There is a space between living life and wanting it to end. I’ve been there.
When I was younger, my siblings and I would play a game at the beach: stand on the break line, dig your feet into the sand, see who can outlast the ocean’s pull the longest. I never lost. I remained entrenched in the sand, amidst the perpetual tide, always.
The closest I can come to describing the suspension between reality and the adhesion of webs filled with millions of possibilities for the future—and not wanting to experience them—is that sensation of gripping the sand, outlasting oscillation.
Finding myself questioning my ability to live an enjoyable life—and not being sure I could stick around long enough to endure the opposite of such—was, the best I can imagine, what would have happened if my feet had given way all those years back on the break line. I would have been released into the ebb and flow of the ocean, at the mercy of water coming and water long gone.
It wasn’t that I wanted my life to end. It was that I didn’t know how I could possibly keep living as I had been.
In the summer of 2018, I lost my footing. I ended up in the hospital briefly (literally for four hours) but it was the wake-up call I had been avoiding. My physical body was shutting down, deflated. It demanded that I make a choice.
I’ve never experienced disappointment like I did the second Thursday of June, that same summer of 2018, when I told my mom I was worried about my ability to remain present, remain alive for the immediate future. My mom, no stranger to durability, and ever a buoying source, looked at me with steady eyes:
“OK, what about today?”
Today had become the most unfamiliar of days for me. Suddenly, the prospect of having a today made the uncertainties of tomorrow and regrets of yesterday seem less permanent, less impossible to overcome.
I had today!
That day—that one, minimal, gigantic, vibrant, terrifying, and vast today—became the point from which I plotted my return. I focused my energy on standing back up, soaked and still navigating the ocean’s tug, but one step closer to bathing in the joys of the present.
On challenging todays, I go for walks. I look for red and orange and yellow and green and blue and, on warm days, during the spring and summer, when flowers have returned from their own reprieve, I even look for purple. I talk to loved ones, who have long been the seashells adding texture, delight, and beauty to the landscape of my life. I read good books or a beach read that is good to me. I eat something I don’t usually eat. And, with everything I do, I remind myself that tomorrow—a new today—offers another opportunity for forward momentum. Momentum that can be enlivened by having the courage to sit with worry today, get to know it, and understand how to move up and on from it.
There is a space between living life and wanting it to end. I’ve been there. But today, I am here now, rooting for your tomorrow.
Whatever you are facing, there is always hope. And we will hold on to hope until you’re able to grasp it yourself. If you’re thinking about suicide, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. 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.