Tread softly this could get dark.
For most of my life, there was an underlying darkness that seemed to accompany me. I grew up in an environment where it did not matter what you felt like on the inside, as long as the outside was put together. This way of handling “stuff” nearly cost me my life.
It was the beginning of October in 2001. I had entered my last year of college in Texas. Two and a half years earlier, I had gotten out of the Army to pursue a degree in Theology. I had a supportive loving wife of ten years, three school aged children, a house that had squirrels in the attic, a full course load, and a marriage that was falling to pieces right in front of my face.
This particular season had been really tough on our relationship because like most men, I have a propensity to be stupid (saying and doing stupid things). It had gotten so bad, Tracey had announced that she would be packing up the kids and heading to Colorado for the weekend, to give her some time to “figure out” what she wanted to do.
I had it planned out perfectly. There were not going to be any kids or grownups at the house for a few days. My plan was to come home after church. Eat a little something. Call 911 and end my life before they got there. I did not want my family to be the ones to find me. It was a perfect plan. No more darkness. No more pain. No more failure. I had already purchased the shells for my shotgun and I was planning on that being my final weekend on earth.
Everything was going according to plan until Tracey prepared to leave with the kids. My son (a teenager at the time) refused to go. No matter how much we tried to persuade him, he would not budge. Because of his stubbornness, I did not have the heart or courage to end my life that weekend. I could not let the last image that he saw of me to be of me slumped in a chair with half my head missing. That saved my life.
It has been close to seventeen years since that weekend and it wasn’t until two years ago that I finally sought help for the darkness that seemed to follow me for most of my life. Wanna know the truly scary part? I have been preaching, teaching and pastoring that whole time and most of the time nobody even noticed.
Vincent Dehm is a pastor in the Allegheny East Conference and gives leadership to the Recreation Church in Baltimore, Maryland