By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsJune 28, 2019
Darkness blanketed my thoughts. Railroad tracks lay in front of me as I sat in my car, waiting. Resolved. Relenting.
All my hopes lay behind me.
The fall semester at this latest university was the best one I had had up to that point. Good grades, solid friendships, no frivolous distractions, and a clear focus toward earning a Bachelor of Arts degree all weighed in my favor.
I had stumbled numerous times before arriving at the school. It was, in fact, my fourth attempt at finishing my degree -- the previous three college experiences had ended in failure due to past distractions. But not this time. I wouldn't let it. I was determined to get past my past and move on. That was the fall semester.
The start of the spring semester was also heading in the right direction for me. I had reconnected with my college and church friends, moving in with one of my buddies to whom I had grown close during the previous semester. He and I spent the first couple of nights laughing about classes, cute girls and vacation plans for the coming spring break. We talked about our hopes for the future.
Near the end of the first week, I was walking down the street toward my dorm room after classes when I spotted a young lady sitting in her car, sobbing uncontrollably. I felt the need to stop and console her.
Within minutes I sat in her car, listening and talking through what caused her heart to break. It involved a guy. A former boyfriend, she said. She had gotten pregnant by him six months before and when he rejected the child, she had broken up with him. Most recently, she had miscarried and confessed that her life was a complete mess.
Raw pain reflected deeply in her face. Drawn to her plight, I determined that I would help her in any way I could. So I introduced her to my college and church friends, who welcomed her in with open arms. She quickly became part of the inner circle.
A few weeks later, I found myself growing more and more attracted to her. My feelings were confirmed on a Sunday night when a close female friend of mine suggested she could see us eventually getting married.
Words carry meaning, some more than others.
Within a couple of days after that Sunday night, I expressed my feelings for the young lady. She reciprocated them. We officially became a couple.
Decisions carry consequences, some far greater than others. Without knowing it, I had started on a path paved with thorny lies and painful missteps.
I drew closer to her with each passing day; the closer I got, the stranger she got. Red flags were popping up practically at every turn, yet I kept focused on how much I was growing to love her and how much I trusted the wise prophecy of a friend.
One night not long after we had become "an item," she disappeared. I stopped by her dorm room on the other side of campus to see her, but she wasn't there. I walked the campus looking for her but couldn't find her. Eventually, as I walked back to my dorm room, I saw her sitting in a pickup truck I didn't recognize.
I walked up and said hi; she looked back at me awkwardly shocked. On the driver's side of the pickup was a man. She told him they would have to finish the conversation later, climbed out of the pickup, and urged me to follow her around the corner of my dorm building.
As he drove away, I asked who he was. She said just an old high school friend -- she grew up in a small town 30 minutes away from the university. Something wasn't right, so I pressed her.
She eventually confessed that the guy was her old boyfriend, only he was actually her former fiancé, who actually had just broken up with her the day I saw her sobbing in her car -- probably mere minutes before I walked up; just some of the many lies I discovered later, much later, after I was all into the relationship -- convinced we were destined to marry.
At this moment, though, she assured me there was nothing going on between them; that apparently he had been begging her to come back to him. Lies.
The relationship that followed for the next four months was a back-and-forth manipulative dance born of a dysfunctional childhood we shared in common and fed by a sick, warped blend of infatuation, lust and desperation that sent her into and out of my arms and, I would find out later, the arms of countless men. I stubbornly clung to the hope of her as my self-worth melted into depression.
By the end of the semester, she ultimately rejected me and fled to another state for the summer. I rejected God, my education and all my friends, and fled to a dark lonely place in my mind. I found myself hopeless. Nobody could understand me, nor did they want to be around me.
I convinced myself that I was useless; an abject failure at everything. My God hated me. My friends hated me. My family hated me. Most of all, I hated me.
No light remained when I sat near the tracks outside of town and waited for the next train to come along. It was simple, really. I would get out of the car and when I knew the train couldn't stop in time, I would simply walk onto the tracks and end it.
I gave up on life. I quit. The pain had beat me senseless. Resolved, I relented to die.
The minutes ticked by. No train. For over two hours I sat in the car, determined to do this. No train. Three hours. No train.
As I waited, God began to replay the semester back in my mind. I had excused everything she did. Everything. She manipulated me, but I let her. Hell, I had manipulated her some, too.
I began to realize how much I had given up because of my pride; how I was committed to marrying her at all cost; how often she used my love to embrace me before tossing it away to embrace other men -- my heart was a yoyo. In the process, I deeply hurt all of my friends. I ruined those relationships. I deeply hurt my own mother, who never wavered in her love for me despite myself. I ruined my greatest semester by following it up with my worst semester ever.
Hope for tomorrow had died.
Still, no train.
A beautiful sunset slowly faded from the sky.
Still no train.
Four hours in, God broke through with the reality of His undying love for me, my friends' love for me, and my family's love for me. Rage suddenly rushed in --
"I'm going to live to spite her!" I yelled at the tracks. "I'm going to live to spite you!" I screamed at the growing darkness.
Within 30 minutes, I had started up the car and was driving back to my apartment, angry that I let myself get like this. Tomorrow awaited me.
Twenty-nine years of tomorrows later, I'm still here. I have learned the real truth about myself and suicide. I have learned to live, to replace all the lies with truths and find healthy reasons to live; to realize nothing is ever that bad. There is always hope in this life. Always! Hope in God, hope in friends and family, hope in every breath I've been given, hope beyond every sunset to every tomorrow.
Hope reigns in the midst of love. Hope dies in the midst of lies. Don't avoid friends and family. Talk to them. Talk to counselors. Talk to strangers, if necessary. Talk to God. Share your feelings. Don't be afraid to. Reject the lies, and embrace the truth. The truth is, you are loved. People do care. Let the light of truth, love and life blanket your thoughts.
And embrace hope!