I wrote this because I needed to say it. I posted it because I think there are people that need to read it. It could easily change the way you think about me or the way you feel about me and that scares me a little, but that’s okay. I’m always scared. That’s why I wrote it.
It was September of 2013 and my life had not been going the way I had hoped. This was not a new situation, nothing ever goes the way I hope it does. It never has. I suspect it never will. I had been inhabiting an abyss of despair so deep that only the word “abyss” appropriately describes it. The Abyss, if you are unfamiliar with the word, is the deepest crack in the Earth. It is the black bottom of the sea, down in the Trench, where no light reaches and the pressure is so immense you cannot even begin to imagine it.
The tale I would have to tell you on how I got to this point is quite long, and I will not bore you with it here, but suffice to say I carried in me a level of self loathing most of you will only ever read of in stories. For this, you are fortunate. Just working up the nerve to leave the house had begun to be a chore that was almost unbearable. I could not stand to be touched by another human being. Not friends, not family, not even my wife or daughter. I allowed it, because it was necessary, but inside I cringed away from every hug, every handshake, every glancing touch.
On this chill September eve, however, something in my mind broke and I knew the time had come that I had to take some kind of action.
So I decided to kill myself.
This is hardly the first time the thought had occurred to me. I have, for most of my life, thought about suicide a minimum of, say, five times a day. It’s part of my disorder, this constant suicidal ideation, and I have grown mostly inured to the intrusion of images of myself with a noose around my neck or a barrel in my mouth. Sometimes I could taste the gun oil or feel the cold steel against the side of my head, though I haven’t physically touched a firearm in years (mostly for this very reason).
I began my research. What are the best methods? I had tried once when I was young, using a handful of prescription muscle relaxants washed down with a tasty bottle of Tahitian Treat, which is a bit like Hawaiian Punch, but not really. I had been unsuccessful then, obviously, and though I had access to plenty of pills with which to make a new attempt, I felt this method was too unsure. The internet is, of course, a goldmine of information on any subject you could want to research and suicide is certainly no exception. There are sites that will tell you anything you want to know about the subject.
After several hours of reading I was left with an uncomfortable truth. There was no sure way to my objective within easy reach. The goal, for the time being, was unachievable. I would have to make some sort of plan. Perhaps there was a very tall building I could get to the top of somewhere. For now though, I was just going to have to wait. So I went to bed.
The very next day my house nearly burnt to the ground. The building next door, an old vacant thing that had once housed a dive bar, caught fire. My front door was maybe two feet to the left of this building. My entire bedroom was destroyed by smoke and the water they poured on the blaze to keep it contained. I lost my bed, my desk, clothing, and more. I still haven’t recovered from it financially.
I watched the flames as they grew, I watched as the entire building cracked and fell with a thunderous pop. It was beautiful and horrifying and terrible and wonderful. To see such a thing was marvelous. To have it happen to you, personally, was not.
I took it as a message. You see, the truth is, I hated that apartment. I hated the town I lived in. Lester Prairie, Minnesota, is so small and far away from everything. The people stare at you as you walk down the street. You can feel them stare at you even when you can’t see them. The whole place was making what was already wrong with me even worse. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that town. Now, through some strange kismet, though I had nowhere else to go, I was going to get out. I felt as though something, somewhere, had finally heard me and had sent me a chaos of fire and smoke as my salvation. I stayed with my sister and her family, cramped in a single room with my wife and daughter, for a few weeks before I found a new place and got settled in. Once I did, I set about trying to sort myself out.
I’m not going to lie to you. Though at this point I had quit drinking almost a year prior, I smoked a copious amount of weed. Cannabis has an interesting effect on some people. Rather than make you stupid, as its detractors love to try and convince you of, it can cause intense bouts of what my friend John calls “introspective nightmares”. He hates them. It’s a hate I understand because it can send you into a spiral of depression and anxiety that lasts until the effects finally wear off, and even then the thoughts you have about yourself during the high stay with you. Sometimes for a long time.
I threw myself into these things. As hard as I could. I threw myself at my depression and my fear and my anxiety with the full force of my will. It was like walking into a blazing gunfight, armed only with the belief that you will walk out the other side unharmed.
I was terrified. What if I could never find my way out of this dark? What if I was trapped here forever with the stinking carcasses of my past mistakes and misdeeds and bad decisions? What if?
I once again began to despair. I smoked weed, I meditated in my own special way, and I smoked more weed. I spent most of my days off from work in a constant fug of THC induced hypnogogia. Alone in the dark I cried out, “Please. Please, help me,” and I spent nights weeping in terror. And then on one of those nights, even though I have been an avowed atheist for almost my entire adult life, something happened that changed me.
God spoke to me.
Many of you reading this are going to scoff at that last sentence. Even typing it was hard because it sounds absolutely ridiculous, so I don’t blame you one bit. You’re going to demand proof of some kind. I can’t provide it. It was a singularly subjective experience and I wish I could tell you it was a literal voice from the heavens or perhaps even a burning bush or something equally magnificent, but it wasn’t. I don’t believe in a literal god. Even now, even after this, I do not believe in an individual entity that can be described as god. Such an entity is not necessary to my experience, though I admit I am far more inclined to allow for the possibility than I ever have been in my whole life.
No. What I heard, what I felt, was much different than that, but make no mistake. I do believe that’s what happened. I do not think this makes me special in any way. I have no gift to speak of to make this possible, save for the “gift” of absolute despair. I humbled myself in my suffering in a way that few people ever really do and for that, I was rewarded with light. I was shown the path out of the darkness. I was given a map.
If I explained to you the mechanics of what actually happened, it will sound silly. Sillier than it already does. I know this is true. I know I cannot make you believe me. I also know it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to. This was a personal experience and I don’t know that anyone else could have it happen to them the exact same way it did to me. Trust me on this one thing though, there is no other way to truly describe what happened to me except for that one insane sentence.
God spoke to me.
Again, it matters very little if you believe me. It was an experience so profound it doesn’t require anyone else in the world to believe it. If you have had this experience, and many have, then you know what I am talking about. If you have not, it cannot be adequately described.
The effect it had was almost immediate. Anybody who was around me over the course of the next few days and weeks could probably tell you (I don’t know, I never asked) that there was a fundamental change in me. I’m sure my wife thought I had gone quite mad. I probably had, because for whatever reason, I believe that through some kind of…I don’t know. Divine insight? A spiritual epiphany? I was made privy to Truth.
And I am going to tell you what it is, to the best of my ability.
You must let go of your ego. That is original sin. The one you’re born with. It is what keeps you forever separated from those around you. Ego begets fear. Fear begets anger. Even when you don’t realize that is what is happening, that is what is happening.
All negative human emotion stems from fear. Fear resides in the ego. You think you’re too good, or not good enough. You think you are damaged or you think you are better than everyone else. You are not better than anyone else. You are not worse than anyone else. You are the same as everyone else. We are all the same.
You are, however, having a unique experience. It is the same unique experience that every other person you have ever met or ever will meet is having. It is called life, it is called consciousness. It is a fundamental part of the totality of existence and it is a goddamn miracle.
You are a miracle.
Your neighbor is a miracle. That junkie down on the corner begging to suck your cock so he can get another fix is a miracle. Your parents, your children and your potential children. President Obama, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, and those maniacs Jessie Ventura and Alex Jones. They are all miracles.
Adolph Hitler was a miracle. I don’t care if you don’t like it. It doesn’t make it any less true.
We, all of us, are just doing the best we can. We are born without a choice of who we are. We do not get to choose our location of birth. We do not get to choose our parents or our siblings or really much of anything. We can make choices along the path we walk, yes, but those decisions are so often informed by things we have no control over that for many people, there isn’t much choice at all. This feeling of powerlessness can overwhelm some of us. I know it did me. It’s how I got to this point in the first place. My life growing up was not what you would call pleasant, and though there were good people around me trying to help me, there were as many or more who, due to their own personal shortcomings and their own personal struggles with ego, were doing their damnedest to tear me down. Violence, screaming, threats, and accusations were the norm. Peace was an island I visited infrequently unless I was alone.
Even those people who did me harm though, they were doing the best they could. Trapped by their own egos and their own self doubt and their own misfortunes and misdeeds just as I am and just as you are. Each of us is having the same experience, but each and every experience is unique to itself. In all the world no one has suffered the same as you nor felt the same joys as you in the exact same ways. Just as some of you will read this and laugh at me, or be angry with me and tell me I’m wrong, or agree with me, or wonder why it took me so long to see this, or weep with joy should what I have to say reach you in a way that you need.
I have to tell you this. I have to because I love you. I love you because I have to. I love you because god didn’t really speak to me, because I spoke to myself. I love you because I am god and you are my children. I love you because you are god, and I your child. I love you because I must because it is the only way to fix things. All things. Everything. I love you because you exist and I love you, most of all because I just do.
I am still struggling with my own journey. I am still battling with ego and depression and anxiety and fear. Though things began to get better after what has occurred, I am still walking in the dark. Sometimes the path is rough and it’s difficult to find my footing. Now, though, my load is lighter. I have set down my anger and my hate and it has made the going so much easier to bear. I am not miraculously out of the blackness.
But I can see the light up ahead.