My life has been crazy hectic for the past two years, and something’s been going on in my life that has changed. It is no surprise to learn that I was involved in a relationship with a woman I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Well, earlier this year, that relationship ended, and nearly so did my life.
It’s not easy for anybody to talk or write about their troubling emotional times. So it’s not surprising that while I’ve discussed this with many friends personally, and even received some very welcomed support from the forums here, the worst of it was kept largely to myself. When you experience a hurt or loss in your life, a lot of time the pain is internalized and is simply too difficult to share or to put into words. When the loss is unexpected and includes your best friend in the world, well, you get the picture…
Truth be told, this is not the first time I have lost someone I considered my very closest friend and confidant in this world. During my first year of graduate school, back in 1990, my childhood best friend took his own life because of a broken heart. At about the same time, one of my new friends in graduate school decided to end our friendship (it was a strange situation). The loss I experienced at that time was immense. While rationally and intellectually, I understand that each of us has to experience many such losses throughout our lives, each one doesn’t make the next one any easier. They are all unique and difficult, and this one has been — by far — the hardest to overcome.
Suicide becomes an option in many people’s life when their ability to cope with life is exceeded by their coping skills and mechanisms. For example, if you turn to your friends and talk things out with them, and you still feel hopeless, your coping mechanism (talking to your friends) isn’t sufficient to help you out in this situation. So people keep turning to new mechanisms and try to find new ways to cope. For some people, they only try one or two other things. Others will try literally dozens. Some people will patiently wait with time for their emotions to become less raw and heal. Still others are too impatient to wait for very long before feeling the need to do something, anything, to stop what is often unbearable pain.
I am not ashamed to admit that, not for the first time in my life, I considered suicide as an option after this relationship ended. I believed, as many do, that it was very nearly the end of the world, that everything that I thought was solid and stable in my world was not so much. Lies were spoken from a person that I always implicitly trusted, which can turn even the most forgiving selfless person into a cynical mistrustful one. Suicide appeared to offer a way out from the depths of despair, and end to the pain and misery I was experiencing.
It, of course, is an answer to a question unasked, a problem undefined. If the problem is pain in one’s life, the answer is not to delete one’s life from the world, but to delete the pain from one’s life. Some people will ask, “How do I do that? I’ve tried everything!” I agree, it will at times seem insurrmountable and impossible. But it is neither. Life is short and life is sweet, but without life, you have nothing. You cease to exist, and any meaning you once held in this world will be lost with time. For some, that seems like a fitting end to a life full of pain and misery. But I say, once you do find a way to move beyond the pain, you will find a life open once again to new possibilities and explorations.
I dwelled extensively on what I had lost, never looking beyond my own self pity to see that I once again had my freedom. Freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, to explore a life that is very much in the middle, not at the end. It’s hard to move beyond that stage of dwelling, of wanting to turn back time and do things over again in the “right” way. But you know what? There was no “right” way to begin with. You cannot change the past. I often (but not always) believe there is a reason for the way things turn out. So look at this as a learning experience and take away the lessons to do better the next time around.
No one could tell me that this wasn’t the end to something special. It was. But what I also had to realize was that it ended for a reason. That reason will eventually be clear to me even if I find it hard to accept now. I am richer for having had this experience and knowing more of myself and my limits, my faults, my strengths, and most of all, possibilities.
Don’t give up. It may seem impossible to think otherwise, to believe — to honestly believe — there is nothing left for you in this life. I did too. But here I am, still alive, and exploring the new possibilities open to me, because my life is not yet over. Not today, not tomorrow, not until I am ready for it to be. I am not ready. Don’t you be ready either. It’s easy to go away, but it takes independence and determination to say, “I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet… Let’s see what else I can do, what other things I can learn, and what I can do to enrich my life.” Maybe it’s learning a new hobby or sport (like rock climbing or kayaking or something that you’ve always thought you’d like to try, but just never did — do it!), maybe it’s volunteering for a charity (they are always looking for help), or maybe it’s doing something you already enjoy in a new way (like singing? try joining a local choir). I don’t know what the answer is for you, or what will be right for you. I just know that the things we choose to do in our lives help lend it meaning. Choose something new, something different.
But most of all, choose. Choose life.