I thought I’d share my motivation for starting the Do-Over Project with you. It’s not an easy story, but I’ll tell you the essentials so you know that, regardless of the road you are currently on, you CAN change direction at any time.
I didn’t have the best childhood. It took me about 20 years to work through my many challenges. I worked very hard, using every therapeutic intervention I could gain access to in order to heal my wounds.
I’ve had some pretty good years. And then…
Just under two years ago, my eldest sister, Christine, died by suicide. She was bipolar and had struggled with it for years. She was in so much pain and I really had to hand it to her for sticking it out for 56 years. She was very, very tired of trying. I don’t advocate suicide, but I understand the pain and frustration that led her to this life-altering decision.
I mean “life-altering” for all of those she left behind. For me, it was the sadness of not getting to know my sister. You see, I hadn’t seen her for many year–she was six years older and she was more like a babysitter than a sister when we were younger (that happens in big families sometimes). And, she was not terribly nice to me.
But I grew up and finally understood what it was like to be her. I reached out and soon we were contacting each other and, eventually, seeing each other. I was enjoying getting to know Christine as a person. Now that can’t continue. I feel cheated.
As for the rest of my family, their stories are not for me to tell, but essentially my family imploded. It was been sheer hell for everyone over these last two years.
I came to a realization–or rather a re-realization. Years ago, when I was going through all that therapy, I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do about many of the situations in my life. They happened and there was nothing I could do to change any of it–except to change myself. I could change how I reacted to situations. I could change how I saw myself and others. I could change the language I use to describe it all. Basically, I needed to change my attitude.
That’s a lot of change–a lifetime’s worth! I have enough to change, without trying to control whether other people change or not. Why would I want the extra work? Unless, of course, it’s to change my depressed sister’s suicidal thoughts.
That’s the hard re-realization I had to come to. It’s one thing to let people live their own lives. Change. Don’t change. It’s up to you. It’s entirely something else when someone you love doesn’t want to live.
Part of me wanted to control how she thought. I didn’t want my sister to feel so depressed she wanted to kill herself. I wanted her to want to live. But that wasn’t my call. It was her life. Her choice to make. If she wanted to change her thoughts on suicide, she was ultimately the only one who could do it.
There was nothing, in the end, that I could have done. Christine had her suicide planned out very carefully–for a year!! She was determined to die.
It still comes down to: all I can change is me. My thoughts on how I think of my sister and what she did. I don’t agree with her drastic action, but she took the only control she felt she had. She was going to decide how and when she would die. I have to respect that.
All I can change is me. My thoughts on how I let Christine’s life impact me. Firstly, I can be an advocate for mental health. Secondly, I can continue to improve my own mental health.
That’s why in January I decided to give myself the best birthday present possible: A Do-Over. A chance to find my spark, my joy again this year.
We’ve all been through periods of our lives that were challenging. Do we want that difficult time to swallow up the rest of our lives or do we want to draw a line in the sand and say, “This far and no farther”.
It’s my choice to live–well. Thus, The Do-Over Project.
What’s your choice?