There were a few friends who knew what was going on at home. NO ONE knew how close I was to taking my own life.
I even now doubt few people would have cared.
One day, in desperation, I went to the Guidance Counselor, having run away from home, unable to take any more. She listened to my story and told me to go to the school principal and ask about minor emancipation. So it was that one morning I sat tearfully in his presence and explained that Mom wouldn't sign a permission for something because of her mental illness.
He'd never seen me before because I was a good student, and was somewhat shocked by what I was saying. That, thankfully, gave me credibility. In his compassion he gave me other options; everything other than the legal proceedings I had been told to seek.
I graduated when I was still 17, and two weeks later, legally, I became an adult. Two weeks later, Mom attempted suicide and I not only signed the 72-hour-hold as her legal guardian, but I advocated for commitment. Thank God wonderful mental health professionals, both those who had worked with her throughout the years and the one who was in charge of her at the new hospital took the time to learn the facts and explain the consequences. Mom was saved from a very damaged 18-year-old daughter who didn't know what else to do.
That same year, right on schedule I went to college, a Catholic one. I stopped going to Mass; I knew nothing about being Catholic because I'd grown up to believe our faith is in what we do during and surrounding Mass...and nothing else. And since I wasn't DOING anything anymore, it all fell apart. I had nowhere to roost. I wasn't playing flute or cantoring anymore. I was away from that parish family that had been cultivated over the years. I missed them, but I also missed "performing" every Sunday, for that was what it seemed to be for me.
Clearly, I never understood what the Mass was REALLY about.
I was one of the few college students happy to be away from "home". As it was, I had not home. We'd lost our home the summer, so really, I had no permanent address. The homesickness of my friends was mystifying to me.
During those years, I rarely attended Mass, and if I did, I was in tears, so just didn't go as I didn't know how to handle my own emotions or why they were happening.
And yet I fled from the light, however flickering, however warm. I was lost.