I can remember the feeling of being at the end. The frantic desire to find a way to close this chapter so I can release all the pain. I was tired, like most people get after feeling that nothing was going to get better. I remember being in a dark room, covers pulled over my head like a child and wishing with all my heart that everything would just stop. I didn’t want to go forward anymore, to make new decisions and have more pain to reflect on. I had a bottle of morphine from a recent surgery and it was so easy to pop the lid off and spill the tiny pills into my open palm. I felt hatred when I thought of my life and the part I played in it. My roles weren’t my own, they didn’t fit and I didn’t want to wear them anymore. I wasn’t what had happened to me, the abuse, trauma and complete loss of large pieces of myself were no longer companions I wanted to have. I had been trying so hard to find the spark, to get in touch with that light that I knew was there no matter my state of mind but it was under the thick layers of loss. I identified with being depressed, with being suicidal.
In that moment, I wasn’t thinking of my family or my friends, the people I still loved. I was thinking of the ledge and the abyss beyond it. I had a lot of ideas about the afterlife and I still do but while they feel solid in my mind, a tremendous gap exists between life and death. The decision loomed day in and day out for so long until I ended up in that bedroom with the bottle in my hands. There had been many times I had come close, but something always kept me from the end. I knew that death was not permanent in a sense. Everything is interconnected. Cycles continue and I came to this life to learn certain lessons, to interpret my experiences and understand on a soul level. I came for expansion. I also knew that suicide was not evil, there were no forces that would punish me for taking my own life and make me burn in a bottomless pit of fire and brimstone. The suffering happens on earth; I was very cognizant of the pain I would cause by leaving in this way but I couldn’t stay for others if it meant enduring the battle every day.
Obviously, I am still here. I didn’t take those pills then or any time after. I didn’t abandon my body in hopes of releasing the pain and removing myself from the stories that no longer served me. I sat in that room and then a bird flew in the house. There had been another time that I had been on the ledge. I was 22 years old sitting in front of a broken mirror, staring at all the shards and their warped reflections. I had sleeping pills and I took them. I ended up in the hospital with my stomach pumped and feeling more present than I had felt in a long time. It was eye opening, life altering. Before taking a major turn and uprooting my life for a few months, I got a tattoo on both my wrists. Birds with open wings mid-flight. They represented freedom and were meant to remind me that there is always a choice, hope for a different type of journey. Every time I have waded deep into the waters of depression; I have felt like I was in a very tightly confined cage. The cage was made up of the past and my ideas about what the future was sure to be like. The birds were there floating on my wrists and I could look at them every day, they would be my guides and keep me focused on my innate freedom.
That day in the room, a bird flew in the house. It was the middle of winter, cold and monochrome outside. My partner opened the door and it flew right in. I could hear him from the bedroom, calling me because there was a bird on the chandelier. It was a distraction that brought me out immediately, I dropped the pills and bolted to the fragile shivering body. I saw myself in that little bird. Clinging desperately to an edge, unsure of what sort of world it had just flown into. It was dropping feathers as it flew, small bundles of fluff and significant flying feathers continued to fall as it bounced around the room. I put my finger out and it landed. I looked at it and it felt like such a revelation, I could help this bird be free again. It wasn’t the end, I just needed to open the door and show it the way. Through tears and a lot of work guiding that flustered bird towards the door, it flew out and landed on the drive way. After orienting itself and staring back at me for what felt like a long time, it flew away.
It was quite a journey since that day. I wish I could say that the revelation corrected my trajectory and brought me instant relief but it was just a nudge. I fumbled a lot more, fell again and again but I learned so much about myself on the way. I had a lot of help, guidance and support from amazing people that kept me hopeful every day. I ended up in emergency, I met professionals, I tried alternative medicine, and then I finally went inward as far as I could to the roots and began to recognize what I needed. Mostly, it was just to feel like I belonged. Like everything that happened in the past, the traumas that left me hollowed out were over now. I needed to feel safe. My body had been in a state of fight or flight for almost a decade. My body was trying to protect me, warn me, to make sure that those things that happened wouldn’t happen again so it had been working overtime. I lost a lot of important feathers. Yet I could somehow still fly and it wasn’t the end.
The illnesses that came and went, those that I still live with, they are part of my journey. I work hard every day to ask the question, ‘what would someone who loves themselves do?’. Answering that question gives me a new foundation. I have peaks and valleys and sometimes memories come up that feel like the all the air has been sucked from my lungs. Yet, I have come far from that bedroom and that bird that spoke directly to my heart. I am worth it and the pain does ebb and flow. I have love in my life and more ideas for expansion than I know what to do with. I am no longer afraid of finding the roots and working to free them from becoming the blocks that separate me from knowing what I truly am.