Disclaimer. This essay deals with the topic of suicide. If you are someone who is considering the act of suicide, please seek help immediately by calling 911, a friend, or loved one.
Deep thoughts in grade 3…
I can trace the start of my life-long existential meltdown to a single moment in the 3rd grade. A friend had told me that if the radio next to my bathtub fell in while I was bathing, I would be electrocuted, and die. That thought frightened me. It also opened my mind up to possibilities, and options. That is the first memory I have of contemplating death, and all that may come after.
That was also the first moment I realized that my own death could be in my charge. That is, if I chose to push that radio into the tub, I would have control over my own existence. That idea remains the most powerful thought I would ever have. I have thought about my death, self-inflicted or otherwise, nearly every day of my life since that day.
To consider self-inflicted death or to actually contemplate it, are not necessarily synonymous. I think about ending my own life intermittently throughout the course of most days. Mostly as an instant way out of the otherwise tedious moments which comprise my days. I imagine it, but I don’t do it. I only contemplate taking my life when the confluence of external and internal forces narrow the stream of my thoughts into a space so tight with borders so rigid that I feel they will burst from the pressure.
In stressful situations, or when the heavy blanket of my own depression lowers itself upon me, I have craved to be excused from this world in favor of another. Therein lies the good problem; there is no guarantee of another life. Even if there is another life waiting, what guarantee is there that it would be better than this one…?
Why I don’t…
If you’ve read this far then you have probably determined that you’re going to contact my mother, state authorities, or avoid me altogether. Please don’t. Throughout this ongoing negotiation in my head, there has been a kill switch on that kill switch. I believe to my core that suicide is just a reset button which can only return me back to Go, without collecting the $200, and forcing me to start this game all over again. Perhaps in a another time, and in another body, but a do-over just the same.
In my life have done many wonderful things, and shared amazing times with beautiful people. I have loved, laughed, and stood at the edge of nature with wide wonder. I have seen beauty which has moved me to tears, and felt love even greater. I have been thrilled to the point of ecstasy, and fulfilled to the point of absolute guilt. I am grateful to have won the lottery of life.
I have also cowered down though, many times beaten by fear, paralyzed by apprehension, overcome with rage, and stifled by depression. I have cried without explanation, experienced loss, deprivation, and sorrow. I have expressed hatred, caused hurt, and come to regret it. I have even thwarted murderous feelings on more than one occasion, the murder of my own self included. Despite these, I have found the strength to carry on.
I have not exercised my option to take my own life, and I believe I never will, for the simple fact that as good as my life has been, I don’t wish to relive the bad stuff.
On the selfishness of suicide…
The act of suicide is often referred to as ‘selfish’. Those who are left behind are often resentful of, and bitter toward the departed. I don’t subscribe to that belief, and if you are one who does, I ask you to reconsider.
We who remain behind in the wake of suicide, have no idea what thoughts may have been colliding, nor how hard or how long those collisions might have been taking place inside the head of someone that desperate to end their life. We often know little of the external influences, and even less of the internal conflicts which may have led a person to that moment. Assigning selfishness to the act is a judgment no living person is qualified to make.
There can be no way to understand that moment – that chaotic moment when a life, a future, a legacy, and the all the relationships that go with it, no longer hold any value. It must feel, in that moment, like the universe has not yet begun, or has already ended, and therefore there is nothing to lose since there is pure solitude.
I have even come to actively question whether suicide is the ultimate act of bravery, and we who are left behind are the dumb and the weak ones. I don’t genuinely believe this to be the case. However, if I am capable of such a thought, then others might also have felt this. In my quietest moments I wonder if some who have taken their own lives, have done so in the name of bravery, not looking just a little deeper into the outcome.
At the end of the day, despite all that isn’t yet known of causality, and existence, my dog still needs to be fed, my daughter requires shoes, the lettuce in the crisper still turns blue if I fail to eat it, and my mother deserves to know each week that she is loved, if only by telephone or text. Thus, I continue… Be well. rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Dog Trumpet. Enjoy…