Day 34: What Holds Me Here

What hold you here, truly holds you here? What makes you stay when you want to leave? Hope? Curiosity? Fear?

What holds me here? On earth? In Iowa? What held me in New York for so long? What holds me to life?

The beauty of questions is that there is always a question within the question. Words unspoken, sometimes unaware that they weren’t spoken, and sometimes…painfully aware…

It’s part fear. I’m scared of the day when I actually die. I don’t know if it will be by my own hand, or if it will be due to an illness or accident, but I am scared of the day when I know in the depth of my soul, that I will be dead. That fear has stopped me many times from going through with the decision to kill myself. I’m not afraid of what being dead means, because I won’t know until I’m actually dead, even if I am allowed to consciously know what it means to die.

But I’m not afraid to die, if that makes any sense. I’m not afraid of what lies ahead of me in death, but what I would have left behind. Ironically, I care deeply about my reputation. Would I be seen as a coward? As a martyr? A lost soul?

To have others define me scares me because I have spent so much time in my life trying to define myself. So it causes me pause every time I think about ending my life. The fear doesn’t stop me from hurting myself when the pain becomes unbearable, but fear is only a small part of the equation, and will eventually be factored out in my life.

Or maybe not.

I know I’m running from myself. I’m running from the daily torment I feel. I laugh, and smile, and joke around…but there isn’t a day where I don’t feel an icy grip over my heart. There isn’t a day where I just want to slip into oblivion; to disappear forever. What scares me, in this instance, is that although I love deeply, and truly…love is not enough. Love was never enough…

Love didn’t make my father stay. Love doesn’t keep my sister from slipping further away from me. Love didn’t stop the first woman to hold my heart from tearing it to shreds. Love didn’t stop my brother from becoming a stranger. Love didn’t make my mother choose me instead of her boyfriend. Love didn’t stop me from leaving all I knew behind me without a backwards glance.

There is a part of me, every single day, that wants to give up. To lay down and never wake up. I choose, every single day, to live. I choose not to drive my car into a tree, or onto the train tracks near my house. I choose not to swallow the Tylenol bottle in my medicine cabinet. I choose not to slit my wrists. Although love isn’t enough, to have given myself the chance to experience love means something, and is one of the greatest chances I have given myself.

I don’t think it is the hope of something better that allows me to make these choices. I love the “It Gets Better” campaign videos, because for so many it does get better, that there moment of pain is simply that…a moment. But for some, like myself, every day is just a war we wage with ourselves. I am one of the few lucky ones…I found my outlet…my voice. Others don’t, and they suffer silently, and it’s heartbreaking.

Writing has saved my life more than anyone in my life, and I have several people who have literally saved my life. My brother…Charlatan…Both of them found me on the nights I chose not to survive.

But I’m not staying for them.

I’m not even staying for myself.

I truly have no clue why I am still here. I do know what I have to live for. I am surrounded by beautiful people who love me, and I love them back. I have the sunrise, and a midnight moon. I have the gentle beats of music that always soothe the ache in my chest. I have the softness of Serena’s fur, and the rumble of her purr when she sleeps against me. The world is such a breathtaking place in all of its fractured glory.

So why does it hurt so much? To breathe? To live? I have a quote tattooed into my arm…it’s a Buffy quote..

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

It has become my mantra, the one phrase that defines who I am. The hardest experience of my life is that, living. I feel like there is something missing, something wrong.

It is not a glorious experience, and when people tell me similar stories about themselves I push them to get help. Yes, at times I’m a hypocrite. I don’t get help for myself, because I don’t know what I need help for.

I’ve tried the pills…and I turned into a ghost.

I’ve tried therapy…and I was told I would eventually kill myself.

I listened to experts, and gurus, and mentors. I kept busy, I re-learned how to smile. And yet, when I’m alone, all I think about is leaving. But I am still here, and even though I don’t know why…it means something. It means something to open my eyes…

But I don’t know where I would go if I decided to actually pack up and leave again. What would I do? Who would I be? I’m not afraid of not knowing, but I’m afraid of leaving, only to find out that I truly stayed in one place. That nothing changed…that it isn’t the world that is broken……it’s me.

My friends don’t understand my shock at their love, because I don’t understand why they love me. I don’t get the big deal about family, because I learned at an early age that blood means nothing.

Yet…at the same time…I love it here. I love it so much that the thought of leaving hurts just as much as the fear of staying. I love the feel of my heart beating, and the rush of oxygen through my body. I love the burn in my muscles, and the bubbling of laughter in my throat. I love life.

So I stay when I want to leave, and leave when I want to stay, and live perpetually in the grey.

My life isn’t glamorous, and there are thousands like me, who don’t understand, who are scared, who give up. I wish I could talk to them, tell them they aren’t alone. Tell them about how I chose to live today. Tell them about the small things I saw that made the choice worth it. About the time I pulled over on the side of the road to buy poorly made lemonade from this little kid; about the time I teased my lab partner by talking about waterfalls and swimming because she had to go to the bathroom and had to wait till the end of the period. Tell them about the times I let rage replace the pain, and lost control in school, slamming my fists into the concrete walls as I screamed in pain and confusion. Tell them about the time I shouted poetry across my campus at 9 at night, completely high on adrenaline and laughter.

I won’t know what truly holds me here until the day it lets me go. I won’t know what will happen that day; it isn’t today. I’m simply walking down the roads, telling stories, and sharing my pain because at some point I learned that it was okay not to be okay.

It’s okay not to be okay, and lord does the universe know that I’m not always okay. But I live…I survive…I’m not wholly defined by the shadows of my life, nor will I allow anyone to define them after I am gone. Choosing to stay, or to go, has given me the opportunity to really see what living means. What it means to draw a breath…what it means to have that breath taken.

So I don’t know if I have answered the question. I live because I choose to. I stay when I want to run because I simply don’t have the money to go…I don’t disappear because I’m not ready to fade away. Do I have hope? Yes. Do I have fear? Yes. Am I curious? Oh definitely…because I infuriate myself. I could easily say it’s because I don’t want to leave friends and family behind, but that is not fully the truth.

The fact is, is that part of me has already left. I did move 1200 miles from all that was familiar. Fact is, each scar on my arm represents a part of the pain that bled from my body, and each choice to live, is a choice that sets me on a new path in my life.

Today I chose to stay. Tomorrow I might leave. But the greatest knowledge I have, is that no matter what, my life would have been lived exactly as it should have been, and that I fought for each moment, for each second. That I didn’t let someone else dictate my outcome. It may not seem much, but after being ruled by so many, the greatest power I hold is over myself. It isn’t easy, and so many people quit without even trying to find a reason….

I guess I’m looking for a reason to give up and leave…and I haven’t found it yet.

I don’t know if that gives you any answers, I never have been able to explicate all that I think or feel. I just have experience. I have memories. I have my words. One day the answers will change, and so will the experience. One day I might have an answer why I don’t just up and leave. Why I fight even when I’m too tired to. One day, but not today….today is a simple ideology in my life that I plan to fully enjoy.

Question of the Day:

What is your first memory?

One thought on “Day 34: What Holds Me Here

  1. My gut wrenching first thought after reading this? Mirror, Mirror. No, not the silly storybook tale, but the fact that though our faces are so dissimilar, our lives so very different, our preferences different, there is such a similarity there, a glimmer of a similar soul, a reflection of my own peering back at me. I’m not sure there really is an answer and when I asked you those questions I was also asking myself – your answers are not dissimilar to my own answers. My quick answer is “my children hold me here” as they’ve saved my life more than once. I wear a shirt (from my favorite band – Blue October) that says “Think About It. Who Would Clean Up The Mess” The thought of my children having to clean up after me holds me here. So, I suppose Fear – yeah, probably fear. Thank you so much for your beautifully written and heartfelt words.

    Now…to answer…my first memory was of toddling around in a bowling alley and sticking my finger in a hole. Unfortunately, the hole was between the sander and the bowling ball (where the sander grips the ball so it can go back up from underneath the alley) where the sander began to sand the skin off my little finger (I was 1 1/2 – 2). Thank goodness my Daddy was so strong (bull rider and a Marine) he reached down and had to grasp the ball and pull it up (because it couldn’t get traction because my finger was blocking the sander) while his baby girl screamed bloody murder. Almost lost my finger and that’s my first memory…lovely isn’t it? Ha.

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