A houseful of kids. Six to be exact. Waiting on the arrival of my husband. It had been a long week and Friday was the only day he got off work early enough to lend a helping hand and enjoy dinner with the family. His expected arrival time passed. Not wanting to upset him, I didn’t call, although I wanted to know when I could expect him. An hour passed, then two, then three. No word from him. I began to reach out, but my phone calls, texts and voicemail messages were all ignored.
I went through the normal cycle of emotions as this scenario wasn’t uncommon. I always counted down the moments until he got home. I loved the anticipation of seeing him, connecting with him and the pure joy I experienced watching all of the kids holler out his name as if a celebrity had visited our home. They’d tackle him for the evening wrestling match—it was always something to look forward to. Those feelings of anticipation would turn to worry; hoping all was ok. The later he was, the more time I had for the emotions to change. Worry would turn to disappointment. I’d feel sad that he wasn’t coming for us. Disappointment would turn to hurt: “why doesn’t he want to come home to us? Why aren’t I enough? What am I doing wrong? What more can I do for him to adore me like he used to?” The longer it took for him to come home, the more time it gave me to stew over these questions. In time, the questions produced anger and a rage within. Despite his arguments of what a disappointment I was, I knew that I gave more than any other wife and mother I knew and in return received so much less.
After months of this routine—and these arguments—his words would permeate my thinking. “Your attitude is what makes me not want to come home.” I’d try desperately to reel in my emotions because I knew if I didn’t give him the proper homecoming of gratitude, he would just turn around and walk back out. All I wanted was for him to be home and love us. I can now see that any love I had for myself came to me through his love and affection. If he took that from me, I was worthless.
I don’t remember what happened that night, but I know the argument turned to yelling and something changed inside me. I couldn’t stand another moment of craziness. I made a break for the gun safe. He figured out what I was doing and chased after me. Our running must have attracted my daughter’s attention. She followed us to our room. As he forced the safe shut with his hand I commanded him to let me open it. I don’t remember my words, but I was committed. I wanted out of this hopeless life and this was the quickest way I could think to make it happen. My daughter’s tear-filled eyes pierced me as she cried out: “No, Mommy. Stop. I love you.”
I cry every time I think of that moment. The desperation in her eyes, her pleading with me as if my life depended on it. What she didn’t know then and still doesn’t know today is that it did. Her display of love in my most hopeless moment saved my life and took away a lifetime of suicidal thoughts. Because of her clearly communicated love and dependence on me, I changed. I would never take myself away from her.
After the kids were in bed, I spent the remainder of the night in the darkness of my backyard on the phone. Too embarrassed to call anyone I knew, I spent quite awhile talking to someone from a suicide hotline. I retold my story in hopes of finding advice so that I wouldn’t return to that place.
My husband kept his distance. After ridiculing me, and then refusing to talk anymore. He made a few comments about how selfish I was and how idiotic my “attention getting” tactics were. He laughed and told me that if I acted like a child that he was going to treat me like one and “pretending to off yourself is nothing more than a childlike tantrum.” I left him to his television watching and video games and went to my room. I cried myself to sleep alone that night. I hoped that some day he would find it in his heart to forgive me and that he would still love me.
Weeks later, my daughter asked, “What is in the black box in your closet?” I knew right away what she was referring to. That sweet girl had not the faintest idea of what I was attempting to do that night. She had no idea the black box she was referring to was a gun safe. I made something up and was grateful the answer I gave satisfied her curiosity. I will always regret that I let myself sink to such a low place, and I am eternally grateful for God reaching out to me in the most powerful way possible. Through my child He saved my life and poured out on me the deepest love and the greatest purpose I had ever felt. Even though I wish that moment never happened, I cannot complain I am forever changed. If They Only Knew …