I used to attend a weekly candlelight yoga class. Every Friday evening I would seek courage in warrior pose, stability in tree pose, and peace in lotus pose. And for what seemed like eternity I wondered, “What am I doing wrong?”
I recently unearthed this entry in my journal from that time. Here was the dialogue inside my head as I knelt in child’s pose one Friday night:
One hour at a time. You can do it. Just make it to the end of class.
Then what? Do the math. I’m only 35. I could live up to 60 more years. I might be less than halfway through my life. A truly frightening thought. If I had a terminal illness–cancer or some tumor–I could probably hold on a few more years. But what if God isn’t merciful and makes me endure another five or sex decades? Can’t do it.
Stop it. Jesus, be with me. Think positively. Life is a gift.
That’s a lie. Why should I say that when I don’t mean it? Why did God create me if all I want to do is die? Everyone feels this way. It’s just un-American to admit it. This nation is too programmed by Disney and McDonalds to be real. No one questions the attitude-of-gratitude that is force-fed to us all the time.
Where does everyone find the strength to go on? Why doesn’t everyone commit suicide? Are people just better at faking happiness than I am? I am a crappy liar. That’s my problem. Make-believe worlds have never appealed to me. On this side of death anyway. Peace isn’t here. It’s there. I’ve got to get there. Now.
Stop it. Concentrate on your breath. It’s speeding up. Slow down. Inhale. One. Two. Three. Four. Exhale. Jesus, be with me. Positive thoughts. Why can’t you do that? Blessings! Count them!
Ninety-nine percent of the world has it worse than me and yet they have grateful hearts. I am a spoiled brat holding all the goodies and complaining. I have no reason to feel this way. I’m a pathetic self-absorbed creature. Maybe I am miserable because I don’t do enough charity work. Life isn’t meant to be enjoyed. It’s about helping others. I need to volunteer more.
Uh oh. Here I go. I can’t stop the tears. Think happy thoughts. David’s birth. Katherine’s. Your wedding day. Some happy childhood memory. Go there. Now. Jesus, be with me.
Those memories don’t matter anymore. I’m not the person I was and I never will be. The kids deserve a better mother, someone who can be there for them instead of crying and shaking at all their activities. David has already been affected by my erratic moods. Look at his conduct in Karate yesterday. He needs a mom who can nurture him emotionally. Not a sobbing mess of a mom always worried about her next anxiety attack.
I need to do something before the kids form too many memories of their whackjob mother. If I frame my suicide as an accident, they will get over it soon enough.
Stop. Stop. Think positive. Light. Jesus, be with me. Breathing. Slow it down.
Last time I counted I had at least twenty bottles of old prescriptions stashed away in the garage. That should be plenty to do the job. But what if it doesn’t? I can’t make Eric take care of a veggie his whole life. I want him to move on. He deserves better, someone who can contribute more to family life than I ever did. I’ll have to combine the drugs with another method.
Stop it! Jesus, be with me! Think positive. Think light. Healing light. Andrew Weil (an expert on EXTENDING life!?!) and all those positive psychology guys (Dan Baker, Martin Seligman) are right. I have the power to think myself out of this. I just don’t want to. I’m too lazy. Or too stupid? Why can’t I? What is the matter with me? Think positive, Therese! Think positive! Blessings! Count them! Jesus, be with me!
Carbon monoxide. The method Aunt Mary Lou used. But Eric’s woodworking equipment takes up the whole garage. I can’t fit the car in. Wait. I have Bill’s keys. I could use his garage. But that’s kind of rude. And it wouldn’t look like an accident.
I could hire someone from the ‘hood to shoot me. Joani could hook me up. But she’d tell Eric and then I’d be committed again. Back eating rubber chicken with a group of psychotic women wearing paper-thin hospital gowns. Yuck.
Harry from the psych ward told me about his plan to jump off the Bay Bridge. That could work. Maybe David could push me. He’s good at that. But there’s a chance it wouldn’t take me all the way. Again, veggie world. Plus it doesn’t look like an accident.
I could catch a flight to Baghdad, or show up in Kabul in a bikini.
Stop it! Stop it! Think positive. Jesus, be with me! Why aren’t you there? God! Why aren’t you there?
Eric knows I’m a horrible driver. Why not crash really hard into a tree or a concrete wall or the side of a building? I could take the twenty bottles and then drive into the wall, just to make sure.
Jesus, be with me!
There’s that gun store in Bowie that I looked it up the other day. I could shoot myself as I’m wading into the waters of Back Creek, at my favorite spot off Chesapeake Ave. I could tie weights to my shoes to make sure I sink. Or I could load my pockets with rocks and perish Virginia-Wolfe style.
Stop. Please stop. Think positive. Practice controlled breathing. Jesus, be with me.
Got it! I’ll rent a kayak, take the twenty bottles of pills, and tie weights to my ankles. My body will be swallowed up by Spa Creek. And the kids won’t have too much baggage because it will look like a kayaking accident. I’ve got to do it soon. Before I permanently damage my two little loves. And before Eric loses too much of his heart and soul by hanging out with me. It’s the right thing to do: for me, for the kids, and for Eric.
Stop. Positive thoughts. Breathing. Jesus, be with me.
Thursday mornings I have a sitter. Spring River starts renting kayaks at 10 am. The weather is still warm enough.
Jesus, be with me.