Updated: Aug 26
DISCLAIMER: This essay solely expresses the author’s views, experiences, and opinions, which may not represent the views, experiences, or opinions of EVOLVERE Mental Health.
This essay contains graphic descriptions of traumatic events and suicide attempts, mature subject matter, and mature language.
This essay discusses self-harm and suicide for the purpose of sharing the author’s experiences and opinions in an effort to help individuals who can relate to the author, not to sensationalize or encourage acts of self-harm or suicide attempts. If you or someone you know is considering, or have attempted, acts of self-harm or suicide, please reach out to a trained professional as quickly as possible by calling a suicide hotline or 911/your local emergency number.
Please consult a mental healthcare provider before creating or changing your treatment/therapeutic plan.
Reader discretion is advised.
My name is Victor, I am closer to the half-century mark than I would like to admit. To give you some background on where I am today before I share my origins: I am in a loving relationship with my wife of over twenty-five years, we have two young adult daughters and a beautiful granddaughter. The last six years have been quite challenging for my family as I have been dealing with the aftermath of suppressing over thirty years of trauma. I will share my long list of diagnoses with you, not for validation of any kind, but as more of a way for me to share my truths about my mental illnesses adventure. To be clear, I prefer to use the term adventure instead of the mental health community’s de facto term journey. To me, a journey has a predefined beginning with a destination in mind, not to mention a loose agenda or guideline on how to get from point A to point B. Adventures are more spontaneous events… contain controlled or uncontrolled chaos… present choices that keep you in motion in a three-dimensional world… with that said, the direction of the movement is of no concern or relevancy, as what is of importance is the movement.
My story is broken into three parts: Origins, The Good, Bad and Ugly, and Reflections. It is noteworthy to mention that some of the items I will share with you contain triggering & disturbing content (READ AT OWN RISK); however, it is my truth… required too for understanding so I may have a chance to be understood.
My parents were first-generation immigrants who both worked multiple jobs to provide for me and my two older brothers (our ages were separated by one and two years). My father is Russian-German, he grew up on a farm in Brazil. My mother was Brazilian with South American native, she also grew up on a farm. Both my parents did not have education beyond elementary school. My father worked hard to provide for our family; however, he was also an alcoholic womanizer. My mother worked hard; however, she was abusive. My parents moved to Canada in the late 1960s. Throughout my childhood, my parents struggled to maintain middle-class status.
The family dysfunction was rampant throughout. Between the ages of 4 and 16, my parents were never around as they both worked multiple jobs and shift work. Through my elementary and middle school years, my primary caregivers were my brothers. My first childhood memories are as follows; I was four years old, standing in front of a lit barbeque, mesmerized by the glowing charcoal and dancing flames that were caressed by a slight mid-summer breeze. My older brother was riding his bicycle up and down the driveway, skidding his tire behind me ever so closely, and laughing as he did this. My eldest brother was at the bottom of the driveway watching the traffic drive by. I remember it was mid-afternoon and the colors of my surroundings were especially vibrant, and I could feel the warmth of the sun on my bare back. Without warning, the next moment changed my life… I could hear the bicycle speeding up behind me while my brother was giggling with glee; the tire skidded across the pavement as I felt the contact on the back of my ankles… I felt a slight hand pressed against my back… at that moment, in slow motion, I witnessed the barbeque getting closer and closer… naturally my hands went out to break my fall… I witnessed my hands slice through the hot coals… I remember the contrast of the red glowing coals with my dark hands as they were submerged… I recall the moment my chest laid across the edge of the cast iron vessel… the sound was like bacon sizzling in a frying pan… I remember the burning sensations of the hot air flow through my nostrils and throat… then the staunch smell of my burnt flesh followed… lastly, I recall the sensation of the white tip of the flames ever so softly… like a feather on skin… come across my left eyeball. As I pulled away, some of my skin was left behind on the edge… I heard and felt it be torn away… as I took a deep breath, because I was in shock, the heat burned down my throat as I struggled to breathe let alone scream. By the time I screamed, I noticed my hands engulfed in flames… witnessed the skin melt away from the soft tissue and bones… then I blacked out from the intensity of the pain. When I awoke… I had no idea where I was or how much time had passed… my left eye was covered… there was a bright light slightly above my head… I could hear the life monitoring devices beeping in the corner of the room… my back was pressed against a cold surface… my ankles and waist were secured to the surface… it was at this point that I noticed the two masked people leaning over me… the male had a blue hat with a white mask… his eyes were dark in color, his glare was icy cold… the female had a white hat with a baby blue mask… I recall the softness of her green eyes… I witnessed the tear run down her cheek… as I raised my arms, both hands were wrapped in white gauze… the size of a boxing mitt… I began to panic but could not move… the masks were moving but I could not hear the voices… I remember the soft touch of the female as she rubbed my right arm… perhaps to comfort me… I recall the sting in my left arm as the male injected something into me… I noticed I could not scream… could not make a peep… the last image I recall from my first hospital experience was watching a long, white, soaked bandage pull away yet another layer of skin… then it was lights out for me.
I recall my mother walking me through the front door of our house… I recall stumbling a bit as I was coming to again. My mother yelled at my brothers to go to their room as she closed the front door behind me. She had to help keep me steady as we walked to the dining room. I do not recall the exact features of her face, but I could see the fear in her eyes. I could hear her voice raise as she told me it was my fault that I “fell” into the fire… stated that I needed to be taught a lesson for scaring her… she came around the counter quickly… before I could react, since I could only see out from my right eye, she kicked me in the groin… I bent over but I did not feel the pain… then came the twelve-inch cast iron frying pan to my ribs with the final fatal blow coming from her kick to my midsection. I finally dropped… apparently my vocal cords were damaged… I could not make any noises…. I recall coughing up blood of a reddish and black tone… I cannot recall how long I had been laying there when I heard my dad come home… I felt the vibrations from his work boots stomping across the floor. My parents had a slight argument when my dad loomed over me… he said I gave the family quite the scare… you scared your mother and brothers… called me away from work… at that point, I heard the jingle of his belt buckle as it pulled out from the denim loops… he said I needed to be taught a lesson for playing by the barbeque…. he whipped me across my bare back until I bled… he dragged me down the hall to their bedroom and told me to rest… before he left the room, he stated that I was the mistake but that he still loved me (this was a common message that I received for the next fourteen years until I moved out at eighteen). I was locked up in their room for over eight hours… in soiled briefs… it was at this time that I was introduced to my first personality identity HARAS. It was HARAS who shaped me for the next few hours… made me mistrust the world around me… taught me how to absorb the emotional, mental, and physical pain. Welcome to my first childhood memories… my first series of traumatic events.
My parents would take any opportunity thereafter to use excessive violence against me while stating that it would “teach me a lesson not to be like your brothers”. After experiencing their abuse, I suffered additional beatings from my brothers, who were trying to reinforce the message that I should not rat them out. I used self-harm as a tool for survival. After receiving beatings by any member within my family, as they did like to use household items as weapons to inflict their damage, I would wake up in the middle of the night… find what they used to beat me… and I would then beat myself one hundred times in my ribs, on each side, to ensure that they could not break me… my spirit. My early developmental years were like growing up in a prison without guards. It was not uncommon to be beaten while I was sleeping (by soap in socks) or tortured (Chinese water torture or waterboarding) by my brothers. When I raised my concerns with my parents, their abuse cycle continued, and I inevitability suffered tenfold the abuse and torture from my brothers. When my mom had a bad day, it was not uncommon for her to kick me down a flight of stairs. By the time I was nine, due to how many times I had to go to the hospital to get stitched up, I began stitching myself up as not to get beaten by anyone in my family.
When I was nine years old, my family had scheduled a two-week vacation, before which I fell ill. My family decided to go without me and made arrangements for me to stay with relatives. Before they departed, my brothers, in earshot of the adults, stated that I was the mistake and that they were not coming back for me. The adults laughed it off and stated “oh…. boys will be boys”… unknown to my relatives, I woke up in the middle of the night and spent one hour calling home with no answer… every night for the entire two weeks that they were gone… crying and feeling so alone in the world.
I know that once my family of origin members read this… they will go into damage control as the good Christians that they are, and yet again deny what happened… claim me a liar, cheat, and thieve like they have done before. You see, after what I have witnessed, I am a firm believer that no human has the right to take another’s life. However, I used to believe that each individual has the right to take their own. This is important for the next traumatic experiences…. when I was ten years old. It was during this summer, where most kids enjoyed playing under the warm summer sun and the break from school, that my tortured existence came to a breaking point. My first suicide attempt occurred in June of that summer. I threw myself in front of a 1978 green Monte Carlo… I recall the moment that I hit the grill, and bummer… I was going to survive. After I was finished bouncing down the road, I could hear the female passenger get out of the car screaming hysterically… I remember picking myself up and running away. When my family asked about the injuries, I just told them that I fell off my bicycle. My second attempt… I drowned myself in a pool… just by chance, a passerby happened to notice me floating on the surface… apparently, I was not breathing and he administered CPR to revive me. I told him that I jumped in the pool and hit my head on the bottom. I can assure you that I went to the other side. My last attempt was in August… I climbed a twenty-foot slide, and when I reached the top, I looked around… and without hesitation, I jumped headfirst towards the ground… I nearly broke my back… it took a few days to stop tasting dirt…. in the end, I knocked myself unconscious. That was the end of that experience, as I conceded that I am destined to be abused and psychologically tortured.
Now, my age (12-13) here is a bit fuzzy as we grew up in a rough neighborhood. Some of my friends’ siblings were associated with gangs and I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was walking home by myself and cutting through a parking lot when a police cruiser pulled in and called me by my last name… I looked at them and they did not look friendly… so I ran… they eventually caught up to me in an ally, at which point one police officer turned his back as though he was on lookout… the other grabbed the back of my head and smashed it into a brick wall which dropped me… all I could recall doing is putting my arms over my head to protect it… next, I felt the clubbing on my ankles, knees, ribs and shoulders… the last thing I heard was “message sent”. Oddly enough, this was the only time my family did not acknowledge my injuries or beat me when I arrived home.
When I was sixteen, my mom pulled a chopping knife on me, turned it upside down and pressed it just below my belly button, then proceeded to tell me that she was going to gut me like a pig… noteworthy my dad was in the room and did nothing… I left and went to the church where my brothers were participating in youth group activities… I explained to them what had occurred… they stated I was lying… told me to deal with it and went back to the youth group… even the youth group leader did not want to hear about it… the day I told all organized religion gods to go fuck themselves. This was the night of my fourth suicide attempt with alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and cocaine. Well, as you can see, I am still here…. My last suicide attempt came a week after HARAS took control of my body and beat me within an inch of my life… a week later, I tried to kill him by killing me… I used the same method as when I was sixteen with a slight twist…. I tried to hang myself too… well the rope snapped as I jumped out of the tree. It was only a few weeks after that I was accepted into a post-secondary school out of town… it is noteworthy here to mention that I walked away from a free university ride in order to get out of my family of origin’s home.
Lastly, when government agencies, educators, churches, and police services got involved out of concern for my safety and wellbeing …. I was immediately discredited, because no one believed how extreme the situation was. My family had everyone convinced that I was a liar with an active imagination. This went on for most of my childhood and adolescent life. My family of origin robbed me of all respect and dignity for fourteen years (since my first memory). I cannot deny the violence of my youth, I cannot deny the criminal elements, I cannot deny the police assault (to this day… authorities never admitted to this crime), I cannot deny my mother pulling a knife on me and stating that she was going to gut me like a pig, I cannot deny the five suicide attempts, I cannot deny the anger and rage that I have for my childhood trauma, I cannot deny that I committed crimes in my youth, and I cannot deny the truth…. in order to survive… it was not my fault… I did not ask for my dehumanized existence. I made a decision that no eighteen-year-old should have ever had to make…. I walked away from an all-expenses-paid university education in order to leave home, hence leave my abusers. Could you imagine what I could have accomplished with a university degree?
This is my origin… there is so much more to this… I have shared with you the watered-down version… I offer no apologies for the brutality of my honesty… there are no immunities to my horrific childhood… these are demonstrations of how adults, agencies, and family have failed me. Perhaps the mental health community, once they read this, will stop asking me if I am “safe” when distressed… as you can plainly see, I cannot relate to their construct…. It was not my fucking fault … yet everyone blamed me… shit I am crying now… as I write this…. Please, I have only one request from anyone who reads this… do not have sympathy, empathy, pity, or mercy on me… I took the entirety of this trauma and buried it deep within me… that was my choice… eventually, we will all be forced to make payment for our past deeds…. My mental illnesses… my nightly episodes of pain and suffering… it was a bed that I made… now I get to sit in it with my shit until the debt is paid.