She wrote me a note before we did a community session on suicide. She was not in a place, she said, to come to the session but she wanted to make a contribution.
She gave me permission to use her words as a prompt for the participants to write about their experiences. The following is from the original piece she wrote to me, her words:
I am a survivor I suppose. I have attempted suicide several times in serious ways
and I believe I am alive to share a few things I’ve learned. I feel some sort of purpose, I am always looking for that but here goes — I hope this helps someone.
People could listen more with their eyes as well as their ears. When you are contemplating suicide, you don’t conceptualize it. You may not express it.
Be observant. Don’t ignore anything. Take everything seriously. I wanted someone to hold my hand – I’m not going to leave you, G*d will not leave you, I’m with you, I will never leave you, that’s what I wanted to hear.
And most importantly: This feeling is going to pass.
You don’t think it’s going to pass. You think it’s never going away. It feels permanent.
I wanted someone to say to me: I wish I could be there with you. Call me. Don’t be alone.
Some time later I met with her at a coffee shop.
I’m starting to feel like I want to get out more, she said, to be of service to others. I often feel a terrible negative energy running through my being, but I think I can offer something. If I could help someone else, it would mean so much.
What to do, where to start.
I felt some urgency in bringing these stories out, we have been too secret with our stories of ascendance and recovery, and our stories of descent and tragedy, we have been too secret all around. I felt that lives were at stake and I searched out ways to reach more people, to lift the shame curtain on our addictions and our depression and our imprisonments and our secret illnesses when the inner world goes dark.
I felt that our spiritual and our social institutions were like gated communities behind which stories are kept for ourselves. I think we could work better together to serve our communities with more intelligent strategies. It’s a matter of saving lives, the first step: tell the stories.
Some of the stories are triumphant, some difficult. All are true. Though the stories are stripped of details, names, identifying qualities, almost all the individuals mentioned are heroic meaning they value the necessity to serve. They want to turn their experience into benefit for someone else. Confidentiality does not mean secrecy. Secrecy is part of the problem.
Thus this series: These Are The Stories.