Share the Shame


By Katherine

“If you could forgive yourself for one thing, what would it be?”

“Debating killing myself.”

Immediately after hearing my voice crack and the sniffle of my nose, Troy put his hand on my back and started rhythmically rubbing it in a circular motion. “I can’t believe I just said that out loud to a room of more than 60 people who don’t know me,” I thought to myself in amazement.

I’ve never talked about my debate with anyone before. Not Ma, not Dave, not Dad, and certainly not my friends. I’ve always been ashamed that I consistently have bouts of depression, so I’ve never openly talked about it before. Nicole said it was a safe place. Corrine shared her story about her family’s struggle with depression, alcoholism, and suicide for God’s sake… if I couldn’t share here, where and when could I ever?

At the end of the session for the retreat these 60 strangers and I were participating in, more than 10 of these people came up to me. Although the exercise was done in complete darkness to create an atmosphere of anonymity, I was one of three girls sitting in a row of men. In addition to this, I still unknowingly had tears freely flowing from my eyes after the lights had turned on. I turned to the floor to grab my water bottle and looked up at my friend Troy, who had a look of acceptance on his face. I’d never even thought that someone could be okay with what I had just said aloud. After finding solace in a warm embrace, I was hugged by my floormate, another girl who lives across from me, my boss, and many others. Another girl with a tear-stricken face who I had never spoken to feebly asked, “Was that you?” I was about to respond with an affirmation, because we both knew what she was referring to, but when I opened my mouth, my throat closed- my body telling me to be ashamed of what my mind had just confessed. I nodded and she wrapped her arms around me, whispered that I matter, and I gasped. Someone who doesn’t know my name just declared that I matter. Someone who just discovered my debate deemed that I matter.


Ever since eighth grade I remember having this debate. I never wrote out my pros and cons list, for fear my mother would find it when she cleaned my room after she got tired of me not cleaning it for weeks at a time. I never audibly debated my ponderings. I generally thought about it late at night when I couldn’t fall asleep, or when I forgot to bring a book to the tub when I would take a bath. I would list out mundane reasons like: wouldn’t have to finish the Spanish project, wouldn’t have to study for the pre-algebra test, wouldn’t have to see my history teacher after failing her exam last Thursday. Then the reasons would turn into: wouldn’t have to be such an utter disappointment to my parents, wouldn’t constantly have to be in trouble, wouldn’t have to compare myself to my younger brother anymore- they’d finally have a perfect family instead of one with a lousy daughter. What always halted my debate was this single thought, though: I can’t let my parents and grandparents bury me. I can’t let my brother be known as the kid whose sister killed herself. I can’t let Dave grow up always wondering what he could have done wrong.

With this single moment from a girl who I regularly spend time with now, who did not know my face in a crowd before that activity, I began to believe in myself. I began to accept that I matter.

This moment marks the commencement of my healing. The process originated then in that moment. I began to realize and hope for a brighter day today and, thus, a more happy future. When I initially thought of happiness, I did not associate it much with myself. I used to describe myself as content with how things in my life impacted me. Now, nearly three months post my commencement, I live happily. I work with people I enjoy the company of; I eat meals with my family and take pleasure in the conversations that arose at the table; I spend free time watching pirated movies with my significant other. I am hopeful for my future and am healing what I believe to be my soul. This is my story to share with others in hopes that it will strike a cord with someone personally and allow them to find hope and start the healing process him or herself.

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