This week I heard that an old school friend had died. He was a good guy. I’m not going to write his name or any other details because I don’t know much, but I do know that he had problems similar to mine a few years ago. And I haven’t quite written all the details about my own issues a few years ago. Maybe it’s time?
What I have written is that:
- In 2009 I was in a traumatic situation.
- I got my son out of there first.
- Then I went to rehab and the rest is history.
But that’s not the whole truth. I didn’t want to go to rehab. I wanted to die.
I had lost almost every worldly possession. I found myself living in a single room behind a more or less abandoned house, with my girlfriend, my son, and a dealer, and no hot water. This was after she had sold off most of my possessions while I was at work, had rented out the garage to two different people who didn’t know about each other, had used the rent money I left her (to pay the landlord right next door) to buy drugs while I was at work.
I didn’t know she was sleeping with him. Not until too late. They ended up sleeping together in front of me. I had no friends, no possessions, no self respect left. Only self hatred. Every plan to get out of there was thwarted. Once I even rented a room in the local back packers, and went to work, only to have someone call them and impersonate me, claiming I was sending someone over to get my money back. And she went there with him.
He, who had a reputation for being a “drug lord”, was just another addict, who supported himself by shoplifting. He went to jail once in those months of my homelessness, and I had a few weeks of less pain, but she stole money from me and bailed him out while I was at work. Also, at some point the affair became open knowledge. At some point I learned that she was “his girlfriend” from others, and eventually I ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with them in a bed in the same room.
Meanwhile my son became attached to the guy, who affectionately called him “small boy”. I was an outcast, even from my own son and the girl who I thought was the love of my life. Josh was between 12 and 18 months old then.
I even prayed, despite not believing on god. My payer went like this: “Please god, let me die. Please god, let me die. Please god, let me die.” But god didn’t listen because there’s nobody on the other side of that connection.
At the same time, I had voices in my head constantly, voices that mocked and tortured me, reminding me what a failure and loser I was. I lost my job because I was out of my mind, unable to perform at work between trying to do my work, being on the phone with social development many days trying to convince them to remove my own son, worried sick that he might wonder into the abandoned swimming pool on the property while they were off doing fuck knows what… and every afternoon I’d break down in tears, at first in the toilet and eventually in front of everyone in the office because I couldn’t manage anymore.
All I wanted was release. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t know what would happen to Josh. I imagined the worst case scenario, in which he would not be removed from them but would be exposed to criminals and drugs throughout his life and would forget all about me.
After everything else failed, when my brother presented me with the opportunity to have Josh removed, I leaped at it. I hid from them that people from Child Welfare were coming, and went with them to say goodbye to Josh so that he could be put on a plane to go to Johannesburg with my brother.
My plan was to get Josh out of there and then be free to commit suicide. But somehow I couldn’t do it. Instead, my last attempt to get out was to trick the arsehole into beating me up the night before my girlfriend’s mother came to visit, so that word could get to my brother about the state I was in and he might help get me to rehab. It was a stupid desperate plan but it worked.
But still, I felt a failure for a long time afterwards, convinced that I didn’t live because I was strong but because I was weak, and lacked the courage to go through with it. In rehab I became obsessed with her and managed to convince others to get her out of there, and somehow I managed to succeed.
My point is… I know how it feels when all hope is lost. I know how it feels when all you want to do is die. But it does get better. It doesn’t have to end in suicide. And things can work out for the best. I’m now over five years and eight months clean and have had my son back for about three and a half years. I’m still suffering from some strange long term effects of my depression… when things go wrong, my mind still goes there, as if suicide is always a valid route from my problems. It’s weird and I would never do it, but there’s still a dangerously dark side to my psyche. Maybe one can never get over trauma completely, but one can cope. I have and so can you.