TW/CW: depression, suicide references/ideation, profanity
I’m not really sure how to talk about this, but I am sure that talking about it is likely to help someone feel less alone – and may even help – so I’m just going to jump in. I’m just coming out of a dark night of the soul. I’ve had a few in my life. They just seem to happen from time to time – I’m not even always sure why. Sometimes life just seems overwhelming and/or hopeless, no matter how much optimism I try to inject or how many affirmations I say. The masks fall away and there I am, feeling alone and broken and like my life will never be okay again.
This one I kind of saw coming. A slow build-up of months watching money go out and no money coming in, while the little I had was rapidly disappearing. A few rejections to over a hundred job applications, but mostly nobody paying any attention to me at all. No responses or acknowledgments, not even a form letter saying, “Thanks for applying, but we went with someone else.” I bitched about that on my other blog. Like, at least the courtesy of a fucking response! Is it so hard in 2020 to be human?
It came down to that I was asked to leave where I’d been staying for free (complicated story, irrelevant) – I had no money for a place to live, and I was only going to be able to make one more car payment before I was out of money completely. Desperation set in. I thought I had no other choice than to do what I’d been avoiding: accept a job doing massage therapy and work outside the safety of home. I interviewed at one place and was like, no fucking way. I interviewed at the second place, gave the owner a massage, and was hired on the spot. (I was uncompensated for that massage, by the way, which is disgustingly unfair in my opinion – even if it’s a fucking tryout, pay the massage therapist for their work!) From that moment, anxiety and despair took hold at an alarming rate.
I was mad at Life. I was yelling at my Angels, rejecting the spiritual principles that are usually my guiding light (see my last blog post for evidence of that – I don’t disavow what I said – I just hold space for there being more), and stomping around like an angry toddler. But it was worse than that. Because I felt like I was risking my life for a tiny stupid paycheck – and that even with that job busting my ass and potentially exposing myself to Covid (and as a high risk person in multiple ways, that was terrifying to me), I still wasn’t going to be able to afford an apartment by myself! Most single people can’t afford to live on their own in this economy – especially if they don’t start off with a hefty savings account of (probably inherited) money.
So, my future was looking bleak. I couldn’t see any way that my life would ever be anything other than a painful struggle just to survive. I’d been having flashes of thoughts for months, thinking that maybe it was just time to give up, to slip away, to die. I wasn’t planning my suicide – I wouldn’t do that (I thought – we never actually know what we may or may not do until a situation that tests us arises), but I felt like I didn’t care if I lived or died, and spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about just letting my heart stop. Could I will that to happen? There are people that I love immensely and didn’t/don’t want to leave or hurt – but I couldn’t conceive of myself in those moments as being anything other than a burden. I couldn’t see how I could live through that.
These “torture thoughts” (what I call them) got worse after I accepted the job. It was almost like to get over the fear of going into the office, I had to aggressively stop caring if I lived or died. On a bike ride after that, I rode hard and fast through blind intersections where I didn’t have the right of way. Fortunately, the approaching cars were 20-30 yards out. The second time I did it, I scared myself enough to not do it again – but still, WTF was I doing? It could have had a very different outcome. I wrote about it on Twitter because I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it other than anonymous strangers. I didn’t want to alarm my friends or loved ones or make them feel bad about me. A few people on Twitter were very supportive and kind.
I found out that I actually do care about my life – and want to live – when I reported for my first day of work. Well, it started the night before, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I woke up around 3 am and started crying. Not gentle crying. Huge, racking sobs that continued the rest of the night and throughout the morning. I couldn’t stop crying. As I showered, I briefly wondered if I would ever get to see my future grandchildren or not – and I totally lost it. My shift started at 1:00 pm, so I needed to leave my house a little after noon. I forced myself to stop crying about an hour before it was time to leave. I got my collection of masks together and some goggles that I wasn’t sure if they’d allow me to wear – but knowing from orientation that the clients didn’t have to wear a mask when they were face down, it seemed important to me to cover my eyes too.
I walked in and the front desk didn’t have the things they were supposed to have for me. A young woman walked me back to the small break room/supply room and someone was in there eating, maskless. Anxiety started to creep up. As I was setting up the tiny room with no air circulation, that was to be mine for the day, everything in me started screaming, GET OUT! I went to the manager and said, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this. She asked if it were Covid. I said yes and started crying. I said I needed to leave and apologized again. I grabbed my stuff and walked out the door. Neither making a fool of myself nor breaking my word come easily to me. I’m not one who’s willing to let anyone down if I can help it. That’s how I knew how valuable my life is to me – and how willing I am to fight for it. I’m not willing to put myself in harm’s way – even if protecting myself may make me look like a fool.
I called my good friend and told her what had happened, told her all of it – including about my misadventures on my bike ride. She invited me to come stay with her for a while – to come heal and just be. I’ll continue looking for remote work, continue writing and promoting my books, and continue doing Oracle card/intuitive readings and energy healing for people. But what I won’t be doing is anything that I consider to be putting myself in harm’s way. I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that I want to have a future. And that I’m feeling more hopeful today than I was yesterday, before I decided to take a stand for my life and well-being.
Looking back from here, I should have known that my incessant crying was a sign that it wasn’t a right decision for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so hard for so long. I’ve had hard crying jags from time to time, like when I lost my Mom or when it hits me occasionally how much I’m missing her – but they usually only last a few minutes, at most an hour. To cry desperately for about 8 hours straight? Clearly, something was very wrong!
I started feeling better the minute I got back to my car – as soon as I made the decision to honor my life, I felt myself start to heal, mentally and emotionally. I talked to my friend the whole drive home and was smiling by the time I walked back into the house where I’m currently staying. This episode of my dark night of the soul has passed. I’ve seen how easy it is to get so desperate that I feel like giving up. I understand the pain of letting go of the person who I thought I was/would be, to become someone I can’t even imagine from here. I get how it feels to lose most of my material possessions – and to have to be okay with letting them go so I can be free to survive. I’ve been losing things for years. I lost my house a little over three years ago. Along with it, I lost most of the furniture and many of the possessions I’d inherited from my parents. That hurt, but I survived. I’ve moved three times since then, losing a little more each time. Now I’m about to move again – and leave almost everything behind. My life is worth more than that stuff.
I get what it feels like to feel alone – to know that, yes, theoretically people love me, but I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to be a burden. I get it. That’s just not the reality – people love you and want to help. You need to fight for your life. You need to reach out. You need to let people know exactly how bad your struggle is so that they can be there for you. It’s tempting to think that you’ll just drag them down and you don’t want to be perceived as someone who is negative or has mental health issues or who can’t manage their own life. I get it. I felt all of that. My deepest core issue is fearing being, “more trouble than I’m worth.” It haunts me. I have to fight to feel worthy, no matter how much trouble I am (or not) and what I can contribute (or not).
I used to adamantly say that I would never let a man hit me – and I meant it one hundred percent. In fact, I wrote that in my book. I left it in there, but in my next book, I’ll talk about the time that I slipped so low, was so desperately in love and wanted his attention so badly, that I wanted him to come over even if he would hit me – even if he would shoot me. I just wanted him to care – to not be indifferent to me or ignore me! I am perfectly aware of how fucked up that sounds – how fucked up that is – and I would have never thought myself capable of thinking or feeling that way (if you know me at all, you know I’m a strong feminist who doesn’t remotely believe in allowing any man to have that kind of power over your life and/or emotions), but there I was.
I’m noticing that there’s a core root between these two moments of my life – where I was deep in a state of not valuing my life, but rather thinking of just tossing it away, out of fear and desperation and/or a lack of hope. I don’t think that I’m unusual in that at all, even though it’s something most people don’t want to talk about or even admit. I read once that most people who try to commit suicide actually want more life, not to end their life – they just don’t know how to open up to that more. Some people think that suicide is a selfish act. I think that when you’re in that state, you aren’t even capable of thinking clearly. You aren’t thinking of the people you would hurt by taking yourself away from them. It’s so hard to see past your own fear and pain and desperation. I’m really so lucky that my Angels were looking out for me and didn’t allow me to get hit by a car. I was cursing them, but they were still loving and protecting me.
I think I needed to know that. I think I needed to know that if I weren’t always positive and upbeat, that I would still be loved. That if I were broken and angry and defiant, I would still be blessed. That I don’t have to be perfect in any way in order for my life to be filled with joy and pleasure and all good things. I get to be my whole self. I get to have my doubts and my temper tantrums. I get to be unreasonable and ungrateful. I get to have my peace and my bliss and my gratitude. I get to get dragged kicking and screaming along my path, rather than cooperating and moving forward in faith and trust. It’s all good.
I don’t know when my next dark night of the soul will strike. I’m going to try to keep it at bay by listening more carefully to myself and staying grounded. I don’t know how I missed the giant waving neon sign of an 8 hour crying jag, but now I’m paying better attention. I did, in the end, honor my own feelings and walk away – but next time, I don’t want to get to that desperate point. I could have realized much sooner. And, just in case, I’m going to keep the phone number for the National Suicide Hotline available: 800-273-8255. Phone them or reach out to a friend or loved one. Please.
Let me just say that it’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you if you’re thinking about suicide – or just giving up – it simply means you need help … and maybe you don’t know how to ask for it. Please just reach out. Let yourself be helped. Let yourself be valued. Let yourself be loved. This being human isn’t easy – we need each other. And someone in this world needs you – so please, stick around. Also, it does get better! It’s worth hanging around until it gets better!
One more thing (side note): I realize that some people need massage even though there’s a pandemic happening. There are some offices that are taking strict safety precautions – these are usually private offices, not franchises or chains. Where I’d been going to work gave you five minutes to get the client on the table, and five minutes to have them get back into their clothes and leaving, and for you to change the table to welcome the next client. FIVE minutes for all of that! That doesn’t even remotely give you time to do a good job wiping down surfaces or doing any disinfecting – you barely have time to get the new sheets on the table! If a place isn’t offering at least 15-30 minutes between clients – and if they don’t have any sort of air purifiers or even air circulation in the room, then I don’t think it’s worth the risk!