Tonight at dinner, our waitress looked to be about 20 years old. If I’m allowed to acknowledge this, I’ll say that she was strikingly beautiful with the sort of smile that made you think she was incapable of having a bad day. Then she served us our dinner and I saw that her right forearm was covered in scars from cutting herself.
I wanted to pull up my sleeves and show her my scars so she would know that it’s okay to hurt. In fact, it’s even okay to hurt so bad that you would choose physical pain over emotional pain. I also wanted to make sure that she knew what I had found so comforting: that self harm actually releases a “high” in your brain much like taking a drug. There’s a reason so many people do it. They aren’t tempting fate; they’re trying to feel better.
Earlier today, I had lunch with my friend who has already written various instructions that will someday accompany her suicide note. There’s nothing about her life that isn’t filled with the darkness of depression. I don’t see suicide as the selfish act of someone who couldn’t hack it. I see suicide as self-defense against a brain that simply won’t allow for the things that make life worth living: hope, joy, laughter, curiosity, ambition, love, and so on.
I know that someday I will lose her, and you may think I’m terrible for not trying to talk her off the ledge every chance I get. But I just want her to know, while she’s here, that she’s not alone. And to be honest, I need to know that I’m not either.
Then there’s the friend from my childhood who recently left behind a wife and three children and killed himself. We hadn’t spoken in decades, and I have very little clue what led to his demise. Then again, do people kill themselves for any other reason than hopelessness/despair/depression? What more do I need to know? I just wished that somehow, some way I could’ve let my friend know I loved him and maybe even sat with him in his final moments. I wouldn’t have judged him or tried to fix him. I’d just want him to know he wasn’t alone.
I began writing this blog because I wanted to establish a community of people who could encourage each other. That hasn’t happened to the extent I had hoped. It was probably unrealistic of me to expect Oprah-like results within a few months, huh?
But over time, I had grown weary of writing, frankly, wondering if it was worth the effort. But tonight, seeing that girl’s arm reminded me of what I started doing this in the first place. More than anything else, I just hoped that one or two people would feel encouraged.
So this weekend, please, for whatever reason or for no reason at all, let someone who might be hurting know they are not alone.