“Fear does terrible things to us. It locks us up inside.” My confessor recently told me this, in light of all the depression I’ve been having. I also remember hearing how fear makes us forget who we truly are, causing us to say and do destructive things.
When I get in those dark places, sometimes leading to those life-death situations, I forget my own advice, and…I sometimes realize I forget my own name.
My (full) first name, see, means “resurrection“. Even if mother didn’t mean for it to mean what it did, nor named me after whom I look up to way more than the princess she had in mind, it meant a lot to me. I’d been struggling with thoughts of suicide for more than half of my life now, and I’d had so many times where I feel like I’m dying inside, like just the other day. Then, something unexpected happens that “revives” me.
I don’t ask for it most of the time, like I’ve been counseled countless times to do. I didn’t ask for it the other day; I just talked briefly with a friend about how I was feeling (as per my safety contract), went to Mass, had Communion… when suddenly on the way back from Communion, felt a smile bubble up from inside, then tears from my eyes. I lingered at church, enjoying a small break from the humid heat that came near sunset, a gentle breeze and cool shade.
I still felt a little locked up inside, though. I was afraid to let anyone near me who can very well end up breaking my heart like those others from before, or worse, abuse me. I’m afraid to let myself get closer, afraid I’ll just mess it up somehow like recently. I just wanted to give up, even if not on life as a whole.
But I can’t.
If nothing else, someone told me he wanted me to be here.*
I talked a bit with that someone today, about all this stuff. Like that other night, it was remarkably nice out. I talked about all the things that’s been going on, where I currently am in life. At the heart of what I shared was that fear of others and even myself, and at the heart of what he said in response was that my good relationships with others are very healing for me, even if a lot of them didn’t work out. At one point, he compared it to dating, how it’s not always the case that one marries their first boyfriend/girlfriend. That doesn’t, nor should it, deter people from trying to find that someone to marry, which is really one of the biggest choices of “chosen family” one could make.
I felt happier when I left. As my confessor, he has a different authority than my doctor, and vice versa. Sometimes, hearing something from him has a different effect. Either way, I can admit it did me good to have had the chance to spend time with someone who cares about me and vice versa, probably proving his point. I guess it’d be nice to have more people I feel that way about, people whom I’d easily call part of my chosen family. There are some I have an inkling of that towards, but would be too scared to step closer for whatever reason. I had the opportunity to step into another’s shoes today to see through my black-and-white perception on sharing too much and too little, but relationships (mostly friendships, or “philia” as the Greeks called it) in general are hard for me to understand. The world doesn’t help, but my abusive upbringing makes it way harder.
Life’s like that, too; I don’t understand a lot of things about life, let alone what it means to be alive in the first place. Fr. Mike Schmitz said in one of his videos about these very things to find “hope in the face of suicide”, but it didn’t connect very well until I have moments like the one that just passed. I’d call myself pro-life, went on the Marches for Life, felt genuine horror for the increasing disregard, even hatred, for life…but I still don’t understand why my life is sacred. I don’t know why my friend told me with complete sincerity, “But I want you to live.”
In Shawshank Redemption, Andy remarks to Red, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living or get busy dying.” I don’t think I’m much like Andy, but there was something else he said from that scene I felt like I could’ve said myself. He was talking to Red how he didn’t literally murder his wife, but that he killed her for being hard to read, “like a closed book.” He figured if he wasn’t the way he was, she wouldn’t have run off with that guy she cheated on him with, and thus wouldn’t have been killed. If I wasn’t the way I was, I figured many times, the abuse wouldn’t have happened, and the bad things that followed, the relationships that died, wouldn’t have gone the way it did. (“Might as well die, since those things all died.“)
I…wasn’t meant to die though. No one was meant to die, and no good thing was meant to end. The crazy thing is, though, that’s still true to some degree. I’m not meant to die forever, no more than anyone else is. Again, I don’t get it, but I don’t get how a lot of things in chemistry work either; doesn’t make chemistry any less real than things like this are.
It’s going to happen again; I’ll forget, then I’ll remember. I’ll feel like my life’s over, then I get a second wind like these last couple of days. I’ll get a reason to live another day, chose the healthy thing, reach out to that friend, open up, write, draw, create.
Through His grace I’d be given, I can “resurrect” and keep going on this journey. I can heal. My heart’s still beating, so there’s still hope. “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” (Shawshank Redemption)
*PS: I realized something from what I wrote here that probably is worth sharing: In one of our recent conversations, my confessor told me that he hopes I eventually won’t be as dependent on him or my doctor for spiritual direction or therapy respectively.
My initial knee jerk reaction was to think he was telling me, like one has before, that I’m being a bother or have a sort of enabling, “tortured dependence” on him (as someone I looked up once told me)…but now, I remember how my father groomed me to live for him, to protect him, and using the Christian call to self-sacrifice, to consider my life worthless unless as it relates to him or my family.
I also remember, from a conversation today on college “safe spaces”, that ultimately, my goal is to recover from my trauma, find stability and clarity of thought without the level/type of assistance I need now.
Therefore, I realized that he was trying to tell me to recognize my own dignity as a person instead of depending on his or my doctor’s say-so, and to recover so I can live out the true reason I was created for…both of which being very good things, certainly worthy goals to reach someday (hopefully sooner than later).