EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

After the suicide attempt…

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

[Note after writing: I am pressing publish with a deep sigh.]

In a couple of months, it will be almost exactly ten years ago that I attempted suicide during my senior year of college. I suppose I fit the stereotypical cliche that my attempt was a cry for help. I took a handful of random, but not very menacing, painkillers. I admitted what I had done to three of my friends and spent the next 72 hours in the behavior disorder ward of a nearby hospital.

It would be really great and deeply gratifying to say that I emerged from that ward a changed person; a butterfly from the chrysalis. But, I remember that ward as being scary as all hell and hardly an environment that nurtures change. I emerged tired, hungry, and fragile.

Thus began a long journey, a slow battle of the bulge, a crawl, a marathon. To be honest, I did not then and I do not now really know what the end point of the journey is but I remember full well what the starting point was. So, the journey has been to put as much space as possible between myself and that starting point. Some days I feel like the theme song from _Chariots Afire_ is playing every where I go. Some days are just days.

I have found out that there are many people on the same journey, and that many of us on the journey do not want to talk about THE JOURNEY because people can be cruel and abusive and manipulative. Simply by writing this post, I am aware that someone may read this and think that I am weak, weird, or crazy. But, I know there is someone at the same point that I was 10 years ago; some days I feel like I’m back at that same point.

But, I remind myself…..

1. That this life is entrusted to me and me alone. Apparently, God thought I was good enough to handle it. When the criticisms of others burrow so far into me that they become my own criticisms of myself, I remind myself that this life is mine. Despite what anyone thinks or believes, my life is not at anyone’s disposal. My life was not created to be firewood for someone else’s life.

2. That I am not disappointment, or saddness, or tragedy, or anger. Oh, I will disappoint others, sadden others, and anger others. But, that effect does not define who I am.

3. That I am flawed because I am me. That’s the way life works. But….

4. That flaws are sometimes simply misunderstood limitations. For instance, I can be overly emotionally sensitive. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. But, I choose to look at it as a limitation in one sense and a characteristic in another. I would not make a particularly good surgeon (one really doesn’t want a surgeon who melts into a puddle when one is on the table and things start going wrong). But, I do make a good listener. So, really: is it a flaw or is it a strength?

5. That I must be cautious around those who want to force me to see my limitations and characteristics as flaws. I mean, I could spend a lot of time trying to become less emotionally sensitive. I could spend a lot of time trying to “fix” that “flaw” if I surrounded myself with people who “encouraged” me toward that “goal.” I do admit: I have had to harness my strengths, limitations, and characteristics to work for me rather than allowing them to master me.

6. That I must dig deep when confronted with anyone who believes that I am worth less because I have attempted suicide. I have learned the hard way that such a person often wants to use me as a stepping stool for his/her own ego. Such a person often wants to make me his/her do-it-yourself fixer upper. A close relationship with such a person will usually force me to constantly remind myself of #1 and #4.

7. That the world, for a number of reasons, is a messed up place that labels normal people as crazy. One of the strongest impressions of the behavior disorder ward that I carry with me to this day (and that, to this day, will bring tears to my eyes) is that most of the people inside that ward were not crazy. We were people who were some combination of quiet, shy, sensitive, hurt and healing slowly, or sad in a world that values talking, outgoing, brash, devil-may-care bravado. Back then, I felt that I was lost on a journey that so many other people were making quite easily. Little did I know that many, many people were not only as lost as I, but also in denial.

8. That nothing is ever gained by lying to myself about who, what, and where I am. As I become ever more accustomed to being true to myself, it is easier to be truthful with others, and miraculously others have been beautifully truthful with me. As alone as I sometimes feel, there are others lost and blundering in the dark, too. We just need to play Marco Polo to find each other.

9. That Jesus is not disappointed in me for my attempt. How ugly, how truly ugly a thing it is to tell a hurting person that she’s let down the One in whom she believes. And, I was told that. And, it hurt. But, it is not true. If God is God, then I must believe that He knew my limitations and my strengths far ahead of me. He did not send His only Son to die for a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls who have their stuff together. Where is the grace and mercy in that?

10. That somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, slowly: things do get better. I do eventually untie the knots, work out the puzzles, clean up the messes, and learn the lessons. Life may not pick up at the same thread, but life does continue. Laughter returns. Smiles return. In the end, there is no darkness that can wipe out the light. That is the great thing about light. One small spark is enough sometimes. And, sometimes, a Youtube puppy video can provide that spark.

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