My story began approximately 36 years ago, at the age of 16. I was a sad, lonely, and distressed teenager and carried into early adulthood a deeply profound state of emptiness, numbness, and lifelessness. Honestly, there are no words to describe the level of despair that plagued me. I was a teenage mother, a high school dropout, and a teenage bride all by the age of 17.
My wedding ceremony took place in the cleaning room of the state prison, where my boyfriend resided at the time. I married the man I wanted to be the father of my child, therefore deceiving him into thinking that he was. My dishonesty had consequences
I contemplated taking my life several times. By the time I was 19, I had run out of ways to numb the pain and could no longer stomach the consequences of how I showed up in the world. I decided that if this was the way my life would be, then living was not viable. I had it all planned out. I remember it like it was yesterday.
I did not come from a religious background, so I had no faith foundation or any way to see a big-picture view of the world in which I lived. My young mind was psychologically traumatized by childhood domestic violence, and I just wanted out. My fragile spirit could not find peace in such a big and overwhelming world.
I had a conversation with my mother 30 minutes before I attempted suicide. I thought to myself, "Is it possible for a mother to look into her child's eyes minutes before she was planning to die and not see the despair in her eyes?" That reality made my existential loneliness, which felt like an out-of-body type of loneliness, that much more real. In retrospect, I realize few parents—few human beings, for that matter—could ever imagine another person, especially their own child, could be contemplating such a thing.
I left my mom and headed upstairs to the back house. It was a long and lonely night as I began taking the necessary steps to prepare for my so-called ending. It was a cold night as I sat on the living room floor of my one-bedroom apartment. I don't believe it's necessary to share my plan's specifics, but let's just say I sat there waiting to die. The depth of my sadness was beyond imaginable.
I must have passed out because I remember waking up on the floor in the same spot the following morning. To my surprise, I was still alive. My suicide attempt had failed.
I jumped up in a complete panic and made an anonymous phone call to the local emergency department, where an actual nurse answered the phone. I explained what had happened, and she assured me that what I had done was not substantial enough to have harmed myself. I was now faced with the ultimate dilemma. I remember saying to myself, "Kamili, you have two choices: one, to make another attempt and be successful, or two, try to figure out how to live." I made the decision that very day to figure it out.
“If you want anything good,
you must get it from yourself”
Suicide Failed, Now What?
Although I made the decision to live, it did not mean I was alive, I was walking dead for many years until I was walking alive. I was on my own, and therapy was a foreign concept in my world. No one should have to take this journey alone. I recommend seeking professional help if you are faced with a situation like mine.
Later that day, I saw Oprah Winfrey on the television screen (this was in 1988) and noticed she was smiling. I have no idea what her show was about that day. I just remember saying to myself, "She's human. I'm human. Why can't I smile like that?"
I pulled out a notepad and wrote "Reasons I want to die" at the top of the page and listed seven items. In exact order, they read:
I feel stupid.
I hate myself
I feel empty
I have no meaning
people don't like me
I don't know who I am
I am a failure
I knew living with these feelings had only two possible outcomes for me: actual death or what I now term "virtual death." Neither one of these were options in my mind any longer.
From that moment on, I made myself believe that I only had one option, and that was to figure out how to live. Thus began my transcendence from a dying mindset to a living mindset. The beginning of my journey started when I awakened on the floor that morning in 1988.
I decided to start with the first thing on my list: "I feel stupid." So I began researching the process for re-enrolling in school the next day. Shortly after that, I started working toward my high school diploma.
Searching for Meaning
For the next four years, I spent each day seeking out whatever information I could get my hands on about human existence, meaning, and happiness.
I became obsessed! Because one thing I knew for sure was that I did not have the internal makeup to survive a daily life lived in misery. So once I made the decision to live, I never looked back!
When I got to college and was assigned my first real book to read, I found the struggle in my mind legitimized. This book, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, opened my eyes to the reality that my search for meaning was a real thing. I wasn't the only human being on the planet who was struggling with this issue.
Around 1993, I started reading numerous books on philosophy and human existence. I also set out on a search for religion. Along the way, I developed a sincere passion for and genuine love of wisdom.
And to think it all started with self-honesty and saying the words out loud, "I feel stupid."
By the time I reached the age of 24, I had accomplished a significant life-sustaining level of self-awareness, self-honesty, and enlightenment. Reflecting on that time of struggle in my life enabled me to develop my own personal philosophy about why I had felt so numb and why I had wanted to die.
I understand why now
I came to believe that the soul comprises many layers, each of which consists of living matter, with life happening on the cellular level. I realized that I had to penetrate to deeper levels of each layer before peeling back the next and that we all come alive at different levels.
I discovered later what I hadn't understood as a teenager: feeling exists on a much deeper level for me. I had been close to giving up on life prematurely because I thought that where I was was all that existed. This is where therapy could have made a difference in my life.
If you feel empty or numb on the inside, it might be because you're living your life on the more superficial levels of existence. There is a chance that you have not gone deep enough to find the layer that switches life on for you.
If you are experiencing despair on a profound level, I recommend finding a good therapist first. When you have transitioned out of therapy and want to keep the growth momentum and continuity going, I am here to take the baton and guide you forward along your journey.
Your Mentor Life Coach,
Kamili Anderson, BSN, RN
Certified Health and Wellness Coach