Despite an intellectual knowledge of the pain and hurt it causes family and friends, to the hopeless soul there’s something beautiful and powerful about suicide. Something forbidden yet alluring romanticises the ugly truth of ending one’s own life and swathes it in a glittery veil of pseudo control masking otherwise chaotic surroundings.
When life feels impossible, death can feel like a desperately needed reprieve and the issue of permanence sits on the periphery of our minds blocked from the facts that we’d never consciously actually feel the “holiday” from life, let alone its perceived benefits, and that our feelings of being burdensome to others may in fact be far more about self perception than how we are viewed by those around us.
Some of us inevitably get drawn in by deaths spell and fall in love with the power it brings, it’s siren song entices us with promises of freedom from all of life’s perceived failings and fears that can feel too hard to ignore until we open a door that can never quite close again.
I’ve been dying since I was born, as we all have, the difference is I have been actively attempting to end or wishing to end my existence pretty much from its beginning.
I have weathered many tumultuous life experiences, navigated multiple mental illnesses and survived serious suicide attempts yet was still left with more regrets for the mistakes that led to my survival than the act itself. I hated myself with every ounce of anger I had been too afraid to express toward others and only allowed myself to acknowledge the worst parts of myself for fear of accidentally becoming hopeful that I may not be quite so terrible after all and getting rejected or abandoned in the process.
Years of self reflection and therapy gradually taught me that the control I had lacked throughout my early life had left a terrible fear and I fought bitterly to have control over the only thing that seemed plausibly mine and mine alone, my death.
Perhaps my most important life lesson was about patience, about letting go, trusting and accepting life as it was, because death would ultimately happen anyway and spending years thinking about, waiting for and trying to hurry it up was a fairly redundant waste of time better spent looking around in awe at the beautiful world I had by some miracle scored a ticket to see.
Of course, as soon as I finally realised this at 35years of age, I was diagnosed rather suddenly with terminal cancer.
I had danced in deaths shadow for so long that the grim reaper had finally noticed and reached out to shake my hand. Or maybe this was the lesson I needed to learn all along; and I finally had.
There’s something about impending doom that teaches you to view things that have been in front of your eyes for a long, long time in their most important light.
You take in the beauty of that long ignored eucalyptus tree at the end of the paddock, it’s silver branches illuminated against the setting sun. The tiniest details in the faces of your children, their mannerisms, their laughter, death suddenly brings about an entirely different perspective on everything you simply never had time to notice.
When the wonderment and clarity of seeing the world through these new eyes finally shifts our focus to what matters most, that black fog of depression has permission to lift and move on.
Once the obligation to comply with societal demands no longer applies we are truly free. It’s not death that frees us from our burdens at all but acceptance, particularly the acceptance of our own authenticity; we can finally free us from ourselves by living, as ourselves.