What If?

>I’ve been doing a lot of radio interviews lately around the topic of drug abuse and attempted suicide, spurred by a recent CDC study on increased suicide rates among teenagers (up 8% after a 22% decline) and the ever-present stores about Heath Ledger, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and other famous people who seem unable to manage their successes and their fame, not to mention their lives.
    I’m some what of an “expert” on the topic of attempted suicide, having attempted it at age 23.
    While I’ve written about that previously, I was asked an interesting question today while being interviewed by Shelley Duffy of KDKA in Pittsburgh. Shelley asked me if I believed that I would have the same views about life that I have today had I not attempted suicide and survived it. My reply was that it’s a hypothetical question that I can never know the answer to. However, I continued by saying that I am eternally grateful for having survived it because every experience we have, and the meaning we bring to it, builds upon the others to shape us into Who We Are and how we approach life.
    As the day wore on, I kept going back to Shelley’s question. I began to think how often I hear people say they “regret” something they said or did and how often people want to forget the painful and difficulty of those times gone by. To the contrary, those times and experiences are the high octane fuel that drives us to new and exciting destinations along the Road of Life. Far from regretting them, we should embrace them and, when helpful, be willing to share them with others. For every experience, and it’s lesson learned, can become a guiding light to others in ways unimagined.
    For many years I did not speak publicly about my attempt. Then, recently, I spoke to 500 students at an area high school. It was very rewarding, as many students came and shared their feelings and expressed their gratitude after each class presentation.
    Then, a few nights ago, I was at the school again because my daughter was performing in the school play. As I was helping set up the refreshments for sale at intermission, two girls walked over to me and said, “Did you speak to us recently?” I had to stop and think for a moment for they caught me off guard. Then I said, “Are you sophomores?” When they replied that they were, I said, “Yes, I did speak to your class about a month ago.” The two of them then shared how they were inspired by my story and each thanked me for the courage to speak up. We exchanged a few more words and then went on our respective ways.
    From a purely selfish viewpoint, I cannot tell you how gratifying that encounter was. Here it was weeks after the presentation and they not only remembered me but needed to share how it had impacted them. From a more altruistic viewpoint, I am humbled by the many twists and turns my life has taken, some smooth…others rocky and painful…but all combined to bring me Here and Now where I can be of service by providing hope where it may be sorely, and temporarily, lacking.
    So, what if I had never attempted suicide?
    I’ll never know that answer and I don’t need to. I did attempt it and I did survive it. The meaning I bring to that experience is all that matters. For me, the meaning is that there are no accidents, there is purpose in everything, we need the patience to let that purpose unfold and when it does, to bravely step up and assume the role we were born to fulfill.
    No “what ifs” ands or buts.
P.S.   Remember to click here to download my FREE e-book “TOO MANY SECRETS”

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