I'd Rather Be Dead Than Continue to Live This Way
I'm going to do it. Unless You put an angel in my path to stop me, when I get home I'm going to end my life.
I am a planner. I tend to plan everything to the very last detail. I do not like when things do not go according to my plan. Things rarely go according to my plan. Case and point, my life.
I wanted to have children, but I wanted to have them on my time table. After 5 years of marriage, just when I felt the timing was right, my husband started to feel some serious discomfort and restlessness surrounding his job. We decided he should start to look for work elsewhere and we would hold off for a little longer before trying for a baby. Although really, that was not in my plan.
After 2 more years and countless failed opportunities he announced that he wanted to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That was also not in my plan. Eighteen months later he was 1200 miles away in Quantico, VA training to become a Special Agent. Day one of training, we were told we had 6 weeks to make a list ranking the top 56 FBI field offices in order of our preference for our first assignment. I ran out of places where I wanted to live at #6 on the list. I agonized over this list for weeks before finally settling on an order.
Six weeks later, we were told that they had selected for us our #21 city of preference, Salt Lake City, Utah. Where?! That was definitely not in my plan. Six months later we were living on practically the other side of the world and I was 3 months pregnant with my first child. Nothing in my life was going according to my plan and I was miserable. My husband was always gone or busy and always on the clock. We became strangers living under the same roof. He had no idea what was going on inside of my head and my heart. No one did.
After Wesley was born, I sunk into a deep and dark depression. Motherhood was not at all what I had envisioned and I was totally out of my element. I hated my life in Utah and I was angry with God (and with Eric) for putting us there. It felt like I was being punished.
After a while, we joined a church and I started making some connections with people. The mask I wore had gotten to be very thick and still no one knew what was going on with me. Whenever I would drop off or pick up Wesley from the nursery, I would get a little boost because the volunteers would gush over what a good baby he was. My perceived failures as a mom were being covered by their perception of my success. My identity quickly became wrapped up in what people thought of my child. However, by the age of 15 months, the messages I was getting started to change. Behaviors he exhibited weren’t so sweet and cute anymore and with every negative report came more guilt, more shame, and more hiding. I couldn’t tell anyone that I was torn apart inside and barely hanging on.
This continued for years and as more behavioral challenges arose and as Wesley was moved from class to class and teacher to teacher and even kicked out of 2 different schools. I was forced to pretend that I had it all together and I was handling everything in stride. In reality, I was in a pit so low that I couldn’t see the light of day and still no one knew - not even my own husband.
But then, God sent me an angel to literally save my life. Watch this. (And grab the tissues!)
It’s been nearly 3 ½ years since that fateful day at the lake. I am a shadow of the person I was then, and I have experienced more growth and healing in these past 3+ years than at any other time in my life. It was quite a shock to everyone – my family, friends and especially my husband. They realized just how close they came to losing me. I owed it to them to be honest, even when it hurt. This was an essential part of the process because I had gotten so good at hiding.
I attended therapy sessions multiple times a week at first, then slowly tapered off to a couple times a month until we moved to Indiana a year and a half ago. All throughout my struggles, I believed the lies that I was not enough for my children, that I had irreparably damaged them, and that they would all be better off without me. I believed that my husband loved his job more than me and that it was just a matter of time before he found someone else and would leave me. It’s easy to believe lies when you have no one to tell you the truth. That was another essential part to my healing. I was no longer allowed to let those thoughts linger unchecked and affect my mood and behavior. I learned techniques to argue with my thoughts and to think out loud with the people around me, to give them a chance to defend themselves, and me.
My oldest son has since been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, among a few other things, and we have gotten help and support for all of us. That has also made a huge difference. When he struggled, I struggled. I needed to learn how to separate my mood and emotions from his mood and emotions. That’s hard for us as mothers and especially those of us with special needs children. We give so much of ourselves to our families and leave so little for us. Taking care of me is taking care of my family.
After moving to Indiana, I hired a life coach to help me continue my path to wellness. My goal is thriving, and on a good day, you might find me there. I don’t live there, yet.
I may always struggle with a tendency towards anxiety and depression, but I don’t ever have to struggle alone. Neither do you. Tell someone. It may feel weak, but it may be the bravest thing you will ever do.
Thanks to Michele for being so vulerable in sharing her story in our Story Time series.
Mama stories that prove we are all in this together without having it all together.
Michele Zimmerman is a stay-at-home mom to two energetic boys, Wesley, 8 and Miles, 4. She has been married to her sweetheart, Eric, for 17 years and they currently reside in Fishers, Indiana. Michele loves wine, naps, and her boys… not necessarily in that order.