StyleBlueprint: FACES of Memphis
So now it was clear to me....
Living the life of your dreams does not automatically extinguish the pain of living a nightmare.
That’s the revelation I had after learning of the suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. In my book, Storealities, I share some of the traumas from my early life.
For those who have read my story, it would come as no surprise that I, too, attempted suicide. Not once, but twice. The first time I was 18 years old and a new mother. I tried slitting my wrist. There are still faint scars from that time of utter hopelessness.
Today I realize the first act was a cry for help, more than an earnest attempt to end my life. By the second attempt, I was convinced there were no words I could speak to get anyone to understand my internal pain. I was convinced there was no action I could take to end the horrible pains I felt. I loved my son enough not to make him the aftermath of my nightmare. Ending my life would be an act of compassion for myself and it would break a toxic chain of pain sharing from parent to child.
I watched my, then, husband buckle my toddler in his car seat. He climbed into his white pick up truck and pulled out of the drive way. I locked the front door and turned the blinds. I grabbed the longest belt I could find and secured it the bannister. When I regained consciousness, I was in psyche unit of a nearby hospital. My husband returned home to get the baby’s diaper bag and found me hanging from the bannister. I was already unconscious. The little person I thought was better without me had ultimately saved my life.
On the days leading up to my suicide attempts, I had what appeared to be a cheerful mood. Those around me would have described me as a person with a resounding optimism. “She has such a positive attitude”, my co-workers would say. I was achieving far more than my peers. I graduated from high school at 16 years old, completed my undergraduate studies before I could legally drink alcohol and I had launched a career as a sales and marketing professional with a Fortune 500 company - all by 21 years old.
I have seen so many disturbing comments in the past week about mental health - from those declaring that Kate Spade was not mentally ill to suggestions that the failure to cope is something you choose like a pair of shoes. Or perhaps those who say suicide is selfish to which Brene Brown responded best,
“Saying suicide is selfish is saying, “Although I don’t understand clinical depression & suicide I’m going to judge people who die from it even if causes unimaginable pain + trauma and stigmatizes mental illness because it makes me feel better + safer.”
Over the years life has gotten better. With an unwavering commitment to my mental wellness, I have forgiven the people who were apart of the nightmare and I have taken steps to write a new story for my life. With Anthony Bourdain as a huge inspiration, I have traveled over 600,000 miles, have 28 stamps in my passport, have traveled 4 continents, 22 countries and 350+ cities. From the rice terraces of Indonesia to the Sacred Valley in Peru, I am very close to living my dream. A part of me secretly believed that living my dream would extinguish all the pains of my youth. But, when the guy who has your dream job commits suicide, that disillusion is certainly shattered. Kate Spade had many people’s dream life. But no level of accomplishment could extinguish her pain. This won’t stop me from living my dream but I will now pursue that dream knowing that mental wellness must always be priority. I can never expect “the dream” to replace intentional mental and physical wellness.
Oh, and that baby? Today he is a 23 year old man. At 15 years old, he courageously left our home in Memphis, to study in France for a year. He is internationally educated, compassionate and as handsome as he can be! In addition to professional modeling, he works for a non profit organization that advocates for study abroad programs for underrepresented high schoolers. I am so thankful my plan was interrupted. I am thankful that I was able to live long enough to see just how wrong I was.
Just remember, even those who inspire you to live your best life struggle to live their own. And living the life you always dreamed does not automatically extinguish the pain of the nightmare you once lived.
In the words of Lauren Warren, Twitter Handle (@Iamlaurenp)
“Check on your strong friends.
Check on your quiet friends.
Check on your "happy" friends.
Check on your creative friends.
Check on each other.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255 | TTY at 1-800-799-4889
Text START to 741741 from anywhere in the US, about any type of crisis
International help: Visit https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
About Storealities book:
What started out as one woman's journey to retell the history of her past became a movement enabling other women to find their voice. Within these pages, you will find a treasure trove of experience and wisdom. Each contributor offers insight into a moment that changed them forever. They faced a challenge, adversity, loss, or fear, and came out on the other side. They were not unscathed, but they are stronger for the reality they found.
This book is a real collaboration by women of different nationalities, ethnicities, political views, and economic backgrounds. In the end, they are all the same. They have found empowerment in their journey. So can you.
Maya Angelou once said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you!" Use these stories to give voice to your own.
About the author:
Roquita Coleman-Williams is recognized as a leader in business nationally and internationally. She has been awarded Top 40 Under 40, Super Women in Business, and Rising Start of North American Railroads. She is best known for advocating for diversity and gender inclusion in transportation workforces across North America. She has permanently change the landscape in industries where women hold less than 5% of the leadership roles.
Coleman-Williams is an award-winning leader, author, speaker, brand strategist, wife, and mother. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two sons.
Storealities book is available at Novel Memphis, Amazon and www.storealities.com