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It’s All About Survival

As a teenager, I thought about what it would feel like to slice through a vein or artery or both. I didn’t know the most effective technique, and I didn’t particularly want to die. I just wanted a break from the indignities of being whatever I was. Most everything anyone said to me felt dismissive. It’s hard to know if my perceptions were anything close to reality.

The biggest assholes of them got it right: I *was* a faggot. I *did* have school pretty easy given my IQ was around 140. At the time, those were things to hide because they made me different. So I hid them.

In bio class when we were supposed to be dissecting some poor, dead, wan frog that seemed at the time to have a better situation than my own, I pressed the corner of the blade into my wrist just to get a tiny fraction of an idea how it would feel. It stung, and I could do the math to figure out the pain caused by shoving the blade deeper. It’s nothing I wanted. It wasn’t the way to peace.

The sad thing is I don’t know what I can tell my younger self about things getting better. They have, yet they haven’t. I suppose the responsible thing to do would be to lie and say life becomes wonderful. Ideally, I would have a dry-erase board behind me and draw a squeaky ascending line to show how much more sunshine comes out of my ass with every passing year. Fuck that.

Sorry to bring the real, but this is my life. I don’t struggle every day with horrible thoughts like I did as a teenager, so in that sense, yeah, it gets a fuckload better. But that makes it worse when when the thoughts come back, because I’m out of practice at pushing them away. (The Summer of Death screws with my head, although sometimes it’s not about that at all.) It’s worth the effort, although I’m tired and can’t honestly tell my younger self and zir modern counterparts that life doesn’t suck a lot of the time. It does. That’s simply true. As a friend told me a long time ago when I was having yet another depressive episode, life is a lot of work, day after day. I knew it already, but hearing him say it made the weight so much more bearable. His words come to me when I need them.

I may not have done much, but I’ve survived, and really: that’s fucking huge. I’ve survived depression and anxiety and OCD to have bad days instead of no days–and more and more good days. I’m just having a bad night. I’m blogging my way through it. Soon I’ll be reading your beads and cajoling you in my loving/snarky way. Unless you’ve read this, you’ll probably remain oblivious to my struggles. Hey, whatever.

You’ve got to reach out. It’s a big world. Someone somewhere is paying attention and is glad you’re surviving, too.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve been very sure to talk to my girls since they were very young about how sad and lonely feelings can make you think about doing harmful things to yourself. They have always been very open with me, and it is my most fervent hope that they will remain so, even with the teenage years so, so, SO close on the horizon.

    Ellie came to me the other day wondering what she should do about her friend, who is experiencing “gay taunting.” (She’s in sixth grade, and this is the first time she’s ever heard anything like this.) I opted for a multi-frontal assault mode, from showing her Wanda Sykes’ PSA, to calling the counselor, to calling the assistant principal, to coaching her through exactly what words she’s going to use the next time she hears that word being used in a derogatory way.

    But I wish I could REALLY stop this kid from being hurt. I can’t, no matter what I do. Maybe Ellie will be stronger than I ever was.

    • First, I want to take issue with that “stronger than I ever was” comment. Um, what?! You kept me from feeling *completely* lost back-in-the-day, and then there’s the spot-on approach you’ve taken with your daughters.

      You’re doing your part–and some others’ as well, I’m guessing. More people need to get involved with “multi-frontal assault mode,” which works better as a group effort than depending on a few to do all the work. The message is finally sinking in that the damage caused by ignoring bullying is greater than by possibly offending those who think queer identities shouldn’t be acknowledged in schools or by assuming that bullying is just a fact of life. By serving as a model of how to respond to bullying, you may really stop the kid from further pain.

      • One thing that worried me is that, when Ellie was talking to me about her friend, she said “Oh, but he’s not gay.” I stopped her immediately and said, “Whoa. So what if he is? How do you know he’s not? How do you know you’re not?” Then we talked about how stupid it was to insult someone based on who they love, and about how they are born.

        I love that she was right there with me, and was all “Wow, you’re right, that is totally stupid. That’s like saying ‘blue eyes or bad’ or ‘liking chocolate ice cream is bad.’ ” She is a REALLY great kid.

        I wish her a long and happy friendship with a sweet young man, who likes the company of girls who don’t call him names. (And who Jazzercises. Bless.)

  2. I sometimes think we are all born with “death drives”. While that is a term used to describe war veterans who want to relive the violence of shells and barrages, it can also be applied–more curiously–to just about everything else.

    The only solution I can think of is to get outside. Put yourself in a situation so blatantly unlike the mushroom cloud in your head. Be shocked.

    Do this over and over, whenever you feel like bleh, and try to forget.

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