Another game. Another failure. Story of my life. I decided that life wasn’t worth living.
I’ll never forget the night I wrote that note. It was a rainy Friday in late February, and our high school basketball team had just lost a crucial game. Since I was a co-captain, I felt like a failure. And I didn’t know what to do.
So I decided to kill myself.
After the game, my mom and dad had quietly driven me home from school. Dad could sense I was really down about the loss. When we got home, he started telling me it was no big deal. “It’s just a game,” he said, trying to comfort me. “There’s always next week.” Typical Dad stuff. I nodded like I agreed with him. Then I went into my room, closed the door, and slumped onto my bed. I’d made a turnover late in the game, and when I looked back at the night, that’s all I saw. It was all my fault. I’d let everyone down.
Another game. Another failure. Story of my life, I thought. So I went over to my desk, pulled out a single sheet of paper, and grabbed a pen.
And there, surrounded by the posters of all my basketball heroes, as rain splattered against my window from the storm outside, I carefully wrote the note.
No One to Talk to
A couple of months earlier, my basketball coach had called me into his office.
“Steve, I need to tell you something.”
I sat down in the chair by his desk. “What’s that, Coach?” I said, trying to sound casual. But I had this sick feeling in my gut. I hadn’t been playing that great lately.
“Steve, I’m not going to be able to start you after the Christmas break,” Coach said. “You just haven’t been producing like I was hoping.”
But I’m a co-captain! I’m a senior! How can you do this to me? The words screamed in my head. I’d spent four years practicing basketball all summer long—going to camps, running, working out, lifting weights. What was worse, I knew who was going to start in my place—a sophomore with an attitude problem. Because I “hadn’t been producing,” I was a failure. That’s what my coach was really telling me.
As bad as I felt, I pushed my feelings down deep inside. I simply told him I understood and I was glad to do whatever was best for the team. I shook his hand and left.
It seemed like things had just gotten worse since then. Beth, this girl I liked and was thinking about asking out, started dating some other guy. My grades weren’t as good as I thought they should have been. I felt like nothing was going right. Like everything was spinning out of control. Like my life was unraveling one thread at a time.
On the outside, my life looked pretty good—co-captain of a hoops team that had won the state championship the year before, nice Christian home, honor student—but on the inside I felt totally empty and alone.
God, how could you let this happen to me?
I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t think my parents would understand. They were nice enough, but all we ever talked about was surface stuff. Nothing really deep. Nothing that really mattered. And a lot of my friends were like that, too. We just hung around together, but we never really brought up our real problems. I was in a pattern of holding my sadness inside instead of trying to share my feelings with someone who would listen and sympathize. I let my pain build until I felt like I was in a lonely, desperate place with no way out. Without any place to turn.