Suicide by Metaphor

(Author’s Note: what follows is a long, honest blog entry about a dark time I’ve been going through and how a friend of mine helped me turn the corner and climb out of it. It is in no way meant to make light of suicide.)

I won’t lie to you, because one thing I promised myself when I started this writing gig was that I’d always be honest with my fans, readers, and friends.  I suppose if I was hip to how the young kids talk today, I’d say I’m being ‘real.’  Like most folks these days, I come from a long line of people with problems.  Growing up, my mother was hospitalized with emotional problems several times.  My alcoholic uncle committed suicide when I was four.  I moved to Austin, Texas when I was 22, partly for school and partly to get away from my past.  I met a girl, fell in love, and left my past behind.

It caught up to me.

In 2008, I was feeling good.  My writing career had just received a good kick in the ass.  I owned a house with my girlfriend.  More importantly than either of those, I had reconnected with my father, from whom I’d been estranged since 1995.  Sadly, that summer he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He died at the end of September, surrounded by myself and other family members.  He died in the living room of his house, strung out on pain killers while a hospice worker quietly gathered up the last of those pain killers in the background.

A year later, my mother died.  Also cancer.  I wasn’t really over my father’s death yet, and I received this extra punch.  I flew to Indiana for her funeral, sitting there shell shocked all weekend.  The truth is, I have issues with my mother.  She often craved attention and love, giving anything for her children as long as no one else came before her. But whatever, right?  You get over it and move on, I told myself.

Then it happened.  A few months after my mother’s death, it came out that the man I thought was my father really wasn’t.  At least not biologically.  I was the product of a 12 year affair my mom had.  Even worse, my entire family knew it and had decided it fell to my mother to tell me.  Only she didn’t.  When my parents divorced, she sued my father (not the biological one) for additional child support.  He was living in his truck at the time.  If rumors are to be believed, my biological father was a freakin’ doctor.  And he didn’t pay a dime.  My mother told my dad to pay up or she’d tell me everything and make sure he never saw me again.

It’s possible my mom was a raging bitch.

A few months after all this came out, I entered therapy.  I did it because, as I told my girlfriend, I was painfully unhappy.  It started to help, but a year later I lost my brother, who went to take a nap one day and never woke up.  A few months later, I went through a break up, the end of an 11 year relationship.  I packed up my cat and moved into an apartment, and the whole time I kept spiralling down.  I pulled away from my family and my friends.  Even though I’d been diagnosed with clinical depression at that point, I resisted taking anti-depressants.  My mother had taken them for years, her doctors experimeenting with different dosages and medications, giving her additional meds to combat the side effects.  Nothing ever helped.

Well, eventually the bad thoughts started appearing.  The really bad ones.  The “I wonder if the ceiling fan will support my weight” ones.  When those start to appear, and they’re not motivated by an “I’ll show them all!” mindset, you know you’re in trouble.  I started scaring what friends I had left, which is never good. 

And then yesterday I had a pair of amazing conversations.  One was with my therapist, who helped me see that a part of me was acting just like my mother, craving attention and validation.  She said I need to get that from myself and not others.  When I said, “I’ll try,” she called bullshit.  “You don’t try something like that,” she said.  “You just do it.”

The other conversation was with one of my best friends, somebody I trusted enough to tell about the bad thoughts and what they were doing to me.  He told me about when he battled suicidal thoughts years before, when they were so bad he had to wake up every morning and search for reasons to not do it.  Then he made a decision, and it was brilliant.  I’ll try to quote what he said as best I remember it…

“I decided to just kill myself metaphorically.  The person I was was unhappy and didn’t have a reason to live, so I tossed out all the bad shit and just decided to behave differently.  It didn’t even matter if it made me a completely different person, because if I really had killed myself, the old me would have been dead anyway.”

Holy shit.  Finally, everything made sense.  When you’re ready–when you’re at your lowest–you really can choose to throw away the bad shit.  So I did that.  And I feel good.  Sweet-jumping-fuck, I feel amazing.  I don’t need to hold grudges against dead mothers or beg people to notice how bad I feel so they can tell me they love me or believe in me.  All that shit was selfish and pointless, sticking me in a spiral and dragging me down.  So fuck it, it’s gone.  Done.  Dead.  It jumped off a cliff and left me standing tall.  If I’m on a ledge, it’s because I’m looking down at how wonderful life is.  And I’m ready for it. 

To those I scared, I’m sorry.  That guy was a prick.  I hope you can forgive this new guy, but I understand if you can’t.

Today, things are better. 

I’m here. 

New me.

I’m good now.

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