I have described it as a wave but in fact it started as a trickle. The cracks first appeared when I was pregnant and slowly grew over time until one sunny Saturday afternoon in autumn, while my baby was sleeping, I took out my journal and I wrote — it was Mum. That was when the earth split and the tsunami devastated through, taking away almost everything I was with it. I didn’t even know what “it was Mum” fully meant, only that those three words ripped me out of life and plunged me into the abyss.

That night, as I stood alone on the 6th floor balcony of the apartment I shared with my husband and our newborn baby, I felt an invisible force pulling me physically toward and over the railing. I let myself be pulled. I thought, yes, this is right. This is how is has to be. When I looked down, I realized that I may hurt or kill someone else when I fall. That compassion snapped me out of the pull. I planted my ass on the cold cement and inched myself backwards, away from the edge.

That was 11 years ago now. Things got much, much worse. Addiction. Deals with the devil. Until recently I had existed with the knowledge that I would be the best mama I could be until my daughter was 21 and then I would take my own life. I would write a long note, perhaps a book — I would tell her enough while I was alive. She would understand.

If there is any reason for our own suffering it is so that we can truly feel compassion for others. The deeper we allow ourselves to feel our own pain, the more honest, true and far reaching our compassion for other people.

All these parts of myself that I had locked up inside. Afraid to let go in case I forgot them. Afraid to let them go for fear of the havoc they may cause on their way out. There is so much safety and peace in my body now; another gift of service. In being here for other women, holding space for them, I tell them my story piece by piece, to let them feel that they are not alone, to stand in that space with them. The byproduct is that I get to experience my own healing and just how far I have come. I am able to remember, hold them in their own recalling and feel it all without falling apart. It is enormous this feeling of safety and freedom I feel. I know that I’m going to be ok. For so many years I was not ok and I thought I never would be.

If I had not journeyed into the abyss, I wouldn’t know the truth. I would not know how or why to protect my daughter. I wouldn’t know that I can and I will stand for the truth no matter what. I wouldn’t know how much I want to live.