I can still remember the first time I tried to kill myself. I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine, but I was old enough to know that death meant the pain would stop.
I had prayed, many times, for the God I still believed existed to kill me. Begging for death from a benevolent creator who would surely take pity on me.
When that didn’t work, I tried the unthinkable for a boy indoctrinated by the Anglican church: I prayed to Satan to kill me.
I knew, as sure as the sky is blue, if anything I had been raised to believe was true, this would spell my demise.
But it didn’t.
And so I tried to hang myself in my wardrobe using the belt from my dressing gown, but failed.
So, what makes a kid want to die? I’m still not 100% certain.
What I do know is that in the months prior, at some CEBS (Church of England Boys Society (bargain-bin Scouts)) campout following a bushwalk, I was made to shower with and fondle the genitalia of one of the church leaders.
I can remember everything about that night, but it’s taken almost 25 years to put the pieces back together.
I could never explain why, on school camps, I was terrified of showering – literally jumping out of a window on the year 4 camp to get away from being made to wash.
It was easier to spin a lie about “forgetting” to shower than to admit that the idea of being made to wash anywhere but the safety of my home was crippling.
Of course, the suicide ideation never went away. Instead I learned to lie and suppress any emotion more complex than the child-like staples happy/sad/angry.
The first time I tried to talk about this was as an adult, almost a decade ago. Because I wasn’t certain on all the details I was told I was either lying or drug abuse had fried my brain and so I was filling the gaps with wild claims.
Two people I was incredibly close to at the time had confided in me that they had been raped and abused as children. And it was this that triggered a memory I had spent decades trying to avoid.
All this, of course, was before the Royal Commission but while this has given me the freedom to identify as a victim of abuse, it’s done very little for my capacity to speak openly about what happened.
Even now, I’m second-guessing myself. I have been for this last decade. Did I make it up?
No, I didn’t.
Sure, when I first brought it up it was: “I think I was abused as a kid, too. I’m not certain, I have memories of something bad happening, and then being terrified of showering outside of my home for years after.”
And when I was told I was lying, well, that shut it down.
I have only been able to afford to go to a psychiatrist a few times to try to figure out what’s wrong with me, but when they ask about childhood abuse, I don’t know how to answer.
I’m 99% certain my memories are real, but hearing and seeing others discuss what happened to them adds to the doubt.
I can mentally map the entire place it happened, including where the other boys had set up their sleeping bags. I can remember coming back from the shower and feeling strange, before picking a fight with another boy. I can still see the shower and the cock in my face.
But I can’t remember who it was.
I could provide a shortlist, and I think I know who it assaulted me, but I’m left feeling like an imposter because my trauma wasn’t traumatic enough.
So, why bring this up?
I’ve spent the last few months trying to recover from a devastating break-up, reckoning with the pain and suffering I caused through lying, cheating, and physical violence.
I’ve talked about this before, who I was in my twenties, the short version is: I hate that guy, it’s not who I am or how I see myself.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop others, including the love of my life, from seeing me like that.
And so I’ve used this time to try to unpack who I am and why I am like this. I still don’t have the answers to those questions.
But I can’t afford therapy anymore, I can’t undo the damage my trauma has wrought on others, and I’ve given up hope that this nation is capable of doing anything to help people without means.
So I’m putting it here because I don’t know what else to do.
I don’t want pity, or even support. I’m not about to neck myself, as tempting as that always is, and this isn’t some cry for attention or help.
I just need this out of my head. I’ve been silent all my life, and right now it feels like keeping this pent up will actually kill me.
I’m not okay. I tried writing about this on the garbage day of corporate pleasantries but couldn’t, I guess I wasn’t ready yet.
I don’t know how to end this. Thanks for reading, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯