This morning another jolt.
"Come and hear the funeral marching
Maybe this is your suicide
Maybe this is more pure
Pure than simple
Maybe this is all I have for home"
We form our opinions whether they were famous or not. "They had everything. I'd love to have their problems. They were so selfish, they don't care about who is left behind." I've heard these and more. If you're human, then you're going to struggle, welcome to life friends. What causes me to struggle may be your superpower. What trips you up may not phase me. Or maybe we both can understand how deep the rabbit hole can go. Who can truly comprehend the demons of another? The journey of another?
For years, my front was, "I'm fine." That seemingly perfect 'they had everything' life can contain untold pain. But we prefer right as rain. We like unmessy answers where X can be implemented along with Y to prevent Z. We need to connect the dots that surely must connect. Yet, this math never adds up. A + B can't equal C. It's not 'this led to that.' It's a million micro-actions by and to. It's pings of pongs of 'this led to that.' It's success and setback stacked upon success and setback. The whole alphabet couldn't define causation. We grasp for the two halves that equal the whole so we can be settled and distanced and fine. How many vines ago was that anyway?
"Why have all beautiful people
Brushed you on down?
And brushed you on down?"
Beginning with 2010, my support system has grown and increasingly stabilized. It's stupefying to think back on younger me. Oh boy. A hurtling bullet train of independence and pride and so much fear. My motto attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing every day that scares you." As the overachiever, I made sure to do three. It's exhausting thinking about how I could never stop long enough to really deal. But that's part of unhealthy coping. If we stop moving, if we stop the noise, if we stop scanning the news feed, we are faced with discomfort we would much rather avoid. We're faced with what we really need to address.
That's tough man.
Even today, the stigma levied at those needing and receiving help is astounding. We could all use help. Countless have become the warriors joining the conversations in all matters of need, to let others know they are not alone. My wish is we could collectively shift this paradigm to view mental health in preventive terms like we do with exercise. Mental Wellness, not Mental Illness. Gym class, then off to Self-Awareness class.
I've been told those who seek help are the strong ones. Friends, I have come to believe it. Even if those who seek help still succumb, they showed up to fight. They fucking try. They tried.
"I saw the shame inside your addiction,
Waitin' to see what was passed on by.
I saw the shame and wondered why
I should live, and die.
Leave a note and tell me,
Leave a note and tell me why."
The darkness has come so much over the years, so much it tried to convince me we were friends. Staring down loaded barrel, hesitation scars. Countless pain wrenched nights and days and nights and days with my every attempt to distract and self-soothe, with scares in between. Chapters of anger and shame. I had a plan. I had a few. The worst year we endured, Joe not wanting to leave for work, afraid to leave me alone. The rot at the bottom and the prayer for relief. Sweet repose come, never again to open my eyes to hopeless forecast. Cross my arms over my chest and burn me. The demons fended by electric prod, mere milligrams away from their desire and need to pounce.
Rusted Root's Beautiful People is all the beautiful people. The numbers continue to climb. We need to have more conversations. We need to elevate our discourse. We need to be uncomfortable and unsettled. We need to look at each other more and suspend assumption, suspend our far too imposed "wellidajusthave..." Sit with another with love, in love, and truly try, try to see their pain, their struggle. Empathy. Listen. Reach out in validation. Give them dignity to own their experience. They don't need to be okay. They can melt and fall apart. Let them know you are a support beam. Help them stand. Help them lay journey-steps towards help.
Today, my legs give steady kick, my arms circle slowly the surface of the water and I can feel the heat from the sun. It's warm and beautiful. There is ease and breeze and peace in my inhale. Wonderful life. Lovely and love. Yet even now, at my healthiest place, waters to overwhelm don't have far to rise. In a span less than five years - a career exit, two major life changing surgeries, two floods in two years and this healing season are new steps upon my path. Open, Yes, Impermanence, Love, Compassion, Peace - the words I meditate upon daily. Especially Impermanence. This one is powerful.
With news of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, an amazing chef and giant of human connection and story, days apart from Kate Spade's suicide, I am aware of my gut check. Sometimes we fight a season. Maybe many different seasons. Maybe a life entire. What end will claim our mortal bodies? Virginia Woolf in her suicide note, "I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time."
I am less to say whether that is to win or to lose. I just know today, today, I am happy. I am well. I tell my husband through smiles that won't quit. I know he believes me. He tells me he sees it, that he knows me better than myself. I know I believe him. After my husband helped me towards help, I helped him towards help. We are lives transformed and strengthened. Our children's lives transformed. We sail towards new coordinates guided by baby stars. I am thankful. I fight every day. My children witness resilience in motion through us and are learning words and tools needed to cope, to seek connection and support. There is no immunity to struggle in this life. I pray I never again face my dark friend.
But it's a promise I can't make.