I remember in college being at the Disney Store with my friend Michele, trying to justifying buying ourselves Tigger and Winnie the Pooh costumes to wear for Halloween (Once again, yes, I was a very cool college student.)
We finally pulled the trigger on the Tigger and Pooh, reasoning that since we’re Jewish we would be able to wear the costumes twice every year. once on Halloween and once on Purim. The costumes wound up being very well made and we have definitely gotten our money’s worth. My sister even wore mine last Purim at her temple. Ah, yes, Rabbi Tigger.
Beyond double chances for costumed holidays, Being Jewish also means I get to celebrate two New Year’s. One I spent September in the psych hospital and this one I will celebrate tonight out and about with a friend. And those New Years are just the ones on the calendars.
I have spent a chunk of the last four years with this disease not in remission, with fighting suicidal thoughts, with strapping on electrodes, and with thinking I am done.
But I am not.
With this disease I get 365 chances to start a new year again. And without this disease I do too. We all do.
I have been meditating for two weeks – (That year is two weeks old)
I haven’t hurt myself in over 6 weeks (That year is over 6 weeks old)
I started my job in May (That year is seven months old.)
I have been surrounded by supportive friends for as long as I can remember (Going on over 37 years there.)
And so tonight I will ring in another year and hope it is filled with stretches of health, many steps forward, and the ability to enjoy and recognize both of those.
Happy New Year, Friends
I have shared this passage from Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst before but I am sharing it now with guns on my mind:
‘Suicide is just a moment, Lexy told me. This is how she described it to me. For just a moment, it doesn’t matter that you’ve got people who love you and the sun is shining and there’s a movie coming out this weekend that you’ve been dying to see. It hits you all of a sudden that nothing is ever going to be okay, ever, and you kind of dare yourself. You pick up a knife and press it gently to your skin, you look out a nineteenth-story window and you think, I could just do it. I could just do it. And most of the time, you look at the height and you get scared, or you think about the poor people on the sidewalk below – what if there are kids coming home from school and they have to spend the rest of their lives trying to forget this terrible thing you’re going to make them see? And the moment’s over. You think about how sad it would’ve been if you never got to see that movie, and you look at your dog and wonder who would’ve taken care of her if you had gone. And you go back to normal. But you keep it there in your mind.’
I think knowing suicide is just a moment is what scares me the most about this disease and it is why I work so hard to make sure I have so many ways to combat the very real feeling of wanting to end my life when the desire to do so starts to feel overwhelming.
It is also why I am relieved that neither myself nor my parents (whose house I am currently living in) own a gun.
Yes, I am going there.
Over half of all suicides completed are by gun and 85% of people who attempt suicide with a gun are successful.
I have spent many nights wishing I could get a hold of a gun and then the ‘moment’ has passed and I am grateful I didn’t have a firearm.
Our trigger finger can work much quicker than our rational mind and the number of suicides is on the rise in this country.
Of course if you are determined you can always find a way to end your life but why make it easier?
Just something to think about.
It is almost Hanukkah, the holiday where we celebrate a miracle, in which after fighting off oppressors, Jews wanted to light a Menorah to commemorate the victory and they only found enough oil for one day, but it miraculously burned for 8 days.
I was wondering what if it wasn’t a miracle. What if there was enough oil the whole time and we just doubted that there was, and the true gift was being able to see what we didn’t think was possible but was really there.
Tonight I will not hurt myself for the 8th night in a row and I am now realizing that it’s not a miracle, but a certainty I didn’t believe was possible.
I went to Target today. I wanted to buy a new bedspread, some dry erase boards, and a hammer.
Next to the hammer, there was an Exacto knife. It caught my eye. I thought how I could use it to kill or harm myself and I wanted to buy it. In my defense, going to Target at 3 pm on Sunday could make most people want to kill themselves.
But I didn’t want it in the joking way. I wanted it in the real way. And then I looked back at the hammer and thought, well I could just as easily do harm to myself with that.
And while that thought sounds fucked up, it was actually helpful. It helped me realize these are tools that were invented to help people, not harm them. An Exacto knife doesn’t have the power. A hammer doesn’t have the power. I do.
And so with my mighty power I chose to buy the hammer. And now I am going to use the hammer to help me hang up those dry erase boards in my room, and I am gonna write good stuff on them and I am going to positive affirmation the shit out of them.