A Souvenir

This is the rock from the night I decided I couldn’t kill myself. I haven’t had it that long, only three weeks. The past few months, as financial deadlines have approached, I’ve had what I call “Plan E” in the back of my head. No matter how stressful things got, no matter how much I continued to fail, I knew I had an out. Plan E. Suicide. It seemed like a logical decision. 

I’m not sure when I decided this, but my mantra has become Create as little negative impact or burden to those around you as possible. If I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, I wasn’t able to support myself, and I wasn’t contributing much to the world anyways, then suicide seemed like the only option. So if I got to May 31st and I didn’t have a job or I hadn’t somehow come up with a plan to stay stable in a reasonable amount of time, I was gonna call it quits.

Two weeks ago I was suffocating. It was another round of job rejections, another minor quarrel with my roommate, another day felt wasted. I just had to get out, so I made my way to the lake. It was a dark and stormy night, and the crashing waves drowned out my loud sobs. I walked the same beach I’d walked a hundred times with Jacuzzi, my former dog, and I couldn’t help but feel the intense pang of loneliness that the contrast between then and a few months earlier elicited. A few months ago I had a fiancé, two cats, and a dog. Now I had a roommate with a rabbit.

As I stood on the beach crying, I could feel myself mourning something but I wasn’t sure what. All that frustration and stress had gotten to me before, but this time felt different. I realized that this time I didn’t have the release valve and comfort of Plan E. Somewhere along the way, and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when, I’d figured out I couldn’t kill myself. The negative impact that it would have on my friends and family would far outweigh that of my potential homelessness and/or mental breakdown.

My very mantra that’d I’d used to justify my exit plan now was being used against me. I was able to see that I made just enough of a positive difference in the world and that made me incredibly sad. It meant I didn’t have two weeks to live, I still had a lifetime. A life that for the foreseeable future was defined by the struggle to stay alive, to stay healthy, to stay housed. I cried thinking about that struggle. I wailed into the cacophonous wind thinking about the wasteland awaiting me.

I started throwing rocks in the water, no more tears to cry but still needing to vent. As the appeal of that quickly wore off, I picked up one that had been a part of a neat pile, clearly set aside by a child. It was too small to make a splash if I threw it, but it was so smooth and flat like a good skipping rock should be. I like marking occasions with souvenirs and while I didn’t know what this occasion was, I knew it needed a marker. So I put this stone in my pocket, fiddling with it as I made my way from the shore to the park’s swing set. I sat down, nodded politely at the drug dealer sitting on the nearby play-set, and messaged my friends.

I still very much want to kill myself. I think about it at least a couple times a week. If I could stop this stress, stop this pain, I would. But I’ve felt the pain that suicide causes and I know that I can’t do that to the people around me. Maybe one day I’ll have a new souvenir, one that marks the day I don’t want to die anymore, but for now a rock that reminds me I can’t will have to do. The past few months have been a countdown. A countdown to May 31st. A countdown to Plan E. I got this rock when there were T minus 20 days left.
Yesterday was May 31st.
T minus zero.
Today is the June 1st. 
Day one.

In reaction to this post, I’ve since recorded an audio discussion of it which you can find here.

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