How I Became A Better Person: An Interview, Part Two
Recently, I began sharing an interview I had with a young woman named Skyler. In the first part of the interview, Skyler shared with me bits of her childhood and how ultimately in 2009, she decided she needed to die.
We pick up this article with Skyler sitting on a bench in a park at one o'clock in the morning. It is at this time that Skyler has a gun in her mouth. Please note that this article may be disturbing to some. It describes the emotions of a person who doesn't have anything to live for. That is, at least, what she thought.
"Yes," Skyler continues while looking back down at her coffee. "I had somehow managed to go from happy kid to this raging monster who'd given up on the world. I don't really know what triggered the suicidal stuff."
Skyler brings me back into her story. She says she doesn't recall any major event from the day before that would have made her want to kill herself. She just remembers it as one of the many days she had before - avoiding her mother as she left the house in the afternoon, meeting up with her friends to share in party favors and cheap beer. She remembers going down on the new guy in the group and everyone laughing when he was too out of it to keep it up. The day passed like every other day had since she'd dropped out of school.
The next day, she woke up with a strange sense of foreboding. She attributed it to the drugs at the time and shrugged it off. She headed back out to meet with her friends. But something was different. Much like the day before, she sat in her friend's house watching them drop molly. She claimed she wasn't up for it when offered. Instead she drank beer. She did her best to remain part of the group, laughing at how stupid her friends were. She felt her laughter was hollow. She felt like she wasn't part of the excitement anymore. She didn't know why she just couldn't get into the groove. It was like she felt in class only she was empty instead of angry. As it got later in the day, she claimed she was sick and left her friends to wander around.
Skyler tells me that she doesn't remember how she got the gun exactly, only that it was one of her friends. She doesn't remember asking for it so she thinks she may have just stolen it. She wandered around the rest of the day, the gun in her jacket. She was still wandering when night came. She approached the park as the last few kids playing tried to get those last precious minutes in before going home. Skyler remembers watching as the last kid left with his parents. She remembers sitting there for many hours without thinking as the night grew longer.
When Skyler came out of her thoughtless state, she realized that the world was crushing in on her. She tells me that she became acutely aware of the heavy gun in her jacket, almost like it had called her back into existence. She tells me that she remembers taking the gun out but it was like she trying to watch a movie through a window covered in petroleum jelly. She could see movements and shapes but they were distorted and blurry. Then again, it was also crystal clear, maybe like a hurricane. The outside edges were blurry but the eye was the clearest in the world. She tells me she remembers that night like she was standing outside of herself looking on.
The gun was calling to her, telling her where to put it. She tells me that she saw herself in a trance, smoothly putting the end of the gun between her teeth. A part of her understood what was going to happen and that she was going to be dead. The other part of her was trying to figure out what was happening. She was beside herself watching as her finger slowly pressed against the trigger.
I hold my breath. I can only stare at Skyler as she tells me how she was committing suicide detail by detail. Goosebumps cover my entire body. I don't want to hear this and, yet, I need to because I don't know how someone who put a gun in their mouth and pulled the trigger almost a decade ago is sitting before me alive and well.
Skyler continues, "I pulled that trigger three times. No bullets came out. I was sitting there in the middle of the night with a gun in my mouth, pulling the trigger and not dying. I took the gun out of my mouth and shook it. I slammed it against the bench I was sitting on over and over. And then, bang!"
I jump a little. She didn't say the last word loudly. We got no looks from the other customers in the coffee shop. Yet I'm still surprised. Skyler looks at me as she raises her coffee to her lips. I suppose I was just staring at her slack-jawed because she takes a sip and then smiles.
"Your coffee is getting cold," she says. I look at the dark coffee in my hands. My hands are white. I feel cold. I'm in shock. I force myself to take a drink of coffee and try to regain my composure. I keep my eyes on my hands until I feel I can speak evenly again.
"I don't understand," I say.
Skyler smiles again. "I ended up accidentally shooting myself right in the chest. I guess when I was slamming the gun into the bench, my hand was still around the trigger and I pressed it far enough to make it go off. I guess I wasn't pressing it hard enough when it was in my mouth. I don't really remember to be honest."
Skyler's next clear memory is being in the hospital. A gun shot in the middle of the night in a decent neighborhood tends to draw attention. Skyler was found on the ground next to the bench unconscious and bleeding from the bullet wound in her chest. She had somehow managed to miss anything important and the bullet went through her. She had internal damage that took time to recover from but was left hardly marked externally. She pulls her shirt down just an bit to show me the mostly round scar left on her chest. She tells me she has a larger starburst shaped one on her back from the exit hole.
She tells me that she was unconscious in the hospital for ten days. She tells me that she was put into a coma to help her body recover from both the gunshot and the withdrawals from drugs and alcohol. When she woke up, her parents were there. She could see they were terrified. They were terrified both because of her condition and because they weren't sure where to go from there. Skyler tells me that she felt no emotions then. She just felt like she was floating. She wasn't angry or happy or sad. She just was. Through the pain medication she felt empty.
This changed the next day. Suddenly all her emotions came crashing down on her. She was confused and scared. She didn't really understand how she'd gotten into the hospital. She felt bruised and used. Despite the pain medication, she could still feel the nagging of wanting drugs. Her skin crawled and itched her. It was tight from the effects of alcohol and the IVs in her arm; she was bloated. She was horrified to see how much her mother had changed from what she remembered. Skyler saw for the first time the dark circles under her mother's eyes and the thinness one gets from worry. Skyler suddenly felt all of her mother's worry on top of her own. She completely broke down in her mother's arms. She doesn't remember saying anything but knows that her mother understood she was cleansing her soul. It seemed to take hours to cry all of the hurt out and for Skyler to fall asleep. When she next awoke, her mother gently suggested that Skyler needed help. Skyler didn't respond but when she was well enough to leave the hospital she didn't object when her parents suggested she go to a rehabilitation center for chemical abuse.
It was at this center that she began her fight to change.
Skyler's recovery will be discussed in Part Three of this series. In the next part of our series, Skyler tells us about her recovery and how she discovered the secret to changing.
© 2017 Anne Ryefield