Thoughts on Shedding an Identity and Suicide
When you shed an identity, release an old story, there is a period of time when you haven’t quite grown into a new one.
You’ve got glimpses. Ideas, maybe. But all of them are informed by the old landscape; a little too wrapped up in what you used to know, who you used to be. None are fully aligned. None are as satisfying as you’d like them to be.
And yet, you can’t go back.
Nothing is left for you in the place from which you’ve come.
And so you must sit, in this alchemical place – a mixture of death and longing.
This is the place where we humans least like to be.
It is a place of extreme discomfort. Ripe for indulgence in skin-deep pleasures: instantly gratifying, but fake. It is the place where we turn to behaviours of numbing out – to busyness, to addiction, to avoidance – whatever flavour our escape.
And yet, escape is even less satisfying.
We wake, the stench of death filling our nostrils; the discomfort of our longing, intensified by shame and the loneliness of self-imposed hiding; and still no clear way to satisfy our hearts.
These are the spaces – the experiences of being human – we most like to pretend do not exist.
We would rather if darkness were not.
And so, we deny its natural existence in the cycles of our lives. We deny the small deaths of living with such viscosity, that, eventually, the backed-up-swell of darkness turns into a raging storm that can no longer be kept at bay.
Fed by denial and shame, its power becomes so great that our faith in life itself starts to waver.
We find ourselves exhausted and longing for relief. We begin to believe the best way forward might be to simply give up on the light altogether, and to release ourselves into a greater unknown.
I have been in this place of darkness.
I have never seriously considered taking my own life, but I know what it is like to waver in the faith to go on.
What I have learned from my own journey is it is not by avoidance of the darkness that we find a way to move forward into the new story that is waiting.
It is by allowing what is to be.
It is by being fully in the discomfort and the pain of the small deaths that life brings us.
It is by lighting a candle and raising the flame so our friends know where to find us.
It is by allowing the pain to be real without shaming ourselves for the experience.
It is only if we let death come, that it will go. This I know.
Small deaths will come and go, if we let them.
The sun will rise again.
So keep a candle and a match by your bedside, for those nights when death comes to visit.
And when darkness closes in, strike your match and raise your flame high in the air. Help will come. It will not be a quick-fix, instantly-feel-better kind of help. It will be the kind of help that heals by allowing what naturally is. It will lend an ear, a hug, a prayer, a laugh, a hand. It will not judge. It will be love so big there will be room for death within it.
In that safe space, death will come, and it will go. The sun will rise again.
May we each receive and be that kind of love. May we show up for each other no matter how dimly the light may flicker.
We will all have times in our life when we don’t know how to write the next chapter.
Its okay. Take off the covers. Strike the match. Let in the love.
A new story is coming.
R.I.P. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and every one who has found themselves in darkness, without a match, and without the faith needed to write the next chapter of their story.