Sometimes opportunities will present themselves that give you a chance to make the world a better place. As a writer or any creative person will tell you, one of the most wonderful experiences is the act of being able to strip something down and make it vulnerable enough to inspire and relate to other people. When I found out my best friend Martin had made a pledge for the San Francisco Walk for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it immediately made me feel vulnerable.
The issue of suicide can be foreign to a lot of people, because most often times it approaches in a very silent manner. You never know who might be knocking at your door until you answer it. It was foreign to me as well, because it never touched my life or anyone close to me.
However, this only lasted until I was about 13.
Growing up, I was a victim of repeated molestation (I know someone in the Westboro Baptist Church is probably testing out an anti-gay microphone right now), this happened when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My mother was single mother and often at times I would be in my uncle’s care when she was in a pinch for childcare. And then at 13, my uncle raped me.
My uncle approached me in my bedroom and had distracted me. The next thing I knew, I was undressed and naked. My mind had left (probably to protect myself), but it was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Somehow, I think of the mental block that I had in place after the first incidents of molestation that happened when I was younger, were slowly unraveling while he raped me.
My body felt nothing. I stood dead silent. But my mind was racing.
After I got up, I excused myself to the shower.
I remember sitting there in a fetal position and I watched the water drip off of my knees. This lasted for about 20 minutes. I had no concept of time anymore. I was embarrassed. Who would I tell? What would I say? Would anyone believe me?
And I thought that my uncle was still out in my living room. I couldn’t do that anymore. The only way I was going to make it out of this shower, I thought, was that I would die in it. I sat there for a few minutes, trying to piece in my little brain, the ergonomics of hanging myself in the shower. Then I thought of taking a knife to myself or ingesting pills. There was always a knack for following through and doing it well, even when I was 13.
But then I made the bravest decision of my life. I chose to live.
I sat in that shower for about an hour and cried.
It’s a big badge to wear and a dusty skeleton to unbury from the back of my closet, but it’s worth it to share. I wanted to take the chance to celebrate friendship especially that of my best friend. My friend that has brought me through some of the best years of my life, and letting me know that things are always okay: whether it be a man who broke my heart and made me cry in my vodka, a career decision to make, or how to rid myself of the 10 pounds I’m constantly looking to lose.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones, because I’ll read stories about people like Tyler Clementi and that breaks my heart. I am quite sure being from the Asian family that I am that no one preferred that I even wrote this. But as things come with age, sometimes you realize that things that you had no control over, are not worth being embarrassed about anymore.
If Tyler had the chance to talk to someone, if I had the chance to speak with him, I would have told him to be brave. I would have told him things would have been okay.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting my dear friend in his pledge to suicide prevention. And by chance, if you have issues with the act of suicide, then join me in celebrating friendship.