I hate Valentine’s Day. I never cared much for it growing up except that my elementary school teachers forced us to make crafts with hearts aglow and such to present to our parents. But that’s not the reason I hate it so much.
On February 14, 1996, I tried to jump off the balcony on my mom’s 4th floor apartment. I’d left my friends goodbye messages but one friend was so concerned she called the police who promptly showed up at the door to make sure I was okay. My mother, who normally works during the day, took the day off just because she “felt like it.” (Which if you knew my mother, never happens and was very out of place.) When the police showed up, she had no idea that I’d been leaning over the rail outside on the balcony staring down at the concrete four stories below. I didn’t fall; I never leaned myself over the rail enough. And by the time I walked back inside (which wasn’t very long), the police rang the doorbell.
My mother looked like she had been hit by a truck. Why would her daughter want to kill herself? She and my father, immigrants from the West Indies, had worked so hard to provide me with a comfortable life, my own bedroom, my own TV, my own video game system, my own stereo, a Catholic school education… everything. Why this?
Not long after, I tried to jump out of the second story window at my high school. The students “tattled” and I suddenly found myself in the guidance counselor’s office. And my mother suddenly found herself sitting next to me as well, disheartened and dismayed.
Why? What prompted all of this? Was it my mental illness? No.
I was lonely.
A new freshman in an all-girls’ school, one of two black girls in the school and I just couldn’t find a way to make lasting friends. The friends that I did make weren’t in any of my classes apart from Music and everyone else seemed to enjoy taunting me and tormenting me. So essentially I had no one to talk to or sit with during lunch. The one girl I’d known from junior high who attended the school with me suddenly turned on me and became hostile. (I’m so forgiving, though, she’s one of my Facebook friends now.)
So on Valentine’s Day, girls got flowers and balloons from their boyfriends who attended other schools and friends showed other friends their affection by giving them cards or funny trinkets. I gazed out the window right before school ended only to see parents pulling up to the school with Lexuses and Benzes while a few guys following behind with their BMWs.
I didn’t speak to anyone the entire day and no one bothered to speak to me. Here’s a bit of TMI: You know that grimy feeling you get in your mouth after you wake up from sleeping during the night? Yeah, I had that by the end of the school day.
Our slim lockers were crammed all into one room so at the end of the day, you had to wait or fight your way to getting to your locker. I distinctly remember bending over while I was packing up only to have someone pinch my backside. Of course, stupid me, I turned around trying to figure out who it was but all I could find were girls chattering excitedly everywhere. Optimists would call it an accident; I dealt with enough that year to know it wasn’t and one of those girls had a few people laughing behind my back.
So when I hear of Valentine’s Day each year, I think of my first official suicide attempt. Nothing serious that landed me in the hospital but it was the first in a string of attempts to come. (I’ve never mentioned the knife-throwing incident at my friend’s 16th birthday party, have I? Well, that’s a story for another day.)
Oh and by the way, have a Happy Valentine’s Day.
(first photo of a Norwegian man jumping to his death; second from lifeofworship.wordpress.com)