My first two years living in Chicago nearly ended with my suicide. This is not an exaggeration, and this is not a joke. I had a step-by-step plan of how to execute myself with a few items found in my own home so I wouldn’t have to go buy anything and risk changing my mind at the store. The plan was carefully thought out so that it would work the first time. I practiced the steps mentally over and over again so that if I ever made the decision I would be rehearsed enough to carry them out without screwing it up or losing my nerve.
Never mind the reasons why. Never mind the reasons why not.
It took months before I didn’t want to any more, and those were some of the longest and loneliest months I have ever faced. Certainly I could have benefited from either medication or therapy, but what I ached to feel in those days was human contact. My friends were all Back Home, and my problems couldn’t be solved over the phone.
What I really needed was to be . . . held.
It was in my first year of grad school when I started to realize how much I’d missed another person’s touch. In a class focused upon movement exploration we were assigned to follow one another around the room. I was instructed to walk normally, and one of my classmates was instructed to place her hand upon the side of my shoulder and feel the way my joint swayed when I walked.
It was the first time in a year someone had touched me on purpose. I struggled not to cry. No one seemed to notice.
Eventually I got over it, but only just. Found a woman who wanted me, and being touched came not so few and far between. I felt better for a while, because of her and because of time.
A couple of years later, I found myself again Wounded. Wanting. Alone. This time I made a plea to my Facebook friends, and I was flooded with support. I didn’t want to put all the weight of what I was feeling onto any one person, but dividing it among so many alleviated enough of the guilt, and I was able to recover in weeks instead of months. I’ve been okay since then.
Why tell this story now?
A new friend is going through some trouble, and confided in me so that I might help. While sitting together I reached out and took her hand in an expression of comfort. She held on tight and mentioned how good it felt to have human contact after so long without it.
Suddenly I remembered again what that was like, to nearly weep at the slightest gesture of kindness. I thought of that time in my life when such a simple, fleeting moment of contact could have such a profound effect. I began to fear for my friend, and that fear has driven me to press forth every ounce of support I can reasonably muster to the point where I’ve begun to question whether I’m being overbearing with it.
Today I realized that I’m the one I’m trying to save. I’m reaching back into my own past to make sure I don’t kill myself eight years ago. I guess it’s working?
Maybe I didn’t leave those days behind; maybe I’m just outrunning them. I’ve a strong lead these days, but on worse nights I’ll nightmare them within the reach of recent memory, and I’ll fear for those around me. I’ll fear that the Loneliness will take them, too.
Is there anything I can do for you?