Pathways of Life

I have written about my suicidal thoughts and idealization in the past. One post I called “Tree of Life” is about the day I had planned to commit suicide, and drove around looking for the tree that would end my life the fastest. I would like to say that since that day I changed my mind; that I haven’t thought about suicide. But it doesn’t work like that. Suicide for me was something that was inevitable. I simply knew that one day it would happen, and I was okay with that.

Then one day last week (2018) it surprised me to think that now I don’t want to die. I take measures to keep myself healthy. This surprised me, and in a good way. I don’t remember my last suicidal thought. I take this as a good sign of life.

For me, suicide was partially about control. My life felt so out of control. I felt like less than a person, I wasn’t a being. I thought that if I could have control over one thing, it would be my death. I didn’t have tragic thoughts that I thought were strange or that I even needed to get help. I was stuck in a situation from which I desperately wanted to be free. I was made to feel like I couldn’t leave. I had myself convinced for a while that death was the only freedom.

The other part of my suicidal thoughts was that suicide was the ultimate destruction. I hated myself. I hated my body. I hated what other people did to my body without my permission. I hated my personality. I longed to tear away every part of myself until there was nothing left.

The day I decided to drive my car into a tree, something kept stopping me. The day I failed the suicide attempt, my aunt and grandma got into a roll-over crash and walked away without a scratch. Do you believe in second chances?

My suicidal thoughts were by my side as a constant companion for years. They would comfort me in an odd way.

2017: Art class at community college. This quarter is about culture; specifically each of our family cultures. Dear God I did NOT want to think about my past. We were told to do self portraits in a unique way. I had no idea what I was going to do. I took a piece of watercolor paper and soaked it with my skin tone color. I was desperately trying to find inspiration. Finally, I thought, “okay, I’ll do something about stretch marks, an ode to having children”. So I drew my abdomen on a giant-sized piece of paper. I used colored pencil and watercolor, but it was missing something. I decided to collage. I ripped and tore up the flesh-toned watercolor paper. The act of ripping that paper was so satisfying. It was the feeling of destruction that I had longed for all those years. I could feel the “old me” melting away. Next, I applied the ripped pieces of watercolor paper to the large drawing of my abdomen. I put myself back together. When the work was finished, I felt that I had healed something inside of me.

Art heals.

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“Pathways of Life” Erica Knapp 2017


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