Why I missed World Suicide Awareness Day

6 10 2009

World Suicide Awareness Day was on September 10.  I missed it.  Because I was thinking about committing suicide.

Yep.  While most folks spent their summer vacations  at the beach (or dreaming of it), I spent it in a dark, dark free-fall that brought me perilously close to ending my life at least 3 times.

Now, since you’re reading this, you know how this story ends:  I never pulled a trigger..or slit my neck or wrists or crashed a car.  But I did make plans…and took fairly deliberate action…to accomplish all of the above (except the gun part, this IS Massachusetts after all!).

The whole thing started with the death of my father.  For years, I’d wondered how the death of a man I barely knew would affect me.  Starting at 11:13 CST on June 29, I got the answer.  As my father was dying, I saw past all the illusions I’d carried about our distant, but complex, relationship.  I saw the truth of an imperfect man who, in the words of my sister, did the best he could.  And I thought that was that.

It wasn’t.  It seems that unravelling the illusions of my father launched an avalanche of unravelling the illusions that surrounded my entire family and my entire life.   For two and a half months, I was like Alice, falling through the rabbit’s hole into a place where absolutely nothing was as it seemed. And the more I tried to grasp onto those threads of  illusion, the more they fell away.  And me with it.

As all this unravelling was getting under way, I remember standing outside a hotel room in Texas with a bottle of wine in my hand.  The corkscrew had broken and I was so desperate for something–anything–to calm me down, to center me–that I cracked the bottle against a pole.  That action took away my desire for a drink…but it also made me look long and hard at the jagged glass. “Perhaps, I can sit this bit of karma out,” I thought.

I decided against it because I thought it was a bit white trash to end it with the jagged glass of a bottle of cheap wine outside of a Texas no-tell, motel.  I also decided then and there that the only way I was going to make it through this was to, “A”, go through it alone and, “B”, relinquish all control.   This wasn’t Oprah or Kripalu.  This was my life.  My darkness.  And I wasn’t going to find my way out by following someone else’s path.  And I sure as hell wasn’t going to make it by trying to drive this roller coaster.  After all, I had no idea where it was going.  So, that night, I put the cheap wine down and relinquished all control.

Which is not for the feint of heart.  Funny thing about the Universe.  When you set your intent, it tends to deliver.  And, boy, did it deliver.

From late June til late Sept, I stood in front of the mirror of my life, taking an unflinching, unvarnished look at my reflection.

Just as I thought I was looking, at long last, at me, another layer of illusion fell away.

At first, seeing the thickness of the layers of illusion made me angry.  I remember being in a hotel room in Rochester, MN, literally banging my head against a bathroom mirror, in order to break it and escape from the anger.  I’ll forever be grateful to whatever forces prevailed that night for dying in Rochester isn’t much better than dying outside a no-tell motel!

Then, as illusions of my family gave way to illusions of my life, I became terrified.  Turns out, I hadn’t left Texas to escape dysfunction and come out of the closet.  I left simply to build a new closet with a new career and new set of friends who simply mirrored what I had always known.   The dysfunction had followed me from Texas.  Stalked me, relentlessly and quite successfully.  And that realization led me to put my clothes and car keys aside one night as I went to bed. My plan was to wake up, get in the car, and drive it into a pole at high speed.

That was the one night in a very long time that I slept soundly all night.  I woke up at about 5 a.m.  The first thing I saw, in the betwixt and between light of the dawn was my husband.  Even as he laid there sound asleep, his love embraced me.

It was a transformative moment that told me I wasn’t going to get in the car and escape this journey.  I was going to follow those threads of unravelling illusion all the way to the end.

Which is what I did.  In the most unexpected of ways, at the most unanticipated time (funny how life works when you stop planning, huh!?).

About two weeks after I DIDN’T get in the car, I was doing some work for a client.  All of a sudden, I felt myself falling.

It was that awful feeling I’d had so many times since June.

Except this time, I landed.

On my twin bed in my elementary school bedroom in the first house I ever lived in.

And there, staring me in the face, was 12-year old Will.

He had a message for me, the one I’d been searching for.

All those illusions?  They weren’t put there by my family or by my friends or clients or anyone.  They were created, decorated, placed and guarded…by me.

He reminded me of exactly where we were.  It was the exact day, the exact moment, 32 years ago when I was sitting down to study for a spelling test in Mrs. Fugate’s class.  As I lay on that bed, I was thinking that the life of a smart, studious kid with thick glasses wasn’t really getting me far.  While my world was filled with books and music and thoughts that seemed like nohing I heard from anyone else, it wasn’t filled with friends.  So, I decided to change things. To bomb the test.  To do–and take and drink and say…and BE—whatever it took to fit in other people’s world.

And I did.  And I was good at it (it’s no surprise that my career has been based on spinning the story clients’ customers WANT to hear).

And it was all an illusion.  Each perfectly crafted, fiercely clung to, illusion simply added another layer that took me further and further away from my self.

Further and further away the power…the source…that each of us needs to fuel our own flame of individuality.

And, now, after months of darkness–no, after 42 years of darkness–the 12-year old Will was there to give me my power back.




3 responses

7 10 2009

Wow Will. This is a real story of courage, beautifully written and so moving. I am especially touched by the image of that twelve year old sitting on the bed, making a decision that would affect the rest of his life. What is so amazing is that you are now able to cut through those layers of illusion and make contact with that boy’s spirit and soul. he deserves compassion. And you can see that even as he decided to weave those layers to alleviate his loneliness, that true self still existed, with the ability to give your power back to you.

7 10 2009

Many thanks, Elena. Your words are beautiful and spot-on!

11 10 2009

I do not have your courage honey ! And I can not remember anything about what I was thinking when I was 12. You amaze me.

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