A while ago someone very important to Gregory and me, a young girl in her teens, was "date raped" and in her grief attempted suicide. I wrote her this letter:
I want to sit down with you and talk until there is nothing more to say. I want to ask you questions, I want to tell you things, I want to listen to you. I want to cry with you and I want to laugh with you. I want you to learn from my experience and I want to benefit from your fresh outlook on life. I want to sit down with you and talk until there is nothing more to say.
I want us to talk about love and hate, good and bad, heaven and hell. I want us to talk about the process of growing up, about doing good, about making mistakes, about making amends. I want us to talk about making difficult decisions and easy ones. I want us to talk about making good decisions and about making decisions that may not be in our best interest.
I want us to talk about the past, and the present, and the future. I want us to talk about rape, and suicide, and life, and death. I want to sit down with you and talk until there is nothing more to say ... except that you are a wonderful, talented, beautiful, good, loving, giving, exciting person ... no matter what happens and no matter what anyone may say.
You went through a terrible experience. I cannot say, “I know how you feel” but I can say, “I can only imagine” what you went through, felt like, thought about, hoped, feared. I tossed and turned all last night as I slept and dreamt about what I could say to you to make sure you were truly all right, to help make everything better for you, to make sure you were out of danger of being unhappy with yourself, or embarrassed, or worried about what others would say.
Life is such a fragile thing and it can be gone in a second. I cannot think of anything sadder than if you had succeeded in taking your life and then those who love you would not have been able to say, “We love you NO MATTER WHAT! There is NOTHING that you could do that would make us love you less! There is NOTHING that could happen to you that would make us love you less!”
Suicide ends a problem but does’t solve it! Hopefully, probably, certainly this experience will look like a tiny piece of Hell compared to the vast Heaven of what your life will be because you didn’t succeed in the attempt.
Barbara Kingsolver, an amazingly accomplished and successful essayist, in her book “Small Wonder” talks about it in this way. And remember she is a full grown adult (now 55 years old) looking back in her diary at an experience she had when she was 19:
“I am nineteen, a grown woman curled like a fetus on my bed. Curled in a knot so small I hope I may disappear. I do not want to be alive. I’ve been raped. I know his name, his address, in fact I will probably have to see him again on campus.... (it feels like) I was supposed to prevent what happened.... Tonight when he came to my door I was happy, for ten full seconds. Then my head against a wall, suffocation, hard pushing and flat on my back screaming for air. Fighting an animal twice my size. My job was to stop him, (but I couldn’t.) From this vantage point...in the center of my bed, I understand the vast ocean of work it is to be a woman among men, that universe of effort, futile whimpers against hard stones, and oh God I don’t want it.... I don’t want to live in this world.... (but) I WILL get up from this bed... and I WILL be someone... and the weight WILL fall.”
So Dear One, be good to yourself, love, forgive whom ever you need to forgive, and get on with life. In time the horror of this experience will pass and you will be stronger, more beautiful, more in touch with who you are and what you want from life. Truth will reign.
Gregory and I wish we could make it all better for you, but that’s not how it works. We do know however, that with the support of those who love you, you have the strength of character and belief in yourself that it takes to “make it better” for yourself!
Written in October 2009