On the edge of suicide - Fear and Depression almost won.
Many years back in a land far away from where I sit tonight, I was a teenage boy who struggled with more demons than I thought I could face. I saw virtually no foreseeable future, zero happiness with no reason to live. I was tortured by feelings I did not understand, desires I wanted to suppress and a fear that I had been born in the wrong time and perhaps maybe the wrong place. In my book “Crossing the Rubicon”, I talked about these dark days in great details.
Building even more anxiety was the fact that I did not actually want to live, I wanted my life to end. I wanted to stop the car and get out, I wanted to set the time back to the starting point. I climbed the roof of my house and stood staring at the cold, hard cement on the driveway below, watched as my body fell to the ground and envisioned the lifeless shell of who I was while laying down there. It was such a peaceful vision and I believed I would no longer feel hurt if I would only take that step.
Standing on the edge with one foot on the roof and the other hanging over the edge, just lean forward and it would all be over. I had an active imagination , I could see it , I would watch my body fall as if in a slow motion , see the smile cross my face as I floated away from the world I did not belong and moved on to the next world , next life or even into oblivion . I cared little for what awaited me on the other side nor was I bothered if there was even nothing.
Yet standing there watching what I imagined as a quick and peaceful death, and ending this life on my terms, something always stopped me. Something always pulled me away from the edge. A thought, and dream unlived, something left undone. For years, I added to the demons I fought, I was a coward, and I could not even make a move as simple as lean forward and finally do something useful for the world.
At other times I would locate my step-fathers hand gun, load the magazine and remove the safety. With no directions I figured out how it worked. It was small and it fit comfortably in my hand as if it was designed for me. Cold steel, when pointed to my forehead I could feel the cold radiate off the barrel, the longer it stayed there, the warmer the metal became. One quick pull of the trigger, just a small thing to do, and it would be over. There were never any tears as I held the gun to my head or in my mouth for hours at a time.
However unlike the majestic fall from the roof, I saw the horror of what would be found. My life may not be worth living, but what about those who would find me? What kind of life would that be? At this point of time I was not so much a coward, I did not pull the trigger, not because I was afraid, but rather because I did not want to hurt my mother. The rest I did not worry about, they did not care about me, why should I care about them. I didn’t worry about anything other than my mother and wanting to end the pain.
I battled this urge for five years to end it all. I had moments of happiness, yet these moments were few and far apart, always ruined by over assessment, self-reflections and a knowledge that the moments of happiness were a result of living a lie. Either I was pretending to be something I was not , or I was hiding something I was , but never was I able to embrace my real self and just be me .
Later in life, I realized that I created the hell I was living in. I created every thought and amplified every injustice, imagined and real to the point that I was unable to see a glimmer of hope, a tiny spark in the distance to tell me it was going to be ok. I did not feel I had anyone to talk to, there was no one who would understand. A couple of reasons no one would understand is that, they couldn’t and I didn’t. If I could not understand what was going on, how could someone else?
I doubt I would have survived much better than I did if I had known then that the suffering was of my own creation. Right at that time it did not matter if my hell was on account of external influences or self-created, I wanted it to end but lacked the courage to do so. Yet, that lack of courage is what saved my life. In the later years, that same lack of courage that saved my life also provided me strength beyond measure.
I considered alternative substances to ease the pain, if I could only shut down my mind I could better deal with this world. But still even in this, I realized I was attempting to end my life, slowly and gradually. I took a greater risk because I did not care if I lived or died as I put myself in harm’s way. A part of me wanted to physically hurt as I believed that physical pain would mask the emotional pain that consumed my entire soul.
Later on, I faced similar feelings of suicide. I would envision myself driving off the side of a cliff. Just a little turn of the wheel, it would be over. As I drove the toll roads between Orange County and Corona, I would accelerate beyond the posted speed limit. Crank the music up, take the curves and turns in the road at speeds much too fast, knowing I could be seconds from death. “This would look like an accident and no one would ever think I did this to myself.”
Yet what would happen to the one I left behind. The man who was my mate, and in the future would become my legal husband. He saved me without knowing it, I would see his face, his devastation and then slowly reduce my speed and take control of the car.
These moments scared and terrified me. I thought I had moved beyond these moments, I thought the depression and despair were something from my past, not my present. Though things were not that great, I was living an open, happy and some might call it a successful life. It was just not enough.
I still fought demons, as I saw discrimination behind every face at work, strangers staring at me as I walked down the street. I hid in open site, I tried to be me, but repressed the full version of who and what I was. I hid behind humor, self-deprecating humor and half-truths. I was half a man trying to live an open life in the shadows.
With all this, I started the long process of writing my book. Through all the revisions and the edits, I found answers to questions I had not asked, clarity amplified by hindsight and an understanding of why my lack of courage became my blessing. Some people find their answers in the office of a psychologist or therapist but I found mine writing “Crossing the Rubicon”. Regardless of how I found my answers, I finally understood so much more about who I was, and what drove me to these feelings.
It was not fear that kept me from jumping or pulling the trigger, nor was it lack of courage that kept me from losing control of the car, but an inner zeal, knowing that there was something waiting for me. Something so special that I was destined to remain. I had so many lives left to touch, so many experiences left to gain. My journey was not over yet, and had I pushed through the fear and cowardice, so much would have been left undone.
My life has touched lots of individuals, provided guidance and support in some dark times. I have been a lifeline, a confident and a friend to so many and I'm convinced that I have impacted many more lives than I could ever imagined. I know my book has the potential to not only heal others, but to also open a path to something greater, simply by hearing my story and realizing that we created what we live in. It is not the people who hold us back, it is our own fear and insecurities that close the doors, build the walls and turn off the lights.
It has really been a great change indeed as compared to the past where I couldn’t see a future. Today I remember the past and draw strength from it, learn from it and share what I understand with others. I share with those who need and want to understand. I know I am here not to save anyone, but rather to open their eyes to a path that leads them out of the darkness. Having been there, I know the fear, the insecurities, and the pain that can lead one to believe that suicide is the answer. Finding spirituality was not the answer for me, it was the start, but even in spirituality I lacked the understanding to put the pieces together. I had to accept me for who I was. I had moved from hating who I was to tolerating myself, but I lacked the final keys to total acceptance.
Through my spiritual roller coaster, I began an infinite journey. I learned to accept responsibility for my past. To give credit where credit was due, not blame, but credit to the people who had in fact made me feel less than whole and perfect. I came to realize that it was not their job nor their fault that I allowed them to make me feel less than I was. They lived according to their beliefs and convictions, and I did not.
My belief in a higher power is complicated. My ideas and thoughts on this higher power are not so simple to put into words. I see God as that higher power, and recognize him by many names. I recognize my connection and relationship with this higher power as something personal and different. There is one God, one higher power and I know I will never, nor would I try to understand everything about this higher power. I know LOVE is the key and if I should name my relationship with God or that higher power, I would call him/her/it LOVE.
Today I live my life understanding that my actions create my today as well as my tomorrow. My thoughts, fears and compassion for others all work together to attract the life I am living. I have learned to let others follow their path, to not impose my beliefs on other, but nevertheless share freely if given the opportunity. I am a messenger of love yet I am not one to provide answers. We all must find our own answers, but with a little guidance and insight from someone else, you will find yours.
My lack of courage and fear to do the unthinkable was the greatest gift I have ever been given. One might even say that instead of fear, I had the courage to step away, that somewhere within, I knew I had a purpose. One that might take years to understand and even more work to accomplish, but I had a reason to live.
I do have a reason to live, and that reason is to be a beacon of light for someone else, to guide them as they quests through stormy nights into the sunlight meadow where healing can begin. As the dominoes fall, that life I saved will in turn save another. A chain reaction from one heart to another, one soul to another, and to illumine the world of those who see no hope or no point of return. Yes my purpose is to be an ear, a heart or a friend to listen and not judge. With each new encounter I grow a little more, gain new understanding into the beliefs and convictions of others.
If someone you know deals with depression or issues that consume lives, I urge you to be a friend, take time to listen without judgement, do not direct but rather guide them, and if you find yourself standing at the ledge, either metaphorically or physically, find someone to listen. We all carry baggage from our childhood, past relationships, and events in life that did not go according to plan. It is time to release the baggage and realize that while the hurt inflicted can never be undone, these were situations we created with the decisions we made.
The people who have hurt us were merely characters in this play we call life. We need to release them, forgive them and if possible appreciate them for what they’ve taught us. These people and these events hold over you only the power you give them. We also need to take responsibly for our part in the events. It is not about playing victim, nor making yourself the culprit. No it is about understanding your own actions and participation in the events and realizing that some choices may not have been the best. You don’t have to regret them, for those same events and people helped make you the person you are today. Even if you choose to grow, vow to never repeat the same mistakes, those who hurt you still molded that decision which means the gift remains.
I have a reason to live, it is a strong and compelling reason. I remind myself every day what am working for and while time moves ever so fast. Time is my utmost need in order to create change. One heart, and one soul at a time. And if the dominos are lined up just right, yes, even create a better world one saved life at a time.