I discovered something today. I want to die.
In fact, I think most of us do at some point in our lives. There is a part of us all that knows that what comes after this must be better than the suffering we have to endure in this physical plane of existence. Whether you believe we are worm food or that there is an afterlife, getting off this spinning cesspool of agony doesn’t sound like such a bad idea sometimes.
To me heaven and hell are states of being along a continuum of nearness to or distance from God. Our intended destination is His presence. That’s where He wants us, not for His sake, but for ours. He doesn’t need us there. He created the universe, and everything in and beyond it. So it isn’t an ego trip that He created us to know Him and to love Him. He did it because He loves us and wants us to know the joy of that love. So even if I haven’t gone as far as He intends me to in this life, it just seems like it would be such a relief to put my movement on that continuum completely in His hand, rid myself of this free will business once and for all.
I was sitting on the steps outside our apartment this afternoon, still upset from an argument I had with my husband about nothing that important. I was smoking a cigarette and thinking, “Why is it that I do this? I know it’s not good for me? Why don’t I start running, and taking care of my body? Why don’t I care about my health that much?” And the answer came with such clarity and truth that I was struck by its simplicity. I want to die, the sooner the better.
So why don’t I hasten the process even more? Why don’t I find a nice bottle of sleeping pills, or some other such painless form of calling it quits? These were real questions in my mind. I wanted an answer. Why aren’t I suicidal? What stops me from really going there? My initial thoughts about my children weren’t really satisfying enough. I wasn’t really thinking about them, but rather the idea of my children being without a mother. The older two have chosen that for themselves, and seem to be…well, they are at least alive, though I don’t know if they are well. So, life goes on without mother. I am fairly certain that my husband would get over it. My parents and sister wouldn’t understand. It would be a tremendous shock to them. They would be deeply saddened. But they, too, would get over it. Those answers weren’t deep enough.
Then I thought about my ex-husband and his family. I got angry. I began to scratch the surface of the truth. “See,” they would say to my children, “she wasn’t any good for you. She was a suicidal mess. You needed better than that.” I will NOT give them the satisfaction, the excuse. While I was angry, I realized that a big reason I am not suicidal is that I find suicide to be the height of selfishness. You take yourself out of the physical plane, removing all potential for good, for service, for simply being there when you are needed, because you are tired of the grind.
Oh, my God, I am tired of the grind. I want my heart to stop being crushed under the foot of my grief. I want someone, anyone, to take up my cause, and stop hiding behind the veil of non-interference. My children are surrounded by people who claim to be my friends (at least on Facebook). They are people who espouse the principles of unity and the importance of letting our hearts “burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” But they do not call my children to account, lovingly, kindly, but frankly, damn it. They are old enough to face the fact that I am their mother. Why can no one remind them that I love them, that I have not for a moment stopped wanting them in my life? My letters do not get through. I am blocked at every turn, with every slight move I make to let them know myself. What would happen if every single person who knows me and knows them passed the message along? Yes, they may shun you as they have shunned others. But then another valiant soul would be right behind you, repeating the same message of love. Do we not believe it is powerful enough to build unity, and wear down the walls of estrangement that have been allowed to grow and calcify through inaction?
Ok. That rant is over. The point is, suicide is selfish. I would be taking myself out of that grind because it is hard. It is excruciating. But then there are my monklets. My eight-year-old son would not only not understand, he would completely and thoroughly blame himself. My three-year-old daughter would feel utterly abandoned by the one she adores most in the world, the one who plays Barbies with her, and lets her twist her fingers through my hair while she falls asleep. These reasons are not about motherhood so much as they are about kindness.
If you watch or read enough about near-death experiences, you know that the frequent message that comes from them is that the only thing that really matters about what we do in the world is kindness. Our accomplishments and accolades account for squat, zippo, nada. To quote Jewel, “In the end, only kindness matters.” And kindness isn’t just the smile we give to our neighbors. It’s selflessly giving our all to our studies so we can learn how we can best be of service. It’s putting our all into our work so that it can truly be a service. It’s letting the children given to our care know how precious they are as human beings. It’s helping them prepare for a life of kindness. Suicide is a completely unkind act because it is entirely selfish.
So I am alive. Then why, dear friends, do I act like I am just waiting to die? Why do I sit on this fence, eating whatever the hell I want, smoking when I want, not exercising? Why do I break commitments to myself? Why do I choose to forget the discipline of prayer and meditation as the source, the well-spring of kindness? It is time to choose. What do I want for my life, possibly forty more years of existence on this physical plane? Do I want to continue as I have been, living in mediocrity so that I can possibly make it 35 more, instead of 40? Or even less, if I’m lucky? Tears stream down my face as I ponder this very real question. I get the kindness thing. It’s why I exist, why any of us do. It’s the way we really learn about God’s love. Kindness requires compassion and truthfulness. True justice is an expression of kindness. Excellence and generosity are the beginning and end of kindness. So what’s it gonna be for me? I’ll be kind to everyone but myself, so I can get rid of this shell as soon as possible? How is that not suicide, slow and painful? It’s a question I will not answer here. You will just have to watch me, watch my life, to find out. Words, at this point are useless. Let deeds, not words, be my adorning, in this one thing.
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