March 27, 2018

first not-dead-yet day

"Go warn the Children of God of the terrible speed of mercy."  Flannery O'Connor

"What say we try to put away fear, put away self-questioning, put away doubt ... and allow joy to rush into that space?  The rest will sort itself out ...."   P.J., 2006



It's quiche.  I can't have cake.
Not even on special occasions.
I tried to kill myself one year ago today.  I meant to die.  I propped up a framed photo of my son so I could stare at it.  I didn't have one of P.J.; she would have been there, too.  I was giving them a great gift.  Dying for them, I told myself.  Setting them free.

We listen to the parts we like.  I listen to how angry I am that I failed, that I was thwarted against my will, that my sovereignty was violated.  I think about receiving a bill for the ambulance services that I tried to refuse, tried by throwing sloppy punches and kicking and screaming at the EMTs.

I listen to how I am certain I still want to be here.  The anger and the living can co-exist.  I embrace being alive but not because others tell me to.  I am angry and insolent and these cannot be touched by anyone.

I listen to wondering how much of my wanting to be here is from the chemical alteration provided by some pills, and how much is truly me.  Surely there is more to me than the disease.

I listen to idle, matter-of-fact thoughts about how I could have done it differently, done it right, not failed.  Analytical, the problem-solving bit, like getting a math problem wrong and re-working it and erasing a lot of things and writing again, until it's right.

We do not listen to the parts we do not like.  We tell ourselves the version of the story we like best, over and over, because if we say it often enough, it will become The Truth.  But one day last week, I heard Truth's thin voice clear its throat and remind me of a single detail, a sentence I said, one I have suppressed or ignored because it did not comport with how I wanted to remember and feel about trying to die.

The Truth is, my best friend saved my life.  The Whole Truth is that she responded to my good-bye text with a phone call I never meant to answer, and wheedled my location out of my vanishing sense of inhibition, and that I said to her, "Just come get me."  I didn't consider the possibility she'd get an ambulance involved.  Ambulances were for people who needed medical attention.  I was fine.  Not applicable.

That's the last conscious thing I remember, just before I succumbed and passed out, and before my brain began recording again, in the hospital.  "Just come get me."  All that was in me was resigned to and at peace with dying in my car.  It was the right thing to do.  It would fix things I had broken and make right some major things I had done wrong, and give a better life to my loved ones.  Clear me out of their paths.  I was brambles and they, they were barefoot.  It was a good time to die.  The disease said so.

And that was not the Truth, because I told my best friend, "Just come get me."

Something in me wanted to live.  I wouldn't have said that otherwise, even in a completely incapacitated state.

I don't like that Truth.  It makes me a cliché.

The hind brain stores our survival instinct, makes us afraid of death.  I've always considered mine to be a puny, anemic rhombencephalon housing a desire to live that is frail and brittle at best.  Was that what spoke, when the rest of my brain was silenced?  "Just come get me."

The plan I had formed that morning even included turning the data and location services off on my phone.  I had thought of everything.  So the rest of my brain was not silenced.  And it was not the disease.  I am more than the disease.  It must have come from me.  The Truth came from me.  "Just come get me."

I tried to kill myself a year ago today.  I am still here.  Terrible mercy.  Joy rushing in.

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