by: Lynn C. Tolson
By the time I was ten years-old, I was writing poetry about my terminal sadness:
If I could die it would be so easy, Just to leave it all behind.
To fall into a silent peace, And ease the pain of my troubled mind.
I knew that I did not want life to hurt. When I turned eleven years-old, I took a bottle of Excedrin to relieve the pain. It was not a headache I was trying to cure. I was trying to vanquish the nightmares I experienced, even during the day. I even took an over-the-counter pain-reliever called “Vanquish” as if the name of the drug would make it so. This mixture of aspirin and acetaminophen may have been my first suicide attempt. One way or another, I had forget, even if it meant obliterating my self.
When my step-mother was pregnant, and my father climbed into bed with me, he told me “it” was my “duty as his daughter.” Then, he whispered: “You will remember…. Nothing.” This was not the first time I’d heard those words from my father.
When I was thirteen years-old, my brother, who is three-and-a-half years older, forced me into his room, and forced himself on me. He, too, whispered those words: “You will remember…Nothing.” How did he know those words? My father and brother said that if I told on them, I’d be banished from the family, or my mother would die. Their lies had power.
I had been an A student. My grades fell when I could no longer concentrate. I was trying to remember… Nothing. I experimented with drugs, including LSD. When I was sixteen, my mother said she was at “wits end” with me and my step-father committed me to a psych ward. My brother went to college, as if nothing had ever happened. My father said he’d “disown” me, as if I were a possession.
My father committed suicide when I was nineteen. I was relieved, yet my own death wish became stronger. At twenty-five years-old, I took 300 pills. By this time, I needed more than aspirin to cure what ailed me. I took narcotic pain pills prescribed for migraines. The ICCU cardiologist told me that I’d been “gone” for over two minutes. I was transported to a psych ward.
Eventually, I found a therapist who explained that suicide is not a psychiatric condition. “It is an extreme reaction to extremely harsh human conditions.” With therapy, I began to heal from child abuse.
Safe from the prying eyes of my father and brother, I started to use a journal. I wrote stream-of-consciousness; free-floating phrases flew into my mind from out-of-the-blue.
I turned to art as a balance to journal-writing. I use watercolor as a base, and affix rice paper as a texture, and an abstract style evolves that expresses emotion. Rather than showing the end-of-life despair, my paintings illustrate a lightness-of-being. Viewers often say that they feel peace and joy when gazing at my art-work.
I continue healing with talk-therapy, art-therapy, massage-therapy, anti-depressants, and holistic health practices to find peace in a moment. I have a desire to share a message of hope. Although journal writing was a cathartic experience, my books, essays and poems are written with the courage to face my fears, with compassion for myself and others, and a conviction to tell the truth. With truth comes power!