There is a time in a boy’s life when the sweetness is pounded out of him; and the tenderness, and the ability to show what he feels, is gone. —Norah Vincent
The only reason I’m not a distant memory etched on headstone is because I wasn’t strong enough. Not just strong mentally, I physically couldn’t climb the steps. I made sure the anchor was set on a truss. I was curled up in a ball for 16 hours–crying and moaning. There was a rejection, not one of self- righteousness, but of love. I had tried everything: alcohol, Xanax and Ambien to quell my inner demons.
I was hurting inside; I could justify this amoral act. The glass facade only showed on the outside. But inside, three times I climbed the stairs and three times I came down. To this day I’m so happy that I was able to conquer my fears
As a holiday is near, certain things always come to my mind–including the intimate relationship I have with death. We talk about saving lives, looking out for our buddies, but we really don’t ever talk about the intimate details. My personal account is there to help the family members, friends and colleagues of people who are struggling. To really pay attention to the signs and symptoms of severe depression, as I know that these are easily hidden. I know some reading this are in the grinder, the pit, the fire, by themselves… this one is for you. Understand you can climb out.
It’s really hard for me to talk about this but I think it is important to show that May 8, 2018 was my reborn date. After sustaining self-inflicted personal and professional losses, I became extremely depressed and suicidal. I recently heard a friend say: “Your demons are just reflections of your actions.”
I was going through a lot trying to be accepted into a relationship that I thought was healthy. The rejection I faced was an accumulation of actions by a person with low moral fiber, resulting from living in a toxic environment.
There had been a build up over a few days, with the idea of driving head on into an 18 Wheeler. I then thought it would be better to do this privately–and that’s when I decided to set this up. I wrote my will, letters to family members and lastly: I tried to write letters to my daughters. One thing about this society is the amount of pressure and expectations that men are under every day and I keenly felt the inability to provide a stable foundation for my family.
Setting this up was no easy task. I knew that someone would eventually find me, and I didn’t want to make a mess. So I chose the back room of my house which is now my daughter’s room. I cleaned house and phoned work to let them know I would be out sick the next morning. After ensuring everything was nice and neat, I went into the garage. I grabbed the ladder, drilled the hole into the ceiling where there was a truss and set by anchor.
At this point I was sobbing uncontrollably because I knew it was over. I couldn’t reach out to anyone out of fear of hurting them as well, hurting them knowing that I couldn’t live with myself anymore. Inside my heart was nothing but fire and despair. I felt weak, nauseous, and delirious… as if I’d taken something to help ease the pain. It took a lot of effort to climb up on that ladder and to sit there justifying whether I should put the noose on or not.
I climbed down and curled into a ball and cried and tried to sleep. I climbed that ladder two more times… and two more times I failed to justify that act.
Case in point, Norah Vincent who is a woman, became a man for 18 months, (Norah Vincent, Self-made man 2006): “Somebody is always evaluating your manhood. Whether it’s other men, other women, even children. And everybody is on the lookout for your weakness or your inadequacy, as it’s some kind of plague they’re terrified of catching, or, more importantly, other men catching.”
She illustrates the pressure that men have. Pressure not just from other men but from women and children as well. Women were actually harder on men, because of the double standards society places on men. Norah committed suicide in 2018, the same year I contemplated killing myself.
There are things I’ll never forget, and some stem from that day. I can justify it in my own head why killing myself would have been better for my daughters. I told myself that they would been better off without me, that my brother would help raise my youngest and it would help justify the reason why my oldest hated me so much. I was able to tell myself all these lies to convince myself that was I was worthless.
I put so much work to build a relationship with a daughter that I felt had gone in vain. On the flip side, I’ll never forget the moment she accepted me as her dad. I’ll never forget the moments that I held my youngest that changed my life forever.
For those going through some tough times, please know that it will pass. Understand that this is part of the process, and that process is building your character. Without a doubt after walking out of that room on my own I became a stronger person. December 18th will be five years sober, and in those last five years I’ve managed to accomplish more than the first 35.
In five years I became an amazing father to two girls that love me unconditionally. I was able to put down the bottle, leave the prescriptions at the VA, obtain a bachelor’s degree, pursue an MBA, go from white to brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and win multiple World Championships. The only reason I’m still alive is because I wasn’t strong enough that day. However, I learned how to live again.
Finding the silver lining was the hardest thing, but it was worth it. Going through that breakup almost killed me, but I can reassure you the man today is definitely not the man that walked in the room. Let them watch from the sidelines, let them see the drive the motivation and dedication to changing yourself as a better person. You can crush your own fucking goals and become the best version of yourself.
Without a doubt, walking out of that room was the best thing. For now I have two wonderful little girls that will never have to worry about me leaving. I cant imagine my life now without them in it, and giving me that gift of life back.
Editor’s Note: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.
Chris is from Spokane Washington and the oldest of nine siblings. He graduated from Mead Senior High school in 1998 and enlisted into the United States Army. He graduated from basic combat training at Ft Benning Georgia, and immediately was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, which he later was selected to the Pathfinder Detachment which specialized in long range reconnaissance, Airborne operations, insertions, extractions, pilot recovery missions. After watching the attacks on the World Trade Center, he immediately reenlisted and deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. His last tour was in Afghanistan in 2012 where he received a Purple Heart for sustaining injuries during a combat operation and was later medically retired.
Chris is now living in Texas and working in the Oil and Gas industry. He has two daughters that he considers his saving grace.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.