It’s funny (well, not funny, perhaps odd) but over the past few days a couple people have told me they are contemplating suicide.
I have been there, more than once.
And I know that someone saying, “oh no! don’t do that!”
That doesn’t help.
So when these people said this to me, I said, “I understand.” Hopefully not to be misconstrued as,”I approve” but simply “I understand.”
And I know that a conversation that could, or maybe should, or maybe should not follow, is complicated, intense, frustrating… and a lot more…
I suppose when someone tells you that they are thinking of killing themselves, it is a cry for help. I am not now, nor have I ever been, good at small talk. One thing I admired about my dad was that he could talk to anyone; he would walk up to complete strangers anywhere, in the parking lot, in the campground, wherever, and 5 minutes later would be deep into conversation.
I think, the constant beer in one hand was a good social lubricant. I decided long ago not to go there (and have been sober for 27 years) but clearly my social life suffers because of that.
So I will instead, write down what took me out of the dark place. I hope I never have to go back there; I hope my pendulum has clicked out of the “all is lost” and into the “there is hope.” But in case it hasn’t left permanently, I will save this to possibly read to myself at that point in the future. Perhaps, in the meantime, you will get something out of it.
Because there wasn’t just one thing that did it. It was, and is, a cumulative process. It’s not something you (well, maybe YOU will, but I never did) one day wake up and say, to yourself or no-one in particular, shucks, I’ve decided not to kill myself. It’s more like something that gets set to the back; as the days go by, hopefully further and further back, until maybe one day, you forget that it’s even there.
Let’s Get Physical
First, for me, working out. Working out is something that is, at least for me, extremely hard to motivate. Marianne (Williamson) often says, with regards to doing the workbook of A Course in Miracles (CIM), which is a 365 day self study program in changing your thoughts of fear (world based) to love (spirit based); you are directed to do a lesson/mediation every day. She says, it is, like physical exercise, often hard to motivate yourself to do, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. For me, though, the minute I start debating with myself, “I don’t really have time, I am tired, I haven’t eaten, I’ve just eaten, I’m going to be late”, whatever it is, I lose. I try to go to the gym every morning for cardio, so I feel better. I don’t have to think about it, I am tired in the morning, groggy, don’t feel good, am cranky, don’t feel attractive, it’s too hot, it’s cold, it’s raining, the sun is shining. Ignore it. I put on the sweat pants and I go. Then I go to breakfast at the same place and have the same thing. Later in the day I will go do weight training so I look better.
When I am working out, I am never depressed. Well, unless I look in the mirror (and there are a lot of mirrors at the gym), or look at other guys who have much nicer bodies than I. I try to use their “perfection” to my advantage rather than dismay.
Sometimes I really wonder if I am not gay, because when I see a gorgeous man at the gym (or jogging down Franklin with his shirt off), I don’t think, “ooh, I’d love to kiss him.” I want to BE him.
Jacob Glass said this a few weeks ago at a CIM lecture. He said, “when I see a gorgeous guy in front of me in line, I say, “thank you god, that was clearly put there for me. Life loves me.” And then a friend might say, well, did you get his number? And Jacob exclaimed, “oh no, I don’t want to TALK to him, that would ruin EVERYTHING.”
I often wonder this about myself because my first crush, in 1973, was David Cassidy (Partridge Family.) Now, when I look back, I never wanted to KISS David Cassidy (or Keith Partridge). I wanted to BE Keith Partridge. A good thirty years later, I have met David Cassidy a few times, and even standing in front of him, I never wanted to KISS him. (and, after having read his autobiography, I don’t want to BE him either.)
But back to working out. Jacob also has said, whenever you compare yourself to anyone, you lose. You walk down the street, better than, worse than, better than, worse than. This does not make you feel better. CIM says everyone is an individual, with a highly individualized curriculum, and no one else has the same program. So, saying, “I wish I had that guy’s job,” or “I wish my arms looked like THAT” is simply not fair.
Easier said than done, but it’s something I try to keep in check.
And, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “that guy has PERFECT pecs, thank you god for putting him in front of me, life love me!”
Aside from that, it is impossible to be depressed when you are working out, or after working out. So I try to go to the gym every day. I don’t always make it, often I am working too late and am too tired and/or dirty to drag myself to the gym, but I try. Because I know it takes me out of my head.
Which is the scariest place I could be.
Lean on Me
#2 – A support system. For me, there is an army. My therapist, my homeopathic doctor, my western doctor, my astrologer, my psychic, my trainer, my chiropractor. Sometimes these people come and go depending on my finances, but I think I know better than to try and do this on my own. As Marianne often says, your best thinking got you here, perhaps you might want to try another way.
And of course friends. In the past year, through various circumstances and issues, I have lost a lot of my closest friends. Some people say, the older you get the harder it is to make friends, but for me, it was just as hard when I was young. Probably harder, because when I look back, to put it bluntly, I was often an asshole. Never intentionally; in all honesty, I can say I have never intentionally hurt someone.
“Well, Blanche, but you did.”
A friend and I were talking this afternoon (he is one who has told me he is thinking of killing himself) and he said he feels a lot of guilt. As do I. Now, admittedly, he has a lot of things one could say he needs to feel guilty about, but to him I would say, “you did the best you could, right. You always act from the best of intentions to the best of your ability, at the time. And therefore, you have nothing to feel guilty about.” Besides, guilt is a useless emotion. It’s not even an emotion. It’s just useless.
Although, for me, doing the 12 steps is always good. You look at your mistakes, your errors, and you make amends. And hopefully you grow. As Marianne says, you look at the crucifixion but do not dwell on it. Because if you allow yourself to BECOME your character defects, you will drown in them. Marianne says, imagine yourself as an airplane that is trying to take yourself to the next higher level. But you have TOO MUCH BAGGAGE and the plane simply can’t take off. You need to sort through all that crap, acknowledge it, and let it go.
Which is one of the reasons, after 25 years in AA, and identifying myself as an alcoholic, I decided I didn’t want to be labeled as “defective,” and decided to let it go. I let the lid off the box. I let the worms out to see the light of day. I had to let go of the fear of having a drink or taking a drug. If I am carrying that (or any fear) with me, as the CIM says, “you create what you defend against.”
Take It Easy
#3 How do you eat an elephant. A therapist many years ago told me, when I was in a deep deep hole and couldn’t see my way out of it, he said, I know you can’t even conceptualize taking your life one slice of pie at a time. But I want you to take a sliver of one piece, make one tiny tiny change.
For me, at that time, I was working three jobs (as opposed to the eight that I have now) and was exhausted and completely stressed out. I never took care of myself, never had lunch, ate standing up or driving, or, more likely, not at all. My bargain with my therapist was that I would take a lunch break every day. Go to the park across the street and take some lunch and a book and just STOP IT.
It sounds easy, and it may or may not be, but for me, it was a huge breakthrough. As my science of mind teacher says, “How do you eat an elephant. One bite at a time”. As AA says, “one day at a time.” That’s not a suggestion. You only have one day at a time, even though in your HEAD you are thinking days weeks even years at a time. All of your fear is in the future, which technically never gets here, in fact, doesn’t even exist. The simple fact is, all you have is this moment. And the universe is infinitely forgiving. As Marianne says, God is not sitting up on a throne somewhere saying, “well, I’d love to help you but your father as an alcoholic, my hands are tied.” Or, “I’d love to help you, but in this economy….” God is God, the universe is infinitely malleable and abundant. There is no shortage of anything. That is impossible. What is all encompassing can have no opposite. The first line in the text of A Course in Miracles, is, “there is no order of difficulty in miracles.” As Marianne said the other day, it’s not a course in manipulation, fixing things, making thing happen. It’s a course in MIRACLES.
Shiny Happy People
#4 Find something that makes you happy. Something to look forward to. It doesn’t matter what it is, how big or small. It doesn’t have to cost anything. Sometimes even reading a book or going to a movie is enough to get you out of your head. There have been times where I plan to see a movie on opening day, that doesn’t come out for weeks or even months in the future. That can be enough. Sometimes a song can change your life. I’ve written many times about how the songs “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips and “You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals, I heard them in moments of deep deep despair, and they saved me. I was at an AA meeting one time and this girl said, “I realize I don’t take a drink one day at a time, and I don’t kill myself one day at a time.” The Wilson Philips song says, “Hold on for one more day,” and that moment, in the bathroom at a TGI Fridays in Burbank, was enough for me to think, “ you know, I don’t need to kill myself TONIGHT. I’m kind of tired anyway.”
There’s a Reason
#5 There is a reason. Many years ago, at a CIM prayer group, in Jacob’s living room, he said something that changed my life, perhaps it was only a sliver of one small piece, but it was enough. He said, “there is a reason you are here. You know how I know that? Because you are here.”
For me, one of the things that dragged me down was feeling like I was useless, that I didn’t belong, that I had nowhere to go. No, I will say this to you, there is a reason you are here. You know how I know that? Because you are here.”
Maybe we don’t know what that reason is, (although for me, now on my fourth time doing the Course in Miracles, the answer is in there, clear as day.) And it doesn’t matter if you know what your reason is, what your “life’s mission” is. It’s not like you are going to get a text from the universe, saying, “go here, say this, to this person.” But the daily prayer in CIM is, “let me know, where do I go, what do I say, and to whom.”
And then you have to be very very quiet, because the truth comes in whispers. And often your ego dismisses it. “No, that’s not right, I can’t do that, that doesn’t make sense, I’m too old/young, that would cost too much money, I don’t have time.” I love when Marianne says, “you pray and you pray and you ask for guidance from the holy spirit, then you get guidance, but you don’t like the answer.”
The world is loud, noisy, obnoxious, fearful, even toxic. Spirit just is. It speaks in whispers, in that little thought in the back of your head, that you say, “I don’t have time to do that now.” But it is true and real and it will keep whispering until you hear it. The universe has all the time in the world, and isn’t going anywhere. God has infinite patience, because God knows the truth, and can afford to wait.
A Thousand Beautiful Things
It’s such an old cliché by now, but many years ago Oprah’s idea of a Grateful Journal really changed my life. One thing I have learned by going into people’s houses and helping them clean and organize, is how it puts things into perspective. Being invited into other people’s homes, and seeing how people live (we tend to think that people live more or less similarly to how we live, and I can tell you, that is not the case) has been an amazing and humbling experience. And I so appreciate all that I have, including my health, and try to focus on all that I have in my life rather than what I think I am missing.
Every morning when I wake up I proactively fill my day with light. CIM says “Happiness is a decision I must make.” Every morning I ask, may I be a light to all people that I meet today, talk to today, and think about today. CIM says, the only thing lacking in any relationship is what you are not giving. Remember that song, by Seals and Croft, “Get Closer,” which says, “darling if you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me.”
Sometimes I stop on my driveway and see a tiny little flower growing up through the pavement crack. And I think, that is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. That somehow, against seemingly impossible odds, this seed that was so small you could probably not even see it, found its place, and even if the “world” would say, no, you can’t grow there, in the middle of the concrete in the middle of this dude’s driveway in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, with practically no water and probably way too much sunlight, that is impossible.
And yet, there it is. Maybe I am the only person who will ever see that little flower. And it is my gift from the universe, just as much as that guy jogging past me on Franklin, with his shirt off, in the first week of November. I just have to appreciate it.
And not swerve into a tree while I am doing so.