There was this lot behind this little girl’s house. The lot was actually part of her own yard, but sat neglected full of trees and rocks and weeds. It wasn’t fenced in like the rest of the yard. It wasn’t landscaped or cared for. Instead, it was the outlier; separate despite being very much part of the very property is was divided from. Somehow it wasn’t worth the time, money, or effort to have included this patch of land when the rest of the yard was getting made over.
This abandoned, neglected lot was her favorite part of the house. She would sit in it and watch the back of her house like she was spying on strangers. The lights would be on in various rooms, sounds would emanate from the house as the people in it moved from room to room doing various things- watching TV, cooking dinner, talking on the phone, listening to music- all of it just ways to avoid whoever else was in the house with them.
The girl would sit and watch and wonder to herself, “What if I just left? How long would it take for me to sit out here before someone called my name? What if I don’t even belong here but no one knows how to tell me to leave?” Her stomach would knot up and her heart would race. She would imagine for a second that someone would step onto the deck and call out her name, a sign that they are looking for her and are afraid they lost her. But after one minute turned to many, her shoulders would drop like a sack of potatoes. Eventually she would begrudgingly go back inside.
Because she was hungry.
Because it was getting cold.
Because she had to pee.
But most of all she because she had no choice. She had no place else to go.
Once she was back inside among the chaos, she would sit in her room still thinking “What if I just left? How long would it take before someone called my name? What if I don’t even belong here but no one knows how to tell me to leave?”
Those questions stayed with her well into her 20s. And by now, it’s pretty obvious that that little girl is a grown woman writing this post. Just thinking about this made me realize why I liked that decrepit lot; It looked how I felt.
Some people who think they know me would be shocked to read this & to hear me admit, so candidly and openly, that this was my inner narrative. Others who really, truly know me read this and know every word of it to be true. I built a super-ego out of steel, a bomb shelter to keep the super sensitive little girl safe from whatever weapons of mass destruction people would use to hurt me, break my heart, kill my spirit, and make me cry.
The thing about bomb shelters is they have no windows. No light gets in. Nothing grows. And eventually, it just becomes this dark, lonely place that isn’t fun to live in. Because you can’t live in a bomb shelter; you just exist. BARELY.
I eventually let myself out of my own bomb shelter when I learned there’s no war coming. No one is dropping an A-bomb on me and destroying my world. No one is intentionally out to hurt me, and if I do get hurt, it’s probably by someone who’s in even more pain than I am.
But some people can’t ever got out of that place. They can’t ever accept that there’s sunshine and light and all sorts of other cool shit outside that really dark, lonely place. Sometimes those people get so severely trapped that they think the only way to get out is to die.
My point, which believe it or not exists, is that today is Suicide Prevention Day. While I’ve never thought of ending my life, there are plenty of people that have and do. And maybe it’s because they think no one understands the pain they’re feeling, or that the people who have their “shit together” really don’t. None of us do. And that’s totally ok. It’s not so much about having your shit together as it is finding people in the world who have some paper towels and Clorox Clean Up and will help you clean your shit up.