I recently watched seasons 1-5 of “Weeds” on Netflix streaming. SPOILER ALERT: When U-Turn dies and Nancy gets a U-Turn sign tattooed on her ass, I was inspired. I actually considered doing the same. It just seemed like a funny message, and a clever/convenient double entendre. Similarly, I’ve always been moved and energized by the (now classic) “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. You know… Here I go again on my own! Going down the only road I’ve ever known! Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone… You get the point, there’s a lot to be said for travel euphemisms? I don’t know. I figured I should start my first post in a while with something nonchalant and silly. But the truth is, I’m writing tonight because of a realization I had today. I figured, at this point, if I have an audience, I don’t know who they are, and I’m a lot less concerned about that. I don’t have an agenda, besides telling my story. For a moment there, I got so caught up in delivering a hopeful message, and doing it a certain way, that I lost myself, and stopped writing.
This morning, singer Amy Winehouse was found dead. The rumor is that an overdose is what finally did her in, at the ripe ol’ age of 27. It startled me for a second when I realized she was 27, and then saw her birth year. I’m 27. I too, was born in 1983. We all know the rock star references that are made here… Jimi, Janis, Jim, Kurt, etc. I’m no rock star, but I’ve been calling myself one for about a year now. I grew a little worried after proclaiming such a title and then realizing my age. My blog before this one was called “Musings of a Self-Proclaimed Rock Star.” It was amusing, but also cathartic, and often raw. I’ve decided to make it public again and you can find it. Even since closing the blog, I’ve been tweeting under the name @RockStarMusisings. Yes, I’m coming out. I’ve come to realize you either hide nothing, or you hide it all. Hiding shit is far too much work, and I’m far too lazy to work that hard to keep other people comfortable.
Amy’s death jolted me into this moment in a way nothing else has. I read the parts of Russell Brand’s blog post on her, that were shared on msnbc.com, and I realized that Winehouse and I have a lot in common. As for addictions, mine have come and gone, and the only one that has ever REALLY threatened my life, is food. Mainly because cocaine is expensive; alcohol can be miserable; and sex become tedious. Man! Whew! I had forgotten how refreshing honesty can be.
All that aside, I felt like Brand was really making an appeal to non-addicts to realize that addiction is a serious illness that kills people, and otherwise saying little about Winehouse besides the fact that she was distant, and a genius that we only saw at a glimpse. Now, I know you’re wondering where I am in that description, but I’ll elaborate. I don’t think I am a genius, but even now, it breaks my heart to realize that I, much like Winehouse, have held the world at such a distance that if I died, the world wouldn’t realize what it had lost. I agree with Brand. I think Amy Winehouse was incredible, and the media reveled in her slow demise, and mostly missed the light that she brought to the world. And this is our world. It is shitty. But what hurts me about what we have lost with the death of Amy Winehouse, is that we have no idea. That sultry voice, that deeply rich, dark soul. She had such a wealth within her, and we will never get to know it. We can joke all we want. When I first heard of her death, I blah blah blahed about who was next, Lindsay or Charlie. But Amy wasn’t just another troubled soul, and musical genius aside, she was a human being.
I’ve heard through social networking that Amy’s mom commented about making mental preparations for this day, knowing it would (or thinking it might) come. This takes me back to the days after my suicide attempt, when my mother was staying with me. During a heated argument one day, she admitted that it is hard to move forward, and stay involved, because on some level she knew I would do it again, and I might just be successful next time. She voiced to me that her distance was an attempt to keep herself safe, and to cope with that remaining chance that I won’t survive. As inexcusable as that may be to many of you out there, who have no idea, I understand it. Amy probably understood that. As much as she probably wanted to be sober, and not let herself and her loved ones down over and over again, she probably understood their distance. She probably knew that they had to keep themselves safe.
Tonight I was reflecting on addiction and I realized that it is a thin line between giving up on, sticking by, and enabling an addict. You have to love them unconditionally, but you have to set boundaries. You have to draw a line, but you have to let them know that you always want what’s best. I know that a lot of times, to an addict it looks like loved ones are walking away, when in reality, they’re doing all that they can to save the addict’s life, and maintain their own sanity/safety.
I was truly blessed to have dodged hard addictions, but as I type this, I’m sitting in a chair in the corner of my room, next to a stain on my wall. The stain is from my last suicide attempt, and the vomit left behind. My walls are a pale purple, but around the stain, you can see an aura of pale blue, where friends came and tried to wipe away the evidence before I got out of the hospital.
I get that Amy Winehouse was one of those whose death was “bound to happen,” out of all of us… I get that. But I also agree with Russell Brand: She didn’t have to be. I know there is a misunderstanding about artists. Most people think that your best work is done while you’re in the pits of despair, but one can only survive down there so long. I get that you can’t enable, but I wonder who was fighting for her. From where I’m sitting, there were jokes about her condition, just as there continue to be, but little else. Of course, I don’t know about her personal life, but usually the people who are consistently surrounding an addict, are also addicts. Generally speaking, addicts, when battling head-to-head with their condition, have one priority, the drug. All others are simply extras in the movie reel of their lives, just background music. Life isn’t lived as a series of moments, goals, accomplishments… life is composed of getting high, and the plans that you devise between highs to achieve the next high. Funny how something so simple can completely consume you.
So, I’m not a musical genius. So, I’m not in the public eye. So, I’m not wealthy or producing records that are going platinum, or performing in front of thousands. So, I’m not hooked on heroin. So, I’m not caught by the paparazzi, wandering the streets at night, disheveled and distraught. Do I need to be? Frankly, I feel that this world knows more of me than it did of her, despite her fame and notoriety. She was a ghost to us, and now the presence that we felt subtly, though oft ignored, is gone. Will we realize the void, no matter how quiet, that remains in her absence? Perhaps, not. But this little earthquake that has left me thinking, and sometimes speaking out loud, to myself and those around me, “I can’t believe Amy Winehouse is dead,” perhaps there is something to be said for that. I believe it is possible for our souls to ache for something that we don’t even realize that we’ve lost. When someone accomplishes so far below their potential, we all lose something very great, especially in the way of art, which can inspire us so deeply and undoubtedly change the world.
I am 27. For so long, but especially so over the past few months, I have held the world at a distance. I am uncertain of why. I suppose it is mostly out of fear. There is always the fear of what people will think, and fear of failure. As a survivor of sexual violence, there is also a fear of being revicitimized. We fear trying, but not reaching our potential. And to the contrary, there is a fear of reaching your potential and being disappointed. I’ve feared losing people, only to push them away in the end anyway. There is a fear of living, and all that “living” entails. The rush of love, and the pain of loss; two things that, as hard as we try to force them apart, are always packaged together. And there is a lot of pain, and certainly plenty of loss to be experienced out there. People leave because they want to, or leave because time rips them away from us. There are stubbed toes, broken bones, burns, cuts, and bruises. There’s rejection, and dismay. There’s fear. Oh! The crippling fear. It all comes full circle.
I realize now that there are people out there, who are so gifted, constantly stuffing down their potential, for whatever reason. I imagine Amy had something inside of her that haunted her. It could’ve been huge, or just a twinge of pain that she couldn’t stand to feel. She wanted to shut it up, numb it out, or kill it. And eventually she succeeded, but for that, what did she lose? And on a universal level, what have we lost? Another little bit of hope that could’ve inspired the next step in improving this damned world? Perhaps it was her voice on a tattered CD out there, that was playing on repeat for the kid who would grow up to do something great for this world, simply because her voice kept her/him going. What voice will that kid hear now? Or maybe Winehouse’s voice was the last of its kind, an endangered soulful echo that has now become extinct; and because of our blatant lack of appreciation, the voices of generations to come will resemble that of Ke$ha or Rebecca Black. Dear God, the horror.
I understand that there are parts of my spirit that ache, but I’m willing to withstand it for the sake of something good. If I have anything to offer, no matter how great or small, I do not feel it is my right to destroy any remnants of hope this world may have. For all the fear, for all the pain, I have to believe that there is purpose.
Do I believe that there’s a reason that I (or any other troubled talents out there) am alive and she isn’t? Well, besides the fact that heroin is like playing russian roulette with a nearly fully loaded gun, no. Eating yourself to death takes more time. I attribute my failure to stick with addictions to a short attention span, an empty wallet, the fact that I’m easily bored, and a fear of commitment. In the grand scheme of things though, she and I have both toyed with our mortality, and any way you look at it, the game can only end one way. When the game is over, one fact becomes blazingly obvious, there was a human being who is now gone. On top of that, she was a human being who held a wealth of talent, the depth of which we can never know. I think that’s what frightens me the most. If I have more to offer, as I believe I do, it is scary to think that being entangled in fear and doubt could stifle that gift. I too, could die without having shared of myself, or utilized my opportunity to contribute goodness to this desperate world.
We all have the potential to offer beauty to this world; in the end the big question is whether we will fight it or let it flourish. I’d like to think that this realization is a bit of something good coming from tragedy, but I suppose only time will tell. It is nice to believe that every screeching halt in one life’s potential, can cause a u-turn in another. If someone was headed towards an early end, another sudden silencing of greatness, maybe Amy can be a reminder that there are other options, and so much more to see along life’s detours.
My deepest prayer for you, Ms. Winehouse, is that somewhere out there, you’ve been blessed with a peace that you never managed to discover on earth. And if you’re down, I’m hoping that even on your cloud, you’ll still step up to the mic from time to time.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you… It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Three Cheer For Rape???
(I don’t know how to link on wordpress from my phone, so copy and paste the link below to understand this blogpost)
This breaks my heart, because it is exactly what I’ve been struggling with… What do you do when society constantly reinforces your worthlessness? It is so hard to single-handedly fight the majority of people, and the main attitudes of apathy or indifference on the subject. How can we even address self esteem and body image in girls, when we simply say “you’re beautiful”… That’s not enough. It starts with how cases like this are handled!!! It starts with the messages we receive that boys are more powerful, then goes to saying boys are more valuable (misdemeanor charge for rape?!), then as a girl marches past that obstacle, she’s told to suck it up and do what she’s told… Her opinion doesn’t matter, her PAIN doesn’t matter, SHE doesn’t matter… So how about we start there, rather than taking girls who’ve been through trauma, and putting a bandaid over the wound by patting them on the back and believing that saying they’re pretty will be enough, when everything else in the world (our actions) tells them they are WORTHLESS!!!
Honestly, I’ve been avoiding writing since my last post. I’ve gone through so much, have had so much revelation, and have been quite uncertain of how I should address these parts of my experience.
I suppose I’ll start at the very beginning, as I heard once that it was a very good place to start. 🙂
As of 5 weeks ago tonight, I have been medication free. After a long 6 years on a cocktail of various psychiatric medicines, I decided one night to stop. It was definitely a dangerously impulsive decision that could’ve been deadly in so many ways. When I did it, though, that was kind of the point. I had one last change in medications about a month prior, and had since sunken into a deep, deep depression. When I stopped the meds, I did it in an attempt at my life. As the following days crept by, something within me began to transform. My anticipation of the end, evolved into my hope for survival.
Let me STOP right there. I want to say that medications can and do work for so many people. I maintain, even now, that God would not have given us the ability to create such medicines so that the ability of healing could lay dormant within us. These medications powerfully alter physical chemistry of the brain, thus affecting mood. Stopping medications without the guidance of a doctor is dangerous, and especially so when done suddenly. I have since consulted with my doctor, and remain monitored for sudden changes.
What I did was not healthy, and very well could’ve killed me. Somehow (God), it did not.
The first place I went, after 2 weeks of staying in bed, was to church with some acquaintances who had been nagging me pretty relentlessly to go. I’ve been asked to church before, but these people didn’t stop. So I went, and continued to go in the weeks following. I made the final decision to go one night a few weeks ago, knowing that if I showed up this particular time, they were going to keep expecting me to go.
As it turns out, the people there were pretty amazing. It wasn’t because of their devotion to scripture, or their claim of righteousness. What struck me about these people was that, when everyone I’d encountered before them had given up on me at some point, these people stood by me through the worst of it. I’ve been unintentionally testing boundaries since we met, and I continue to do so with this post. (We’ll see where it goes.)
I was also struck by the joy they experienced because of God, and the love they were capable of sharing because they were so filled with God’s love. For the first time in my life, I felt I had found adequate examples of the God I’ve always believed in.
They opened my mind and my eyes to God (love), and last Sunday, around midnight, I opened my heart to Him. For the first time, I accept the ways in which God can work through me to help others.
I now understand that I am only capable so much, but God is capable of everything. I came to this point after years of single-handedly attempting to save a world that is largely uninterested in resolving the continuous destruction taking place. I realize that I can accomplish more to confront this destruction with God, despite the numerous people who contribute to such destruction in the name of God.
In the near future, I plan on explaining the extent of the torment of resistance that I experienced until the very last moment of that Sunday night. I want to elaborate on the journey and explore why there is so much conflict within our surrender to God. For now, I’ll summarize the event: Last Sunday, I was mentally and spiritually tormented, and was feeling suicidal for the first time since I had stopped my meds. I knew if something didn’t change, I would kill myself. I had waited until I felt it imperative to make a commitment, because I wanted to be certain that these people truly lived by the image they portrayed. I have to say that the majority of them do, including the people who invited me, and have stayed invested in my well-being. Along with these friends, I continue to meet people who remind me daily of God’s love. I’ve met people who have gone through many trials to get to God and people with souls so pure, it is strikingly beautiful. I am so grateful for all of these people.
As soon as your wall comes crashing down, however, some people’s true colors become achingly apparent. I try to remain aware that judgement is one of the clearest projections of a someone’s remaining insecurity in God’s love. This awareness raises my consciousness of everything I project, while also fueling my forgiveness of those who judge me.
Because of those who have been living examples of God’s greatness, I’ve been adamant about holding true to my commitment. The people who have shown me God, have reached me in a unique way. I was not easy to reach and my mind had been closed. As it is, I made a commitment to God, and He is my source. That is unwavering.
As I’ve been conflicted about the discrepancies I’ve heard within the ministry, I’ve tried to take an AA approach to what I take away from messages relayed from God, through people. I am now capable of discerning when God speaks to me directly, and when people distort intention by playing telephone with the message.
It is funny how people can say what they think you want to hear, until you’re reeled in, and then they change their tune. I never felt judged in this church, before last Sunday night. Immediately and ironically, after being told that satan would test my faith, I started to hear about all the things I would HAVE to change to be an adequate messenger of God. After Sunday, I was basically told by several that I wasn’t good enough as is, whereas before that I had been assured that I was loved unconditionally as a creation of God. I was definitely afraid at first, as though God would reject me now that I had given my life to Him. I have experienced this pattern in so many relationships with people, but God is certainly enduring.
I definitely feel without a doubt that God can improve me, but I don’t want to nitpick about insignificant details.
I believe people interpret God in ways that make them feel safe, fill their voids, and protect them from dismay. At the same time, instead of receiving what God intends from messages, they often try to conform God to a formula of perimeters according to how they’ve always known Him.
I do not think mathematics are an accident. The fact that so much can be calculated, I believe, is proof of God… to say that nothing is by chance, but rather, by design. But to sum up God within mathematics is pretty ridiculous. In other words, to say God is only capable of working within a formula, is selling God short. Like REALLY short.
I feel it necessary to say, that whenever you limit the ways in which you presume God can speak, you therefore are minimizing His capacity. God works through all things good, whether He receives credit is up to you. Certainly, if you are having a hard time finding Him, there are designated places to turn, but if you REALLY OPEN YOUR EYES, you will see Him EVERYWHERE.
There are so many presumably “secular” mediums through which God is working constantly. I don’t know why people limit Him to one book, or one medium of expression. I have met disciples in this church community who are far more convincing of God’s goodness than the disciples of yesteryear, with whom I cannot relate. I also know, for a fact, that I have experienced God and God has spoken to me in many many ways in my life… throughout the 27 years leading up to this point. If He had not, I would not be here (in this moment, or at this spiritual point). In fact, I probably wouldn’t have gotten far past the age of 4 or 5. For example, I have seen God in nature, art, and selfless acts of compassion. Also, for the most part, I’ve been very aware of the sources of messages I’ve received. The thing that has confused me for so long, has been the voice of a people CLAIMING God with words, and DISCREDITING Him with their actions. Now I am finally capable of deciphering the people who claim God as their source, and those for whom God IS their source. This is because, for the first time, I’m giving credit where credit is due.
So, when I started to feel judgement being hurled at me after opening my heart to God, I was put off. The difference this time is… I know God now. I recognize messages that are not from God, even when they come from people who associate themselves with God. It is usually delivered with an authority. I know a lot about a lot of things: gender inequality, sexual violence, mental health, literature, and even spirituality–But I always try to avoid, at all costs, ever making a claim of authority. I know stuff, but I don’t know everything about any issue. A lot of people have trouble admitting that.
That awareness is definitely challenging. If I didn’t know better, I could say “Oh, ok! This is what God is really about? Count me out. Peace!” But since I do know better, I’m reminded, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) I refuse to let PEOPLE come between me and GOD ever again.
I’m also being constantly reminded that I have a unique perspective to offer. I know that this is true, both for those who reject God and people who presume to know God. I feel drawn towards breaking down the barriers that separate these two groups of people. I do realize that this is a hefty expectation, but I also recognize that with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
The scriptures I’m referencing here is very basic. But sometimes getting back to basics reminds you of your Source.
I used April Fool’s day to out myself as a new person in Christ on Facebook. No one got it, mainly because people from my church loved it, and people from my past couldn’t figure out if it was a joke. I also took the time to proclaim my ongoing commitment to women’s issues, which may not be number one in my life now, but is still my passion–Especially because of the overwhelming role the church has had in the oppression of women throughout history. I cannot passively allow women to associate that oppression with God. God has nothing to do with any of that!
I think people got scared because I used the words Christ and feminist in the same sentence. It baffles most, though it makes so much sense to me. Look, we all believe stereotypes, whether it is about Christians or about feminists. How about this: get to know a few before you form opinions. I agree with a lot of feminism, while not fitting into the prejudices people thrust upon them. I also recognize my relationship with Christ, thanks to a handful of Jesus freaks. If I had judged all people associated with Jesus, based on the majority of Christians I’ve met… I wouldn’t have given Him a chance when He started revealing Himself to me about a month ago. I claim feminism proudly, so that people may know that feminists are NOT scary bra-burning, man-hating, abortion-promoting lesbians. And now, I claim Christ proudly, so that people may know His endless capacity for joy, love, and hope–rather than the wrath of judgment by people who mistakingly claim Him.
Through this, I acknowledge my revelation that being open minded has nothing to do with remaining in safe discourse amongst people you agree with–But rather, open mindedness comes through recognizing stereotypes and the bias of your own experience, and challenging that within yourself. I also accept that with this message, I will undoubtedly feel the impact of stones against my flesh, tossed by those who think that a forgiven sin, was never a sin at all.
***GOD IS LIMITLESS***
“Joy descends gently upon us like the evening dew, and does not patter down like a hailstorm.”
-Jean Paul Richter
I think the title of this post is a pathetic attempt at cracking a joke about a pretty intense situation. As unhealthy as avoidance may be, sometimes humor is the only thing that gets me through tough emotions. I double-dog pinky promise (?), I will take a break from the whole suicide issue after today. I’m not saying it won’t arise again, but I’ll certainly hold off. I really do not intend to overload or over-unload on the issue.
All that being said, though, I cannot deny that today is an important anniversary. I think it is so important to reflect on where I was 2 years ago today, and just as much so, to revel in how far I’ve come since. It has been a grueling, enlightening, and incredibly slow two years. At the same time, I can’t believe it has been that long. I almost feel as though my life has been a broken record this entire time, and is only now moving on to another track. Or maybe I’m just trashing the record and putting on another album. Or hell, maybe I’m throwing out the record player and upgrading to an iPod. (I’ll just skip the 8-track, audio cassette tape, compact disc, and briefly promising, mini disc!)
This isn’t an easy read, so I’ll go ahead and drop that warning now. But maybe it’ll give you some insight into me:
The day was a pretty normal one, as far as I remember it. School. Work. It was the usual routine. Then he called, toward the end of the day. I don’t remember him saying much besides “we need to talk.” I knew what that meant.
Let me build this up adequately. We had been dating for 2 and a half months, not long, I know, but in that time, we had made some serious plans. I had started searching out venues for our New Years, New Orleans wedding. We had our children’s names picked out. Aurora Scheherazade and Nalani Esperanza. It was perfect, because we were going to have daughters, feminists. And he, was going to change his last name to my name. He hated his last name because it reminded him of his child molesting, oppressive, abusive father, anyway.
He had hooked me on that story. He still suffered severe insomnia from the nights he had to stay up as a child to protect his sister from being molested by his father. He would stay up all night, and when his dad would head into her room, he would get up and start a fight with his dad to stop him. On the one night he thought it safe to sleep, his birthday, he lost track of time, and lost track of dad. When he woke up, his sister had been raped. He never forgave himself. It is a dramatic story. One I fell for hardcore. One I imagine he uses a lot, especially on women who he intuits as having a history of sexual abuse. I’m not saying it isn’t true, maybe it is. Who knows. I’m just saying, that I, as a survivor myself, with fuzzy memories of my own, have grown ridiculously tired of people using their histories of abuse as tools of manipulation against me. That’s all. Yes, its a fucked up situation, but no one need make it more so, by utilizing said fucked up situation for personal gain.
He had me good.
So, here he is, calling me at work to tell me we need to talk. It was ridiculous. We had the conversation not two weeks before about how cruel it was for people to say that to someone without explanation. How it leaves you hanging. I didn’t know whether it was a joke, or I should be seriously concerned. I had a feeling it was the latter.
I immediately called my friend when we hung up and told her I needed to meet up for drinks. So we did. Dinner, and drinks. I had bacon cheese fries and alcohol for the last time that night. GAG. I told her about the situation and as she reassured me that there was hope for our relationship, I assured her that it was over and I need to prepare myself. It was St. Patrick’s Day. Irish Car Bombs were $5.50. I had 4.
Then he called. I sat in the car. He told me he wanted to come visit next weekend, but he had a lot to think about. I told him that if he wanted to dump me, he should go ahead and get it over with. So he did. And in true dramatic fashion, he just said, “Bye.” He hadn’t even attempted to attach a “good” to it, probably because of the blatant contradiction within the combination. I talked him into promising he’d talk to me after this night, but we never spoke again. I started to cry, despite being pretty numb.
I went into the bar, had two more drinks, then left with my friend to go on the hunt to retrieve her boyfriend’s car from a tow lot. After we did that, she and her boyfriend’s sister decided to drop me back off at my car. I quietly obliged. I knew my plan.
I had consumed 6 Irish car bombs. I was pretty wasted, but I found a way home anyway. Once home, I walked the dog, got the vodka and orange juice out of the fridge and feverishly started rummaging the house for all the sleeping pills I could find. It makes me physically ill to think about, even today, as I look back. But I will march on.
I went upstairs, took 3 gulps of the pear vodka, and chased them with orange juice. I then began to pop the pills out of their wrappers, one-by-one. When I was done, I got on my computer. I messaged one of my old friends I used to work in a restaurant with to tell her what I was going to do. She was the only person online. She got pissed, because, as I had forgotten, her mom tried to kill herself once, and she was VERY sensitive about the issue. I was an asshole. That only made me more convinced. I tried to text and email messages of apology, mainly to my sister. She’s always been the person I’ve been most concerned about disappointing. I did not send these messages.
I went back to my bed, sat down, and counted the pills. 102. I took all 102 pills in 3 heaping handfuls. Just. Like. That. It breaks my heart to think about this moment. The moment after I swallowed them. I can feel the sobs coming up in me now, as though I just swallowed them, just now. My first instinct was not quite regret, but almost. I thought, “What have I done?” Then I thought about the fact that so many people say that people who commit suicide go to hell. I went to my bed. I knew it was going to be over soon. Crying, I sat there, and prepared to lie down and let go. I started praying. “Please God, don’t let me go to hell. I don’t want to go to hell.” Over and over again. Soon, I was out.
There’s not much to remember after that. The rest is hallucination. And vomiting. I just remember sitting up at one point and vomiting all over myself, although, I did not realize this is what it was. I hallucinated it to be slugs and maggots slithering down my body. Even when I got up, I was hallucinating that when I stepped in the vomit on the floor, I was stepping in puddles of maggots.
I don’t remember at what point this happened, but I saw my grandmother, who passed less than a year before walking out my front door, waving goodbye. I don’t know what that was about.
Around 8 am, I awoke, groggy and disoriented. I panicked. I was alive. I needed to be in class and at work. Soon. I could not drive, though. Unsure of what to do, I got onto my school email to see that a coworker who lived near me was online. I asked if she was going to work. She was. I asked if I could get a ride. She called, and as funny as it may sound, I was so disoriented, that when she asked for my address to get to my house, I started to give her my email address. I was having a hard time getting my head together, but I managed to get her there.
I walked my dog, changed out of my vomit-drenched clothes, and climbed in my coworker’s car. At this point, I was regaining my ability to walk. When I had first gotten up, my knees would cave at each step. Honestly, I must’ve reeked of vomit. All morning I was rubbing my fingers against my ears and chest and trying to figure out what the stuff coming off my skin was. It was dried puke. I looked, smelled, and acted very out of character. She was disturbed by my presentation. “Are you ok?” She asked. “What’s wrong?” I knew I had nothing to lose after the night I had been through, so I just let her have the truth. “I tried to kill myself last night.” My voice shook as I said it, trying not to laugh or cry. “Do we need to go somewhere?” She asked eagerly. “No.” I insisted. I demanded that we go to my class. I couldn’t miss it. I had missed the previous class. I couldn’t afford it.
When we got to campus, I knew my knees were too weak for her to drop me off on the sidewalk. I would surely face-plant. I gave her a dollar to park in the garage. When we parked I realized I couldn’t find my phone. I was out of it, and realized also, that I would be this way in class as well, which would look bad if called on. I looked at her and resigned myself to going to the counseling center. She walked me there.
I told the receptionist that I wanted to see counselor on call. When he came out, he called me by my first name 3 times, until the receptionist told me that he was calling for me, and I snapped back into the moment. I went in and relayed the story. He sent me to the hospital. I refused to go via ambulance, due to cost, so they sent me in the back of a police car.
I stayed in the ER for most of the day. I stayed in the psych ward for 3 days.
Needless to say, I traumatized my coworker. She went to work and school that day, shaken. Today, it is still awkward to interact with her. She saw me at a very vulnerable point in my life. It is almost as though she saw me naked, and we don’t know how to act about it now. I put her through a lot.
She isn’t the only person I put through the wringer. Two of my very close friends came by to get my things in order, once they found out. They took care of my dog, and upon seeing the state of my bedroom, they cleaned up after me. This, too, breaks my heart. I think it probably resembles what it must be like to find a friend who has killed themselves, to find a friend’s home in such a condition after they have tried. One of them said to me, “I couldn’t let you come home to that.”
The first who helped was the friend I had drinks with the night before. She was very angry with me at first. Especially when she came to visit me in the hospital and I spoke frankly about the situation. Over time, and through talking, we are working on healing.
The second, the one who “couldn’t let me come home to that,” is no longer friends with me, in large part due to this entire situation.
I learned a lot from that night. I learned a lot about how much people love me and the lengths they are willing to go to for me. I learned that I do not need to drink. I learned that I can live life without bacon cheese fries, something I honestly did not know before that night. I learned that your perspectives change a lot once you’ve swallowed the pills. I realized how scary that moment is, the moment after you do that action and truly believe you are going to die and this is it. I also realized that deciding to end it is as difficult as asking for help; but asking for help is less traumatic and usually ends better.
I wish I could say that I came out of the hospital and rejoiced in my survival. It didn’t exactly work out like that. Two years later, I’m still getting to that point, though with cautious optimism, I’ll say I’m closer than ever before.
I am infinitely more grateful for everything good in my life, and I try to make that as clear as possible, as often as possible. I don’t want anyone in my life to feel unappreciated. I want really badly to be a better friend, but I do realize that being good to others requires that you are better to yourself. I recognize I need to have a healthy balance of helping others and taking care of myself. I’ve lost a lot of friends through the past two years. Luckily, I’ve recently gained many new friends, who I’m fairly certain God has handpicked for me.
The darkness certainly creeps in, but I’m searching constantly for the light.
Overall, at this moment, I am filled with gratitude. So many important people have fought for me when they were exhausted, frustrated, and testing their own limits. I’m definitely better at asking for help, even though I still do it begrudgingly. Every little bit of joy in my life is crucial. I hold to it with a tight grip, because I know my life depends on not letting go.
I’m going to share 3 poems. The first is one I wrote right after my suicide attempt. The second is one I wrote one year later. The last is one I’ll write today. You might not get to see that one until tomorrow.
I have so much love to share, and while I’m always praying in the back of my mind for people who find themselves where I’ve been. Today, I say a *special* prayer for anyone who finds themselves in the free fall between the decision, the action, and the anxious anticipation of morning, or hell.
On Friday or Saturday, I shall return with an exciting account of my anniversary day rituals and celebrations of life. Until then, I send my love and bid adieu! ❤
Canyon Dance (March 2009)
There’s a powdery film that coats my car
in spiky yellow balls
(a spring snow of sorts),
and the only thing that could baptize it
are storm clouds.
At night I can see the
breaking in the distance
and I don’t know whether it is
There’s something so simple in “hello,”
and riddled with vacuity.
It is far more distant
far more settled in its self-loathing,
far more dissociated
This something holds me tightly
releasing me and
till only our
fingertips are touching;
swinging me in and
dipping me so low,
my hair is
reaching for the floor.
It dare not drop me.
I dare not weep,
the air so thick between us
that love could fit inside.
Absolute Bearing (March 2010)
I don’t know how to tell you, without telling you
I don’t know how to say
that at first I counted the days like thick blue waves
crashing in rhythm on the shore
that at first they slithered by, excruciatingly,
the skin of a moistened worm
tearing as it accordians across the pavement
after the first fresh spring rain
and the days since have melted me into waiting
have mourned me into loss
rebirthed me into being
and inspired me to write
at night i can feel the walls shaking,
as though they could simply explode,
exposing me to the night sky
to the crisp winter air
a winking moon
and shimmering stars
and In my shivering slumber
I will unceasingly resign myself to the knowledge
that i chose this revelation
and I will lie in waking
a steward of this ship
‘till the morning sun warms me
and I can finally rest
(To Be Announced- March 2011)
I have been getting responses from my previous post that are inspiring me to clarify something.
First, I want to say, please… if you have experience with suicide, share your story. No matter the perspective, sharing promotes healing and understanding. I’ve heard from people who lost loved ones to suicide and even those who were in my shoes, but found their way out. You have to know that offering these perspectives is crucial to igniting hope and inspiring change. Doing so can, not only save lives, but also lend itself to improving the quality of life for those who are just getting by.
“I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn’t mean you’re alive.”
Second, I want to add, as I humbly climb down off my high horse, that listening is as important as sharing. I told my experience, because I wanted to contribute an often unheard perspective, but I want to make it clear that listening is just as, if not more, crucial. I’ve been so angry at people for not listening over the years, but lately I’ve started to realize that listening is like respect… if you want it from someone else, you have to give it to them. I want to hear your stories as much as I want you to listen to mine.
“A friend is someone who helps you up when you are down, and if they cannot, they lay down beside you and listen.”
I want to thank everyone who has shared, and supported me.
I also want to offer my tools, the things that get me through my darkest of hours.
Tools, like flashlights, that can get me through the darkness:
I am a writer, and more specifically a poet. As much as writing helps, hearing or reading poetry that expresses things that I cannot, is so inspirational, and constantly reminds me that I’m not alone. I have the beginning of two different poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay tattooed on my flesh. I recently discovered a performance/spoken word/slam poet who has touched me in ways that are beyond my capacity of expression. His name is Buddy Wakefield. Nothing I can say will convey his God-given power, so I’ll just share video of him performing one of his poems:
Music, to me, is like poetry that you can dance to. Genius! I have an ever-growing hope/faith/love/survival soundtrack. One day I’ll share the playlist so you know all the songs I’ve collected. For today, I’ll share the one that has helped me most recently. It is my current anthem. Nicki Minaj’s “Fly” featuring Rihanna:
I love my pops, and I’m so blessed to have a dad who is worth a shit, because I know so many people do not. He has been my rock. I did not realize how much he loved me until after my second suicide attempt. When I started to bottom out 6 months later, I had to make a decision that was just as terrifying as the decision to end it: I asked for help. He was the person I called. He dropped everything, and drove me 3 hours to a hospital that I preferred for several reasons, and put down $5,300 for me to be admitted without insurance.
I believe dogs are cute, furry, messengers of God. My dog conveys unconditional love in a way I have never experienced from any other living being I’ve encountered. My opinion is that my dog is a daily reminder, a glimpse at God’s enduring love. I owe my life to her. At my LOWEST, she was the one thing that made me reach out to someone else. I didn’t want her to be uncared for, or left behind after I was gone, uncertain of how long it’d be before someone found us. She dances at the sight of me, which makes me laugh. Sometimes she smiles. She likes to curl up on top of me when I’m on the sofa, and we nap together. She needs me as much as I need her.
My Siblings, and Especially, My Sister:
I have 3 half brothers and 1 sister. My brothers have helped keep me grounded, because they’ve been where I am with my parents. They have experience and advice; and they relate. Today, my brother and I talked about his summer wedding plans. I was actually really excited to venture to San Diego to see him get married. Unfortunately, his wedding is the same weekend as the overnight walk that the American Foundation for Suicide prevention is doing (www.theovernight.org). Because he understands my struggle, and how close this issue is to my heart, he gave me his blessing to miss the wedding in order to do the walk. Love!
My sister is a psychologist. I have no doubt that her family experience drove her to this profession. She has offered honest advice, and has asked for mine. Both are so important. Her perspectives help, but knowing she trusts my input fertilizes my self-worth. I would do ANYTHING for her. We didn’t always get along. As kids we fought… a lot. She is the core of my life. When I look back on the most important moments and relationships in my life, she is at the top of the list. No one has gotten as close to my heart as she has.
This is my sis:
Friends have come and gone. Even the ones who left for good have left their proverbial footprints. There have certainly been times when I had no friends, but I’ve spent just as much time with friends by my side. I wouldn’t be here without the humor, support, perspective of my closest friends.
Sometimes it is so important for me to make small steps for pushing myself into another day, despite my uncertainty that the sun will rise again. Manicures, movies, walks in the park, staying up to watch the sunrise, going for a drive with windows down and music blasting, getting a new hairdo, making a nice meal, pretty much anything can help.
Honestly, prayer has been a consistent, though underused tool in my life. I think I use it as a last resort too much. I believe deeply in the power of prayer, and yet I turn to it far too little. Whether you believe in God, or not prayer helps. It may be God answering those prayers, but I also believe that putting positivity out into the world and focusing on recovery is healing. A friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status recently: “Instead of asking God for something, how about giving Him something this week? A great place to start is your heart.” That helped me so much because I realized that I can’t expect good things to constantly roll in, and never express my gratitude.
I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God’s response. Meditation is powerful like prayer. It is so powerful to stop in silence, and allow your mind to empty while your heart fills.
One of my favorite quotations about prayer-
“Everybody prays whether you think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to yourself but to something even more familiar than yourself and even more strange than the world.”
The Shawshank Redemption, The Bridge, Amelie, Magnolia, What Dreams May Come, Crash, Amazing Grace… these films have inspired me. Though, some may find most of the movies I listed to be very dark. It is what I relate to, I can’t help it.
A week or two ago, after coming out of my darkness, I got some clippers and turquoise hair dye. I had not taken on such a task in quite some time, mainly because doctors had managed to convince me that such behavior was “manic.” I realize that may be true for some people, but for me, I sometimes need to express myself. Sometimes I want to do something that makes me feel special, and expresses my individuality. Making that effort is actually a good sign for me. I have gotten so depressed at times, that I didn’t want to do something so drastic, for fear of what I’d look like in my coffin. Expressing myself, through words, through art, through music, through hair or clothes… all of these things remind me of who I am and why it matters. My hair has since initiated a few dirty looks from old people, but has mostly started conversations with strangers. Turquoise hair is not something you see everyday. It throws people off. And whether they’re laughing at me, or inspired by my “gumption” (that’s how my neighbor described it), at least it stirs something within them all the same.
I seek out groups of people like me. AA is a good example. Having people you can relate to is very important, and as you can see on my “About the Author” page, I fit into a lot of labels, so there are plenty of groups getting together out there that I could easily fit into. I suggest meetup.com.
I can often have a very politically incorrect sense of humor. At the same time, I’m often extremely sensitive about social issues. I think it is possible to have a healthy balance of both.
I think Philip DeFranco conveys this best. Last Friday’s post was heartfelt, and yesterday’s was intense. Most of them are a good balance of sincerity and hilarity. Check him out.
This show cracks me up more than anything ever… EVER:
I’m not at the point where I feel qualified to shove my beliefs down the throats of others. That being said, whether you believe in God or not, there is consistent evidence that spirituality can be an intense support in difficult times. Prayer, meditation, and God, though often vague, fluid, or altogether undefined, have been consistent supports in my life. If you see representatives of spirituality in your life who drain you of your hope, you’re probably looking at the wrong representatives. A lot of people claim God, while simultaneously having no clue what “God” means. As much as I respect atheists and agnostics, I do not feel, at my core, that believing in nothing, or denying the proof of God (as it has manifested in my life) is helpful or hopeful, for me. I have seen how deep the darkness goes, so I have to believe that the light reaches just as far.
When I had no answers, When I suspected God had abandoned me, When my loved ones came up empty, When I couldn’t keep myself safe; there were still places for me to turn. I have worked with A LOT of counselors, doctors, and even some support groups. Some have helped, some have not, but all were willing to try to help me get through, even when I had nothing. I know these things are not available to everyone because of the pathetic state of health care in our country. For that, I’ll default back to prayer. There are a lot of resources out there for people in crisis, who lack the funding or the insurance to get help. That is when churches, friends, google, and community are so important. I’ve actually discovered many other resources from people at church or in AA.
Listening. Being there. Helping find resources. Volunteering. Fundraising. Sharing your story. These are just a few examples of the numerous ways that helping others has actually helped me. I definitely believe in karma, or what goes around comes around, or putting in what you want to get out. Lending a hand to someone builds confidence. It makes you feel worthy, and like you matter. I know there are so many people out there who are going through, have gone through, or will go through, the same things. I believe that we’re on this earth together for a reason, so that no one has to suffer alone. As hard as I know it is for most of us, let us not forget that none amongst us are immune to horrible things happening to us, or are completely incapable of doing horrible things ourselves. I think Gandhi said it best:
”All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul.”
If nothing else, begin by offering your assistance to others, to reassure yourself that someone will do the same for you in hours of darkness. Eventually, you will forget that motivation and you will act, not in hopes reciprocation, but the expression of true empathy.
If I didn’t believe there was a purpose, I couldn’t go on another day:
“Out of suffering has emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
NOTE: Do NOT skip a single word of this post, or you may be susceptible to missing the point.
Ok, honest to God, I am going to try to get through this without sounding judgmental or bitter. I also want to say, before I start, that this isn’t a reaction to any one person, but a response to the collective reactions I’ve received in discussions about suicide. I would like to add that open (non-judgmental) discourse on the issue of suicide is SO important. Suicide is like any personal experience that deserves discussion to help healing and understanding. I’m going to let that be the extent of my disclaimer, but I want to leave you with this before reading: Just sit down for a moment and listen to a perspective that you might not have heard before, either because the people who have this perspective aren’t here anymore, or because they don’t have the ability to share. Thank you.
We’ll get to the details of my own experience later this week. I have an important anniversary approaching on Thursday that closely pertains to this subject. With that approaching date, I have tried to open myself up to an honest discussion on the subject, because even if it is painful for me, I think it could help so many people. People do not like to discuss it, for fear of drudging up hurt or of being judged. In this way, I think people pass judgment as a shield against blame for the loved ones they’ve lost to suicide.
Wow. I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to start, so I’ma just let it flow.
Over the years, I have yearned to share my experience with people who have no comprehension of how deep into darkness one can wander. Unfortunately, these are the people who, more often than not, are not willing to listen, because they simply cannot fathom understanding my perspective. Also, having this platform is terrifying, for fear that I may not do it justice.
I think you need to know a few things.
First of all, unless you have seriously planned and attempted suicide, I don’t think you can comprehend what it is like to be in that moment. (I’ll get back to that.)
Second, I think most people need to realize that judging someone will not talk them off the ledge. Ironically, it is often the most spiritual and the least spiritual among us who pass the worst judgment where this is concerned. Often the most spiritual are on a mission to scare us out of suicide through Jesus, hell, or other forms of salvation/punishment for our actions. This won’t work. No one who commits suicide is in a rational and healthy state of mind, thus rendering them incapable of making the right decision. Basically, what is killing them is an illness, not themselves. Actually, quite similarly, the least spiritual often try to approach the issue from a very practical standpoint, but also fail to see the point. When it comes down to it, not only is there an illness, there is also a battle between good and evil going on within those of us who struggle with the thought/action of suicide. If you deny that, then like I said, you are probably incapable of comprehending the intensity of being in such a state. I say this because, if you’ve been to that depth, you understand more than most how expansive our universe is, and thus that there is something so much bigger than ourselves. I’ve often felt like I’m in a spiritual tug-of-war when I find myself in this darkness.
At the same time, though, as much as you think religion could save me, being preached at by people who have no comprehension of the struggle, really doesn’t help.
And on that note, when I say “comprehension of the struggle,” I mean, been at a point where you wanted to die so badly, that you: 1. made plans, 2. harmed yourself with honest calculation and the belief that what you tried would work, 3. honestly felt that these actions would help your loved ones more than it would hurt, 4. resigned yourself to an eternity in hell in the moments just before (what you thought would be) your death, and 5. struggled with the disappointment that you failed.
Don’t get me wrong. I in NO WAY intend to downplay the agony experienced by those who are left behind after suicide. As someone who has not personally experienced it, even though I’m close to many who have, I cannot say what that feels like. I am not claiming it is any worse to be desperately suicidal, because I know that it must feel equally awful to experience such a loss, and fear for the rest of your life that you could’ve done something to prevent it. I cannot comprehend what that is like. It is for this reason that I stress, that, unless you’ve been where I’ve been, you can’t understand the act of committing suicide. Losing someone in this way, undoubtedly angers and embitters a person. But I have to say that it must surely bias them as well.
I’m not saying that suicide is purely medical or purely spiritual. In my experience, it is a combination of both. I have often heard clichés about the act like: a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As accurate as this may be, I think it is awfully insensitive as well. Initially, it is insensitive because someone doesn’t even look within themselves to offer support, but defaults to a detached cliché; but also because the temporariness of the situation isn’t always accurate. One of the only things that has been consistent throughout my life is my urge to end it. It makes me wonder why, if people truly believe that, loved ones have often been unavailable to stay by my side through the night, so that I may see another day. I’m not talking hospitals, police, ambulances, or doctors… I’m talking about friends who are willing to drop everything to hold your hand and walk you into morning. Sometimes they don’t even have to actually do it, but in the moment, if they say, “I’ll be there right now, if you need me to be,” just knowing that person exists, has the power to eliminate a loneliness capable of pushing someone over the edge and into action.
I’m not saying that it is over in 24 hours either, though. Often the next day should be like a telethon of phone tag with doctors, counselors, groups, and treatment centers, so when the feeling arises again (as it undoubtedly will), there is a support system in place to cope. And yet, with all of those professional supports, it is also crucial to have an army of love at your back. You know how they say “it takes a village to raise a child?” Well, it also takes such a village to save someone from suicide.
One of the worst things I’ve faced after people have promised to walk me into morning, are these same people being unavailable, after they offered to be on-call. Don’t tell someone you’ll be there no matter what, if you won’t.
I also realize that loved ones can only take, and are only equipped to do so much. Along with professional supports, there always needs to be several people available, in case one truly cannot be there, for whatever reason. I have lost plenty of friends to burn out from my mental/spiritual battle, because they were not capable of holding my hand. As it turned out, I think I might’ve begun to walk them into my darkness, instead of following them into the light. I have complete respect for someone who is honest with me in offering prayer or healing energy instead of hand-holding. I know that some people are closer to the darkness than they may realize, and my reliance on them can hurt them more than it helps me. In this way, all of the resources build a net. As resources fail, or disappear, the net’s holes grow and allow more room to fall through.
I’ll tell you my entire suicide story later, but I want to highlight the most important part, for me. This is the part I want to share with everyone who has been in my shoes, or knows someone who has. Coming to the point of suicide, is not a path I walked down willingly. I’ve been fighting to live my whole life.
Unfortunately, most people have no idea what is like to fight a fight like that, for that long. That makes the final decision very lonely, and after all the judgment you’ve encountered, quite frankly terrifying. I had always been told that suicide was selfish and I would go to hell if I did it. When I found myself on the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” stage, face-to-face with Regis Philbin, being asked that fateful question (ok, it wasn’t that big of a production, but you get the analogy), although I had arrived there in a clouded state, the answer was very clear. I honestly, at the core of my being, believed that the darkness I carried was a burden on all of those who loved me. I knew for certain that their pain could end with my death. Sure, it would hurt for a little while, but that would dwindle and fade. They’d forget my voice, my laughter, my smile, they’d start to think of me less and less, and hurt from my decision less and less. I have since learned that I do have people in my life who would go to any length to help me, not only to survive, but to want to survive. Although I now know my suicidal beliefs were misconceptions, that doesn’t keep me from revisiting that place, not because I want to, but because something drags me there. In my mind, I was doing this for them as much as I was doing it for myself, as illogical as that may seem. Also, i have to point out that a survival instinct is the most powerful instinct we, as animals, have. If you can try to wrap your mind, for a moment, around the idea of being in so much pain, that such an powerful instinct dies. I’ve lived for a very long time in that state. After a while, that becomes your instinct, and you have to be retaught something that is supposed to come naturally. In the past, I have come to a point where life and death were so unbalanced, that one was undoubtedly a better decision, even if it lacked true logic or defied instinct.
I believe that there are few things more terrifying than lying in a silent darkness alone and waiting for demons to sweep you away to hell. When it comes down to it, I can’t believe that my actions were weak, or selfish, or evil. Sure, those were certainly perspectives on what I did, but being in this place was not my choice. No one would choose such a thing. My thoughts were clouded by darkness, by illness. I survived. I didn’t survive for lack of conviction or for lack of effort. I can only speculate as to why I survived. Perhaps to share my story with the countless people out there who could in some way benefit from it, even if only in the capacity of starting or continuing the discussion.
I think that is all I have to say about my perspective at this point.
This morning, while reflecting on the issue during this milestone anniversary week, I saw a post on Facebook. Apparently, on June 4th and 5th, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is sponsoring an 18 mile, overnight walk in NYC called “Out of the Darkness.” It starts as dark falls, and ends at sunrise. For more information about the walk, Click Here.
FOR: YOU (you know who you are)
You deserve this. You are worth it.
*** If you are in a suicidal crisis, call: 1.800.273.TALK ***
Help Is Available. You Are NOT Alone.
Do Not Hesitate. Do Not Wait.
*** If you are in a suicidal crisis, call: 1.800.273.TALK ***