Strength to stand back up again

I was 15. My parents were scheduled to meet with my high school principal the next morning. They were going to receive the news that I’d be repeating another year at school. I remember that night very clearly, as I traced lines on my wrist with a penknife. I didn’t sleep a wink, and left farewell messages on my friends’ voicemail. I was ready to pull the plug and let the blood drip out of my body, but I feared the pain and the long process it’d take before I met death.

Hours passed while I went back and forth about taking my life. I feared the pain. Eventually, the time came to leave for school, and I had to leave that penknife on my desk and hope that the mental pain that I was about to endure wasn’t going to be worse than the physical pain that I was afraid of. The news was delivered, and everything that happened after was a blur. I don’t remember how or when my parents left the school compound, but I remember being pulled aside by one of my teachers. She was the only one who asked me how I was doing, and how could she support me.

At that age, and with my given school record, no adult or friend had ever asked me that question with so much patience, love, compassion and empathy. The flood gates opened and I confided in her that I had almost taken my life the night before. She held my hands and looked at me in the eye and said, “Promise me, that you will never do something like that ever again.” I looked at her and remember seeing so much hope and love, her kindness made me believe that I’ll somehow find the strength and courage to walk out of the darkness with grace. I gave her my word.

And because of that incident, I got through high school in one piece – though incidents later on in my life would take me in other directions down the deep end again, but that teacher saved my life. She was there to support me – a troubled 15 year old. She gave me the strength to stand back up again.

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