It’s been a sad week. With all the recent suicides, there’s a heaviness in the air, especially on social media. Some of it is angry or mocking, but most of it is sad and pleading or helpful and hopeful.
Anthony Bourdain’s suicide hit me hard. Much harder than I ever would have thought. Why? Because I’ve read his writing, listened to his words, and watched his shows. In everything he ever made, he strove for honesty. It didn’t matter if it was an ugly truth, so long as it was, in fact, the truth.
People wonder at why others, especially celebrities, take their own lives voluntarily. They have everything they could want, don’t they?
It’s not that simple. I’ve been there, to the place where there’s a line in the sand between life and death, and the urge to “go home” is strong. By “home” I simply mean a place where you are truly at peace.
Having money and fame and material things (and even people who love you) won’t fill the void in someone who is at the bottom. Don’t get me wrong, monetary stability and friends/family can help to a point, but if those things aren’t at the root of the problem, they’re not going to be enough.
So, what is at the root? In my opinion, although our problems may vary widely, it all comes down to perception.
It doesn’t matter if you have everything society says we need to be happy. If you perceive pain inside yourself, for any reason, it will fester. It may be things from past, present, and even future.
Now, these feelings may not make sense to many others, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. The brain is exceptionally powerful, and perception is what it runs off.
False perception is dangerous. It can maim or kill you just as easily as anything else. I’ve watched friends/family waste away and even die, or heal miraculously fast, just because they truly believed that’s what would happen.
I’m not claiming that thought is all-powerful (although it can change things significantly). What I am saying is that how you think can drive what happens in your life. I’m prone to depression and pessimism, so it’s something I struggle with, but when I do control my thoughts, it helps immensely.
In 2016, I had the worst year of my life up through now. I had a complete mental break and my SO gave me an ultimatum. Either I needed to walk away from the things/people who I was destroying myself for, or our relationship was done. My SO couldn’t watch me go through it over and over anymore, and I always jumped back into the fires that burned me. It hurt to hear this from someone I’d been with for 5 years, but it also shocked my system and helped me step back.
I isolated myself from my stressors and entered therapy. It was the best thing I’ve ever done, and my therapist was perfect for me (very important). She gave me outside validation that my feelings were real and common, letting me know I wasn’t alone when I felt like such a disfigured anomaly of society. That, in and of itself, helps a lot. She helped me understand where some of those feelings stemmed from and how to grieve, accept, and let go. The lesson that surprised me the most was that it’s not just about what people/situations do to you, but also about how you react to them. You only have power over yourself, so that’s the part you have to reprogram.
I struggle still with self-love and not tearing myself to pieces whenever I feel I’ve done something wrong, but I have tools to keep me afloat now. I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s hard to want to live a positive life sometimes. Pain is familiar and visceral, numbness comforting, and it can feel so much easier to just let yourself slip into the darkness. Wanting to “go home” or be at peace is a siren call, pulling you deep beneath the waves of emotion to drown.
I’ve been told all my life that I was too sensitive, and you know what? It’s true. But being sensitive gives me insight into the human condition. I can feel someone’s happiness or pain, and understand their reasoning. Someone once told me I could sympathize with a serial killer, and they’re right. Sympathize, NOT agree. If being “overly” sensitive keeps me from being insensitive to others in pain, I’ll take it. It’s actually a strength for my writing to be able to see things from every angle.
I’ve been manipulated, walked all over, and taken advantage of by “stronger” people more times than I can count, but I will never stop being who I am. I will never retaliate, either. What I will do, going forward, is try my best to practice self-care and boundaries, believe in myself more, and defend my sensitive position intelligently.
You know what’s cool? In the last few years, I’ve actually had multiple people from my past come and apologize for their actions/words against me. I had forgiven them silently many years before, but it brought me to happy tears to know they thought about it enough to feel remorse and apologize. This is what we need more of. Recognizing our wrongdoings or misunderstandings and addressing them openly. It’s uncomfortable, but worth it.
If any of this resonates with you, know you are not alone, and please get help if you need it. Your feelings are valid. You can get through this and thrive rather than just survive. You are enough.
If you are reading this and it makes no sense to you, please just pass it by without comment.