When I heard about Rick and Kay Warren’s son’s suicide, many emotions erupted in me. I felt intense compassion and was also deeply affected because years ago. . .
. . . it could have been me!
I was a gregarious teenager, had a deep thirst for adventure and loved to explore uncharted territories. Being an outside-the-box thinker, I felt totally misunderstood and violated when a simple incident was mishandled by all involved, and became a turning in my life.
School was out, the holidays were going to be long and fun. I managed to remain with Grandma, where as the first-born grandson, I was king.
Grandma had an equivalent of a thriving Supermarket. With a household full of ‘employees’, mainly extended relatives and some friends, it was a busy home. Everyone had their share of responsibility including doing household chores.
The opportunity to implement some of my newly acquired knowledge in Commerce; Customer Service and Human Relations, to maximize profit for grandma’s business was my focus when I arrived from school. I reorganize the store, streamlined the Inventory System, instituted rigorous procedures for handling the money, and ‘trained’ the ‘staff’ to align them with the new and improved way of doing things. For some reasons, everyone supported me. Grandma rewarded me handsomely with her generous ongoing applause and financial rewards. I had unhindered access to money anytime I needed it. All I had to do was inform her.
Things were going very well, everyone was happy . . . . . until my Mom came to visit. It didn’t take long for me to notice that there was a new Sheriff in town. I interpreted all her actions as hostile to the system I had going. She changed many things without ‘consulting’ me. I felt as though I was being deposed from my kingly throne.
Things went downhill from then.
Our hostilities culminated into a big brouhaha one evening during which an accident was misinterpreted as a malicious attempt on my part to inflict harm upon her. No amount of explaining could redeem me. In my eyes, my mom succeeded in isolating me, tarnishing my image and dismantling my good work.
I felt ashamed, unappreciated and worthless. The pain was intolerable and indescribable, so I choose the best way I knew then, to end it, once and for all.
Creeping into grandma’s small warehouse, I stood still to ponder the action I was about take. Reviewing my 15 years of life on earth, I screamed silently for help, and saw nothing but hopelessness.
The last thing I felt was a sharp pain in my neck. I hang myself!
When I came to, I was in the hospital surrounded by Nurses, Doctors and many other people including my grandma who I saw frantically weeping.
Matt, the Warrens’ son wasn’t so lucky! I’m sure if I had access to a gun then, I would have been a goner too! My heart goes out to their whole family.
Thankfully, I came away alive with many learned lessons, one of which is this, to be misunderstood can be dauntingly isolating. This brings on the fear of being disconnected, which is rooted in shame.
The self-talk goes something like this, “I’m not worthy or good enough for love, acceptance, belonging, or connection. I don’t belong”. And that is exactly the way I felt then.
My ongoing journey through worthiness, acceptance and connection has helped me now better deal with facing shame. I haven’t arrived, but I have learned to be vulnerable enough as I live life to the fullest.
Gazing into the face of shame, how would you define it? How has it felt when you found yourself in its embrace?