Just ten years ago, I tried to kill myself over a girl. She had cheated on me twice so I swallowed a bottle of pills and waited for her to find me dead. Part of me wanted to win her back and the other part of me wanted to end it all. Neither worked.
Looking back, I feel a sad sort of pathetic amusement about the whole thing. To this day, I still struggle with depression and that’s some very serious business, but to actually have tried to kill myself over another person makes me a bit embarrassed. Sometimes it garners sympathy and affirming looks, but other times I see people back away with incredulity, as if they would never let themselves take their drama so far.
Yet I want to tell the ones who don’t understand: It’s so very easy to get attached to a person, an idea, a “dream,” a type of future, and then get sick to your stomach over every part of it until you want to die.
It can happen to anyone. Drugs are not the only addictive substance. There’s this overwhelming soul-withering sickness for people like me who quickly latch onto a person and feed off their being. We wait for their call and examine their every move and flinch at their every word and hang on their every breath.
It sounds awful, because it is. It’s a panicked desperation to overly cater to another person’s every whim — and until you’ve been there, you have no clue how low a human being can go to feed the codependency. It takes so much effort and energy and inhuman strength to remove this horrible addiction from our blood, because it’s been so ingrained into us from years of abuse and abandonment and rejection. You can’t know how bad it gets until you’re the one sprawled out on the cold tile floor with an empty bottle of pills in your lifeless hand.
Everyone has their own idea of the future, and at any moment it can be smashed to pieces. We’re not in as much control of our lives as we tend to think. And the more you plant your hope into something so untenable, so will your soul dry up into a soul that is collapsible.
My dream was to be with this woman, and my nightmare was her leaving me. But — this made me controlling, manipulative, angry, selfish, neurotic. And in a sense, I drove her into the arms of other men. It doesn’t make it right, but it does explain it. It was just as much her decision as it was mine. And by the time I swallowed the bottle of Excedrin, I was already dead inside. I was just discarding the husk that once contained the person I used to be.
I am begging you now: If you’re in this place of over-attachment to anything outside of you, please find a healthy way to handle it or just leave. Otherwise you will crush that person, that dream, that future, and you will be crushed by it too. Nothing can be sustained under the weight of your idolatrous expectations, including you. It’ll be worth your time to seek counseling, seek outlets, seek real help — and don’t get addicted to the recovery either. You need to learn to be alone with the silent vacuum of your own thoughts: because when you honestly confront the ugliness inside, you will be liberated from the weight of yourself.
And if you’ve recently been walking in the shattered remnants of an old dream and you just want to end it all — please, please, please believe me that there is always yet hope on the other side. I know what it feels like right now. I know that all the colors have been smothered by a gray heavy fog, that your hollowed out stomach feels like someone is punching you in the gut from inside. I know it’s hard to wake up, hard to sleep, hard to breathe, that you’d rather die than feel this way. I know. It will feel this way for a while. And I can’t connect the dots on what life is supposed to “teach” you, because lectures don’t heal anything.
But I am pleading with you to take the next painful step forward, because your life is more precious than what has happened. I’m pleading with you to consider that there are other dreams, that life is flexible, that people can start over everyday. I hope you will do all it takes to wake up tomorrow with even just the simple goal of breathing, because you’re an important part of this human narrative even when it’s just to breathe. And as the pain leaves, as it always does, I hope you do not refuse the comfort of good friends and the counsel of wise people and the offer of ice cream and hot coffee and a midnight conversation where you might crack a smile again for the first time in a long time as you reconstruct your pieces for something better. All this is worth making it through today.
I’m not writing this from a wrapped-up bowtie of a life. I’m still fractured in so many places of the soul; I still feel depression sinking its bony fingers into my sides. But I’ve also found that in the healing, by the grace of God and through wonderful friends, that life is worth living. If you think it hurts right now — healing hurts even more, because you have to get up and move. But I’d rather hurt this way. If life has to be pain, then I’d rather hurt moving forward than sitting down.
I can’t tell you that it “gets better,” because the last ten years were still tough. I can’t tell you that ever since near-death, that I’ve been all carpe diem. I can’t even tell you that I learned all these important life-lessons, because I don’t believe pain needs to be allegorized.
But I can tell you that I should’ve been dead ten years ago in that sterile lonely hospital bed — and I’m so very glad I’m still alive.
I can tell you that I let go of dreaming a single dream, because no one is meant to limit their imagination to a singular shaky ideal. Even though life is pain and it can knock the wind right out of you, it can also take your breath away. And I’ve learned that when you’re at end of yourself and when everything else has slipped away: all we really have is God, and He is enough. I’m asking you to consider there is a God who is not distant from your hurt but really loves you through it all, and as much as you hate to hear this, He’s just as hurt about this as you are. You might have heard that a million times and we might acknowledge it in our heads: but it’s only in the deepest abyss where we find God is deeper still, and He’s the only true stable anchor. It’s only in such exquisite pain that God really makes sense. It’s there that only God can help you.
You can get over what’s over, because you’re not over yet. I hope you choose to live. I hope you put the blade away. I hope you delay until the morning. I hope you talk it out. I hope you can look back in ten years and grieve over your old dreams with a quiet laughter. I hope you keep hoping.