I mean really. I absolutely would have slayed it with my ‘Cover Girl’ poses and taken full advantage of the model lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want a closet full of some pretty dope outfits (yeah I’m a 90’s teen) and prance the streets of NYC, Paris and Rodeo Drive, baby. I admit – my love of food would probably have hindered my career at some point – especially when there is dessert sitting on the counter. I’m not sure a diet of cigarettes, coke (diet), and apples would be sustainable for a girl that can slaughter a pint of ‘Ben & Jerry’s – The Tonight Dough’ in one sitting. People have witnessed it and it isn’t pretty. Sorry, Bob.
When I was younger I used to create images in my head when falling asleep in hopes to manipulate my dreams. I would lay in bed with my eyes closed and pretend to look like Cover Girl model, Niki Taylor. Sometimes it would be Brooke Shields and even Christie Brinkley (when her face used to move) for the throwback nostalgic days of 80’s modeling. I created scenarios in my head and hoped it would be enough to spark my dreams and live out the fantasy of being one of the great beauties of the world as I drifted off to sleep. I wasn’t tragically ugly as a teenager but I always believed that those girls had a much easier path in life being beautiful and let’s be real – who doesn’t want life to be a little easier minus the muffin top and love handles? Looking back now I feel a little sad about that girl who struggled so much with body image and self-esteem that she tried to manipulate dreams to escape reality for a night (or two) if she was lucky.
Those were the beginning signs of a tormented child who would eventually take a sharp turn and veer down a very long, hard, ugly road of destruction for many years. “I know, God, I get it.” I was (still am) a ‘Cover Girl’ and I know I was breaking your heart because I was fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. Somewhere and somehow I stopped believing in myself – and your truth – and stopped listening.
This year you challenged me to shed my old skin and go through a rebirth. Of course, I was instructed to do it publically because it needed to be authentic and required accountability. I know why. People needed to hear my story. There are so many out there suffering from mental illness, addiction, depression, and hopelessness. I shared my story – a very raw, unfiltered, unedited, and unapologetic story. “You know it would have been waaaayyyyyyyyy easier to be discovered at Great Northern mall sipping on a Frappe and be approached by some LA Model Talent Agent scouting in the Clevelnd area!!” Now that’s a story – don’t ya think?!
Nope. Not today and not tomorrow. I know I will never get to work with Calvin Klein and I need to hang up my modeling towel (well it never existed but whatever). It has been hard being real. Understandably most people sweep their dirty secrets under the rug for fear of judgment and the chokehold of shame. It is way easier to filter our junk and Instagram the crap out of our lives. I am a Rocky River mom with kids in the school system and I even dabble a bit in the Early Childhood PTA. That has to mean something and I got a reputation to keep up. I see these people at Target (always without makeup and looking like a truck hit me – of course) and Heinen’s. “Are you sure you want me to talk about my suicide attempt and the struggles of addiction I once battled?” Yep. You made it loud and clear. I understand it now. Over the course of the last 9 months since I first shared my story, there have been numerous conversations. People have reached out to share their struggles and clink glasses along with me because we all know someone that is struggling with something, or has suffered the aftermath of suicide loss in either a direct or non-direct way.
You are a ninja, God. A stealthy, miracle ninja, always pulling out the stops when least expected. I know it isn’t by happenstance that I am leaving for Africa today and this past week leading up to my takeoff has been ‘National Suicide Prevention Week’. I find it no coincidence that yesterday was ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ and you are sending me the very next day to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to share my story and continue to inspire hope over the course of the next 11 days. I know I have to continue writing, talking about, and sharing the goodness of your grace. I know that some may not understand why my story continues while many have had a final ending written into their stories. I don’t understand it either and I don’t anticipate that I ever will on Earth. I do believe we aren’t capable of understanding all the layers of your work in our human brains. Not because we aren’t intelligent enough but because you are protecting us with your great love. In the meantime, I am going to continue to push forward and get uncomfortable at times and continue to share my story.
There are way too many people out there that matter, struggling, and need to know that they are not crazy, alone, unloved, or unwanted. People need to know that change is possible and hope is not just a word in the dictionary. That HOPE is real and can penetrate the hearts of people so desperately seeking it. I’m okay with being a person that takes the stigma off of suicide talk and stimulate open conversation and allow questions to be asked. I’m finally okay with being one of the all too many faces of ‘National Suicide Prevention Week’ and I think I wear it pretty damn good. Thank you for choosing me.