In a recent post, I shared some personal experience regarding social expectations and how those expectations favor men. Particularly if you're a woman trying to break away from one. But that's not the only thing keeping me up at night. Although, admittedly, it is part of it.
Depression, a sense that life is spinning out of control, fatigue, a lack of social connections/purpose, growing concerns surrounding family 1,000 miles away, oh, and the fact that my dog is also 1,000 miles...and has been. For over six weeks. And will remain separate from me for at least eight more. The dog that spent every minute of every day with me for the last 12 years. Through cancer. Through depression. Through upheavals in my relationship. She slept with me, too. It's unbearable, being apart. But there is a general disagreement on custody of my baby dog. And like a child, the argument is that, because I travel, she is "better off" elsewhere. Except, I'm her person. And she's mine.
I look for her. In the yard. In my bed. Hear phantom barks. I sometimes wake up in a panic, thinking she's lost somewhere and I can't find her. It's brutal. And it's made me go to some pretty bad places. Inevitably, when I go to those places, my friend of 20 years, who I lost to suicide just over a year ago, comes to mind.
He had a family, children, friends, a good job, nice home. He was tall, very good looking, smart, talented, artistic, successful. In many ways, he had a life that 95% of America wishes they had. But it's not as simple as all that. From the outside looking in, it made no sense. But as his friend, I did my best to look inside-out.
People always judge those who consider suicide, or perhaps have even attempted it...some, sadly, succeeding. I find it odd that anyone feels as though they have right to do that. Judge another human being. For any reason. Where has compassion gone? Do Buddhists have an exclusive on it??? Because if we were to look at the world's problems today--truly look at them--we would see that most, if not all, stem from a lack of compassion. A sense of superior judgment. A deliberate decision not to think. Or feel. To just do what is easy. And not necessarily right.
I think I get it: Suicide. The world sucks. It's a hard place. Even when you're in a good one, you're not on an island. If you live in Baudrillard's "desert of the real," you know what I'm talking about. Cruelty abounds. Compulsion, not compassion, rules the day. Heck, it's ruled humanity for longer than that. And the intelligent person may understand that none of it ends until you die. Like taxes. Or laundry. Or cleaning your toilet.
Of course, there is more about our existence that we don't know than what we do. To die may just be another beginning. Many cultures still hold to the belief of reincarnation. Heaven? Oh...and Hell. Perhaps one of the stackable dimensions from quantum physics??? Valhalla might be nice, that is, if you're a Viking warrior. Okay, so what we know to be real, definitive, is our world. The world in which we physically exist. We also know that if we physically die, we can no longer exist in the same world. At least, not in the same way. Ghost Hunters anyone???
No more sweet kisses from a lover. No more hugs. Smiles. No more soft breezes on your cheek. No more Georgia sunsets. Or California sunsets. Or Cape Cod sunsets. Or New York sunrises. No more swimming in the ocean. No more sand between your toes. No more sex (!). No more sweet tea. Or espresso. Or pistachio gelato. Or foodgasms of any kind. No more sense of "Woohoo!" after biking for 30 miles straight. No more looking into impossibly blue eyes. No more babies. Or hand-holding. Or hearing the person you love breathe as he sleeps next to you.
The thought of leaving it all makes my eyes well with sorrowful, salty tears. Personally, I've worked too hard to stay on the planet, for however long, or short, my life may be to do anything else. Survival is paramount. And it's probably also why I choose to be a positive force, to help people when I can, to be a good neighbor, a good friend, a good partner, a good moderator, a good teacher, a good mother, to encourage people--even when those same individuals have been nasty towards me. I never feel joy at someone's pain, or when another dies. Even a man like Osama Bin Laden, who was responsible for one of the most terrible acts of terrorism on the planet. Death, after all, is very possibly not the end people believe it to be.
When I sit alone, day after day, my lap missing the weight of my baby dog, living in not just a new city, but a whole new State 1,000 miles from the majority of my friends and family, inundated by the same bills as everyone else, worried about the people I love but can only see via a screen or a plane ticket, or very long car ride...wondering about my next job, where I'll find the $$$ for ____ (fill in the blank), or how I'll get through the next four months without going completely insane because I have more questions than answers...I get it. Despite the giant television on my wall. Or the Sun shining brightly just feet away from my back door, which is mere feet away from a forest. I mean, there's an actual forest in my backyard. With trees. Lots of them. Or the fact that in just a few hours, I'll be able to go outside and gaze at the most beautiful night sky I've ever seen.
Loneliness is the real killer. Feeling lonely when you're in a crowded room is even worse than feeling lonely because, well, you're alone. What happens to people who have no one? To those of us who have no parents, or worse, parents who just don't care if you're alive or dead? What happens when you're not married, have no children, or people who care about you on a daily basis? Even if you have over 2,000 Twitter Followers and 1,000 Facebook friends, if you don't have a daily connection with people who love you, care about you, it's easy to disappear. Because you're already invisible. That's why having a pet, or fur-baby, or companion who walks on four legs, is so important. It's recommended for people over 65 because it takes away this tremendously horrible feeling I happen to have right now: As if I'm adrift, lost. And overwhelmingly so.
The first rule of Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club...except when you write a whole novel about it. And then, that book gets adapted to film starring Ed Norton and *swoon* Brad Pitt. May the odds ever be in my favor that, in fact, my latest book project, a memoir, gets the same breathe-of-life as Chuck Palahniuk's story about a lonely man fighting a lonely battle, and what that man had to do to survive. Of course, the film adaptation of my book would have to star Sofia Vergara and Chris Hemsworth.
Yeah, I guess there's hope.... ;)