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Seven years ago, in June 2012, I participated in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk - an event where participants from all over the country join together to walk 18 miles over the course of one night. I walked for my friends Mary and Drew, who were lost to suicide in 2006 and 2011. It was my way to honour them, grieve them and say goodbye.

Just two months later, something happened to me. I met someone I thought was a soulmate, someone with whom I believed I was building a kind of intimacy I'd never experienced before. Someone who "got" me on a level I'd never believed possible.

It turns out, that's how most abusive relationships start.

Over almost six years, that relationship slowly corroded my soul, my self, until there was almost nothing left. I was scraped empty from the inside out. I have written about this experience herehere and here, and talked about it in video here. By the end, I had wanted to die for over two years. I'd come close to ending my life twice: the first time, the memory of Mary and Drew and the emotional carnage they'd left in their wake, as well as the need to take care of my sick cat, stopped me. The second time, I tried to check myself in to the hospital--but my partner, who was living with me at the time, prevented me from calling for help.

Three days later, I left him--and just a few weeks after that, something happened that I'd come to believe was unimaginable: I wanted to live.

Recovery has been long, slow and painful, and is nowhere near complete. There are still times I think, "I don't know if I'll make it through this"--but I know I will. Because of the ones who left before me, and the pain they left behind.

The Overnight in 2012 was one of the last major events in my other life--the life before that guy. So I decided to go back this year, but this time, I'm walking for me. I'm celebrating my own survival, but also, I'm grieving, and saying goodbye to, the woman I left behind in San Francisco seven years ago, and the life I might have had, if I had made a different choice that summer.

I am coming full circle, and I hope, in some small way, coming back to myself. And I need your support.

The Overnight is a fundraiser to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Proceeds help those affected by suicide by supporting research, advocacy, survivor resources, education, and awareness programs. I need to raise US$1,000 to participate. Please contribute if you can.

And you're in the Bay Area and want to give extra support, please consider volunteering--then you can give me hugs along the way!

Thank you.

The luminaries path at the end of The Overnight in 2012.