On a drive home from Los Angeles, I hit that weird point in a solo road trip where one gets nostalgic as hell. It was the first time I’d successfully been in Los Angeles and not tried to contact him. Progress, I tell myself. I think this is progress.
Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah begins to play and the road gets a little blurry. Roads shouldn’t really get blurry. I’d assume that’s number one rule at the DMV – Hey, blurry road? Stop driving!
So I did.
I pulled off at the next exit and stopped. I stopped everything.
I didn’t want to die or anything. That’s not what it was. Yes, Hallelujah is a song that triggers a massive waterfall of tears (and if it doesn’t for you, you sound like an Android, so kudos on that) and I was having ~*~emotions~*~ but not suicidal ones.
In fact, I was thinking the exact opposite. I was thankful to be alive. I was so grateful I didn’t drive off a cliff like I’d fantasized about a year ago. I was so fucking happy that I stuck it out.
Because if I had died those times I thought I was permanently stuck in a black hole, this mess of sucking out any glimmer of hope and spitting it far away, I wouldn’t have been here: sitting in my car feeling overwhelmed by how unbelievably appreciative I was.
Everyone thinks about dying. Sure, not everyone thinks about being the cause of their own death, but it’s a subject we all think about sometimes. I used to be terrified of how easy death could come to people. As a child, I suffered from terrible insomnia because I would start thinking about eternal blackness and, shockingly enough, that doesn’t equal nice, relaxing bedtime thoughts. And when you watch people you love die, the thought becomes a weird part of you.
I’m not afraid to say death is always tucked away in my mind somewhere. That’s not to say I have suicidal thoughts always leaping out when I least expect it, but yes, dying is a thing I think about. Isn’t it weird? That on one hand, I can become terrified of developing cancer and let WebMD convince me a bug bite is actually the start of a tumor. And then on the other, I stand at edges of cliffs and wonder what would happen if I jumped off.
Doesn’t make much sense. But I guess life doesn’t.
If you are struggling, I can’t give you some magic formula or combination of words to immediately enlighten you with joy and puppies. That’s just not how it works. And anyone who tells you there’s just ONE simple step to your sudden eternal happiness is either lying to you or just totally unaware of how it feels to want everything to stop. I’ve been there. I’ve wanted to stop the clock. Forever.
For all the times I’ve wanted to die, I think about the times I’ve laughed so hard my abdominal muscles felt sore and I woke up thinking, What the hell? Did I go to the gym last night?
For all the times I’ve wanted to die, I think about kissing new mouths or falling in love with someone and growing old. It would be an honor to gain wrinkles with someone. I want to age alongside someone and watch our bodies change together.
For all the times I’ve wanted to die, I think about my mother. And the thought, even if only temporarily, evaporates.
I hope you stick it out with us. I hope you aren’t afraid to talk to someone and get help. Because getting help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of self-reflection and intelligence. Not everyone is able to reach a place of understanding, and you have. You’ve realized something feels off. It hurts. It feels like you’re alone on an island and there’s no way you can ever swim back to society. But I think you can. I really do.
For all the times you wanted to die, but didn’t, someone else did. But right now, I am grateful it wasn’t you. I am so glad you are still here. Because being alone on that island isn’t real isolation when you discover how many others are there too. Like some Lost sequel, we all got dumped onto this place and are trying to find a way off. And we will. But you’ve got to stay alive to do it. You’ve got to stay with us or the boat will never come.