Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. Robin Williams. Chris Cornell. Suicide by hanging, all. There are others, of course. Many famous, even more not famous.
My first reaction after the shock and sadness for their families is, “Balls of steel.” My default position has never been to blame them. Or to accuse them of selfishness. Or to suggest they took the easy way out.
I’m writing this to work something out.
I’m writing this in a moment of weakness, after a long time of sitting secretly in darkness.
I’m writing this because from anyone else’s perspective, I have it all. I have three beautiful, healthy, impressive children. I have a reliable support system. I have a profitable skill. I have the privilege of free time to hike and enjoy the outdoors and build a house.
Yes, I am building a fucking house. I am the envy of my younger self. I am the envy of others.
But I would exchange almost everything I have to share a loving relationship with another human being willing to invest equally. I have never had this. I don’t know what balanced love feels like. I also struggle with why I feel like I need someone to share my life with. (I will keep the details pressed against my heart.)
I am unable to fully feel the joy that should be running in parallel to my current life experience because I have no one to share it with. I have no one who loves me so much that to be with me means more than everything else, or even almost everything else. And to admit this feels like I’m whining.
I believe that it’s here…this exact location, where people find themselves before they take their own life. And by “this exact location” I mean the point where they realize that to complain about ANYTHING while seeming to already have EVERYTHING feels selfish and obscene. So they don’t do anything…but fester. And then, overwhelmed, they make their exit.
I have so much good in my life that to complain about anything feels wrong. It feels like to complain is to conscientiously make a choice to not appreciate those things in my life that are positive. This inner conflict of guilt vs. appreciation is one of my most powerful demons. My rational self knows that these feelings are a normal and healthy. My rational self knows that my life is currently in a rut, but that it won’t last. My emotional self wants to avoid pain at almost any cost.
I know what it feels like to stand on the edge—that feeling of despair that tempts you to step off. But I’m going to work on my house today. I’m going to snuggle with my 10 year old. I’m going to be so kind to everyone I see. I’m going to fight tears, and I’m going to lose.
Today hurts. But I’m going to wait for life to smooth out again. It will. I have so many good people in my life. So much to look forward to. But what I don’t have, today, is balls of steel.
I don’t need this number right now. But here it is in case you do. Or in case one of us needs it in the future. Because no amount of intelligence, talent, fortune or fame is enough to exempt us from the realization that life is not only fun and beautiful, but often terribly empty, hard, and (deep breath) optional. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.