Monday, October 17, 2011

After great pain comes great joy.

The past year and some change has brought many waves of emotions along my journey of transformation. I have dealt with all of the serious, underlying issues of my life like past relationships, sexual assault and sexual abuse, the death of a dear friend and soul mate, and hurtful voices of my past. Sitting here today, I feel emancipated from the fear, anger, bitterness, and harm I felt for years like it was slavery of my whole being, not just mind, but my body and my soul as well.

One thing I have been reflecting on lately is the experience of dealing with my near suicide attempt. I realize that some of my readers may need to re-read that statement, especially if they are family, but this is a very real situation in my life that I want to share. I have found that when we open ourselves up, it invokes the same in others, and even just through this blog, I've heard some amazing stories about healing and other stories about how the person is inspired to heal. That is what this blog is all about.

For about 10 years, I had what I called a "wrist phobia." If someone would touch the insides of my wrists, especially the main artery, I would literally freak out. It was uncomfortable. I didn't wear bracelets or anything around my wrists, including sleeves, because it was psychologically painful, and I didn't know why I felt this way until last November when I spoke out about my experience with suicide.

About 10 years ago, I was in a very hard place in my life, like most high school students, trying to figure out who I was, what my role in the world was, and what I meant to others. I was having a very hard time with my peers, my family, and my friends, so I figured I was the one who was the problem, right? It was the common denominator. So, one late night in December, I went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and held it at my left wrist. I felt the cold blade against my skin and I froze. I just stared at my situation, partially numb just by the sheer fact of what I was doing while also full of emotion- anger, resentment, fear, depression, pain.

I was focused on all of the negative voices that had invaded my mind and my heart, flooding me with sadness and despair, until images of my family began to overshadow every thought. Conversations with my dad popped up, including a recurring one. "What would you do without me, Dad?!" I would ask. "I don't know, but I hope I never have to find out," he would always retort. My mother's beautiful, gentle, encompassing embrace swept over me. My brothers' faces, laughter, and warmth filled my mind. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and close family friends all seemed to appear in that kitchen, making my body tingle with love and regret at what I was about to do. A resounding "No, Anslee" was all I could hear, think, or feel, so I put the knife down on the counter top and walked away. I cried myself to sleep that night all the while begging for forgiveness and thanking God for the incredible people who have raised me. I thanked God for love - and for Love.

Much like some other traumatic events from my past, I suppressed this experience for about 10 years. It manifested itself in my body as a reminder by my wrist phobia, nagging at me to come to terms with this event in my life, but I did not see the light until almost a year ago. The East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) was my moment to share my experience with suicide as a response to the teen bullying suicide epidemic that had been going on the months preceeding E.A.S.T. It was an emotional experience for me to create the art installation that I did, but through that process, I made some really incredible friends in some of my fellow artists part of the show and in some patrons who viewed my journey through art and responded emotionally to their pasts alongside me. E.A.S.T. 2010 was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. After expressing this event through art, my wrist phobia went away almost immediately.

Move to this past Wednesday when I was wrapping my hands for my boxing gloves the first time. Grace said, "You have to make sure you wrap your wrists to protect them, so we wrap that the most." I looked at her, watched her wrapping technique, and gave the world my gratitude that this experience is no longer hindered by my past. I want to wrap my wrists! I want them to be strong and protected and stabilized. I want them to be touched by the black cotton, then layered with the glove elastic, because this represents growth and change and strength, banishing any amount of darkness that may have lingered there. I'm excited to feel this part of my body that had been a psychological distress for me for almost 10 years of my life. Overcoming my past, represented by a mental block, was a joy for me a year ago, but it is a triumph for me today as my life is improving daily and with every boxing practice.

"After great pain comes great joy." This saying is very true, but it is even more true when you delve inside yourself, take where that pain is coming from by the hand, lead that experience and everything it has consumed out of your life, and set it free. This joy is everlasting because this experience is no longer a recurring obstacle along your path. That freedom is completely, absolutely, and wonderfully priceless.

Choosing to live was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but it was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best decision I have ever made. And that's an understatement. Thank you for reading.

If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, please reach out. 1-800-SUICIDE is always available to someone who needs help.


Chris Connell said...

Well, we are all very glad that your "near-attempt" was not successful. I too put myself in the situation at one point. I always put on such an heir of confidence and positive attitude when truthfully it mostly masked tremendous self doubt and pain. I don't know if it was the whole "late bloomer" situation or just the fact that I was a very rotund teenager. Either way, I decided my mask was still something that people benefited from seeing. Later, I believe I grew into that person that I wanted to be. If you believe you can be something hard enough- you will. Just don't give up before you get there. I love you very much and though we haven't always seen eye to eye (and probably very seldom will), I support your perseverance and free spiritedness. You are truly unique and the world would not be the same without you. Love, bro

SamTyler said...

Such a wonderful post. :-) You are a brilliant star in my night sky!