I Know

ImageI leave work just on time and I hit the door of the building running at almost a full sprint. It seems I am always running these days. I fly through crosswalks and bump into other metro passengers to clumsily bumble down the endless escalator stumbling onto the platform to make the next train.

I needed this. I needed this to work for me. I needed this commute to be a smooth and seamless as possible because I want to keep my job and I want my child in daycare so at the very least, from the outside looking in, it would seem as if I had my shit together. I know that I do not. I’m always running, and when not running I am trapped underwater barely able to move.

I arrive at my transfer station and I run up the escalator glancing at my phone to check the time. I am ok. If I make the next rush hour train and the bus comes exactly when it’s supposed to I will be ok. I will bust in the daycare doors like a hero and sigh in relief when she comes running to me screaming my name, and I can hug her and nod a calm greeting to her daycare providers knowing that I didn’t inconvenience them by being late—AND, that I didn’t have to pay their extortionate late fees. This would be a good day, I could feel it.

I noticed the crowd as soon as I stepped off that last metal stair. There were throngs of people, an atmosphere of overall confusion, and a static voice over the loud speaker announcing that someone had been struck by a train. We all knew what that really meant. “Struck by a train” is metro code for: someone jumped in front of the train. I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere for a long while.

I called the daycare to notify them I might be late for pickup. I knew that I would be more than just a little tardy– this wasn’t going to be a half hour deal, I was going to be here for the long haul. I called my mom to ask her to pick the baby up instead. I could just feel that umbilical cord snap me back to where I didn’t want to be. I just want my independence and my freedom. I just want to be free of depending on anyone for anything and I don’t know why achieving this has to be so difficult!

The other passengers in their anxious need to board whichever train arrived next had abandoned the hard concrete benches and stood in a crowded bunch on the platform. I plopped myself onto one of the benches and tried not to curse under my breath when an older gentleman sat right next to me, his eyes on me and his mouth ready to start up a chat.

“It’s a shame,” he said, trying to make eye contact. “Why in the world someone would jump in front of the train, I just don’t know.” He made this declaration as if it all made sense in his head, and I just stared through him without responding. I am not that socially awkward, I know I should have made an agreeable noise, nodded my head or SOMEthing, but without really thinking about it I chose to say nothing at all. When I get wind of news of a jumper on the train sadness comes over me yes– but also the tiniest bit of envy. Maybe that person has finally found freedom from a life of torture.

I would never condone suicide on any level, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t understand it.  I know what it is to stand on the edge of that metro train platform, swaying back and forth; you’re brain daring you to take the leap. I know what it is to see a razorblade at your wrist through a vision blurred by tears, asking yourself if this would be the day you would finally have the guts and the violence to follow through with it. A means of escape is all it really is and I’ve contemplated the option during my most cowardly moments. Why? Because who wants this? Who wants this life and who wants to be constantly fighting for peace of mind and freedom and happiness? For some it is a struggle simply to wake each morning, while others pop their eyes open simply thanking their god for another day of existence. Not everyone wants to exist; and in our search solace we plot out the worst. And you don’t have to understand us but you should at least know our story.

I should have told him the this, but I chose to remain silent.—just as silent as those of us who suffer. I had the opportunity to expose another truth to this man, other than that which fit neatly into his ideals and beliefs about what life is and what life should be. “Why in the world would someone jump in front of a train, I just don’t know!”  I should have turned my face toward him and responded loud and clear, “I know…”

 

 

Comfortably Numb

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I just finished eating dinner. I washed it all down with a gin and ginger ale in an effort to keep things cool and in control. This is a terrible habit that began years ago and I’m a bit ashamed for not being totally upfront about it. While I do not take mood-altering medication, I do drink—probably heavily. I haven’t decided how much of a problem it is. I do know, that it is frustrating for me. I am sure there are women out there that have fought similar battles and are single mothers that can deal with the same hardships in stride. At some point in my life I’ve had to accept that I am soft hearted. I don’t feel exactly like the rest and I’m not able to recover as quickly. To be strong pushes me way too far out of my comfort zone.

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When I was married I had an inkling that something wasn’t right about the way that I was living. I went to church, I tried to be a good wife, I tried to wrap my head around this brand of happiness for the rest of my life…but I knew that it would be less happiness and more settling for a façade and faking who I was in an effort to bring out the best in others. There had to be another way, but I couldn’t find one. I never drank and I didn’t even know how. The only thing I could remember is that women order rum and coke at the bar in a few movies I’d seen. So I bought a bottle of rum I used to keep hidden and I would mix it with anything and everything. I just needed something to keep the edge off. There was heaviness to my countenance that I couldn’t get rid of and I needed something to keep it from haunting me. It wasn’t often I did it, but when things got unbearable I had to.

 The Social: When I split from my ex husband I lived in a small house with just my oldest daughter (3 years old at the time) and myself. It was lonely and it was scary—the thought of cutting the grass had the power to send me into a downward spiral. I was living in a house that was meant for a family and now I was by myself, a stereotypical single mother. She went to be with her Dad every other weekend and on those weekends I partied hard. My mother calls this my mourning period but I’m not exactly sure the name that I would have for it.

 Anyway, it began with a bad snowstorm that winter. I was struggling to make the rental payments by myself, it was a pain to shovel snow off of my car in the pitch black of morning just to make it to work where I constantly battled not to have a nervous breakdown.  The snowstorm hit and I was stuck in the house alone with only the company of my thoughts. Since then I have contemplated suicide, even so much as held a blade to my wrist but I still don’t think my thoughts ever got as dark as they did that night. I’m as naïve as a little girl. I believe in unconditional love, in hope, in working things out—walking away from my marriage was the renouncing of all of those beautiful things that I thought made me ME. And after that night I had come so close in completely shutting down I vowed that I could never go to that place again.

So I drank, and I drink. When you see me out it’s most likely I appear to be the life of the party but it’s just something I need to do because that’s what’s expected of me and most times it’s an escape from loneliness. Furthermore, I can’t speak for anyone else but for me there was a complete loss of identity once my marriage was severed. I felt dirty and exposed, like someone’s tossed away garbage. I was forced out of a bond because someone did not want me. He was still alive, I saw him often but I couldn’t extract from him the answers I needed to help me cope with the loss of us. I fully expected to be married the rest of my life it never occurred to me that there were any other options! I still feel those feelings of exposure most times. When I was married I was way more secure because I knew that no matter what I did that day I would be able to come home to someone who loved and accepted me for the way I am. I lost that person and I lost that confidence in myself.

So, I still drink socially now, though I’m in a healthier place self-esteem wise, because sometimes you do have to fake it until you make it. I go out with my friends and they are all beautiful I have to get on that level and act like I’m the greatest thing in the room in order to not have my ego crushed and my mind racked with jealousy. I get in my head a lot and I revert back to that same old girl from high school that knows deep down that the same people who have love for me now would be no where to be found 10 years ago. I drink because sometimes I’m not really having fun. I just want to be at home, staring at the wall and not worrying about a thing. I drink because I still feel exposed. With the divorce hanging over my head I still have moments when I feel like someone else’s leftovers. I don’t want to be sober enough to recognize those that see straight through me and maybe even have to explain myself. I drink to avoid the eye contact of those who really see me.

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Image from: amithea.deviantart.com

 The Loner: After the night of the snowstorm, I did make a conscious vow that I could never revisit that place again–the darkest part of my soul where the will to give up on life lived. In an effort to do that my mind sort of kicked into survival mode—which is great for a temporary fix but terrible for the long term. Months after my separation from my husband I rekindled a former love with a broken man that did more damage to my soul than I thought was possible. While I was in it, I never allowed myself to feel the gravity of the pain of what was happening to me. I felt the bliss of survival mode. I was numb. I used to feel like it was a super power. There I was, blessed with the amazing ability of not having to deal with life because I could zone out at any time. It didn’t matter what was happening to me because I wasn’t really there and I didn’t have to be bothered with the burden of feeling. I created my own world for myself and I chose to live there to avoid feeling any unpleasantness ever again. However, reality intervened at a certain point and I had to step outside to survey the damage of the hurricane that swept through my life while I hid in my storm shelter.

 So, now I drink to remember how to feel, while most people drink to forget. It is a struggle for me to remain present and for me to feel emotions without going into my natural protection mode. I used to disappear from friends for weeks at a time–you couldn’t hold me accountable for anything because I didn’t care enough. I locked my soft heart in a safe and I refused to be held accountable for any pain I could possibly have inflicted on others because fuck them! No one had been there to protect me. I try to be aware of when I’m in that survival mode now. I sit back on my couch and I make myself a drink trying to wrap my head around how I feel about the day’s events. I most desire to be free without the help of outside substances but for now it’s about coping with the issues at hand. Writing a blog doesn’t mean I have access to all the answers.

 I drink to avoid the despair of having become so numb.