“Suicidal ideation, the act of thinking about committing suicide. Is normal. A normal healthy response to an overwhelming, unrelenting, inescapable emotional pain.”
The words drop into my mind like a hammer. I’m normal. It’s okay. “I wish someone had told me that 5 years ago.” I laugh a little bit, but it’s not funny. I think of the years I’ve spent hiding this part of me, the hours I’ve spent ruminating and pondering what makes me so fucked up that my first thought when something goes wrong is “I want to die.”
The pain I’ve felt at the voice that said,
“I want to die,
I want to die,
I want to die.”
All of this is normal.
“When you get a chance, go with a friend to the place where you wanted to drive off the bridge, be the passenger, and talk to them, share with them what you felt, what you experienced, what your world was like then.”
“I can do that.” I think immediately of the bridge as it crosses Fish Creek park on 22x. How many days of driving that cursed yellow school bus did I think about turning the wheel just enough? Hundreds of times. Today, a question I had never thought to ask rises to my mind.
How much shame did I internalize from feeling there was something really wrong with me for thinking about it?
A few hours later I’m a passenger in the car, on route south to a family dinner. I’m dressed up and excited to be going towards my beloved’s families house to spend time with them. The traffic slows, but it’s the wrong time of day for rush hour. It must be an accident. We wait in traffic for a while, and as we pull slowly past the scene, I see clearly, the side of a car smashed in, the back passenger seat, where Alex would sit. It fills my stomach and my heart with dread, I hope dearly there were no children in the back seat. I feel deeply “I would be so sad if my son died.” This in itself is a relief to the cold hearted “It would be a relief to be free.” a few years back that was my internal response to moments like this.
As we pass by the accident, we both get quiet. The car is filled with a clear sense of the frailty of our mortality, the real possibility of losing the people we love on short notice, and it brings it all back to reality really fast. I squeeze his hand, and we sit in silence for a while.
A few KM later, as we exit onto 22x, I realize that this is the moment of speaking my thoughts to die on that bridge.
That moment is happening today.
That opportunity to be listened to
is happening today.
I quickly check in with Dan. “Are you able to hold space for me while I share about this place that I have been suicidal?” He says yes, and I am so greatful.
As we drive forward my voice starts speaking, and it feels not quite like my voice, but the silent repressed voice of all the times I have driven here. I speak in the present tense like it’s happening now. Like I’m walking through my thoughts.
“This is where I start thinking about running off the road. Before the bridge, so the bus would land in the water, and we’d drown. Less chance of survival. But the angle is tricky. Some days I speed down that off-ramp, feeing into the speed build, I’d need to be going fast to break the median. I remember feeling the courage it would take to take the plunge. Somedays it was exciting to feel the excitement of getting close to that moment.”
I can feel my body tingling all over, there is a visceral sense of relief, of being seen, heard and felt. I understand why I was invited to do this. I know I will do it again in other moments of pain.
“I feel I am useless. I feel I am helpless to change it. The kids I am driving are so far gone off the autistic spectrum, they are incapable of living normal human lives, I would be doing their parents a favor to end their lives and the suffering of parenting a child like that. But Alex was on the bus most days, I didn’t do it because I thought out of all of us, he might have a future. I couldn’t take that away from him. I couldn’t take him away from his grandparents like that. ”
My body starts shaking, and deep tears flow to my eyes. I wonder at the pain I must have been in all those years ago. I see my pain through a new lens.
“Suicidal ideation is normal.” I think to myself. Time to REALLY let it go.
“I hated that job, I hated the kids I drove, I was filled with contempt every day. I hated waking up early every morning and slogging through the cold weather to pick them up. So they could sit like lumps on the bus, and sit like lumps at school. They had no future. The bus never really got warm, even with three pairs of pants, and a big jacket and scarf and hat, and big mitts and the heat cranked. I was always still cold.”
I remember the strictness of my playlist. Only happy tunes, happy words, happy themes to the songs I listened to. No sadness allowed. I clung to joy like it was a life preserver in the middle of a choppy sea. I forced myself into it all winter, being the most upbeat person on the team, I stuffed my pain. I remember the joy in my heart when spring started to come that year, and I finally felt the sun on my skin again. I remember thinking “I thought I would die, I thought the winter, and the cold would kill me. ”
We pass the bottom of the bridge and head up towards the next offramp. We are passed the point of no return. I whisper. “This is where I was always silently relieved that I had decided not to do it.”
He says nothing, but I can feel him there. Listening to my pain, heart open.
I get quiet again, and sit with my feelings, with the tingling sensation in my scalp, hands, and spine. I know I’ve just healed that time of my life, and that desire to die on a deep level today.
It’s time to return to the lovely conversation we were having before this moment started. I shake my whole body and make a silly noise. I take a deep breath in.
“I’m complete. Thank you.”
He squeezes my hand, and we sit together in silence for a while before returning to our conversation. I hold his hand, watching the city lights sweep past us, and into the night, as we enter the countryside. It’s beautiful to be here, alive and enjoying the drive.
**** If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts. I wrote this today to let you know that you’re normal. It took me a lot longer to ask for help than I’d like to admit, and I know that it’s hard. But asking to be heard is one of the crucial steps in recovery, along with learning to love yourself. I feel I did it backwards, I feel it might have been easier if I’d know how to ask for help but it might also be a chicken/egg type thing.
If you need support in learning to love yourself, check out the 60-second depression recovery/self love hack I created in the darkest of days to help myself find the courage to keep going. JoyGasm.me/LOVE
I feel like I’ve had these experiences, as well as hiding from them more than most. Or maybe just as much as you have. I can’t know unless we bring it to the air and talk about it.
I’ve hidden from friendship, from companionship, from love. I’ve run away from intimacy since before I can remember that I knew I was running.
Yet I am also free and able to show up when it’s time to connect deeply, especially with strangers. Years of workshops during a difficult home life taught me that strangers are safer to be vulnerable with.
I feel vulnerable and held in my sharing today. I feel scared, and yet brave. It is a daily journey to choose to love myself in the fear, and to transform the fear or numbness into fullness, to open into it.
Why do I do it? As a truth speaker, one who shares their truth, and opens the ways for others to do the same, I am here sharing the story of alone-ness, knowing some of you will resonate, and hoping you will share, so that we all don’t feel so alone.
Today I painted in the morning, and then all afternoon I wanted to paint more, to be lost in the flow of brushes and paint and cutting and collage. But instead I was in funk, mucking about, trying to leave the house, and getting a sullen boy in return, feeling crappy, and not feeling the goodness of the time freedom I have at all. The boredom, the low level funk, creeped in. Knowing it would help, I dragged my ass to the beach, and even catching a ride 80% of the way, and running into friends wasn’t enough to crack open the feeling blah..
It wasn’t till we got to the beach and Alex wandered off to chat with some kids that I realized that what I needed was some alone time so that I could feel the feeling inside of me.
When I found a quiet patch of sand, and sat myself down, what I found behind the veil of boredom and frustration was…
And yet the journey of always accompanied, never connected is a slow torture that I’ve inflicted on myself many times over the years. Now with 6+ weeks of solo parenting and no babysitter or co-parent around, the wear and tear of it is starting to show and has me realizing it’s about time to get help, and what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working.
As I find time to sit alone on the beach, I drop in and I feel the depth of the pain, it goes back 2, 3, 5, 7 years ago in this town, feeling abandoned again and again in the process of leaving Alex’s dad. It goes back further to moving when I was 10, leaving all my friends behind when we moved cities. “I have no friends” the wounded child inside of my screams. I have no choice but to hold her as my body shakes and cries. As I do, some strangers walk by and see my tears, they ask if I’m okay, and I give them a thumbs up and thank them for asking if I was okay. See, there’s always “someone”.
I am reminded that it is equally silly to feel lonely in a town teeming with new people to meet, and also with people who have known me for years.
Or all of you on the interweb, only a “please send me love” away.
Yet there’s a companionship of house and years and days that is still missing from my life. Not only from my traveling life, but also from my life before in Calgary, when 30km and 1.5 hrs of traffic separated me from my best friends, and getting together was an occasional and much organized thing. My heart yearns for the simplicity of my time in small town Morocco with Caroline and Anthony, and Christopher when we simply organized by saying “hey, let’s meet at this end of the beach” almost every day.
Or for the constant companionship that Maxim and I shared as we traveled, loved, parented and worked together.
I also realize the ridiculousness of pining over moments from the past, and the added ridiculousness continuing to winge about it all when after leaving the beach, we bumped into people we knew and then needed to “rush forwards” from them to meet up with friends. All while still winging about feeling lonely.
I am not such a master yet, that it doesn’t just seem simpler to cry, let some steam off, and see what I can do about arranging adult company, and kid care for tomorrow.
#DreamLife #SelfLove #Friendship #AloneNotLonely #ItStartsWithMe #TruthSpeaker