Once upon a time in another life, Alex and I went to the Met…There was this huge monochromatic canvas by Rothko that took up a whole wall. I thought there had to be more to it. It couldn’t just be a monochromatic canvas. It had to be about texture. Or maybe extremely small pointillism. I kept getting closer and closer, trying to figure it out. What was its secret? What made it special? Finally, I was so close I was nearly touching the painting and a security guard came up and asked me to move back. However, I was close enough to tell—it was really just a canvas painted in one color of paint. Nothing more. I couldn’t stop thinking about it once we left. What was the fucking point of it? You could stare at it for hours, but it was never going to be anything more than what it was. No illusions or impressions or depth. If you picture that painting in the darkest blue, that’s my fucking life.
While I have romanced suicidal thoughts for most of my life, I haven’t come this close to actually doing it in years.
I don’t know what happened, but this morning, somewhere between the tornado of my kids leaving with my mother & getting in my car to leave for work, I felt something collapse. Felt the full weight of my hopelessness finally land in my chest. Nothing much matters at this point and things have ceased to feel real for a while now-but I just finally absorbed it. As I sat in the kitchen, staring at the cup of coffee I couldn’t taste and couldn’t quite swallow, I felt like the thing I should do is die. And I thought about it for a while. Considered the hows of pulling it off, since all the whys are already settled. What was it crazy old Anne Sexton said? Live or die, but don’t poison everything? Something like that. I don’t know if my constant suicidal ideation is a poison, but I look at it more like a color. Everything just tinged with cobalt. Everything focused through a lens of unbearable blue.
Like I said, it’s not a new thing. I’ve had pretty constant suicidal ideation since I was little…It’s been a facet of my mental operations since my uncle told me I was useless and should just kill myself when I was 5 or 6. It was a comment lobbed at me when I couldn’t get him off…the statement designed to hit and rigged for pain. The ideation never left. I remember writing a will as young as 7 or 8. There was so little to leave, but I left my toys, my keyboard, my violin, my childhood chintz to my siblings. I left my parents nothing, not even so much as a mention in my will…saying more with omission than anything else. I still remember writing the will on this marbled card stock with black marker, wanting it to look official. I then folded the paper up into a tiny square, opened up a picture frame & squeezed it behind the picture of a magical looking woman in sparkling robes standing near a very majestic unicorn. It was a picture in my room at the time…I don’t know where that picture ended up after all this time—but the last will and testament of a very sad, already beaten 7 year old is tucked away in it. Secretly, safely.
I’ve written often here about the suicide attempt I made in college that I almost didn’t survive, that I didn’t feel I was meant to…The second time I nearly attempted to kill myself a year and a half later, my therapist sent me to the mental health unit. There, I met Alex. With the addition of love to my life, the voices telling me I should just kill myself dulled to static, to the unfocused fuzz of de-tuned radio…but they never fully left. For years, I thought they lessened with alcohol…but I’ve realized that’s not actually true. It just makes me less capable of following their step-by-step directions…I can’t unplug the toaster. I can’t open the childproof bottle. I can’t tie a knot. I have spent years being saved by my own overserved idiocy.
But the thoughts are always there. And I’ve mostly learned to live with them while the world around me is cast in a pallor of blue.
I’m not sure what started the push towards it. Probably the anniversary of Alex’s death and my brother not even acknowledging my text that I sent while I was hurting. I thought, “if I died, literally none of my siblings would even care.” I felt the hands on my back then…pressing hard between my shoulder blades. Another shove happened when I looked around the table at my birthday dinner and stared back at the faces of people who don’t even LIKE me…One more heave forward when my ex tore up my birthday card and called me an asshole on my birthday. I had to pretend it didn’t bother me till he went up to bed because I didn’t want him to see me cry.
The final thrust came this weekend.
Bridget lied to me yet again about something. Nothing novel. Her modus operandi for driving me slowly insane. I have pardoned a lot of mistreatment in my life, as long as people were honest with me regarding their shitfuckery. I have been given a daughter who relentlessly lies, perhaps a genetic hand-me-down from her pathological liar of a father. And it triggers something ugly in the raw hull of myself. We fought about her lies. I wrestled with my own anger levels rising out of the pit—growing exponentially as we stared at each other with the awareness that we both knew she was lying. And still she committed to it. Doubled down like a goddamn snake oil salesman claiming he’s got the goods to cure cancer… Then, she tearfully accused me of being a bad mother for never believing her, what kind of mother doesn’t believe her child. I tried to ignore her and put her in the shower, so I could get her ready for theater class. As I washed her hair, she shrieked, “I’m going to get a knife and stab myself! I am going to kill myself and you’ll be sorry!” I quietly asked if she was serious. She began to cry, “No, I just said that to hurt you. And because I lied.” My gut instinct at her manipulation being laid bare was to slap her…but I didn’t. I leveled my voice out, like asphalt being steamrolled into road….Told her that is not a threat we make to hurt someone…and if she actually feels like she is going to hurt herself, she needs to tell her father or myself. In my head, and only in my head, I narrowed my eyes at her and called her a psycho. Stomach acid churning, brine of guilt for feeling like I don’t even like my kid.
Who is just like me.
In 30 years, will I be the reluctant guest at her birthday dinner? There, but only because I have to be.
There is a good chance. We seem destined to spend our lives hurting each other. Intentionally, unintentionally. It doesn’t really matter. (Nothing much does these days.) Through the future’s spyglass, I see pain. When I think about the possibility, I feel the stakes pulling up out of the ground. I feel my tethers to this earth loosen. I mean, without a tribe, without love–what’s the fucking point…
If we’re being honest, I just don’t want to be here anymore…and I’m getting closer to actually doing it all the time. For however many years, I’ve been staring at the same dark, one-toned canvas that never changes, unsure of why it even exists and wishing it was different…but here I am, still dabbling in ocean blue like I have for years…don’t expect me to paint you a lighthouse now.