The question I always have when I hear that someone’s committed suicide is “Why?”
I remember the first time I’d ever heard of it. I was about 14 and it was on the news. A boy about the same age as me had committed suicide. The television flashed with images of him – captain of the Cricket team, popular at school, images of him and his beautiful girlfriend – cheeks squashed together as they pulled happy faces at the camera. He had so many achievements. His grieving parents cried as they spoke into the camera “He was such a happy person…we don’t understand”…
…and looking at his success and how happy he seemed in his life, I didn’t, either.
Why would you kill yourself when you had so much to live for? When you had so much in your life that was so happy and successful and really blessed?
It made no sense to me.
Especially when I compared my life to his and came up…lacking.
I didn’t consider I had many friends. I definitely wasn’t involved in sports or part of a team of any kind…not unless you consider taking extra English classes outside of school because I loved poetry and literacy so much. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I thought of my home situation and again, came up lacking. My parents would not be crying into the camera if I was to die – they would be forcing themselves not to celebrate, really.
So why did he do it?
Why did Robin Williams – successful, wealthy, famous beloved actor of so many – do it?
Why does anyone?
Well. I can’t say because I don’t know.
But I know this – in my case, it’s because my family have made me feel worthless. It’s because all my life has been spent doing anything and everything to get them to approve of me – to like me – to love me – and I’m unsuccessful.
It’s because at the very core of my being – I’m questioning where I fit into this world.
The way my Dad (my Step Father) says “Son” to my brother. The way he looks at him. The way his face lights up whenever he tells someone about Jay. The way Jay has not only been favoured above me all his life, but the way he seems to be favoured in life in general…
…makes me question who I am in this world and if I matter.
…and the last few months especially with my family – make me feel as if I’ve been deliberately not listening to the answer I’ve been given. The answer I’ve been shown time and time and time again – all through my life. The answer that’s been shouted at me when I’ve sat with the Principal Mr Grey outside the gates of the school as a small girl; because my parents forgot to pick me up again. The answer in the hasty, last-minute Christmas gifts I unwrap especially slowly so it will last at least 10 minutes into Christmas morning while Jay unwraps gift after gift after gift, exclaiming loudly “Oh my gosh! I love it! This is the one I wanted! Thank you!!!” all the way through Christmas day. The answer in every rusty and worn bicycle I pedalled along to school on, while Jay’s brand new bike shone and glistened in the sun. The huge celebrations for Jay’s birthdays and accomplishments. When I got into University, Dad ‘high fived’ me. That was all. At least Pete and Lyn took me to dinner when I rang and told them. I got my answer in the constant, almost relentless way my parents deeply cherished Jay’s very being – his every breath a reason for a celebration. “Jay is so smart”, “My son is so talented”, “He’s top salesman for the year, you know”, “Earning hundreds of thousands and doing it all on his own, wow!”, “He’s guaranteed to succeed, this one”, “So handsome and so tall – just like his Dad”…
…and comments about me? The ones murmured in dark hours of the night or early morning by my parents:
“Don’t quite know what to do with her”
“She gives me a headache”
“That girl will cause me to have a stroke one day”
“…always so emotional”
“…so cautious and quiet – why can’t she just speak up like her brother?”
“…wish she was more like Jay“
“Afraid of shadows, that one. Skittish. Makes me nervous”
“Maybe we should just send her away”
And send me away they did.
I remember so many nights spent at my Uncle and Aunt’s house. I never knew why. Or why Jay wasn’t with me. So many nights in Mundaring at the Rusha’s household – wondering why I was being made a spare bed in the guest room…when my own room was just fine, thank you.
The relief on my parent’s face when a psychiatrist send it “would be best” to hospitalise me when I was barely 16 years old “for a little while”.
I remember peeking beneath my lashes and catching the quick moment where Dad almost smiled; he was so excited to be handing me off to someone else.
These are my memories.
Those folded over, altered pictures where I had been taken out of the frames when my parents threw me out of the house.
Easily passed over, passed on – walked away from.
Not included. Not wanted. Not worth remembering.
Not worth a glance backwards.
It even alters my relationship with God, you know.
Because a dark whisper in the back of my mind reminds me He had His own son, too.
My question is: Am I worth anything?
And the answer from this lifetime of being Jan Daniels…is NO.
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