I Don’t Mean to Shock You

Suicide has been my friend, and yeah, he’s not a very nice friend. He’s been the friend that whispers to me, that offers me a way out, an end to the pain that boring, everyday life can bring.

Well, if I put it that way, suicide hasn’t been a friend at all, but all the same, I’ve lived long periods of time with the enemy inside my head, chattering at me.

Since he’s been such a constant companion, well, I come across insensitive when I talk about death and suicide. I can shock and offend people so easily, and over the years, I’ve tried to keep my flippant comments about suicide to myself.

I had a friend (a real one, not in my head) who killed himself in college. When I found out, I said, “Well, at least he’s found a way to quit smoking. Permanently.”

My dad’s a cop. Dark humor goes with the territory and it must be genetic.

I didn’t mean to come across callous, but I understood what had killed my friend, and when faced with death, I usually laugh inappropriately. Again, I’ve had to do some pretty heavy self-editing at times.

The problem is, people have had close friends, relatives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers kill themselves, and the living are left to deal with it. And that’s a hard thing, made harder if the survivors never had suicidal thoughts. When I get all flippant about suicide, I hurt people who’ve experience such loss.

One of the things I tried to add to my novel, LONG LIVE THE SUICIDE KING, is that suicide, even talking about suicide, has consequences. No one can be suicidal in a vacuum. When someone kills themselves, it affects everyone around them, and in a way, it kills the ones closest to them. It’s a form of murder.

Heavy stuff. Life is hard. Death might seem like a solution, however, I don’t believe it is. Don’t ask me for specifics, but I think we have lessons to learn, and if we don’t learn them here, if we checkout, permanently, we go somewhere else to learn them.

I don’t think suicide is a way out. In the end, I think it’s a monumental waste of time and, again, it murders those around us.

It’s my job to be heroic, to find the other side of my pain, to reach out for help. And it’s my job to talk about my dark thoughts with at least one other person on this earth: a close-mouthed friend, a pastor, a therapist, my mom. As humans, we heal through our mouths. The words we say can shed light into the darkest parts of our psyche.

And there is hope and good stuff about life, in all of our lives. Chocolate. Seriously, there is chocolate in this world. You know what I love? I love those cheap, crappy chocolate donettes–not a real donut, but a donette–you find in gas stations and convenience stores. Hmm, crappy chocolate donettes and the waxy milk you can buy to wash them down. Convenience store milk isn’t exactly sour, but it really wants to be sour, you just know it.

I could swing that into analogy, about me wanting to be sour, but somehow, something inside of me, like a FDA-approved preservative, fights the sour, and so I wash down the chocolatey goodness, standing outside the Conoco, with the morning sun on my face.

Life is sweet.

Step 3 Continued: My Best Self

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a power greater than ourselves

Photo: Bresson Thomas

I have a hard time with the God idea. I wish I didn’t. Lots and lots of people find amazing solace in the idea of a divine presence with their best interest at heart. For me, though, since I have a hard time with the God idea, and since I get overwhelmed, I’ve really embraced the third step as being me living as my best self.

My best self.

Not the self that whines and hides and runs away. Oh, love that guy. Yeah, chicks dig that guy. Nothing quite so disgusting as a whining escape artist who’s never around. Self-pity. The other day, I heard a woman talk about the brown Jacuzzi. How warm and disgusting it is. I won’t go into detail. You can connect the dots.

Not the self that is better than everyone, who is just so wonderful, he probably doesn’t need a critique group or beta readers. I love it when after writing, I feel like a genius, that I burn with raw creative fire. Generally, I race to my wife and say, “Will you love me when I’m rich and famous?” She always says yes. I think it’s the money part. Fame is like poison for the soul, if you ask me.

My best self.

My best self is the person who I was born to be, the good, kind, caring, selfless fearless person who is ready for any obstacle, who asks for help, who works without complaint, and helps whenever he can. Who is more interested in giving to the universe and serving the world than his own ego and drama.

When I am in the third step, I am striving to be my best self. And I know when I fail and I know when I succeed because my vision of who I am is stuck in my head.

And that’s the thing that trips up a lot of people. You will always fail in trying to be your best self. Hell, if you didn’t, you’d be a Greek-frakking god. We’re human. We will fail probably as much as we’ll succeed. But the trick is to make the commitment and keep working at being your best self.

Because the rewards are not fame and fortune. When I am striving to be my best self, my life falls into place and things work out. I think that’s why the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that when we get ourselves right spiritually, we straighten out mentally and physically.

But this takes honesty. If I’m not taking care of my family, or my day job, and I’m writing all the time and striving to be my best self, that might at times feel like the right thing to do, but again, it’s about being of service and being selfless. I need to remember that it’s all a balancing act.

And, when you are relationship with other people, they will generally tell you when you’re not being your best self. That kind of honesty is a terror. But it’s also a gift.

Mondays Are Hell Guest Post: The Demons of Addiction

Elizabeth Cheryl

Elizabeth Cheryl is a fellow Crescent Moon Press writer and her novel The Summerland is due out this month.  I sent word out to my fellow CMP writers that I was looking for guest bloggers to write about demons and Elizabeth took me up on the offer.  What she has given me is moving, and though it’s not the funny, or well, forced-humor of my regular posts, it is stirring.  I am very proud to showcase her talent and thoughts.  You can find more of her gorgeous writing on her website.

Thanks again to Elizabeth for her wonderful piece.

Elizabeth Cheryl writes: When we are young we are taught that addiction belonged to drug users and alcohol abusers. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-twenties did I realize that there are many forms of addiction. It’s not that I hadn’t already experienced my own addictions before then but I clearly didn’t see the signs until later in life. I had what we could call Love Addiction. I know it doesn’t sound scary or at all close to terrifying but the effects of Love Addiction and the demons that lurk in the dark parts of us can wreak havoc in our lives.

It all started on one sunny Sunday morning…..wait, who am I kidding? I have no idea when it started. All I know is that I have had some of the darkest demons visit me in my life from violent or dysfunctional relationships. I do have memories though of being a very young girl watching my step-dad hit and abuse my mom. As a child witnessing such an act can cause emotional damage that we are not aware of until we look back at our life’s choices.

I have one particular memory of him striking her so violently that she fell down an entire flight of cellar stairs and hit her head on the cement basement floor. I was only seven at the time but I recall her not moving for a few minutes. That image still holds terror in my gut as I write about it. Memories that I rarely revisit.

We have to ask ourselves at what point do we as humans go from being a loving supportive partner, doing daily chores and picking up kids to hitting your spouse so hard that it immobilizes them? I went to a conference last weekend in San Jose called, PantheaCon. [Admin: Pantheacon is the largest indoor gathering of pagans in North America, according to their website.] I know it sounds a little different and it was, but it was fascinating all the same. The theme of the conference was Unity in Diversity. One of the workshops presented at the conference was an exorcism of some sort. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I showed up to this workshop.

The room was filled with a few hundred people and it was semi-dark. There was a fire pit with a fake fire, of course, seeing it was indoors, and a circle around the fire made up of six to seven people with drums. As they began to close the doors to get started everyone got very quiet. One of the women began to chant as she cast a very large circle around the room protecting us from negative energy. She talked of demons and their powers that can grab hold of us and manifest inside. But these are not actual demons with horns and fanged teeth, these demons are of our own creation. Demons of fear, greed, anger, rage, obsession and so on.

These demons that live in our darkest parts of our mind and soul eat at our potential every waking hour and every moment of sleep when we have no control over our thoughts. They evolve in our dreams turning them into nightmares. Whatever we are battling in life whether it be a loss of a job or a loved one. The need for money and food on the table or an abusive relationship. Weather it be verbal abuse, physical or emotional it will bear down on you in your subconscious mind. In this Exorcism we were to connect with what was ailing us that night, I connected mostly with greed. I feel as if I never have enough money, enough love, enough of the finer things. I see the house that I want to live in someday and I just want it…

Now some of you may say that we need those goals to be put in front of us so we may strive to succeed and do better. And I will not disagree with that perspective but our Ego has a lot to do with how we go about achieving those goals and what we find important enough to sacrifice in achieving them. What are you willing to sacrifice to have the nicer car and the bigger house? Will you give up time with your family or will you work yourself to the bone with no time left to enjoy what you own?

These thoughts ran through my mind dizzying me like a spinning top as I watched countless people enter the center of the circle dancing and shaking. They were releasing their inner demons, their addictions. Some thrashed their heads from side to side, some just danced to the beat of an aborigine type drum and some stood in the middle of the circle and just screamed the words, “Greed, Fear, Rage!!” It was the most intense and the most human thing I have ever experienced in my life. Seeing that this was my first time witnessing anything like this I enjoyed watching more than I would have joining. The drumming was playing to my soul as humans danced and released their demons amongst perfect strangers. And the most beautiful part about it was that no one cared what they looked like nor did they care what anyone thought. This was our time to release what life and society had covered us with.

Now that’s not to say we all walked out of there different people that night but it definitely made me think about how much I let fear, greed and obsession control parts of my life. The obsession part has been the one thing that I could say has been the most damaging. Years and years of failed relationships with all types of abusers. Physical abusers with demons so dark in their soul that we had to move to another city when I was twelve to avoid him ever finding me, unfortunately he still did. A twenty-six-year old math tutor that my mom had hired for me when I was eleven, turned into a potentially deadly stalker for four years until he was arrested and sent to San Arita State Prison. But that’s for another story.

I then went on to relationship after relationship ending them as I danced along to the next when it wasn’t working for me, completely numb to their feelings of pain. As this process continued I became my own demon of addiction, addicted to the highs of the butterflies in your tummy and the euphoric feelings of falling in love. Come to find out later in life that I really had no idea what the heck love was in the first place. You see, I thought all that good mushy stuff in the bottom of your belly was actually LOVE! Well leave it to my surprise when a few hits to the eye or a hundred foul words and years of starting over and over and…over, did I finally get the big red flag placed on my front door step.

How many times do we need to see that damn red flag before we put up our white one?

If you are battling demons from rage or abuse or any form of addiction it’s time to put your white flag up! If you are playing ping pong and you think that just by hitting the ping pong ball back to your abuser softly is ending the game, or even if you still have the paddle in your hand and you think that you have stopped playing the game? You’re wrong…. You will only rid your life of those nasty demons when you take that paddle and set it down. Game over…Perform your own exorcism and rid your life of the darkness that brings you down or holds you back.

We all say it but it couldn’t be more true, life is too short to be kept in the shallows of it. You belong with the Angels, not the Demons.

Best of Blessings,
Elizabeth Cheryl

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