In remembrance

August 12, 2009 at 5:33 am Leave a comment

Coming up this month is the birthday of a friend who committed suicide just over 4 years ago. She was a role model, someone I looked up to, aspired to emulate and whose energy was infectious. She was smart, classy and funny. She was also, unbeknown to me, in a great deal of psychic pain.

The night she took her life, she called me and left a message. I was at a second run cinema watching a documentary on the life of artist Edvard Munch. The next day I found out the details: she had gone to a nearby hotel room, climbed into the hot tub, and slit her wrists.

When the shock wore off, I realized that her death was a wake-up call. I myself had struggled with clinical depression, had engaged in self-harming behaviours and flirted with suicide.

My friend’s death made me realize that I could never knowingly cause the kind of pain that suicide leads to for the people who get left behind. There is no pain quite like it. And while time softens the sharpness of the wound, it doesn’t erase it. Her memory is with me every day, reminding me of the sadness that forms part of every beautiful moment we experience.

The night my friend died, I walked down to the ocean near my basement suite and stared out over the crashing waves, feeling the wind on my face. I was alive, and what I did with the life I’d been handed, was up to me.

Sure, I’d lost my family who turned their back on me when they found out about my transition. Yes, my father had gone to his grave disappointed in my choices. And yeah, I had lost a fellow trans person to suicide. But despite these dark happenings, life was still beautiful. The ocean’s mysterious power pulled at me; the moon’s glare spoke to me that night. And I vowed that I would stop my dance with death. Instead, I would dive into wherever life took me. And, well, what a ride it’s been so far.

There are a lot of things I’ve done that I’m not particularly proud of. But in my heart I know that I have always tried to be true to myself and to God. The times of greatest misery have been the times when I resisted that truth. Sure, I make mistakes, and stumble on wondering, sometimes, why I bother. But each day is a new chance for me to embrace beauty, to share my truth with the world, to share others’ truths, others’ beauty.

I don’t know, yet, where life is leading me to. Every day is a surprise, a field of potentiality. My job is to open myself up so that I can experience life as it is. Some days I succeed more than others. But I keep on trying.

As the band Garbage sings: “the trick is to keep breathing”. That breath is my companion through the darkest night, the deepest abyss. And through it all I learn, step by step, day by day, second by second, to live, to love, to learn.

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Entry filed under: Mental Health.

Bloody good, truly Katherine Johnston, trans health coverage, and the perils of misinformation

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