Don't Give Up
Author's Note: This is a blog I wrote after seeing author and comedian Kevin Breel, a young man who has found his calling in life at an early age - helping to prevent suicide. Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals mentioned.
Some days are harder than others, eh? This life is not for the weary or the faint, that's for sure. Over the past month or so, I've been receiving clues that I'm meant to help those who are feeling suicidal, desperate and wanting to move on from their physical existence here on planet Earth. I've been there. I understand. I met a young man the other day, the author of Boy Meets Depression, Kevin Breel. After his moving presentation, I told him there are some days when my pain seems just too much to bear, and I stay in this dark, dark corner for a few days, wallowing in my sorrow. I take the proper time to acknowledge my pain, come face to face with it, and then I triumphantly move Farther On in my mission.
I briefly shared with this young man that I feel trapped in a marriage and in a world surrounded by people who don't get me, and no matter how much I move forward in my path, sadly, they never will. I've been called every name in the book. Crazy. Delusional. Apparently, I'm "the biggest fucking loser. I'm the most selfish, self-centered person; I don't even deserve the title of mother because I have abandoned my family to follow this calling." Ouch. Oh, dear God, those words - those knives in my back - still hurt. As I reflect on this painful baggage of mine and how much that has weighted me down for the past few years, it brings tears to my eyes. It's just been waiting to be taken out with the trash for far too long.
Funny, I've just spent two hours or so tackling my kids' messy rooms, taking sheets off their beds, putting clothes into neat piles to be put away by them, cleaning their nasty bathroom, and then stopping for a moment to or so to whip up French toast for my oldest child. Clearly, I've hardly abandoned my family or my children, yet why do I always, always go back to these horrible thoughts that were pummeled into my memory?
They say that sticks and stones may hurt your bones, but words will never hurt me. That's just not true. Words hurt, and they create scars. I've held onto these chains that bind me, perhaps somehow believing that I really am some horrible mother for following the path that has been laid before me. Most recently, I was told that if I wanted to save the world, then I must find a "Sugar Daddy." Nice, eh? I must work full time and make more money to support my family. That was quite a blow. Translation:
You will never be good enough.
It doesn't matter how hard you are working, it's Not enough.
It doesn't matter if you are working two jobs, It's Not Enough.
It doesn't Matter if you're trying to build an intiative
to stop things like human trafficking, modern day slavery, and suicide
from happening in our world,
you need to make more money.
You need to give more,
be more, and
You will never be enough.
We mothers get the short end of the stick in this life, that's for sure. It's so hard to find the proper balance between working and raising a family, isn't it? We are encouraged to go to college, get a degree, and work hard for a few years before we begin a family. We lose ourselves once the kids come along. We opt to bring our babies with us to dinner or just stay at home, because it's easier than listening to the story of "We don't have any money. We're broke. We're in debt. We're not the Rockefellers."Slowly but surely, our identity unravels and we find ourselves lost. When we finally find ourselves again, some people tell us we must stay where we've been. We are judged for doing omething outside of the home. We just cannot win, can we?
The image of a parachute has gotten me through some of my darkest hours this past month. While I've faced this judgment and pain, I've also had teeny tiny miracles appear, one right after another. The trail of bread crumbs is getting easier to see, and the runway is well-lit, so there's no mistaking the obvious path. It's all pretty clearly spelled out for me, "You are on the right path. Do not leave, girl. Keep going. God is working with you and through you, so do not be afraid. Your parachute will open." I do believe the abundace is coming. The earth angels keep arriving, and it has really been quite fun watching this story unfold; however, you just simply cannot make others believe in you or support your dreams, can you?
A few years ago, a year into my spiritual awakening, I received a call from a beautiful woman, the mother of an old college boyfriend of mine. We haven't seen one another in 25 years, but she has always sent me a beautiful holiday card, letting me know how she and the family are doing and sending me lots of love and encouragement. She's one of the kindest, most thoughtful women I've ever met, and we've always had a great connection. That Friday night so long ago now, Regina called to tell me some bad news: her son had spent the past few years in a very dark and confused place. Sadly, he had been at the end of his rope and took his life on November 12th, 2012.
When I first learned of this tragedy, I told this griveing mother - this faraway friend - that I'd pray for her son and that if I received any messages from him, I'd let her know. I told her that I was headed into a weekend of healing and would be also seeing a man who received mssages from people who'd crossed over. I never dreamed this boyfriend, Peter, would come through for me, but he did.
That weekend was profound for me. I'd taken a healing class and for whatever reason decided to share my story about this "random" phone call from my college boyfriend's mother. Wouldn't you know, there was a young woman in the class of eight or so who'd been traumatized by her mother's suicide when she was a little girl. The message was becoming clear: perhaps you can somehow help those who are recovering from a suicide in their family and maybe even prevent someone from taking their precious life.
Sure enough, that weekend I'd also offered to take my two friends to see this presentation of Purple Papers from a well-known healer. I didn't need to connect with any angels in heaven, as I was well on my way in my journey. As far as I knew, I was there to help my friends, but despite having just taken his life, Peter came through - loud and clear. When we dated, he never really treated me with respect. He compared me to his former girlfriends, who were both preppy and who wore expensive outfits from Talbots or some other pishy-posh store. I was not as thinas he would have liked. I was this. I was that. I was essentially never good enough; it's been a recurring theme in my life, you might say.
By the end of our short time together, Peter had managed to take control of every aspect of my life, keeping me from seeing friends and turning me into an old maid at the age of 23. I'd been manipulated into situations where I was denigrated and wounded, emotionally, verbally, and physically. After Peter cheated on me, I guess I finally had had enough and couldn't take it anymore. I fled from the relationship, packing up anything in his apartment, seeking solace with some friends of mine in Newport before heading back to Connecticut. It wasn't the prettiest time in my life, but I survived. I recall turning to alcohol quite a bit to "get me through" that summer of '91.
For as long as I could remember, drinking had always so much fun for me. It was an escape from the dark reality that was my life that summer, I suppose. It would continue to be a source of solace for me until well into my forties. Thankfully, I have not had a drink since the summer of 2014. One of the best things I've ever done is to say goodbye to that false friend of mine, alcohol.
I've said goodbye to a lot of things and to people who no longer serve me. As I stand at the edge of a cliff, I'm trusting that my parachute will, indeed, open. As Kevin Breel said in his talk the other night, in our American culture we've been trained to shove things under the rug and to pretend that life is perfect. Growing up, Kevin learned this the hard way. No one wants to hear about the things which are brewing inside of you. No one wants to hear about your sadness. You're supposed to be happy, happy, happy - all the time. Well, the fact remains, that it is just not possible to be in a state of bliss all the time. Thankfully, like Kevin, I have found the courage to speak my truth and to follow the path God has in store for me. Not everyone understands, but that's okay. It's been a load off my shoulders.
Oddly enough, this past month has brought forth a new friend on the path, Peter's sister. What a gift she has been in my life! Where she came from, I have no idea, but I understand how Karli is meant to play her part in this work to help prevent suicide. She wrote to me on Februay 2nd, asking if we could connect. She wanted to hear more about how her brother had come through for me after he died, so I relayed the story:
That night of the Purple Papers, Peter had apologized for being so mean to me, telling me that he had been a troubled soul for many, many years. He asked me to call his mother and to let her know that the angels had crossed him over to heaven. No lie. This was the phone call I had to make that Sunday evening in November of 2012. Regina sat on the other end and cried and cried, letting me know another intuitive friend had just given her the same exact message from her son who'd taken his life. This was beautiful confirmation for her that her son was at peace - finally.
I thanked Karli for finding me and told her a little bit about the work I was doing, especially coordinating a special concert to stop gun violence in September. She was overjoyed, and we made a plan to speak that following evening at five, eastern standard time. The funny thing is, though, I received a call promptly at five the next evening, but it wasn't Karli calling...it was her mother. Moother and daghter had not spoken one word that day, so this call from Regina was "out of the blue". I just laughed, intuitively knowing that Peter was acting as a spiritual ambassador. He was working behind the scenes to bring us all together to do some work for the greater good. A vision of a Holy Trininty of three women came to me. In that moment, I knew that the healing that would come from this reunion would be profound. Where it will lead, I have no idea. I have a striong feeling it's no accident, though, that I met this young man, Kevin Breel, the following week for his talk about depression and suicide. Let's hope his words can help at least one teenager in our town from committing suicide. Here's a TED Talk he gave that's gone viral:
That night when Kevin spoke, I was shaken by the news that a young freshman and teacher from Staples High School in my hometown of Westport, Connecticut had both taken their lives - all between Christmas and Valentine's Day. My heart breaks for the families, the friends, and everyone in the community who had known these two people who didn't find a way to reach out for help. How did they get to the point of no return? Why had this happened, as Rascal Flatts asks in this song.
Two days after seeing Kevin, I went for a facial. I'd never met this therapist before, but I relayed the fun synchronicities that had come my way that day. I told her how I was being guided to work on the gun violence issue in our country, and that I felt my part would include focusing on suicide prevention. Sadly, this stranger told me she'd received a call that morning: her friend's husband had shot himself, leaving behind a wife and two children to pick up the pieces!! And, oddly enough, this woman's daughter shares the same name as Peter's sister, Karli. What are the chances? Pretty slim. This woman was a single mother to four children, and when I connected on her strength, she told me, "When someone threatens to kill you, you have to leave." Wow. This "random" meeting with this complete stranger was confirmation for me that Karli and I are somehow being brought together to help prevent suicide.
And so, if you are reading this, thank you. I've worked hard at making my way toward the light. I inherently know that I am good enough, I am worthy of the goodness and abundace that awaits me in this journey. I turn to friends and to my trusty counselor when I am feeling down and out. I know that others who have worked to change the world have been called crazy and delusional - Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, and, of course, the dynamic duo of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Most recently, this awesome Troubadour of Peace, James Twyman, has received death threats from Christians for trying to bring peace to the situation in Syria. I told James how sorry I am that he's had to endure these death threats, for I believe in his vision of world peace. I believe that when we come togther as a collective and pray, real transformation and world peace are possible. Ten days after his work in Syria, there's a been a request for a cease fire. I choose to believe that James is making a difference with his work, and I am sure he's come a long way since he first began his misison as a Peace Troubadour. Take a look at this guy's "crazy" global experiment in peacemaking:
Slowly but surely, like James, I am making a difference in the world and shining my light. I hold onto the joy that keeps coming my way. Just this week I received letters from three eighth grade students. They were thanking me for my work in the classroom that week. They each asked how they, too, could help bring an end to slavery in America's fields. It's through tiny these moments like these that I know I am helping to crete change. I can and surely will make it through to the light, even in my darkest hours.
I have set the intention to simply stay in the flow and to follow the river, for those who believe in me are finding me and helping me bring this work into the world. Those who have shunned me, ignored my calls for help or who have allowed my letters to go unanswered, well, they can just step aside. I seek to be loved unconditionally and to be able to do the same in return. I don't have time to be brought down by unbelievers...I've got work to do. And on those days when I find myself brought to the edge of a cliff rather than in the flow of the river, I trust that my parachute will open, and I want you to know that yours will too. Please don't give up. Find a friend. Trust that you are loved and that you are good enough. Life is worth living.
If you are feeling depressed, know that you are not alone. Reach out to a family member or friend. Here's the number to call if you feel you have nowhere else to turn:
Dorina Leslie is the founder of Shine the Light Project, a grassroots movement to prevent things like human trafficking, labor exploitation, and suicide through the arts, education, and awarenss. She welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with artists, musicians, authors, and activists who are passionate about creating a better world in which all people are living free of exploitation. Please feel free to contact her and join in the movement.