By far this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. In lieu of Veterans day and with thousands if not more of Veterans committing suicide or thinking about it, I feel I owe America the truth. I have both thought and actively tried to kill myself. Mine wasn’t exactly the traditional ways of execution, my choice of death was both drinking and an honest disregard for the outcome of my life. I tried my damnedest to drink myself to death or put myself in situations to where I would die and God just wouldn’t let me go.
I can produce several million reasons as to why I would do such a thing, excuses of course but in order to tell the story, I must list them. I’ve never felt like a complete human, I've always felt like a piece of me was missing. Life hasn’t necessarily been kind and I haven’t been the best steward of the life I've been blessed with. I am the potential that was never fulfilled, the stereotype of wasted potential. I’ve never been able to finish anything I've started.
Years I've gone doing just enough, not giving enough and blaming everyone but myself for my failures. The only thing in life I had done the most in was the military and even that to my standards was an utter failure. I didn’t achieve the ranks I felt I should’ve, I didn’t do all I could to help my fellow soldiers, I didn’t apply myself more, I didn’t achieve where I should have. I didn’t care for myself and in that thinking I was selfish. I’ve been selfish my whole life, destructively selfish.
Why God has kept me around I still don’t know, but I feel as if I am right there with it but I'll be cursed to never truly know. I could sit here and throw a pity party but why? I’m divorced and widowed, I had a child out of wedlock, I haven’t achieved where I should have, I have been to jail, I have been homeless, I have lied, cheated, killed and every other despicable thing a human can do. I’ve tried to love the best way I know how, but I truly don’t know how to love. I haven’t had a relationship last past 1.5 years and I've done everything I can to blame the other party but all in all, it was me who was ultimately wrong.
I try to love people, but I can’t even love myself. I want to be able to love, but I haven’t found the capacity to do so. Only living being I do love is my daughter Olivia, but I haven’t loved her as much as I could, I've failed her as well. I often wonder why God even decided to bless me with a child. I don’t deserve a child like Olivia, but she has been my saving grace on more than one occasion.
Veterans day pisses me off because everyone acts extra patriotic but veterans are still killing themselves daily and for being a minority of the population more frequently than the population of Americans. Giving a free meal will never erase the stigma of war, the feeling of nothingness that is felt when your friend is killed, your family dies, a child is murdered, or any tragedy close. Every day I fight the demons threatening to take me over. Every day I contemplate different ways to end my life. Every day, thoughts of Olivia stop me.
I hate the question “How are you”. I want so much to tell you the truth, but I also don’t want to end up in someone's crazy house. I want to tell you that your question caused everything in me to melt into a depressing puddle of despair. I want to tell you that my life has sucked from the start and there is nothing you can truly do to make it better. I want to tell you that today I said I am done with life. I want to tell you that today I drank more than a gallon of liquor to make sure I died but I still managed to wake up the next day.
For years, I couldn’t bare to tell my mother I wanted to die. I couldn’t tell my brother, I no longer wanted to live. I can’t disclose to my friends that I think suicide is my best options. I can’t let my fellow vets know life is no longer worth living to me. I lived for the longest by the faking it till I make it a mantra. Maybe if I motivated others to live I could myself live as well.
I’ll be the first to admit now that I needed help, no matter how many counselors, psychiatrist, psychologist, grief counselors and everything else I've seen, the pain of living never goes away. I might catch a lot of flack from writing this, but I don’t care. I felt you needed to know I suffered too and when I write the inspirational things I write, I need it just as much as the next person. God has truly blessed me in that aspect and I do appreciate my writing ability. I hope I have over the years touched you in some way that was beneficial and I hope to continue to do so.
This is not an end of life essay or anything like that. This is me finally telling the world the truth of how I feel. I have actively sought the help I need and I am not currently trying to end my life. I am trying to bring awareness to an event that happens yearly many times over tragically. It is my hope that my story can spark a conversation about suicide amongst veterans as well as the other populations of America.
I want to apologize truly and deeply to everyone I have hurt over the years by not first loving myself. My daughter, my wives, my daughter's mother, my mother, my family, friends, fellow vets, soldiers and associates over the years. Your support and friendship have meant the most to me and have possibly kept me on this earth as long as I have been here. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it inspires others, to tell the truth about their feelings.
Happy Veterans Day and may God bless you all!
Tony L. Jefferson, Jr. 2015