Lessons Learned From the Other Side

Listen to me. I know you don’t want to hear this, or perhaps you cannot hear this because of the place you are in, but just try. OK? I know that right now you are feeling an emptiness inside that’s bigger than the word or the concept of emptiness. I know right now you feel like nothing, like you don’t even exist, like perhaps you aren’t even alive but in some kind of hell on earth, a zombie. I know you look around and see things through a lens of fear, or shame or anger, and that’s alright. It really is.

I know that right now, even though you feel nothing, you still feel an incredible amount of pain. I know your heart is broken for the way things have turned out because you had higher expectations of the world and yourself. I know that you want to tear yourself open at the seams like Superman or The Hulk tear open their shirts. I know you think hurting yourself is the answer because you think you deserve it. I know you want to hurt yourself because you think that’s the only way to end the suffering. I know that deep down, you don’t really want to hurt yourself, you only want to end the suffering.

I’m not gonna bullshit you because I know you’ve had enough of that, so you have to trust me that I’m talking to you from the other side of this pain, and that I will show you the way out of it. You’re on the right track when you feel like killing yourself, but your approach is the problem. It’s too violent. Sure, OK, you could shoot yourself in the head with your husband’s shotgun and transfer the pain you feel to those people who truly love you and want to help you by traumatizing them. You could leave a splattering of blood on the white walls that someone will have to clean up, and it will probably be someone who you love, you jerk.  You could do that. But there’s a better way to kill yourself – a way in which no blood is splattered on the walls, and the end result of which is a life filled with all of the joy, love and success you can imagine.

“But I want to die! There is no escape from this. It will never end!” I hear you say, and you will; you will die. I promise. Just not that way. Like this:

I want you to see yourself inhabiting the world you are in right now, where you feel this pain and fear and anger. Don’t hold back, really see it and feel it. Now, close your eyes and turn your attention inward and focus on where in your body you feel “it.” Don’t think about “it,” only think about where “it” is and how “it” feels in your body. Maybe It starts in your belly and feels like the wind blowing across the Sahara in the winter. Maybe It moves up to your heart and It feels like your heart is in a vice and on fire and underneath a ten-ton builder all at once. Maybe It moves up and becomes two hands wringing your neck, then moves down to your right ovary or lower back, or whatever “It” does. Just feel It. Don’t think about what or why It is, just feel It until you don’t feel anything more. Then open your eyes.

Here’s where the suffering ends. Choose, right now, to step out of it. Just imagine yourself standing outside on a dark rainy day, miserable as you want. And imagine that right across the street is the most beautiful park with sunny skies, rainbows, people laughing, dancing, singing, all that jazz. Your choice is to stay in the dark and the rain, or cross the street. Just. Cross. The. Motherfucking. Street.

“Whatever you fucking hippy. That’s not how reality works. I can’t just imagine a firetruck is yellow when it’s obviously red. This is real fucking shit and I can’t just imagine my way out of it.”

Maybe you can, and maybe you can’t.

But if you want to, don’t forget what the Pope said about the power of hope (and I know you think religion is a concept invented to subdue and control the masses, but just listen, dangnabbit, because this is some good shit).

“Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness.”

Watch the video after you finish reading this, stop stalling.

If you can do nothing else, just have hope that things will be better. It takes almost no effort, just think a thought: “things will be better.” And things will. I couldn’t write all of this down for you if they didn’t.

You’re gonna feel like a lunatic; guarantee it. This kind of suicide requires you to look at a shit sandwich and see a prime rib dinner for two with extra dirty martinis and the best horseradish you’ve ever tasted. It doesn’t mean that you have to eat that shit sandwich, it only means you have to have hope – faith – that there is something better, and that you can and will have something better. You already do.

On the way to better you may forget all about the fact that you have committed suicide if the going happens to get tough, at least at first. Maybe the VA calls you and wants to reevaluate your claim for PTSD and you spiral back across the street because you are so used to it there. That is why I’m writing this all down for you. Pull this out of your wallet or out from under your pillow and read it. Remember that the you back across the street standing in the rain under a dark sky is dead. You shed that bitch like a snake sheds its skin. You have stepped into a new life. Don’t look back. Nobody likes a zombie.

What do you have to lose?

or if you are IN CRISIS

 

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Ms PTSD

(Ms Pissed)

Trish Graves is a creative nonfiction writer and a US Navy veteran who lives on a grass fed cattle ranch with her husband and daughter, and dreams of becoming the salty Martha Stewart of the ranching world. She writes about her ranch and more on her blog, thelazy8ranch.com. She is currently working on a memoir which provides perspective on military sexual assault, living with post-traumatic stress disorder, dealing with the Veterans Administration, and the impact these experiences have on every aspect of her life.