Beware of Air: A New Version of Ourselves

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I prefer to wash my hands to the beautiful lyrics of ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” But you can do whatever you want. It seems like every day is Groundhog Day and the end is nowhere in sight. It is funny, though, because no one seems to know what day it is anymore and it has only been two weeks of isolation. Every single one of my neighbors took out their trash a day ahead in complete social conformity believing that it was Trash Day when it was not. Confusion runs amok and we are all reacting the best we can.

This major shift has cast upon us a new world that will never be the same again. The way we live, shop, eat, work, and interact will morph us into a new society. This pandemic is a catalyst for change and for unifying our species as one. And at the same time, death seems one breath away.

Still, never in our lives have we been faced with the idea that we are all just one person. For this pandemic does not recognize race, ethnicity, sexual identification, nationality or preference of self. This is the first time that humanity must work together as a whole community without borders to save our own lives and the lives of others. And we are in fear of not having toilet paper!

The magnitude of this event is completely shocking: displayed readily by the highs and lows of people interacting the only way they know how, through memes and social media. Our lives have been condensed to living with few distractions and entirely facing our own selves in our own skin. Unless you have borrowed someone else’s skin and that would go against our newly integrated law of social distancing. (Kids do not try this at home.)

Faced with this new norm are choices. I have already made a few. First, I reveled with humor faced with my possible demise. And I hope that trend continues to last. Then, I sunk into depression: a familiar darkness I have felt many times before. But I knew what to do.

In the throes of despair, I asked myself questions that truly will shape who I will become in the aftermath of this utmost urgent time. Who do I want to be when this is over? Oh, I could be hospitalized, quivering in a room with no locks waiting for my next dose of Valium. That is entirely possible. I could be on the floor, altered and discombobulated, in front of my son who is already terrified. Or, I could be the best version of myself.

And I choose the latter. When this is all over, whatever that means, I want to be fit, healthy, accomplished in ways that are aligned with my soul. I want to be loving, kind, and strong. For the lack of distractions beckon me to focus on myself for once in my life while I live in the bubble of my home for endless days unknown.

Listen to the media if you want. That is a definite rush and will keep you away from yourself. Fight on social media about how “right” you are about some opinion. But I do not speak in opinions, I speak only of experience. And experience has taught me to be more silent and listen. Conflict is a short-term rush much like a drug that makes a person feel high. I see why it is happening. Fear shoots cortisol throughout your body which immerses your body in fight or flight until it is processed through your kidneys and livers. Get high if that is your thing. But, know there is no escaping yourself. The only way out is in.

Fear is a great motivator. But so is love. And I will not be reduced to social conforms and sheep-like tactics. It is a time to beat to your own drum unless you drop dead but at least you know you did with glory. So I challenge you to be the best version of yourself and to recognize the state of affairs lies completely in our own, hopefully, clean and washed hands. No one can save us but ourselves. This is a time of unity and an opportunity to actually live as one: an opportunity we all said we strived for but have yet to achieve.

Take what I say as you please. I know there are haters and lovers and extremely numb people who may read my rant. But, consider this an opportunity to come together, for once, and focus on our similarities while we live in isolation so we can save lives on a global scale. Forget America First. We lost that the day the virus began.

 

Not Today

the sun is coming for you

 

When the Jehovah’s Witness’s came to my door, I did not mind. The only problem was that I was going to be late for work. I apologized and let them know that I could not talk at that moment. The older gentlemen said he understood.

“Well you have to go to work!” He exclaimed

“No, I don’t.” I answered and he returned with a puzzled look.

“Well, you have to work. You have to make money!!”

“No, I don’t have to do anything. I choose to everything I do in life.”

I stumped him. How was it I didn’t have to work? How could I think I could choose everything (within reason) if I did not have anyone else supplying my income?

So…he argued some more. “You need to make money. You need to eat.”

“No, I choose to make money and I choose to eat.” I declared.

“Well, what do you mean?” He asked politely.

I do not think he was ready for my honest and rare outlook on life.  Therefore, I should not have been so stunned to see the look on his face when I answered.

“I can always kill myself.” I stated without hesitation. I do not remember what happened next but I do know he came to visit more often.

Now, I know this seems like a strange way to view one’s life. Every species on this planet is making diligent attempts to stay alive. I get that. But for some reason, I needed to know that if it ever got to be too much, I could end it all.

There are others like me. They are sitting right next to you. We just don’t talk about it. People with suicide ideation are far more common than people realize. It would come to me in waves, throughout most of my life. I just did not want to live. It hurt too much.

Although, I seemed like the most happy person in the room and I really was not faking that, it is just, a person with suicidal tendencies’ brain will switch involuntary at the most inconvenient times.

For instance, I produced and hosted my own cable access show. Six months of rigorous planning matched with an incredible team allowed me to fulfill this crazy dream. I worked so hard. Day and night. I spent thousands of dollars to train the team, buy furniture, take potential guests to lunch or coffee and anything else it would take to create a wonderful show.

The show went well. We had a lot of fun and although, it was less David Lettermanish than I planned, it was a good solid attempt at modeling what the superpowers of media do everyday.

The next day, I wanted to die. I sat in my backyard in a lawn chair, chain smoking, trying to convince myself to stay alive.

I always thought pills were a great way out but I found out hanging is the surest bet. But that day, I made it through by sobbing, thinking and praying that if I could just get some sleep that tomorrow would be better. Luckily, tomorrow was better and this, indeed, did pass.

But this has happened to me so many times. However, my outlook has changed.

My dad replied when I told him of my great suicide epiphany, that it made sense, but it changes when you have children. I did not believe him. I am quite sure now that he agreed with my epiphany. Usually these things are genetic.

Unfortunately, having a child was not enough but it sure helped. What I found was that I had to know in my deepest part of my being that I could survive anything and that required a great amount of maturity on my part to begin to actually take the actions to assure my survival. Actions such as making money again. Or taking back my health.  I began to accept that I will always have to tolerate and endure some merciless anxiety and I started to live “in” love instead of trying to be loved by everyone with whom I came into contact.

Now..note…I still struggled. I married a psychiatrist for goodnesss sake!! There are no coincidences when it comes to life and death. And with a loving, accepting partner, I felt safe to explore my vulnerability. I did not need the comfort of knowing I could end it all at any time, on my terms, anymore.

Life is truly about relationships. They matter. The relationship with yourself matters. Self-care is paramount but not readily taught. We are an ego-driven, I-need-the-next-fix society. But it does not have to be that way.

I am a better person because I had to try to love myself more. The very act that I thought was the ultimate sin was what carries me through my days. That… and God.

If only, I could find that nice Jehovah’s Witness and let him know I did have to go to work now and eat and make money. I could tell him to not worry that I know I am not free to choose anything except to choose how to live and react to whatever comes my way.