1-800-273-8255 (And the Right to Die)

This song has been playing on my radio station of choice pretty much hourly lately.  It’s hit home.  Not only because my mood has been low due to this month being the one year anniversary of E’s death, but because of another emerging situation.

I haven’t had any significant love interests of note since I lost E last year. That is until recently.  But a month or two ago, I had a text conversation with a close friend of mine – we’ll call her “M” – in which we both revealed that we had romantic leanings towards the other.  My heart be still.  I haven’t let myself really feel anything like this in 10 months – so this should be something to celebrate, right?  But hold the damn phone, it’s not so simple.  See M and I met, in of all places, the psych ward.  And the reason M was in the psych ward is because she struggles with multiple issues – like depression, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, etc, etc.  Like me.  We’re peas in a pod, and get each other so, so well.

But for all the benefits of this fast and steady, amazingly supportive friendship, there is the downside.  M is pretty much always in pain, and 75% of the time suicidal from said pain and trauma.  Clearly, she is not at a space to be jumping in to a relationship.  Hell, most of the time we have trouble making plans simply to hang out and maintain our friendship.

Cue the last two weeks.  A pretty major incident has happened in M’s life (her pain Dr. went off the deep end and cut her off of all her pain meds – loooong story) and it’s left her more suicidal than ever.  There is very little hope left in M’s life.  Her pain condition is degenerative, and without pain meds, her quality of life will be in the crapper.  Insurance leaves her little alternative to switch docs.  She’s quickly running out of options, and there are no alternative treatments.

I’ve spent many hours discussing with her WHY she is suicidal.  And here’s the thing… I GET IT.  I get why after 20 plus years of constant and excruciating pain and trauma, with nothing but the promise of more to come, she’s ready to be done.  And I feel like a selfish prick begging her to continue on for my sake, or even the sake of her family or others in her life that love her.

I get very tangled up in the thorny barbs of confusion in my head as to how and why I am supposed to argue with her to continue on in the hopes that things will get better.  Intellectually I know there is still a lot of quality of life that COULD happen, but I also know that pain, depression, and trauma are exhausting, and that she has a lion’s share to overcome.  And having been there myself, having been in the position of arguing with my own partner to simply let me go because the choice SHOULD be mine, and the pain was simply too unbearable to endure, I can’t say there aren’t still days that I wish she would have let me go.  Brutal, but it’s the honest truth.

The right to die is a touchy subject when it comes to mental health and suicide.  It seems more cut and dried when it’s cancer or some other terminal condition, but when it’s depression or some such long suffering mental health condition, we post pictures of long-winding woodland paths with captions like “THIS is an anti-depressant” and tell people to take hot baths and suck it up.  We are such a judgemental, head-in-the-sand society when it comes to emotional health.

The truth is, I don’t want to lose M.  But that’s about ME.  In the end, it’s her choice, and I know it.  When I talk to her about it, I try and let her know that I love her, I support her, I believe there is hope, I am always here to listen and help her find that hope if that’s what she’s looking for… and otherwise I’m simply there to listen and hold her.  I never try to blow sunshine up her ass or promise everything is going to be OK.  And I tell her that I believe she deserves relief from her pain, even though I know that comes dangerously close to sounding like tacit approval to commit suicide.  She does deserve relief, and my hope is always that she can find it in my listening ears and my open arms of support.  God help me if she ever seeks it out the other way.  I don’t know what I will do without her.  But in the end, only she knows what she needs to do for herself.  Only she can decide how long and how much she can endure, and when enough is finally enough. I’m simply praying every day that’s it’s not today.

But in the mean time, I hope this song gets lots of radio play for awhile.  I hope one or two or a dozen people find some hope in it.  Maybe it won’t help M, but maybe it can help someone else.  It’s helped me this week, as I’ve struggled with my own dark thoughts.  God bless Logic for writing it.  And to whomever answers the phone, thank you for trying to save a life. ❤






In which I attempt to show you the wallpaper of my life…

I promised background.  It’s only fair – if expect anyone to read anything I’ve written, it must involve a little baring of the soul, right?  But since I wrote that sentence the other day, I’ve been procrastinating.  Where do I start?  What if I try and describe my ridiculously complicated life and end up writing one dry, boring run-on epic drama that no one can even get through let alone be inspired to read more of??  Oh wait, there I go…

So fuck all the emotional angst.  I’ll just take a running leap.

I grew up on the state line between IL and WI, in a little armpit of a city notorious for their insanely high crime rate.  Despite this ghetto-like reputation I led an oddly middle-class life; well it appeared that way anyway.   A fat little black girl raised by two white parents wasn’t exactly inconspicuous.  I was ridiculously shy, horribly picked on, and completely unpopular.  I spent most of my non-school time with a after-school babysitter cum family friend and her kids, a woman I will always consider one of the most motherly and loving influences in my life despite that fact that she was poor as hell and trying to escape her own physically abusive husband.

To sum up my parents, I will say this:  my (biological) mother was a self-absorbed borderline survivor of child abuse masquerading as a maverick “non-traditional student” and raging feminist at the local college.  This gave me unique access to a higher-learning institution at a young age, which at least fed my intellect, and gave me a firm foundation of being radically more… well, radical, than many folks I’ve met in my life since.  My (adoptive) father was an emotionally dead chauvinist incapable of expressing the slightest bit of affection and more interested in a trophy wife and an invisible child than the mouthy, troubled chicks with which he found himself living.  I avoided him like the plague, cried every time he spoke to me, and referred to him as “the Brick Wall” in private.  They found each other when I was three (after my my biological father cheated and ran away with his mistress), as broken people often find each other, and lived unhappily ever after for 15 years before divorcing when I was in high school.   Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my broken, self-absorbed parents failed to notice that I was being sexually and ritually abused on two different sides of the family.  Oops.  Their bad.

By 11, I was clinically depressed, had an active eating disorder, was a social pariah, and had a counselor recommending inpatient hospitalization.  No go – dad was a cheapskate.  But I learned the value of a good therapist and have seen one on-and-off for the last 25 years.   I had fantasies of running away all through junior high and high school; I kept a packed backpack in my closet ready to go and always made sure there were a pack of hotdogs in the fridge (which my warped adolescent mind was convinced was the perfect on-the-run food since they didn’t require cooking and were full of protein.)  I planned to make my living through prostitution.  In the end though I always chickened out, sure that as fat as I was that no one would pay money to have sex with me and I would starve to death on the street, rejected and homeless.

At 17 I left home for college, a small private affair that I wept and boozed my way through for two years before giving up and moving to the “big city”, an hour away.  But before I left, college opened my eyes to a lot of things.  I realized that I hated my parents and myself, came out as queer, began the first forays into dealing with “the trauma”, had my first menage a trois, started smoking, and grew as big as a house.  Exit college.

In Madtown, all hell broke loose.  The depression and PTSD reached full blossom after a few years of scraping by, and finally 1994 became my “year of insanity.”  5 suicide attempts, 7 mental hospitals, and scars on my arms and wrists that will never go away.  Cue violin music.  After a almost a year of that shit I finally realized that the mental health system was not designed for child abuse survivors, particularly survivors of extremely sadistic abuse, and was just as likely to kill me as help me.  Somehow I pulled myself up by my mental bootstraps, spent a few years working my way off of SSDI, and “made something of my life.”  I held down better and better jobs, started exercising a bit, sowed some wild oats while living in a house full of vegetarian coke-heads, went on a few dates, fell in love with a psychotic woman who faked brain cancer before dumping me, helped with some anti-pornography crusading until I realized that all that shit I was looking at was actually turning me on, did more college on-and-off and eight years later found myself single and knocked-up at 29 years old.

Everything changes when you have a child.  My life will forever be divided into pre-N, and post-N.  Now, I freely admit that I am probably a woman who should never have become a parent – I am hereditarily prone to self-absorption, scarred by trauma, and just now at 38 figuring out how to have fun.  To say a child cramps my style is an understatement.  But from the very beginning I tried to do it right.  I read a gazillion books on attachment parenting, breastfed her until she was 2, made our tiny home a place to say “yes” instead of “no”, bought her every classic children’s book I could afford, and co-slept with her every night in my futon.   But it is because of N that I know the universe has a sense of humor.  I ended up with a mini-me, or maybe more accurately a mini-would-have-been-me.  She is 8 now, and is fierce, sarcastic, loud, brilliant, temperamental, prone to fits of depression and low self-confidence, and an incredibly gifted ballerina.  She is a force of nature.  I would gladly die for her a million times over, and I have never loved anything with more soul-shattering devotion in my life.  And she drives me up the fucking wall.

Three and a half years post-N, I fell in love with a woman on the internet.  It worked, by god.  Actually worked.  (Hi Honey!)  She moved in with me less than a year later and we have been together ever since; we even had a commitment ceremony in September of 2007.   In so many ways, this has led to some of the happiest years of my life.  We are a FAMILY, K and N and me.  We love and take care of each other.  Cook dinner and do laundry.  I have lived more fully in the last 4 years than in my entire life.

But therein lies the rub.  The more fully me I became, the more truths I had to face about myself.  Before our wedding ceremony, my wife and I saw an alt-sex therapist for some pre-marital counseling.  Although we were referred to her as an LGBT couple, it became immediately obvious that one of the topics we needed to let out in the open and explore was our kink.  Luckily, this happened to be this particular therapists specialty.  Both my wife and I “came out” as kinky – she a submissive, me more of a switch with bottoming tendencies.  We entered the local kink scene arm and arm and never looked back.  I have made some of the most amazing friends, and truly astonishing discoveries about myself.

Next major life crisis please.  After being overweight and eating disordered all my life, and topping out at 375 lbs, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  I was the elephant in the living room.  So in September of 2008 I underwent gastric-bypass surgery.   Today, I weigh around 175 lbs, which seems to be the right weight for me.  I could try and lose more, but quite frankly, I like my curves.  I am healthy.  I run and play with my daughter, and I can dance and climb stairs with the best of them.  I’ve started MMA-style grappling, and periodically attempt jogging and training for a 5K.  I am (fairly) content, most days.

Lastly, a year ago February I admitted to my wife that I am and always will be polyamorous.  She sorta knew this before we were married, but we both allowed ourselves to think marriage would dissolve this trait away.  I no longer believe this is possible – I view my inclination toward more than one love as just an inherent a part of my sexual persona as is my bisexuality.  After many hard months and brutally honest conversations, we seem to have made the transition to a poly couple fairly successfully.  I have even fallen in love again…

Which brings us to the present.  Last week, my wife and I moved in with S and A – another couple who are both my lovers.  We share a house 20 miles outside of the city.  It is about to become one of the most important experiments of my life.

Whew.  Criminy, that’s a lotta words.  If you made it all the way through, brava!  If you skimmed, well honestly, I forgive you.  Wallpaper, is just that, wallpaper.  The background.  Necessary canvas in front of which the current decor of our life is constructed.  It seemed necessary to put it out there, but I think I am done with the soul-baring epics for the time being.  We’ll now commence with our usual programming…