As I was cleaning the closet, I came across my husband’s tool box case. It is the one he takes to the shooting range. My husband likes guns and has several in which he plans to use “just in case”. It’s a fear that he may have brought into our marriage after combat while in the military or maybe from losing everything we had in the economic collapse of 2008. It’s a fear he will need it to protect his family one day and fight for what belongs to us.
I knew what was in there. I unbuckled the hard plastic hinges on it anyway. On the top tier, there were loose golden bullets. I put them in my hand and rolled around their heaviness that I remembered so well and knew not to look any further. I quickly put them back and closed the case tight, shoving it into the far corner of the closet.
When I was a little girl, I would rummage through my father’s dresser. I would look at his socks neatly tucked in between his undershirts. I would steal his T-shirts so I could sleep in them to be able to feel like I was part of him. In his top drawer were; pens, receipts, fingernail clippers and the clear yellow plastic box of tiny lipsticks, all lined up in perfect order.
I would take them out of the box. They were beautiful, smooth to the touch, a copper color that tasted of metal and felt good in my mouth between my teeth as I moved them around with my tongue. They were heavy in my small hand. They were my father’s bullets, but I didn’t know that then.
I kept one of his bullets in my pocket and would take it out, study it and apply it to my lips. It was my lipstick and it made me beautiful because it belonged to my father and my father was perfect.
I was happy that I looked most like him rather than my brother or sister. I had his eyes, his hazel eyes with the yellow flecks in them. Mine were a lot bigger though and not as red. I wanted to be his little girl, but he preferred my sister because she was more perfect than I was. My forehead and nose were too big and my hair was too stringy. I was not good at concentrating in school and made bad grades which he was not able to boast about me to his friends in suits at very important business meetings. I failed to exists most days in his eyes.
For years I kept his bullet, but I never had a gun to put it in. I’ve never even shot a gun. I won’t learn because it is too scary and too easy.
I emailed my father at his office when I decided to hang myself. He was the vice president of a large government facility. I was 37 yrs old. I had to think about it. It was planned with little fault. I knew where I was going to do it, right over the front balcony of the old house we were restoring after my son had not been returned to me during a visit by my ex-husband with the assistance of his wife and my estranged mother. Court papers were filed and I didn't have money to fight for my rights. In a period of three months, I had gone from a greatly successful business woman and mother of two children to a woman of no worth who failed to see the foreboding signs of my industry and the dishonesty of the people I thought I could trust.
They didn’t take my daughter or else, due to the unbearable grief, I would have not put any thought into suicide, but just have done it, no matter the mess. But I loved my husband and that may sound weird, but I didn’t want it to be as traumatic for him and have a mess to clean up. We had lost our home, our business, our health insurance. There was no money for him to hire someone to clean up blood and guts of his wife.
So I first reached out to my father when I had begun to gather the old sheets that had once been used in our day spa to tie together and measured the distance of the balcony to the ground to make sure the sheet wasn’t too long. My father was an unemotional man, but I felt that I should let someone know, maybe to even stop me. He replied. “Sounds like you are going through a lot. I will give you some time.”
Time, that word wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I felt I had run out of time. I guess he didn’t know what else to say, but I wish he would have at least called, maybe stopped what he was doing, come over and sat with me, let me cry in his arms and tell me things will get better. But all I got was time, and he gave me plenty of it. He didn’t contact me and I didn’t kill myself, that day, or the next. But each day I longed to hear my phone ring with him on the other end to see if I was okay as I ached to feel the noose around my neck because the pain of being a failure and unloved was too painful. Maybe he was hoping I had done it because he was tired of having an unsuccessful child, a grown child who never had him, his attention, his love…..ever, but needed it so desperately now.
I don’t know if it was his lack of compassion or my compassion that kept me from doing it. I didn’t want my daughter to be without a mother, no matter how fucked up I was. And you have to be pretty fucked up to kill yourself. I didn’t want to leave my husband with the scars as he cut down his wife’s lifeless body. I loved them, much more than I loved myself, but the lack of love from my father only pushed me closer to death and some days the lack of love overshadowed everything.
Days are not as gloomy now. I haven’t spoken to my father or mother in several years and that has helped my mental clarity. I still feel low sometimes, that along with having a chronic illness that still puzzles the many doctors I have seen has been a tough road, but we are working on it. I see many more good days than I did in the past. I still have my father’s bullet around somewhere, hidden with the few childhood possessions my mother didn’t throw away to forget I existed so many years ago. I kept a few trinkets I had packed in my suitcase when she told me to leave home for the last time at 18 yrs old.
My husband wants me to go to the shooting range with him. He wants to teach me to shoot a gun. I told him I’m not ready. I will be ready when there are no more bad days.