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When author Eva Pohler invited me to be part of Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My regular readers and friends know that suicide prevention is a cause close to my heart. I support organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms that help people choose not to end their lives.
But there are some intensely personal reasons for me to believe in this cause. At three different points in my life, I have seriously considered checking out early. Once was during my high school years, when I was struggling with an eating disorder. The second time was when I was in my early thirties and was facing an incredibly painful personal crisis. And the third time was in the past few years.
I want to say upfront that I am a woman of faith, and that faith has sustained me more than once. I credit my relationship with God and El’s grace with having saved me. But I’m all too aware that the church has not always been understanding and compassionate about mental and emotional struggles. Too often, women and men who needed the most help have been stigmatized as weak, shunned or ridiculed. The very place and people to whom we should want to turn have betrayed us.
It wasn’t the church that made me turn away from the dark. It wasn’t a doctor, although I believe strongly in therapy and counseling. It wasn’t my friends or my family, although they all loved me and hurt for me.
For each of us, where we find the small thread to which we cling is different. Where the light shines through can be varied. For me, the why was different each time. But ultimately, somehow, at the crucial point, hope broke through, and it was bright enough, even if it was only for a moment, to keep me on this side. And when hope came, it spoke to me through a book–a different one every time.
Suicide wasn’t unheard of in my family. I lost an uncle, a cousin and several other extended family to the dark. I remember my father often saying that suicide was a permanent solution to temporary problems, but for those of us who struggle, the problems don’t feel temporary. They feel huge and permanent and insurmountable. It doesn’t feel as though there’s life on the other side.
I remember reading something that changed my life and the way I looked at things. The gist of it was that we can’t always trust how we feel. While I know I should listen to my emotions and tune into them, consider what they might mean, I can’t make decisions based solely on how I feel, because those feelings aren’t reliable. They can be influenced by things like hormones and misunderstandings and whether or not I’ve eaten today.
That realization was a game-changer for me. I don’t mean it should be for everyone, but for me–it made a difference.
A few years ago, I wrote a quartet of books within my series Love in a Small Town. Although each book stands alone, there was an overarching storyline in these four books: the story of Jenna Sutton, who’d attempted suicide in the aftermath of a devastating rebuff. Jenna’s tale was very personal, especially as her story was seen through the eyes of her family, friends and others in her small town. I hope that these books help others, too, who might need to know they are not alone.
If you are on the precipice of making a choice right now . . . if you are choosing whether or not to stay . . . please hold onto these truths:
You are important.
Your story isn’t over.
Hope is real.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
If you need someone to talk to and you don’t want to call a suicide hotline (which is a wonderful resource, by the way), please know that you can message me on Facebook or email me, and I will be there for you.
That’s a promise, and it’s not just for you. Knowing there are people who are counting on me helps me, too, when I’m making one of those decisions.
I’ll stay . . . if you do.
Much love, now and always . . .
The royal wedding was only the beginning of my happy ending . . .
I’m now a full-fledged member of the royal family. That means all my problems are over, doesn’t it?
Even though I’m now a princess-by-marriage and a duchess-by-title, I’m still the same Kyra who’s prone to putting her sneaker-clad foot into her mouth.
It’s a good thing Nicky loves me. Our work is thriving and our marriage is strong. Together, we can tackle any challenge. But it’s not until our peaceful existence is threatened that I realize how precious it is.
And they lived happily ever after . . . right?
Later, as we sat at our table eating the salad that my husband had made, I glanced up at him, my brows drawn together.
“Hmmm?” He smiled at me, but the expression in his eyes was almost absent-minded, as though he were thinking about something else entirely.
“Do you think we make love too much? Do we use sex to solve our problems? Or to avoid them altogether?”
Nicky choked, coughing violently on the bite of lettuce he’d just taken. Once he could speak again, he shook his head and glared at me. “Where the devil did that come from? My answer, by the way, is hell, no. We don’t have too much sex. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I was just . . . thinking.” I twisted my napkin between my fingers. “Sometimes I’m a little annoyed with you, or I want to talk about things, and instead, we end up in bed.” I jerked my head back toward the living room. “Or on the sofa, as the case may be.”
“So you feel as though you’re using sex to avoid conversation?” Nicky took a long drink of his water. “Or that somehow, I’m subtly re-directing us down that path, rather than discussing our problems?”
“Well, when you put it that way, not exactly,” I admitted. “I was just musing that we have a lot of sex.”
“And thank God for that,” he replied fervently. “I like that about us. It works for me.”
“I’m hardly complaining, either.” I shrugged. “But I just came home, preoccupied about a situation at work, and instead of telling you all about it, I asked you to, you know.” I rolled my hand. “Do what you did for me.”
“I’d do it again.” Nicky winked, and then his expression faded into something more serious. “Do you want to tell me about whatever happened at work? You know, I’m more than happy to listen to you. Any time.”
I considered. “Not really. It’s probably nothing, just my over-active imagination at play. I think I’m so worried about not doing a good job at Honey Bee, at the prospect of letting down Honey now that my focus is split, that I tend to see problems where none exist.”
“Do you need to cut back on your engagements for the Queen, so that you feel better about your job?” Nicky slid his salad bowl aside and reached for the takeaway containers.
“No.” I shook my head emphatically. “I like doing both. I’m actually not doing badly at juggling both.”
“Okay, then.” He scooped a healthy portion of penne onto his plate. “Here’s my take on everything. We’re newlyweds. Not only that, we’re newlyweds who spent a long time apart during our courtship, because of the whole you-living-in-America deal, while I was here in Britain. So we’re not only expected to be having lots of sex as a couple who are just married, but we’re also making up for lost time.”
I laughed. “All right, then. I feel totally justified now.”
“Plus, sex is an expression of the depth of love I feel for you, Ky. I never want you to doubt that love. I’m male, and it’s my favorite way to show you how much I care.”
“Now that is something I can run with.” I reached across the table and linked my fingers with Nicky’s. “Thank you, sweetheart. I feel much better now.”
He nodded. “Would you feel even better if we followed up this healthy discussion with some vigorous romping in the sheets?”
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t hold back the wide grin that curved my lips. “You’re incorrigible, Prince Nicholas.”
My husband waggled his brows at me. “I am, indeed. But that wasn’t a no.”
Digging into my pasta, I heaved a long, happy sigh. “You’re right. It wasn’t a no. It was more like a . . . convince me to say yes.” I paused. “After I enjoy my dinner, that is. And maybe after we cuddle a little and catch up with each other’s days.”
Nicky nodded. “I get it. Priorities.”
As it happened, that night we didn’t, uh, romp in the sheets as my husband had phrased it so eloquently. But we did end the evening wrapped in each other’s arms, content.
And that was perfect bliss, in its own way.