As my first post, I’m not entirely sure how to start this. Typically people start off by introducing themselves, but I’ve often asked myself, is that necessary? Why can’t I just be a human writing about their experiences? It’s as though my age, sex, ethnicity, education, sexuality etc., might affect the credibility of my writing, but why? If what I write resonates with you, chances are, you’ll continue to read it and that’s regardless if I’m blue, black, white, straight, gay, have three legs, no legs, or own 72 cats. Perhaps that’s one of the beauties of technology, it’s almost as though you’re forced to be open-minded because of the anonymity of technology (although people still feel obliged to create a mental image within their observer’s mind by “labelling” themselves). I feel as though introducing myself and stating certain “identifying features” does nothing more than create preconceived notions within your, the reader’s, mind. It’s as though I want to conform to particular stereotypes. And I don’t want that. I would rather contribute to creating open-minded souls than encouraging categorization of individuals. So instead, all you have is me. A human blogger. And that’s my introduction.
So something about me, I don’t like to conform. I don’t like to do what is typical. Hence skipping the introduction. Having said that, if you continue to read my posts, you will learn a lot about me. And yes, even the aforementioned qualities will eventually arise within my writing.
Why a blog? In all honesty, I’m intellectually starved. I’ve been craving intellectual stimulation for a while, yet I have been unsuccessful at quenching my thirsts for an array of different topics. So instead of maintaining internal conversations (which can become very stale because of the lack of alternate perspectives) I have decided to make these conversations external. I would like to share topics that I am passionate about, but also experiences and people that have changed my life. So what better way to start than the night that changed my life; the night I like to call rock bottom, the night some others call the dark night of the soul, or the turning point in their life. Regardless of what you call it, it was the night I had intent to end it all. And yes, I am talking about suicide.
I dislike writing aimlessly, so instead I’m going to insert a piece I wrote shortly after I believed I was going to take my life because it captured my emotions and feelings better than I can recreate today.
The Beauty in Pain
I’ve stared death in the face. Looked her directly in the eyes. She looked like an eight feet tall, moss stained cement wall on I75. She was 90mph. She was rivers of tears, she was uncontrollable, shallow breathing; she was an emotional breakdown. She was the words, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” She stood between Kennesaw and Marietta. She was pressing; she wanted my soul. She held my steering wheel, she threatened to pull it left, she promised hope of safety, of ending all the pain, guilt, and destruction. She sounded appealing. She sounded like the relief, the savior I had been needing. But a force was stronger than her. Perhaps you might consider this an angel, perhaps a spiritual power, but somehow this thought saved me, pulled me from her jaws. The thought was, “Imagine my parents getting that phone call.” Perhaps it was the utter fear of disappointing them, a fear that motivated many behaviors growing up, and a fear that made coming out near impossible. Through erratic, heaving sobs, I kept muttering the words, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I need help. Please help me.” I’m not sure who I was talking to; I’m not a believer in God. But someone answered me. Someone convinced me this wasn’t my time; that I had more to give. Death has visited once before that, well, she merely knocked on the door. Too polite to come in at that time, she bided her time and decided to make a more pronounced entrance.
She returned less than a week later. This time she pounced on my vulnerable girlfriend who was consumed by the guilt of killing me, by the guilt of being a curse to everyone she’s ever dated. The pain, the pressure, the guilt – it was all too much. Death lingered in the breath of Sweetwater beer. She lingered in rages of anger, fists of heartache. She was a cement wall, directly in front of Rachel’s black Mazda. She was a scene from Side Effects. Consumed by her darkness, Rachel was adamant of her demise. Convinced she must to salvage my life, she sent suicide texts to two of her friends and similarly to me. But death, once again, was stopped. She was overpowered by spotlights. These spotlights illuminated death, exposed her; broke her. These spotlights saved Rachel’s life. These spotlights were images of her passed Mom. Death wasn’t taking Rachel’s life, no, not tonight.
Alright, straight to the point. Let me briefly explain. So Rachel was my girlfriend. And I am a girl. Call me gay, lesbian, queer, whatever; I was a girl dating a girl, not that that is of much relevance to the experience, but I know sometimes we as humans have to know things like this. Earlier in 2014, Rachel lost her Mom to cancer. A tragic experience for any individual to endure, but especially when emotional abuse was involved. Rachel and I began dating a mere three months after her Mom’s passing, to which it is probably safe to conclude the wounds of her Mom, both the abuse and of her passing, had not yet healed. For the first half of our relationship, I was there for Rachel because I could be. Emotionally, I was healthy. I was sound. I was strong. That changed though, when I did my knee. My second knee. In my senior year of college.
Let’s back up a second – I was born and raised in Australia for 18 years until I moved to Kennesaw to pursue my one true passion; soccer. My freshman year, I tore my right ACL. Okay, not the way I had intended to start my collegiate career, but challenge accepted (I’ll talk more about this experience in a future posting). Burdened with injury each year, I was fortunate to get to play the majority of my junior season. I was in fantastic form and healthy leading into my final year. I, and everyone else, had big expectations for my senior year. Five games in and pop. There goes my left knee. There goes all of those expectations, dreams, and hope. Emotionally, I was not healthy. I was numb. So, losing soccer again, I started to lose myself. And the one person closest to me couldn’t be there for me because she couldn’t be there for herself. So in a summarized sense, we had two individuals in a relationship who couldn’t be there for themselves, but needing to be there for their partner. If you want the recipe for a toxic relationship, those are it. Combine that with two individuals’ capacities to become extremely dark and emotional and, you have yourself a pretty grim future; one “suicide attempt” and two subsequent nights of suicide intent to be precise.
I acknowledge this is a pretty brief backstory and although I have every intention of elaborating in the near future, my present intent is to explain why this night changed my life. The thing about suicide is that it’s an oxymoron. It’s a paradox. It doesn’t make sense to the rational thinking mind; If you’re in so much distress, why would you want to hurt yourself further by taking your life? Ah, but here’s the thing, when you are in that much pain and distress, your brain tricks you. Your brain tricks you into thinking that the only way to survive is to end the pain and the only way to end the pain is to take your life. See how that’s a paradox? Your brain convinces you that you need to take your life in order to survive. Doesn’t make sense does it? Well, I kind of hope it doesn’t. Because if that makes sense to you, I suspect you’ve been where I’ve been; the point of no return. And for that, my heart aches for you.
Let’s take a look at what I titled this piece, The Beauty in Pain. What a bizarre title for a very real, very serious suicide ordeal. I promise I’m not sadistic or masochistic; I merely believe that there is much beauty to take from pain. Take this experience for example. That night, February 15th, was my rock bottom. It was the darkest night I’ve ever experienced. I essentially stared death in the face. All light; all hope; all was gone. But, I survived. When you hit rock bottom, and truly hit it, there’s only one direction you can go: up. Albeit the night was traumatically scary and could very easily have ended badly, I’m thankful it happened. Rock bottom was exactly where I needed to be to start getting better for myself. And here’s where the beauty comes in – once you’ve hit rock bottom, everything else seems so much brighter, so much better, because in reality, it is. Nothing else compares to the encompassing darkness of the bottom. This isn’t to say I don’t experience adversity or struggle, because I do, but there’s an appreciation for life that wasn’t there prior to this experience. This is why I like to surround myself around people who have experienced pain, struggle, and adversity; not because I’m sadistic and like to see others hurting, but because they have an appreciation for the small things in life. They know what it feels like to have nothing, to feel like nothing. Struggle and pain are all relative. To someone, having their heart broken might be the worst thing that has ever happened to them, but to someone else who has suffered other significant loss, having their heart broken might seem trivial; a pebble rather than a mountain if you will.
I like to create this mental image when attempting to explain what I mean. Imagine an individual who has lived in a house in complete darkness; no windows, no doors, no light. All of a sudden, a crack appears and the light seeps in. It’s almost blinding to this individual because it’s the first form of light they’ve experienced. Now compare that to an individual who has played in the sunshine their entire life; that is their norm. So if this individual was in a dark room and light seeped in, they’ve experienced the glory of sunshine in its full force, so a little light is trivial and insignificant and perhaps, even a little scary because of the contrast to their norm. The first individual, however, who has only ever known darkness, appreciates this light because to them, it’s the brightest light they have been fortunate to experience. Because of their darkness, these individuals are able to shine so much brighter, “A star only shines so bright because of the darkness that encompasses it.”
In conclusion, surviving this experience has been empowering. Whenever I experience adversity, on whatever scale, I reiterate to myself, I will get through this. I’m going to be okay. If I can hit rock bottom and survive, I can survive this. This is not to say one must experience a suicidal ordeal to hit rock bottom; everyone’s rock bottom is relative and just as significant. But, to anyone who has been there or feels themselves heading in that direction, I leave you with an empowering quote; “You have survived 100% of your worst days, you are going to get through this.”
Note: The name of the individual in this post has been changed out of respect for the individual discussed.