Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It Could Always Be Worse

Clichés are the bane of a writer’s existence. They are also comforting for people in turmoil. In titling this post, I asked the writer version of me to turn aside in favor of plain old Aaron.

I just re-read a scrap of diary I titled Dark Night of the Soul, a perfect piece for putting my current misery into perspective. I’m frustrated over how long losing the defining relationship of my life has hurt. Understandable. But think about Tuesday, October 6th, 2009, when I came closer to suicide than any point in my life since 1980 [Yes, I tried to kill myself when I was eight years old, but the difficulty I’ve had editing this proves it’s more than I can explore here. In the end I removed that experience from this post. Suffice to say it was a genuine attempt, and it caused my parents to finally look at what alcoholism was doing to our family]. It’s a common experience for the third-born Child Of an Alcoholic, called the Lost Child, to attempt suicide without knowing why. Last fall, I knew exactly why I wanted to end my life.

A David Foster Wallace character said you kill yourself for the same reason people jump from a burning high-rise. He’d know, of course. I might not be able to describe the exact mix of emotions which leads to the point of desiring oblivion, but the Wallace quote does a decent job.

Although I’ve contemplated suicide often enough over the years, I’ve never forgotten how God spared me as a child (to clarify, I use God and Satan metaphorically, as shorthand to express myself, not to imply a biblical faith or a religious belief; human thoughts can not measure or define God). Even on my worst Dark Night of the Soul, I still believed that God never tests us with more than we can handle. You promise yourself the burden will become easier to bear, so you’ll carry it another day.

Then it gets better.

You’re humble enough to ask for companionship, and your friends surround you like campers nurturing a lick of flame into a fire, and it gets better.

Your family listens to you ramble, and it gets better.

You find a group of amazing women, ostensibly to discuss books, and it gets better.

You see a soul-fueling concert, and it gets better.

Your cat comes home, and it gets better.

The frangipani blossoms fall, Coldstone Creamery serves a Milk and Cookies shake, you write, you drink, you bike, you work, you think, you breathe in and out, and it gets better.

You meet someone special, a Queen of the Nile who feels like finding shelter after months wandering a storm, and it gets better.

I promise, it always gets better.

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