish that surviving a suicide attempt is all sunshine and rainbows and a sudden realization that life is worth living. But it was not for me. That realization would take years and years to cultivate. It is still something I struggle with at times in my life currently. So at age of 18, almost 19, I was nowhere near that place. Instead I had descended into a pit of self destruction that makes me surprised that I was able to accomplish anything.
I have to say honestly that my faith sustained me and my friends upheld me. As I have mentioned before, I was raised in the Catholic Church. My hometown church, St. Mark’s was one of the places where I truly felt like I belonged, where I felt loved. So I
continued to attend church at the Newman Center at UB with my friends. Most of my friends at the time were also Catholic and we all went to Church together. But even this eventually gets pushed to the very limit of my endurance.
Right after the first time I tried to kill myself, my friends and I went on a church retreat to Niagara County. I remember it being next to a cliff that had the icy cold water of the Niagara Gorge at the bottom and I remember thinking at the time that it would be so easy to jump into those icy cold arms in the morning fog.
But I loved my friends too much and I knew I couldn’t do this to them. And my family. I ached at the pain that I had caused them.
This was my obsession for months, how much pain and hurt I was causing other people because I could not find my way out of my darkness.
There was just so much layered on top of me.
The obvious that I would obsess about- the fact that I wanted to feel normal and date like normal girls.
The underlying- the fact that my blackness prevented me from engaging fully into the life that I wanted and the unfairness of it being something I had no control over.
The deep seeded- the pain of adoption, of childhood abuse and of memories I was not yet willing to even confront.
They all swirled around in my conscious and my subconscious mind. All while I was trying to be successful at a very strong academic institution with an eye on my future goal of being a rich lawyer.
I had no Idea how to do it all. But there was no way I was going to let those people from my hometown who talked bad about Black people be right about me.
I knew if I didn’t succeed, that my guidance counselor who told me that I’d never get into UB would gloat. And the worse thing would happen, I would have to return to Rushford.
And returning to Rushford would have been the ultimate defeat.
So I continued to fight as I was in the abyss. I continued to write and document my struggles and my obsessions.
Eighteen turned to nineteen and some of my friends from back home came up for my birthday. I realized how different my two worlds were then and I made a decision that I would have to completely close that other world out of my mind in order to succeed.
Blocking things out doesn’t make them go away. Skeletons always come out of our closest. But then I was trying to just bury them.
My friends were not letting me just hide away and disappear. They were trying to help me.
There were gentle offers of help. “Your hair is so soft, I know someone who can help you do it.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my hair. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
My friends had been around more Black people in their lives than I had ever been. My hair was jacked up and they knew it, but were too kind to say that.
Some of them saw even deeper into what was eating at me.
There’d be conversations with friends. “You know, I was molested by my Scout Leader when I was a kid if you ever wanna talk about it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Why do the people around you see more deeply into you than you will see into yourself? I appreciate my friends to this day for opening a dialogue of acceptance in me on an issue that I may have never confronted without their understanding.
But this too would take time.
Some of them just wanted to sit and hang out and make sure I was ok.
“Come on Sara, let’s go outside and sit in the sun”
“Come on Sara, let’s go out!”
“We’re all going to study, come on!”
And the ones who would help me escape.
“Hey, let’s go get high”
“Let’s go out. It’s quarter draft night!”
I had friends that served all my purposes.
As freshman year ended and I started my summer internship, I was definitely at a point where I was simply just “walking through the clouds.” Surviving for those around me. And I would soon meet another person on that same crash course who would escalate my destructive behavior exponentially.