Do Awesome Broken

Yesterday when I woke up I had a bit of a revelation.

I’m going to have days when I want not to live any more, and I’m going to have them for the rest of my life.

I am broken.

This is as good as I get. I need to stop waiting for the time when I’m good enough, fixed, have all my ducks in a row, before I give myself permission to fully inhabit my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I still have a lot to learn. I realise fully there is a lot of growth ahead for me; spiritually, personally and intellectually. But yesterday when I woke up, I felt as though the world was collapsing in on me. In my head I was trapped, felt incredibly frustrated and like every single less-than I’ve ever had thrown at me had finally fruited into a toxic, bitter lump of rotten garbage right in the middle of my guts. I felt like if I was going to go through another – yes another, because I’ve been having these horrible, violent episodes of writhing self-hatred mixed with absolute panic my whole life – then I was ready to die, and to make it a quick one.

Surprised? Shocked I have suicidal thoughts from time to time? I can pinpoint the actual days in my life with almost filmic clarity when I considered ending my life, if life meant keeping on having these horrible days inside a hurricane inside my head. I remember one episode I had sitting on a step outside my house sobbing, my two month old baby inside, trying to stay closer to the ground after considering whether throwing myself off the upstairs balcony would kill me outright, or just make me hurt even more. I remember a time curled up in a ball in the corner of my bedroom, in the dark, having just screamed at my teenage daughter for half an hour over God knows what, just a few weeks after my husband left to go to rehab, and when it became clear I would have to divorce him, because he didn’t even have the strength or presence of mind to argue through our differences any more. I wondered if I had enough pills in the house to do it.  I remember waking from a terrible dream I had when I was halfway through radiotherapy, and staying in a hostel in Sydney 400kms away from my family, surrounded by people dying of cancer, a dream where dying was as easy as letting go, as going to sleep, as stopping swimming up and down a pool and tumble turning at the ends, lap after lap after lap, and just sinking to the bottom, and knowing if I just gave up now, nobody would blame me, and there would be peace, stillness, safety. It could all just stop.

But I did not those three times. Or any of the others. Stop, that is. I did not really want to stop living. But I did feel like I wanted to not be alive any more.

For a great many people, being alive is being in pain. It is being alone in a hundred ways, even if there are people all around, and those people like and need you. It is feeling like you are not enough, do not belong, will never stop hurting. For me, being alive is accepting I have days where my head spins and I feel incapable of anything, where the expectations of simply existing in this society with these rules and limitations is impossible for me, because I can’t do it. That’s really what’s at the bottom of it all – *this* is what’s expected, and I cannot do it. Not that I could if I tried, and I can’t try. Not that I am missing information and could do what is expected if I had that information. Not that someone is oppressing me or abusing me or preventing me. But that I can’t do it. That I am not made for the world I am born into, and expected to function in, and succeed in. That I am broken, less than, displaced, dysfunctional, alien. And I cannot do anything about it.

Sometimes for me, being alive is being confused, and feeling less than, incurable and completely fucked up inside my head. And it feels as though I will be stuck there and never able to get out, that the day which begins like this will not end, ever.

I know an awful lot of people don’t understand why suicide happens. I understand how it happens.

But anyway, all this is not my revelation.

My revelation is in all probability, unless I choose to be sedated my whole life, this is something I will always experience from time to time. This, I understand on days like this, will not make it easier when it happens, but it will make it acceptable. To me. Probably not to certain others. But I can accept it as part of me, even if I cannot see through it when it is happening.

Like a great many things in my life, like cancer, like my marriage breaking up, like loss, rejection and pain, my episodes of madness simply must be survived.

My revelation is I cannot live my life as if being broken is something I must fix before I can go the awesome places I want to go, and do the awesome things I want to do. I must do the awesome broken.

I must accept I am broken, and may never be whole and healed in the ways which would make every day of my life joy-filled, successful and productive. I must work with the fact I am not going to be complete, or get totally fixed up, and I cannot afford to wait until I am before I give myself permission to be great.

I am mostly great now, and that is enough. The small proportion of fucked-up-edness I have is not sufficient justification for me to not do all the things, go all the places, love all the people, speak all the words, and write all the books. In fact, my bad days, however bad they are, may not be used as a weapon against myself, or a procrastination. They may not. I withdraw whatever permission I gave myself which allowed that to happen.

I sat there yesterday in the middle of my mini-breakdown and I withdrew permission to give up, or step down. No, I said to myself, this time you are not going to walk away from your life, from everything you’re in the middle of. This does not prove all the things people have said or done to you are true. This proves nothing. This is a hard day. These are unhelpful thoughts. You are close to giving up. But guess what? This time, you’re standing. You will do the awesome broken. Because awesome is all that’s left for you now. You tried everything else. It’s do awesome broken, or die now, one way or another. What’s it going to be I said?

Do awesome broken.

Atta girl.

Have a great day, friends.
Jo xxxx

God Help Them.

They are out there. And they are dying every day. The fathers. The sons. The brothers. The uncles. The friends. The husbands. The partners. the neighbours. The men. The men who are sad, lonely, and unhappy. The men who drink. The men who cry. The men who can’t. The men who are broken. The men who are told they are “pussies”. The men who hide. The men who feel. The men who can feel no more.

I weep for them. Because men who hurt often hurt others. Sometimes they mean to. Wars, battles, violence, abuse. Sometimes they do not mean to. Neglect, depression, separation. Hurt people find it hard to look after the ones they are charged with protecting and providing for. And money does not help. Celebrity does not help. A body of work does not help. Sometimes even support and rehab does not help. Yet we must help, and try and help, just the same.

There are a thousand thousand Robin Williams’ who will end their lives today. They may take their own life, or the life of another. They may leave their family. They may leave their senses. They may upend another bottle or empty another needle. They may bash or bruise, themselves or another. They may enter one institution designed to keep them away from society, they may leave an institution from which society is consisted. One way or another, men will end their lives today. In their head, in their heart, by their hand, by their actions – end their lives. And it will be a great shame.

Because there must be a way to stop it. To keep fathers with their families, to keep husband off the end of the rope. To keep brothers shoulder to shoulder. To keep sons on the earth longer than their mothers. To keep them here, because families, societies, communities need men. Not just for their strength, but for their essence. For their love, their power, their courage, their vulnerabilities. We need them.

God help men. God help them in their minds, hearts and souls. God help us help them.

A Semblance Of Dignity

My cousins husband tweeted a link to this article this morning.

Daily Nation – Twin Towers Jumpers That Americans Will Not Talk About

Very challenging and confronting, and perhaps one of the issues which is sidelined when discussions come up around the World Trade Centre attacks.

The most saddening part for me about what occurred here, is that many people cannot accept the possibility that their loved ones were responsible for their own death because suicide is considered by them a grave sin, which means their loved one will go to hell.

For me, this brings up some issues which perhaps need to be discussed. Particularly by Christians. It’s the erroneousness of our position on issues such as suicide that cause untold intolerable and unnecessary pain and confusion for those who must deal with the fallout. Stigma. Fear. Shame. Just to name a few.

Think about it.

What if someone told you that according to their religion, your loved one was going to die in an eternal lake of fire because they refused to die at the hands of terrorists, instead opting for a demise of their own choosing? Imagine yourself at the top of a burning skyscraper, looking out at what you believe for all intents and purposes looks like the end of the world – what would you do? What do you think God would have you do?

*****

I am a mental health support worker. Yesterday, I could hear one of my clients in her home next door to my office as she battled her “voices”. The “mother” voice was berating her with savage verbal abuses, against which my client was defending herself in a most vehement fashion. There was swearing. There were threats. There was volume. It was very, very disturbing. After about an hour, the client came to the office door to ask for a cigarette from her supply. Once she was settled outside with her smoke, I approached her quietly to ask if she was okay, and if there was anything I could do for her. “Please, just back off and go away. I can’t deal with talking to you right now.” She wasn’t being theatrical – this was no reverse-attention seeking. She had the cement-hard look in her eyes of someone who had just emerged from the middle of a huge trauma. My voice was one more in the mix she simply could not tolerate. I left her to her repose. As I locked myself back into the office, I wondered what it would be like to have your mind be your own adversity, and how she manages to survive this daily trauma. I can imagine that if it were me fighting against those voices, I would consider any hell I might be in danger of fairly meaningless in light of the very likely relief suicide might provide me.

It’s probably much easier to believe that someone who kills themselves will go to to hell if the person doing the killing and dying isn’t you. But what if being extinct is actually more tolerable than the hell you’re in right now?

*****

 

The whole argument rests on one premise – suicide is a sin. There appears to be no real Biblical support for this, although some will argue that the commandment not to murder covers killing oneself. Odds on, the folks who adhere to this erroneous belief haven’t had to face anything that would make them question it. I believe the fallacy that suicide in a sin probably was borne in medieval times, when people in positions of power wanted to stop the plebeian masses taking their own lives before they had a chance to subject them to an inquisition.

It is, after all, a matter of power. Who has the power of life, and of death? We say God does, but we do too. People have the power to abduct and strangle, rape and subjugate, hijack and terrorise. We can fly a plane into a building and God either made us do it, or is powerless to prevent us, depending which side you’re on. For those people at the top of the WTC that day, I believe they probably thought the world was coming to an end, or at the very least, they were acutely cognizant of their own imminent and unavoidable demise. Is it a sin to take the power to kill you away from your enemy? Is it a sin to not want to die a victim of someone else’s stupidity, evil or madness? Is it a sin to choose the manner of your death?

We act as if death were avoidable. We act as if the only good death one can have is the unplanned, tragic, victim death, or the prolonged, painful, protracted kind. There is such a thing as a good death. Way before we came to worship the vain and gratuitous sustenance of human life, regardless of how awful that life has become, people died every day and it was perfectly all right, perfectly sad, perfectly awful and perfectly tragic – but it was perfectly natural.

Death is a sanctity. Let’s not pretend that God wrings His hands as we do because we die – He does not – in fact, we who claim to believe God exists must die before we ever realise that elusive Kingdom we prattle on so much about. I like to believe He is saddened by the perpetration of evil and angered by men’s attempts to extinguish each other. But I simply cannot believe that God would reject outright the soul who chooses to impose a semblance of dignity upon their own death, when often the fact they even consider this an option means that dignity was probably utterly unattainable in life.