The Ninth Floor

By Pace MarlowAugust 2, 2021

Note: This piece discusses/mentions the topics of trauma, sexual abuse, and suicide. Please use your discretion.

My disembodied gaze is set on the rooftops just beyond the rain-splattered window of the ninth floor. Tears silently stream down my face, crying with the sky. My forehead pressed into the cool glass, triple-paned for protection from self. I couldn’t remember how many days in or perhaps I wasn’t trusting myself to be anywhere but there. We joked and called it a spin-out, it was actually a breakdown—or a hurricane. It’s complicated, so complicated; I am complicated.

A hand gently lands on my shoulder. “Can I join you?”

I nod slightly and take a small step to the side. I have spent much of my time here staring with lost eyes through the window, this is the first someone has joined me. He mimics my stance, forehead to window, tears gently descending from his eyes. We cry with the sky, wordlessly with each other but in our own pain.

There is comfort in the psych ward. I can be as crazy as I feel, I am with my kind and can talk freely and be understood. Dark humor threads in and out of more contemplative and encouraging exchanges, which fosters the reality of our current home. Our entry fee: wanting to not just knock at death’s door, but kick it in and exclaim “I am here and I am coming in.” Something stopped us all, something got in our way and brought us up the elevator to the glass box with no fresh air. Some got pink-slipped, others parents, or attempts on life gone astray, and those like myself who knew it was the only choice—no matter the haunting thought that this could end up closer to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, than “rest” by the beach one see’s on TV from time to time. Fear of myself was more than the fear of checking myself in. It had been a few days since my mind was lost. I slept mostly, delaying the inevitable and recovering from the torrent of physical and emotional energy. My wife finally said, “It’s time, time to go.” It was, and now here I am, staring out the window crying with the sky; as I have done before and surely will do again.

“Triggered” by family trauma, the root and cause of much of my lackings in mental health. I started to drink—gulp really. My energy angry, sad, spastic. I said it out loud (or in text or yelled), “Your boyfriend molested me.” My wife, unprepared for my state, one she had yet to experience, said the “wrong” thing, and the stirring storm inside me became a tornado. I started packing, and breaking, ready to run, like I usually do, on to a new life, the one where I outrun the shadow and live happily ever after. In the moment, I drank, I made her leave with the power of my instability and demand, pressing myself against walls and hugging myself with angry tears and venom ricocheting off my face and being, not wanting her or anything near me. With her gone, I drank for three days, barely slept, and destroyed our home figuratively and literally. Demanding divorce, putting my foot through artwork, smashing whatever could be smashed on the floor, piles of brokenness beneath my unstoppable feet. Wedding vows and meaningful items, evidence of our life together, now in the trash can in the driveway. I was bleeding from my foot, my hand, and somewhere else, burnt from the oven when I thought I should eat, but then forgot.

I arrived at the hospital, in spite of it all my wife by my side, love in her eyes and concern on her face. They took me to the emergency room. The floor was sticky, all medical equipment shuddered behind a metal garage door, a bed with a thin sheet and a tiny TV in the corner were my sole comforts. Alone for six hours aside from short visits from the doc; the sharp smell of bleach wafting in the stagnant air, naked beneath my weightless and humbling hospital gown. After hours of watching Wife Swap on the unchangeable TV channel, the doctor said, “We are going to admit you.”

Suddenly flooded with fear, the reality of the circumstance, “Can I talk with my wife?” Her gentle energy filled the doorway as she makes her way to my side. “I don’t want to,” tears falling, leaving their mark on my cheeks and hospital gown. But that line had been crossed, I had spoken the words: “I want to die, I want to kill myself.” I had turned the key and now it was not my choice; I had to be hospitalized for my own safety. My wife comforted and encouraged me, and made it clear she was there for the ride—and so was I with the realization: these tears have purpose, hope, cleansing.

You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at

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Comments (1)

  1. Stephanie

    Beautiful and familiar sounding. Peace to you on your journey.

    Reply  |  
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