On my wall hangs a picture, a constant daily reminder of the man who once broke my heart to the core.
It wasn’t the kind of heartbreak that comes from a bad breakup or a fight, nor was it the kind I’d look back on later and laugh at — no, it wasn’t that kind of heartbreak, although I’d had that kind too.
Instead it was the kind of heartbreak that can never be reversed, the kind that even now burdens me with heartache and grief and guilt.
A year ago to the day, my ex boyfriend and good friend William took his last breath of precious air as he leapt from the heights of a Portland bridge.
A year ago to the day, he broke my heart forever.
For eight years I’d known him, and known him better than I’d known anyone else. In all our three years of dating and five years of friendship, I’d never imagined that I’d one day be left standing here, staring at a picture of a man who once was.
And yet each day I am. Each day I awaken and his image is there reflecting back at me, holding the heart-wrenching inscription that makes it all real:
William Matthew Pope
December 30, 1983 – February 16, 2011
The thought that a man so precious — so unbelievably worthy and loved — could’ve felt so alone that he’d decide to take his own life?
That thought kills me to this day.
* * *
In honor of Will, today’s post was written for you.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts; this post is still for you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever uttered the words, whether out loud or inside your soul, “I want to die. Help me. Help me, God.”
No matter what, this post is for every single one of us. Every. single. one. It’s for you and for me, for he and for she. It’s for humankind; it’s for all of us. It’s for all of us because no matter who we are, we’ve all been trapped in an insane asylum our whole lives.
Today, it’s time to break out.
WE LIVE IN AN INSANE ASYLUM
Never before have we lived in a world with so many people together-all-alone.
You matter, and you matter tremendously. You are not alone in your pain, and you never have been.
The problem? The problem isn’t you. The problem is that we live in a world of insanity, and it’s killing us all.
Yeah, you heard me right: We’re LIVING IN AN INSANE ASYLUM in which we all feel as if we’re the only ones struggling, as if we’re the only ones living a silent lie and plastering on a fake smile for the world to see.
But we’re not.
We’re not the only ones struggling and we’re not the only ones feeling painfully alone in the crowd. THAT is what’s so ridiculously insane about it all. Somehow, we’ve become a mass-of-people-all-alone.
This makes me ridiculously angry and heartbroken.
Today, I want you to meet three people who are TEARING down the world of fake and driving it to extinction, who are living and breathing The Declaration of Real. It doesn’t take a miracle to change things; it starts with something as simple as courage and vulnerability and truth. And the truth, my friends, is what will set us free…
Speaking honestly and openly about who we and about our experiences (good and bad) is the ultimate act of courage.
– Brené Brown
.D O W N F R O M T H E L E D G E.
I first came across “Down From the Ledge’s” blog after she left a comment on one of my posts awhile back. Her writing is raw, real, & powerful in its truth. In exposing her own truth, Down From the Ledge sets others free.
“Back from the brink of suicide….and coming up for air. I feel like I have been holding my breath underwater for the last 3 years, lost in the murky waters of my own polluted world, struggling to break the surface of life again. Recently broke 30. Single and not looking. Unemployed and looking. Disillusioned and seeking. MISSION: Busting open the taboo surrounding suicide. Silence kills.“
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
In a post this past December, Down From the Ledge exposed her utter weariness, her tiredness and longing and pain:
“It’s been a hard day. A hard week. And it’s not over yet.
2 more days of Christmas. One more week of holidays. One more year to kiss goodbye in which I didn’t “pull myself up by the bootstraps” and “get back on the horse” and “take the bull by the horns” and all those other bullsh*t anti-motivators that mysteriously haven’t rescued me from my chosen (right?) anguish.
Yeah, it’s one of those days. There’s no place to go, no book to read, no show to watch, no project to undertake … that could sufficiently distract me from the pain that I’m feeling.
If I were a drug addict, I’d be high as a kite right now, but I’m too chickensh*t to go that hardcore.
So I sit with it.
Despair creeps in through the cracks, the same ones hope is seeping out of.
It might have something to do with the seventy-ninth (if I want to exaggerate I’ll f***ing exaggerate) job I couldn’t make it at, and the ensuing disgust with myself for adding to my quit-list this week.
It might have something to do with my refusal to participate in family events this holiday season, and my rejection of *things* in place of love.
You aren’t supposed to be weary at 30, are you? I mean, really. I’m not talking about exhaustion; that was 5 years ago when I was 25 going on 40, dead weight dragging through the days.
I’m weary of 1-being me and 2-hating me.
I’m weary of life, and the suffocating alienation of being unseen. And yet, in premise, invisibility sounds so liberating…
I’m weary of reaching out to people who don’t reach back, though I know it is my very nature to give the most to people who are incapable of giving another human being what they need.
I’m tired of people who don’t try, who don’t change, who don’t care. They drain my soul.
I’M tired of trying, of changing mySELF, of caring. It drains my soul even more.
I’m tired of the questions-
The requirements of life-
Where will I go and what will I do and who will I be and what is the point?
Down From the Ledge is a survivor, and she brings more truth than she knows. The truth she hits on is this: We don’t need anyone to sugarcoat our experiences. We don’t need the “wisdom” of the insane asylum, the fruitless attempts at fixing and stuffing and pushing away.
Our pain — our pain is real. We can’t always solve it, and we don’t always need to. What we do need, what we long for intensely at our cores, is simply for someone to be here in this with us. What we seek is the experience of being experienced, the unknown comfort of being truly known. What we seek is to be held absolutely, unconditionally, completely, even (especially) in the depths of our despair.
My only wish it that one day we’ll all come to see that this has always been.
.J E N N Y L A W S O N.
Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, is a ridiculously beautiful soul. Her Red Dress Project? Inspiring. Her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis? I’ve lived it. A few months back, Jenny shared her story of battling depression on the To Write Love on Her Arms blog. In a post aptly titled “The Fight Goes On” , Jenny gives others the ultimate gift: the gift of knowing that they are not alone, and the courage to continue fighting and to continue surviving (and celebrating) each day:
“Depression can be crippling, and deadly. I’m lucky that it’s a rare thing for me, and that I have a support system to lean on.
I’m lucky that I’ve learned that depression lies to you, and that you should never listen to it, in spite of how persuasive it is at the time.
When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery. We call them survivors. Because they are.
When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe. ”
Regardless, Jenny chooses to celebrate.
“I celebrate the fact that each time we go through this, we get a little stronger. We learn new tricks on the battlefield. We learn them in terrible ways, but we use them. We don’t struggle in vain.
We are alive.”
Love this. Love Jenny — for her strength and her courage and her soul. For being who she is. ♥
.J A K E.
I met Jake on Facebook when he became a reader of my blog, which had been recommended to him by a past professor of mine at Gonzaga University, Kent Hoffman. Both Jake and I had taken courses from Kent that blended theories from psychology and intimacy and spirituality, courses that have drastically altered the paths of both our lives.
Awhile back, I was honored and privileged to have Jake share his story with me. Today, with Jake’s permission, I’m sharing it with you.
“I was 20, just starting my second year at the University of Washington. I had a wonderful family, was getting good grades, and a ton of “friends” that all partied hard. College is supposed to be the best years of our lives, right? I was finally independent, free, and in control! So why did I feel so alone, broken, and lost?
The more I partied with my “friends” the more I began to think, are these really people who care about me? Love me? Or are they more interested in having a beer pong partner for the next game? Things that once were enjoyable to me, started to be so less and less. I withdrew further, I stopped going to class, and stopped hanging out with people. What’s the point? No one can understand what I’m going through. No one knows how completely and utterly alone, afraid, and tired I am. At some point I just said fuck it, no one loves me and I am not worthy of your love. That winter I tried to kill myself. I couldn’t do it. I called me mom crying, told her what happened and came home to Spokane. I beat myself for not being able to do it, somehow I wasn’t man enough or strong enough to do it. I was still as broken as before.
I finished my undergraduate at Gonzaga and met Kent Hoffman while finishing my psychology degree there. His two classes became my therapy sessions in a very literal sense. One day we talked about the toxicity of normalcy. That we are all to often too afraid to show our dreams, fears, hopes, and weakness to one another. It isn’t cool. Guys need to be tough. Weakness is a character flaw. I shared the story of my suicide attempt with the class for the first time outside of my immediate family. If someone had been there to tell me it’s ok, I’m lonely too. I feel lost and weak. I want to be loved. You’re not the only one feeling like this. It is in our shared vulnerability that we find real strength.”
Your pain, your reality is real. It is in this suffering, in our great weakness that we find we are human. When we connect to the suffering of others, we find compassion and intimacy. In this shared vulnerability we heal. We learn to love and to be loved.
I couldn’t have said it any better than this. Shared vulnerability… compassion… healing… love. My deepest gratitude to Jake for sharing his story today.
HERE’S WHAT I HOPE YOU COME TO KNOW
With everything in my heart, I hope you come to know this reality:
Without you, the world would be incomplete.
Even if you can only come to know this with the smallest, tiniest piece of your being – even with just the thinnest thread of who you are – grab hold of it as tightly as you can.
Even if you feel you have no strength left, grab ahold now, and even if it takes everything inside of you, please don’t let go. Promise me you’ll stay, if only to prove that things can change, that the world doesn’t have to be this way, to prove the insanity of the world WRONG.
Because it’s time, guys.
It’s time to break free of this freaking insane asylum; it’s time to eschew this illusion of all-alone.
Right here in the midst of our pain, in this soft spot of our shared vulnerability, we can come to find a strength and a love and a comfort that we hadn’t known was there.
Right here in the center of what’s broken, there is unbreakable strength.
There is a shared community here, a hidden holding, if only we can allow it.
# # #
Have a hug:
LOVE this website of virtual hugs; I guarantee you’ll feel better after getting hugged by all these wonderful people!: >>>The Nicest Place on the Internet<<< (Thanks Josh Lipovetsky for sharing this with me!)
Get help now:
If this is an emergency, or if you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911), contact a mental health professional, or call and talk to someone at 1-800-SUICIDE.
Disclaimer: The diagnosis and treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders requires a trained medical professional. Information contained in this website reflects the opinions and experiences of the author, and is intended for discussion purposes only. It should NOT be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment of any medical/psychiatric disorders. Please consult a medical professional if the information here leads you to believe you or someone you know may be depressed or suicidal.
[Image by victoriapeckham]
“Help me. I want to die. How to die.”