Understanding what you need to be the best version of yourself for yourself and others include boundaries. And boundaries are self-care. My suicide ideation and attempts in my early life were connected to my parents’ abusive boundaries. I grew up with abusive boundaries. I never learned what healthy boundaries are. I still don’t’ know.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness and also Self-Care Awareness Month. I don’t think that those two things being in the same month is a coincidence. If it is, wow, that is quite a coincidence. I see those two things as being interconnected- boundaries, self-care, and suicide prevention awareness.
When I contemplated or attempted suicide, my feelings of ending my life originated from foundational conflict. That conflict came from being raised by abusive parents. Abusive parents do not teach their children about healthy boundaries or self-care because neither of those things serves the abuser.
As a child enduring sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, conflict was the foundation of my world. The abuse made me feel ashamed. The praise, the look of adoration, feeling special all made me feel good.
My parents built the foundation of my world on conflict. I was stunted in my ability to learn healthy boundaries and to learn self-care. When I attempted to try either of those things, my parents were quick to squash them.
As that conflict grew too much for my child’s mind and body to handle, it had to go somewhere. That conflict had to have an outlet. The only outlet that I could think of to end the pain and torment was to end my life.
I Don’t Matter
But during my childhood, I was taught that what I need doesn’t matter. It is only the needs of other people that matter. Specifically, the needs of my parents. One needed to feel powerful, and the other, constant validation. Both of my parents turned to the people in their lives that could provide them that validation; their children.
If I tried to exert how I felt or my thoughts or opinions, I was selfish. Being selfish, taking care of yourself, standing up for yourself, those were all bad, very bad. And I didn’t want to be bad. But I was bad, and I couldn’t help it.
Because as the scapegoat, there wasn’t anything that I could have done “right.” There wasn’t anything that I could have done to make either of my parents happy. That did not stop either of them from making me think that I was responsible for their happiness. And therefore, responsible when they were not pleased.
Much of that conflict that I grew up with came from the twisted world of abusive boundaries. I have no clue what healthy boundaries are because I never had them. Healthy boundaries, which include self-care, were not taught to me, nor were they demonstrated.
Abusive boundaries include learning to be a people-pleaser. To find your self-worth from how other people view you. My parents taught me that my value as a person is related to ensuring others are happy. Even if doing that makes me miserable. What I am feeling and what I need is inconsequential.
My needs were secondary because self-care, healthy boundaries meant that I was selfish. Being selfish told me that I was unlovable. I did not want to be either of those things. I tried so hard to be what I was taught, but it was impossible.
Pain and Conflict
I was in so much pain and conflict that it threatened to rip me apart all day, every single day. That pain was a feeling deep within myself that I could not handle as a child. It was threatening to tear me apart. I didn’t understand what it was or what to do.
Our minds will try to resolve conflict. Due to abuse, trauma, etc., a fractured mind will still try to resolve that conflict, that pain. But with that fracturing, it is even more challenging to see a way out.
When I tried to find a way out of the pain, all I saw was more pain. I felt so powerless as a child to end the suffering of my mind. Because for me to have worked on ending the pain and the conflict, my entire family dynamic would have to change. And I knew that was not going to happen.
No Way Out
I did not have anything to use to help me with that pain. And so, my world was very black and white. It was either live with pain or no life, no pain. What I saw and wanted, first and foremost, was an end to my pain. My life would end was not the result that I was looking for all of those years ago.
I think many people out there today are in pain, and they only want the pain to stop. They don’t want to end their lives; they want to stop hurting. The end of life is an end to the pain, but it isn’t the only one. It can be so hard to see the options.
I felt that I had no way out years ago. I felt trapped in a life that was so horrible that I had to get out in any way I could. I felt that no one cared or noticed that I was hurting. I needed someone to see me, to notice me, and reach out a helping hand.
Who can you reach out a helping hand to? Who can you acknowledge that they are in pain? And let them know that you see them?
Save a life today.
Toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is open to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.