It saddens me to have to sit down and write about this, but again, this is life doing what it does best; challenging us in ways that we may never understand, but have to learn to accept nonetheless. Before I get started, I must point out that this will be much ‘deeper’ of a post, considering the matter of the topic, but also, I think it’s something that we all need to think about a little more. The topic of ‘loss’ is one that is not discussed as frequently as it should, and maybe if it was, it wouldn’t be such a pill to swallow when choosing to be open about it. There are a handful of conversations out there that are preferred to be avoided and pushed aside. Unfortunately, it is these same topics that we are avoiding that will continue to happen unless we are brave enough to talk about it vulnerably, honestly, and with an openness to change what we can when moving forward.
Taboo topics such as suicide, mental illness, death, bullying, and childhood trauma are just some of the many that are typically avoided in daily conversation. Most people are just not that confident in their own vocabulary when it comes to speaking openly about specific topics, and I get that completely. It is not supposed to be an easy conversation to have. With that said, that does not mean that it’s a conversation we should ignore. We think because we may not know enough about something that those conversations should be overlooked, and, ‘discussed at another time.’ To understand anything, we must be willing to talk about it and allow others perspectives to weigh in if they have their own valid points or their own personal experiences.
If you have ever lost someone close to you, you know the void it can put deep within your heart. We spend so much energy trying to find the meaning behind it all, and more often than not, we come up short with the answers we discover. We learn that sometimes, life just doesn’t provide them for you. Sometimes, you just have to create your own meaning for why certain things occur. We all will experience loss in varying parts of our journey. Some must learn to cope with it from a very young age, some will feel as though death follows them around, and others may not experience loss until much later in life. Those are the kinds of things we don’t have the answers to, but they unfold as we move forward, and take life with each day that WE are given to live.
It is hard for me to pinpoint exactly when suicidal ideation started to occur within my own journey, but my earliest memory of it is from an event that happened in my life that would prove to shape me in a pretty big way. My first experience with loss happened on Good Friday, my junior year of high school. Five friends, I had watched grow up since second grade got into a car, and only one of them made it out alive. It was a very weird time for the entire area that I grew up in. We all were connected to these boys in some way, in some shape, and in some form. Hell, in second grade, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Marry’ one of the kids that was taken from this earth far too soon. My point is, there were connections to these boys, and we all had our own experiences tied to them. When our phones started ringing, and we were informed of what happened, the city I grew up in just kind of went…still. You cannot prepare for tragedies such as these because what so many of us fail to remember, is that with life, and the everyday routine of living, there will be loss, and how we choose to cope with that is very telling of what may be in store for us moving forward.
Since that event, I have had to say goodbye to others in my life who lived a little too hard, a little too reckless, and most certainly, in far too much pain. I had to watch my hero (my grandfather) be put to rest, and if there is one thing I learned from him, it’s that I should always fight for the things I love the most in this world. A little over a year ago, I had to attend an open casket for the boy who was able to steal my heart back in college. What he taught me in this lifetime is something I will always be grateful for, and something that will never be forgotten. And it wasn’t until last weekend when I received the news of an old friend passing that life challenged me to travel back to August of 2015; when I attempted to take my own life. It was when reading a post shared by his best friend, someone I also grew up with, that made me look back at that point in my life, and recognize how helpless I truly felt. I am not sure what kind of pain my friend was in, I just know that when someone finally makes the decision to attempt, and take their own life, it is NOT a decision taken lightly, and it is also a thought they have most likely been holding on to for so much longer than any of us will ever know. Why do I know this? Because for some reason, I am still alive to talk about my reasons for what was going on with me at my absolute lowest point. I am only just now being able to wrap my head around the impact of what suicide, loss, and death does for EVERYONE involved, or were once involved, in your life.
What is most unfortunate is how it usually takes certain events, tragedies, and losses, to wake up a vast amount of people who are not really living their own lives. When people are taken from us, we either reflect and accept what life is trying to teach us, or we repress, resent, and live in denial of a lesson that ultimately was not designed to break us, but to shake us up, and offer us a new way of looking at life.
I would never sit here and tell you that your pain is not validated. Of course, it is. We are all entitled to feeling what we need to feel when tragedy happens. What I hope this post does for you is stir up an action within yourself. Ask yourself what could you do in your own life that may positively impact the world around you. We all carry a certain amount of pain with us, so maybe we should just stop trying to pretend that life doesn’t hurt. Pain cannot be avoided, so why are avoiding the conversation about it?
Conversations need to be had, preferably, from a young age. Unfortunately, this is when people are most susceptible to holding things inside of themselves. I have learned that pain manifests itself in two ways: Internally or externally. As someone who has always been very self-destructive, I have always been my own biggest challenge in life. When people act out externally, via bullying, or god forbid, school shootings, it is not because this person is necessarily evil. It is because this person does not know how to handle their pain, and the saying, ‘Hurt People, Hurt People,’ well… there is obviously a lot of truth in that.
I think by starting to have deeper conversations with people, and feeling less afraid to discuss harder topics, we will be able to slowly but surely, tackle the stigma that is, in general, Mental illness, (but more specifically, suicide, shame, pain, depression, fill in the blank, you name it.) You do not need to have a personal experience with dark subject matter to be willing to understand it. We should all be trying to see from all sides, all angles, and from all perspectives. We are in this thing together, and none of us are alone, so let’s stop believing that we are, and learn how to live life in the way that it was intended. Life is not set out on breaking you down. It is simply trying to teach you something you need to learn. Life is a battle of up's and down, with each of us having to face our own curve balls that will get thrown our way. The goal is not to see who holds the most pain; the goal is to get everyone to see that we all have to experience it. Without loss, there is no life, and without life, there is no loss - the in between is the part we should all be figuring out together. None of us should ever feel like we have to survive life alone.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you. I love you.