This is a warrior call for all. This is an inside job. This is a time to pull the sword from your inner stone. This is about how to be that famous rock that grounds you. This is me wishing for me, and for any of you suffering or empathetically suffering, to finally get some relief from all that sucks in your world. And this is about victory.
Our world feels on fire. The news is sucking the life from us. Devastation, dying, and destruction seems to surround at a pace that is staggering. The world bleeds its pain for us in protracted pangs. It sucks to be sustained in suck. When we ache we lose sight of our boundaries, our bodies, and our time. Without clear sight, we’re barely able to reach up, as we often cannot reach out. Yet, this is the time we need to connect. We need space to try to sense the sword in the stone and pull it out. These are the times we deserve and need attention, tools, hope, and achievement.
There are two significant times in my life that I contemplated suicide. Both were results of ugly-ending failed intimate relationships. Once during my teen years when I vividly recall taking a razor to my wrist between gushing tears. I made the tiniest of cuts, as I simply didn’t have the guts to cut deeply. Also, some part of me wasn’t fully wishing to be gone, so much as I wanted to stop feeling entirely. That was all of it in a giant boulder of a nutshell. Then again at age twenty-seven, I was desperate to stop the emotional turmoil and wanted to fill myself with enough pills of ‘something’ to simply never wake again. The perception was this would allow me to stop thinking all the horrible thoughts. The second time I called a hotline and was talked down, actually quite sternly, as the astute caller wisely and quickly determined I wasn’t in immediate danger of ending my life, so much as I wanted no life in this instance of deep, dark agony of thoughts.
In the years since I’ve suffered all kinds of pains beyond a relationship breakup. Loss has that consuming way of being available to snap up our entire life through many alleyways. From people and pets we lose, to jobs, projects, money, homes, possessions, health, and passions, misery shapeshifts easily. No matter the affliction, nor the torturous attention we give it, it’s the fact that it presents itself that builds resentment inside of us. We aren’t robots that can simply switch to a power-off mode, only to pop on again. Although we can choose to face the seemingly irreparable irritation and manage it with that superhuman spasm I’ll call savoring.
We humans have a special brain compared to most other animals. We are built with a capacity for zest. We can wallow in a happy or a sad slant. We can take an experience and rub it in so severely that we forget there is a way out. It occurs like we actually gloat the gigantic garbage dump of torment. I beg to differ towards the chipper end. I believe anyone who is enveloped in their suck may poke a part of themselves far enough out of the hole if even for a millisecond, to reach boldly for the sweet side of savoring.
I think we can savor our suck by identifying the mother f’er. Putting a face to the name, especially with a sense of comedy, just might be a medicine you’ve been waiting for. This is about attempting to embrace your ache from a new point of view. In the most ridiculously simple form, I’m calling out to an idea that’s like popping on colored glasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare, or equally to color your world a fantastic new shade of rosy red. The concept bends from the opinion that our experiences never leave us, yet we may design how we carry them forward. The notion is personification is your friend.
During a wickedly authentic and spirited Buddhist meditation talk the other day, Kate Spina was resonating with our group about that awful set of self-doubts, self-defeat, failure, loss, anxiety, depression, and all the darn negatives that creep into our everyday being. Kate was speaking about how she was taught, and learned, to quiet this monster that invades her space all too often. She explained how we can take what is happening to us that causes us grief and place it outside ourselves as if to look it eye to eye. Then, she told us the trick about giving our hurts a personality. I mean an actual full-fledged character type. For Kate, she immediately amused us by going into the dialogue and even affectations of her hands moving about to share that her extremely detrimental ‘noise’ was a French man, who wears all black, speaks with a thick accent, and throws his weight about pompously. ‘He’ has such an ego and is so absurd that he usually makes her laugh. In other words, she is able to see her distress as outside of herself for a moment. This typically allows enough room for her to calm down enough to connect with support or anyone she trusts to help her get to the other side of anguish. Keeping her conversation lively with the made-up Frenchie also continues to provide an opening away from a type of personal persecution no one deserves. I’m currently working to identify the characteristics for my familiar suck.
With our recent news of two high profile names actually closing their life chapters, I am humbled to revisit my own stories. As with the ways of dark and light, there are good things to arise from the bad. One of the positives I note of late is the attention to the very conversation of mental health. As long as there have been people, there has been a need for mental stability. Yet, so much historically is hushed on this topic. So many stigmas about people with illness exist. KPCC public radio’s recent vital talk about suicide had a female caller share her reflective moment that’s since kept her alive. After three attempts to take her life, the caller sought a therapist, who suggested a new orientation for her life outlook. The therapist positioned that her client wanted to kill her pain, but did not want to kill herself. The woman wanted to live, and only that she wanted her pain to die. This allowed them to work together on separating her pain from herself, so they could focus on bringing her pain under control. To her, me listening, and to the KPCC host, this was profound. I will never forget this distinction, and especially to share it.
I am grateful to be here. I’m proud of my commitment to continued self-development. I’ve learned there is no maximum to the tools I may acquire to fill my personal toolbox for the times when life suck is doing its darnedest to strip away all my Joan of Arc triumph. But I am still here. And I am writing you today because I love you. Your strife can also be what keeps you in this life. And I want you here.
May you gently allow a savoring of your suck to soak in and to carry you forward.
P.s. I plan to a lot of hugging of people on World Suicide Prevention Day September 10
If you’re suffering, please consider connecting with a trusted person or these resources:
List of International Suicide Hotline phone numbers from the International Bipolar Foundation