Suicide is a mystery to those who have never contemplated it. Why do some people choose to end their lives while others who appear to be so alone in the world choose to soldier on, day after day? Catastrophe. The stock market crash of 1929. The poor souls who chose to jump from the upper floors of One World Trade Center on 9/11. People with severe addictions. Even people with terminal illnesses. But what about the others? What about the people who look like they have it all together- even to their loved ones?
When the answer is not easily known, then I think that only the deceased can know the entire story. Suicide is so personal, so individual as to almost be beyond the comprehension of anyone other than a higher power. I reject the idea that it is an unpardonable sin that condemns the deceased to Hell. I choose, rather, to hope that the deceased had strong faith in a merciful God who will thereafter cradle that person in his arms and will grant the thing that the deceased wanted above all else – peace.
My fatal flaw is my total inability to deal with uncertainty. I’m not talking about everyday uncertainty like what to order in a restaurant. I’m talking about real conflict resolution that involves major pieces of my life. I don’t know why I do what I do, and maybe only a psychiatrist would ever be able to figure it out. When serious conflict arises that jeopardizes the future, my coping mechanism is to do whatever I have to do to identify steps to a solution. I compulsively must do this. Whether the solution be in the near future or far off does not matter. Maybe the real solution has yet to really be defined. But if I can at least know in my head that there is a path leading to peace, I will be ok.
How do I go about identifying those steps on that path…. that’s the hitch. Usually I talk to the other parties involved until the path reveals itself. The parties are not always happy about this. I would even go so far as to say that the parties are usually not happy about this and sometimes will even tell me what they think I want to hear just to shut me up. This tends to backfire – on me, not them – when the path never actually happens and I end up feeling betrayed. Sometimes I write rather than talk. Writing is not the ultimate solution but at least it allows me to “get it out”.
I am writing now because I am talked out and don’t know what else to do. Because every major aspect of my life is in a state of uncertainty and conflict, and I’m fairly sure that the other people are tired of my talking, while in other cases, there really is nobody to talk to.
When I write about looking for a path, what I really mean is that path that I was on has ended. Imagine that you are hiking deep in the forest by yourself on a path miles from anywhere or anyone, and the path just ends and you are staring at tall woods. That is what my life feels like right now. Only this is a one-way path. There is no turning around and going back from whence I came. I must go forward…. except I’m lost. I don’t know which direction to go or what I’m going toward. As I struggle to cope, my brain will not shut off. It is filled day and night with scenarios and outcomes. I have conversations with myself. “What will I do if………” “Who can I talk to about……?” “If this turns out like _____, then…………, but what if _______ happens?” One of my conflicts is so unpredictable on a day-to-day basis that it sometimes feels like walking in a never-ending minefield where the only way out is to step on a mine. Or if I do somehow find my way out, I might have to run away from it as fast as I can. I find myself having imaginary conversations with people because the real thing has just become too difficult.
Everything resolves. Or so I’m told. The act of suicide has been described as cowardly and selfish. I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I actually think it takes a lot of courage. I know I could never pull it off, and I know that the people who care about me don’t deserve to be punished in that way just for living their lives to the best of their ability based who they are deep inside – whether or not their act of living does anything to help me. What I know for sure is this. We all have a path that we are destined to walk. Sometimes we stray down wrong paths. The worst is when the path disappears completely. For some people, there is only so long they can struggle to find it again before it all just becomes too much. As for me, I don’t think I will ever again be one of the people who ponders a suicide and thinks – “We never saw it coming. What could have happened?” Every story is unique, but ultimately it comes down to the undiscovered path.