Friday, June 15, 2018

Just Have the Conversation

[Content: mention of suicidal thoughts]

This is a branch-off of my last post, about not needing every person to agree with 100% of my book in order for the book to make a difference.

One time when I was in high school, there was a news story about a girl my age who died in a car accident because she was speeding in order to make it home by her curfew. My parents told me, "Don't ever do that." They said that if I was ever running late, they wanted me to call them, and to never ever drive unsafely on their account, no matter how late it was.

At some point, when I started going out with friends more on my own, my mom told me that if I was ever in an uncomfortable situation, that I could call her and she would come and pick me up, no questions asked. She said that she didn't ever want me to drive home drunk, or get in the car with a drunk driver, or get in the car with anyone that I didn't feel safe with, for any reason. She said that she didn't want me to avoid calling her because of anything that might have gone on at a party, that she would come and pick me up if I felt unsafe, no questions asked, and she would respect my privacy if I never wanted to tell her what happened.

I thankfully was never in a situation like this where I needed to call her, but I always knew that I could. These are the kinds of conversations that can save lives.

And it's my belief that if, when I left for college, my parents had given me a similar talk, saying that it was okay if it didn't work out, it was okay if I wanted to come home, it was okay if I didn't live up to the expectations that everyone at school had for me, that it was perfectly fine and nothing to be ashamed of if going to a prestigious college far away from home was just not right for me, I might have had the guts to call them and say that I wanted to come home. I might have been able to walk away. I might not have felt trapped at school. I might not have felt like I couldn't come home and face everyone after how badly things had gone. I might never have felt like suicide was my only option because I had nowhere to go. And it's my belief that if my parents saw this as a risk, they would have had this conversation with me. But they didn't see that risk. None of us did.

I know that I can't prevent every single person from ever going through what I did. I know that there will be parents out there who will read my book and will still push their children down a path that isn't right for them. And I also know that there are parents out there like mine. Parents who would have that talk with their kids if they just understood the risk. And through my story, I can help them understand that risk. I can help them understand that that conversation could save their child's life. If any parent out there reads my story and realizes that they need to have that conversation with their kids, then I've done my job.

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