I watched a movie tonight. “A Monster Calls.” It kind of destroyed me, but it also put something into perspective for me and made me understand something a little better.
It was about a boy whose mother had cancer, and he kept having these recurring nightmares about his mom falling of a cliff and him holding onto her hand and trying to keep her from dropping. Then a tree monster (Liam Neeson) started coming to him and telling him stories and said he would eventually force him to tell his own story (the nightmare).
He didn’t want to tell because he was ashamed that at the end of the dream, he let go and let her fall. Because he wanted it to end. He hated knowing that she was going to die and couldn’t stand it and wanted the pain to end. He didn’t want her gone, so much as he just wanted the pain to end… wanted it to stop looming over him, keeping him in limbo, waiting for the blow to fall.
It made me understand what it must be like to have to deal with someone who has suicidal tendencies.
The threat is always there, hanging overhead like a cloud heavy with rain. It could start pouring down at any minute, but you can’t tell when, so you can never let your guard down. It gets tiring. Exhausting.
It’s human nature to be selfish. People don’t realize how exhausting it is to be a cancer patient, clinging to every precious moment of their life they have left, or how exhausting it is to feel like no one appreciates you and that your existence is a plague upon everyone you love… constantly trying to decide if you cause more harm being alive than you’d cause if you died.
The thing is, though, death just happens. It could always come at any time for any reason. People just push that fact to the back of their minds when things are fine and everyone is healthy.
But that’s never something I was able to do, especially after what happened to Faron. I always knew it could just happen suddenly and knock the wind out of me. It’s part of what kept me so on edge and so scared of life.
But I fought for Faron until they forced me to stop. Even though I knew it was useless and even though people called me cruel, and even though it killed me to see him that way.
When people abandon me and give up on me for feeling suicidal, it only reaffirms the thoughts that cause me to feel that way. Today, I feel that a lot of people are extremely lucky that I did live through Ben’s abandonment. Or at least, that’s how I think they probably feel. Because I have to remind myself that just because people make me feel like shit about myself and just because the guilt of all my mistakes constantly weighs down on me and makes me feel sorry for existing, not everyone else feels like that about me.
Most of the things I look back on and remember with extreme guilt are things that nobody else even remembers. And they go really far back into my childhood, too. The first guilty memory I can recall is when I was super little and my mom had taken my letter blocks and glued them together to make a sign for my door that had my name on it. And I was a dumb-ass little kid, so instead of noticing that mommy tried to do something nice for me, I was upset that my blocks were stuck together. And it hurt her feelings a lot until she threw it down and they broke apart and she left the room, crying. Even as a 2 or 3-year-old kid, that guilt weighed me down, and it was only the first of so many things I wished I could take back and not have put people through.
And that brings me to the topic of forgiveness. One thing I’ve always been is too forgiving. It gets me hurt more often than it serves me well. No one has ever been as forgiving of me as I’ve been of them, especially myself. How is it so easy for me to forgive others for hurting me in seriously lasting and hopelessly damaging ways, but when it comes to me, I can’t even forgive myself for being a dumb toddler? Maybe it’s because no one ever forgives me, and so I feel like I’m not worthy of forgiveness. Maybe I feel like I’m the only one who deserves to suffer because I’m so used to it by now, it’s like my second language.
And that’s another thing that people, being the selfish creatures they can’t help but be, don’t seem to understand: how exhausting it is to have to be strong for everyone else, constantly neglecting yourself, while they refuse to be strong for you in return and eventually let go and give up on you. This is why that feeling of unease and uncertainty never goes away. Because it’s not just death. People leave me all the time, and it’s rarely from death. Usually, it’s because I’m the one on the edge of the cliff, grasping to the hand that eventually lets me go because they want it to end.
They don’t realize that I backed myself up to that cliff fighting all their battles as well as my own, all by myself until I was outnumbered and it was their turn to help me fight. But when the time came for them to step up and put in their part of the effort, they copped out. Instead of seeing me as a person who needs their help, they see me as the only battle worth fighting, and they fight me off the cliff, rendering all my previous fighting worthless.
And still, somehow I always get back up, and I always forgive. I will always regret any amount of pain I put another person through, because somehow it is easier to forgive others for pushing me off a cliff than it is to forgive myself for being too young and dumb to appreciate a kind gesture from my mother when I was 2 or 3.
I understand that it is difficult to deal with a person who is oftentimes convinced that their life is a burden on those they love. I do. I can legitimately understand it now, and I can even forgive it, but that doesn’t make it right.
My father walked out on me before I was even born because I was too much work and too much trouble to put up with. I hadn’t even had a chance to even do anything other than simply exist, and even that was too much. Then, slowly, throughout my life, it kept happening. Friends, potential step-dads, boy/girlfriends… Even before I grew to have suicidal thoughts, people continuously gave up on me, walked out on me, abandoned me. Even the goddamn telephone man, who I’m pretty sure was my uncle playing a fucked up prank on me. It’s probably a huge part of the reason I started having those thoughts and feelings. People didn’t want me around, and it was damaging. It started making me believe that being around was wrong… cruel, even. Like if people wanted away from me so badly, then why did I ever have the audacity to exist near them at all? I forgave my father for abandoning me before birth, and of course, he just did it again, because even as an adult living across town from him and rarely attempting to make plans, I was still just too much work and not worth the effort.
When the feelings first began, and I started actually attempting, it just made people angry at me. The only person who’s ever actually told me that I’m wrong and that they want me around is my mom. Everyone else just made the whole thing about how shitty I was to hurt them. Obviously, that only helped those feelings get stronger as the guilt gripped me harder. No one cares that I was hurting, only that they were hurt, and so the guilt was always placed on my shoulders. They’d inevitably leave me, they’d make it my fault, and then the guilt and the feelings of not being wanted would just snowball.
If fewer people had left me in my life, it’s possible things wouldn’t have ever reached that point. The worst part is that things were finally, finally starting to really get better for me when the cancer thing happened and threw my entire world out of whack. I lost my son, then my home, then most of Ben as he started pushing me away. Then, finally, the rest of him as he did what everyone else always does, and made it even worse by getting my last living child taken away from me.
I honestly don’t know how I survived. The stress alone almost had me a couple of times… malnourishment, bad reactions to new medications they kept thrusting onto me… things like that which had nothing to do with being suicidal and everything to do with grieving over so much… and for such a long time.
Yet here I stand, having managed to pick myself up yet again and keep going, even if some days I feel like I’m exerting every last ounce of my life force to do so.
The only person I can really count on is myself, yet I’ve let myself down more times than I can count. I hope you know that no one asks to be this way. It was never my dream to grow up with no self worth or self respect, and to be thrown out like garbage again and again by everyone I’ve ever known. I didn’t ask to be suicidal, and god knows I’ve tried to get help. The problem was, I was never insured. And when I was too down to try any longer, that’s when I really needed my life partner to step up and help me. God knows, I’d tried to help him get help, but he always declined my offers and I reached a point where I couldn’t help anyone anymore because I was too exhausted from being the rock. I needed someone else to take the wheel for a bit.
And I guess it was my fault for expecting them not to crash the car and leave me for dead.
However, now that I am finally insured, I have been able to get better help than I was able to before. I can actually get therapy and afford medications and so for now, even though I’m still extremely grief-stricken and far from being happy, I haven’t really had those suicidal feelings like before. Mostly, my fight comes from my daughter and knowing that she needs me, even if she says she doesn’t, which kind of hurts coming from a 6-year-old. A girl needs a mom. I may not always get along perfectly with my own mother, but god, where would I be without her? Somewhere I never want Ivy to have to be.