In honor of my dog, Bradley.
I tried quitting life when I was 14.
I’m not sure why, but I guess it was my tough childhood and being assaulted by a man in the woods that made me depressed. It could have also been about the boy I liked who didn’t like me back.
Whatever the reason, I was in pain. Everything hurt. My stomach was sick. I was sad. I was terrified. I had nightmares and it was always someone chasing me. In my dreams, I would try and hide. I slept on my mother’s floor next to her bed.
When I was awake, the terror was still there. One day, I was in the kitchen and the phone rang. I answered. A man’s voice whispered into the phone, “I am going to kill you.” I felt crazy hypervigilance and I didn’t want to live anymore.
My fuzzy memory takes me back to the locker room of my high school. All I can remember is a friend and I were getting changed for gym class.
I don’t think there was anyone else there—maybe we were late? I just remember that I couldn’t control my eyes—they kept trying to roll back into my head. I don’t even remember taking the pills, but I did. I took every single one. The thought makes me sick to my stomach.
The rest I can only see as a spectator from above. I can see myself in the nurse’s office lying there. I can also see myself outside the school being wheeled into an ambulance. I feel like I am in the sky looking down on me.
I was rushed to the local hospital where they did the things they do to reverse the thing I did.
I’ve been walking around for over 40 years now trying to fill in the question on a medical form: “Any allergies to medications?”
I listed Compazine, which was the bottle of pills I had swallowed to end my life.
I was made to believe that I wasn’t trying to hurt or kill myself, but that I had an allergic reaction to the medication I had been given for nausea. And just like that, my story was changed.
What was real? Who was I? Didn’t anyone see me?
So, I began to live that story. I began to live that “real.”
And in that story, I wasn’t some broken, little girl. In that story, I found a different life that I could bear to live. In that story, I wasn’t a victim of abuse or sexual crime. I just had an allergic reaction.
So, the “real” I knew was tucked away with the rest of the secrets. My story changed from killing myself to a medication allergy that started in the big, bright, clean space of the emergency room. It was there that I found a version of myself I could live with for the time being.
I believe it was also the time I changed my birth name from Dianna to Diane. I never remembered when or why I changed it, but it makes sense now.
This is the reason I think this purging of words is so important for me and my healing. Digging, peeling, and shedding all the things I put on just to exist. I am starting to believe that this digging will help me remember all the secrets and pain that I buried—all the pain and secrets a child isn’t meant to carry.
This brings me to the dog attack I wrote about in my first article.
I had gone home early from a job that was slowly killing me. I was working with a family who had everything they could ever want. They also had familiar pain and dysfunction that mirrored some of my own. Day after day the pain got worse.
That morning, I started to feel physically sick while working—my body ached and my stomach churned. I needed to leave. The pain was excruciating in my being. I felt like I was dying.
So, I got in my car and I drove home. Just the act of leaving their house took away the physical symptoms, but mentally, my head was whirling.
I knew I needed some form of release, so I went home and got my dog, Bradley, and we drove over the bridge and parked in our favorite place to go on our favorite walk which was about four miles long.
We got out of the car and, immediately, I felt relief—I started coming back to my body.
By this time, my body felt no pain but my heart was sick. I started to cry; I didn’t want to go back there. I believed there had to be a better, less painful place for me to be. The pain was too much. I begged God to help me—to show me what to do.
Just as we got to the lake, I had this overwhelming feeling of God’s presence all around me like I was standing in light. I don’t remember how long it lasted. I don’t remember if I kept walking or if I stood there, but I felt God with me and I knew he was letting me know it would be okay. I knew he was letting me know I had to go through this pain and to just keep walking—to just keep going.
We walked another mile and a half along the ocean and then headed back.
The dog attack came out of nowhere and shook me to my core while waking up so many ghosts within. It shook them all awake.
I believe God led me there that day so that I could stop living the life of Diane. To go back in and look for anything that wasn’t true for Dianna and get rid of it—to actually do the hard work and find Dianna. The week following the attack, I was in therapy working through the pain.
It’s a long, beautiful, painful journey, but at least I’m not stuck living in someone else’s “real.”
I am moving and sifting through the mess and keeping what is mine and releasing what isn’t.
The only things Dianna is allergic to are dust mites, goldenrod, and cockroaches.
And so it is and so it shall be.
Author’s note: This picture is what started my real transformation. I am naturally a chestnut brown. I’ve been blonde for almost 20 years. This picture was a day after I colored my hair close to my natural color. For the first time in my life, I was finally able to look at myself in the mirror, look into my eyes, and see me. Dianna was bubbling up. I decided I was never going back to blonde. I decided I would never be something that wasn’t me.