I Resented My Mother For Trying To Kill Herself In Front Of Me — Until I Considered Doing The Same Thing

Photo: Courtesy of the author
Felicia Michaels' Story Of Growing Up With A Mom Facing Mental Health Struggles & Having Suicidal Thoughts Herself
Heartbreak

Like most of you, I’ve read other people’s thoughts and stories on social media after celebrities we and public figures we loved died by suicide.

The kind hearted and well-deserved eulogies from faraway fans. The people who posted, with complete sincerity, the suicide hotline number. The very funny few who were right on target, including in their apology posts after others became the “feelings” police. The ones who were brave in sharing their stories of times in their lives when they slowly danced around depression like a moth to the flame. The angry takes of the few who have been in deep depression themselves, and who pointed out that being thrown a phone number isn't a cure-all. The one who’s still in pain and railed against those good intentioned folks who eventually abandon those for whom the gripping lure of their own possible demise simply refuses to peter out, tempting them for months, or even years, on end.

And finally, the jerks who scream into the void, “Selfish beasts they are, those who forsake their loved ones as they throw away their souls.”

I feel all of you. You are all right.

Perhaps a few of you feel all those things at once. I do.

Let me correct that. I did.

A quick heads up ... this is the natural breather in my story where I shift the topic completely to me.

It’s cool if you want to jump off now. I don’t care for narcissists either. It’s totes fine if you are the type of person who’s going to have judgment because you are unable to walk a second in another person’s uncomfortable footwear.

On second thought, get out of here. Go smooth out your feelings with a cutesy cat video or a 30-second cooking spot shot above a bowl on a clean countertop with an idiot’s recipe that you ain’t ever gonna whip up.

Shoo fly shoo.

My apologies to the rest of you, but I’m about to spill. Here goes ...

I slapped my mother in her face when I was 12-years-old.

Full on, open hand, the force of it so brutal it stung at my fingertips after and left them numb and tingly into the following night.

And while I did it I thought, “Finally my tetherball skills have come in handy.”

Not making it up, that was my thought.

She didn't make a peep. The few pills that had escaped her mouth and had lain on her breasts fell off of her and hid between the cushions of the second-hand, plaid recliner she preferred when trying to take herself out.

You guys, I’m not going to lie. It felt so good to slap her doughy face.

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That same scene played out in various ways in that household, always in secret, throughout my entire childhood. I’m going to guess 10 times.

(Forgive me if I get rather melancholy and romantic about my childhood, so in all honesty, seven or eight times is more realistic.)

Once, I even made myself a sandwich and did my homework before I called for help. It had gotten to the point where I wanted her to succeed. Pull the Band-Aid off the wound.

I was sick to death of being held emotionally hostage by her, tethered in between the living and the dead.

Now, if you have made it this far through my story and your thought is, “Dude, what’s wrong with you for sharing this dark stuff?” ... The simple answer is this — because it never leaves you.

It stays in your system like a never-ending, barely chewed-on Everlasting Gobstopper, unable to be digested, sitting there like a multifaceted lump of poison that you can’t throw up in order to clear your thinking.

Because of this, I lost respect for my mother as a human being for 30 years.

I thought of her as weak, a terrible position to be in both as the failed taker of their own life and as the dreaded witness, too young to flee the scene.

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I’m going to assume that if you are still reading this, you’re feeling me hard. Perhaps I have shaded in a tiny part of your truth with a teeny part of my own.

So hold on and don’t despair. I’m going to try and bring this story full circle back into a bright spot.

It’s how I’m built. Grab at the darkness and it’s unwieldy horns, twist hard and bring it back into the light.

Find the positive.

Be little Miss optimistic.

Bury. Bury. Bury those feelings and grin a jackal’s smile.

Don’t show your teeth, relax your lips, and no one will have a clue.

Look up at the sun and feel its warmth from the collapsing hole you find yourself in, whether from your own digging or having been placed there by a weak, selfish parent who broke ground for you first.

That pert near describes my style of optimism. I’ll bulldoze my way out of any sad sack with a quip and a smile.

Try not to be jealous. I know it’s hard not to be.

That's how I survived ... until I got divorced.

And no, I’m not going to puke out any intimate details from my divorce story. Put your talons away. Marriages crumble over anything and everything, and I told you my heart was sealed up tight. Ain’t no poison from the past seeping through it.

Or so I thought.

After my divorce I fell hard. Constantly.

I could be walking around with my feet planted on a beach during sunset and suddenly feel as though I was physically, literally falling.

Accompanying that feeling was anxiety. No scratch that. It was fear. Excitable fear. If I could draw it, it would look like the Nike swoosh, the tail end of it a stab of physical pain snapping at my gut and heart like the wet end of a towel controlled by a bully.

I didn’t see it coming.

I went to therapy like a good little optimistic foot soldier. I will get through this was my mantra.

But the tail end of that swoosh just kept growing more painful.

Until one day, as I was browsing windows on the third floor of a shopping mall (the Beverly Center, for those needing more visuals whilst reading), and out of nowhere, I found myself in this deep hole of pain and despair, as if someone had popped the lid of my heart-shaped jelly jar open with a greedy little dirty spoon.

I gripped the handrail and I looked down to the first floor and I saw the BCBG store and I thought, “Forget it. I'm done. Red is going to be the new black.”

As I lifted my foot off the ground, my mother came to mind, and I suddenly I realized — she'd only wanted her own hideous pain to cease.

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She wasn't being selfish.

She just couldn't think of me, as her pain was too large and it blocked the warmth of the sun from spreading across her face while she stayed busy dutifully digging at her own hole.

She wasn't a huge piece of useless s---. My mother was a human being. Way more human then I’d ever imagined she could be.

Heading home, I laughed and cried all the way into the bowels of the parking structure.

It was an awakening. The amount of times I mentioned that my mother tried to kill herself in front of me doesn't even include the number of times she did the same thing in front of my father or other family members.

Before she and my father got married, my mother had already been placed in a mental facility at the age of 19, although he didn't know about it until after they had kids together.

After all of her attempts, my mother died in her sleep after a series of strokes at the age of 49.

Millions of people have serious thoughts of suicide each year. Personally, I view it as an impulsive act.

It’s natural to feel angry, sad, triggered, and even manipulated by it. Honestly, that last one is the one I need to work on most.

And yes, sometimes it's healthy to be funny about it. Dark humor was my crutch as a child in order to deal with everything I had to.

The most important thing is that we talk about all of our feelings about it, like a lot of people are doing now, even if we don’t agree or we aren't all able to wrap our heads around it in the same way.

Perhaps my own story will help someone somewhere out in the wild feel comfortable enough to finally talk about it out loud, or seek help for someone they know who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or offer their support to those left adrift in its wake.

Well, that’s it. Now I’m going to tell my son I love him and that he needs to trot his behind to the Coffee Bean and get me a latte before I kill myself.

I kid, I kid ...

He ain’t gonna get me a latte, that spoiled, entitled selfish little twerp.

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Felicia Michaels is comedian, writer, and filmmaker whose comedy has appeared on such networks as MTV, A&E, COMEDY CENTRAL, VH1, SHOWTIME, NBC, ABC, and FOX. She was nominated twice as Funniest Female by the American Comedy Awards before clinching it. Currently, Michaels keeps herself busy touring and putting the finishing touches on a new directorial project — all while raising two young boys as a single mother.

This article was originally published at Facebook. Reprinted with permission from the author.