Raise your hand if you have ever had something happen to you that was completely out of your control. So out of control, there is nothing in this world you could have done to change it? I imagine most everyone reading this is raising their hand, I know I’m raising mine pretty high. Having out of control things happen is kind of the theme of my life. A lot of my life I felt like I was standing in the aftermath of a great disaster picking up the pieces. The biggest was the death of my father.
I remember like it was yesterday, I can see the images in my mind as if I was just there. I remember being eight years old, waking up on a weekday morning and unable to find my dad. I remember all the blinds were closed, the doors locked and all the lights on. I remember frantically searched for my dad, calling out his name, walking into each room and unable to find him anywhere. I knew I wasn’t allowed to go outside but I thought, maybe he was out there? I knew he liked to smoke outside so our house didn’t smell, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just go outside and check.
I walked out of the house and through the garage and there he was. He was hanging from the tree in our front yard. Sometime in the early morning, he had decided to take his own life and now I had found him. The rest of the morning is a total blur. I remember calling for help, I remember getting my sister up getting her dressed, and telling her we had to wait on the couch for help. I remember police, and ambulances, and a woman in a black suit asking a lot of questions. Even though a lot of the details of the rest of that day are fuzzy, what I saw was something I will never forget, and something I will carry around with me for the rest of my life.
For years after that I was so angry at my dad, I was so angry that he left me. I felt like a kid who been left and forgotten at a store, but no one came back for me, no one remembered I was there. I questioned if he ever loved me if he ever even wanted to be my dad, and I was beyond ashamed to share his last name. I swore so many times I would never be like him, I would never do what he did. I worked as hard as I could to be the exact opposite of my father. So while I worked and worked to not become like him, I became more bitter towards him. I allowed what my father had done to me to affect my life. It became like a poison that I allowed to ruin friendships, relationships, and the every day of my life. I blamed my depression on him, my PTSD on him, and anything else a therapist threw my way. I’d feel like I was on top of things, and then something else would come up with my mental health and I’d be angry all over again and blaming him.
I lived in this vicious cycle for years, constantly unhappy and constantly angry at my dad and with the world. A year before my father died, my mother passed away from breast cancer. But the pain from that and the pain from my dad were totally different kinds of feelings. My mother didn’t want cancer, she didn’t want to die, but she did. It was out of her control but my father chose what he did and that made it hurt so much worse.
But one day everything changed for me. I was mentally unwell, I was having suicidal thoughts, battling depression, and my PTSD even got so bad that I was having nightmares every night about the day I found my dad, and I wasn’t keeping any food down. I wasn’t choosing this for myself, it was just happening, and I realized that my father didn’t choose to struggle with depression, he was sick. He wasn’t trying to leave me, and he did love me, but he was unwell and taking his own life was his solution. I’m sure he felt the way I did in those moments where I didn’t want to live anymore. I felt like I was a burden and that people would be better if I wasn’t around. I never thought I was being selfish, I thought it would make everyone’s lives easier if messed up Brittany went away.
I am sure my father never meant for me to find him, it just happened. But when I finally understood what he was feeling and a little of what he went through, I was finally able to forgive, I finally was able to miss him, and biggest of all, I was finally able to move on!
I turned that hurt into a passion. Is every day easy, HECK NO, but I wake up each day wanting to make him proud. I know he wouldn’t have wanted for me to suffer the way he did so I live each day like he would have wanted me to, and I want to take what happened to me and use it to help others. For so long I was ashamed of what happened to me because it made me the poor little orphan girl, but I am not ashamed anymore. I’m ready to tell the world and show others like me that they are not alone.
Helping others is why I’m writing this blog. I want to create a safe place where people won’t feel so alone.