I’ve never been able to accurately describe the pain I felt when hopelessness engulfed my entire being––my physical, my mental, my emotional, my spiritual. The despair was a silent but relentless vise that mercilessly crushed my very essence.
Unfortunately, my state of mind clouded lucid thinking that might have resolved my predicament. Imagine a tomato under a boot. Good options were obliterated under the boot’s heel, the crushing weight of life. The only remaining outcome, undoubtedly a bad and warped one, would be splattered on the sidewalk. Graphic symbolism for self-destruction, don’t you think?
I was suffering but I couldn’t tell anyone. My God, what would they think? You’re that pathetic? You’re that weak? This is what I’d like to talk about in this second post on suicide. Suffering. My first post, “Suicide – A Multidimensional Crisis” can be read here.
Prior to 2009, I was living a nice but passionless life in the mountains of Colorado. I had taken time off from the institutional investing world to play. Consequently, there was a lot of golf, skiing, partying and in retrospect, drifting. Ultimately though, I knew I had to get back to work so I starting looking worldwide in early 2008.
When the summer fun ended and autumn rolled in I had three quasi-offers––two in London (President, Managing Director) and one in the UAE (Managing Director). Things were looking good. I would use my Colorado dream home as a retreat and jump right back into the financial thunderdome. Without missing a beat.
However, allow me to introduce the Great Crash of 2008––all things considered, a real buzz kill.
In what seemed like mere moments, my life changed for the worse. Job offers? Gone. Money? Going quickly. Opportunities? Vanished. Recognizing that I was waist deep in a quagmire, I began to prepare for the storm ahead.
Apparently, preparation is not one of my better attributes. I failed miserably. I lost everything.
It was at this point in time when I started to memorialize my thoughts. What seems odd to me today is the fact that I would even undertake such a thing. Never in my life had I kept a dairy or journal. But there I was––bleeding on paper. Later, I realized that I was being guided by God.
I’ll share some of those reflections now. The underlying subtext to all of them is despair. That one emotion, the antithesis of hope, permeated my every thought. It only worsened as the days turned into weeks and months. Without productive work or activities to fill my day, I began to veer in thought. It wasn’t long before I subjected my entire life to scrutiny.
Rejection by the economic world––shame of financial ruin––humiliation at circumstances––my estranged relationship with brothers––guilt about surviving––my self-imposed isolation––my debilitating headaches––love relationships gone sour––my superficiality, arrogance and selfishness––remorse about not saving a friend’s life––recognition of overwhelming sins––captive to a faithless life––confusion about God. And so on. Both major and minor themes.
My journal’s very first entry was about my anger and sense of abandonment by God. What’s strange about this is that I had converted to Catholicism in 2001, but in words only. I was a seed with shallow roots and would have barely conceded, prior to this entry, that I had a relationship with Him at all. Prior to my conversion, I was an atheist. (The bold are my post reflection headings for this post. The italicized are the actual journal entries. Some of the sentiments expressed are symptomatic of folks contemplating suicide.)
Betrayal: I do not trust God. Never have. Moreover, for most of my life, I denied His existence, was skeptical or completely indifferent. At times, I’ve even hated Him.
Nightmares: As defeatist thoughts flood into my brain and vie for my attention, I’ve tried to chop them up as a butcher would a slab of beef. At least that’s been my plan. The dull ache behind my eyes tells me it’s not working. I don’t have a plan B.
My aborted child: Dear child, dear soul; I am sorry beyond words. I wasn’t there to protect you. Please forgive me. Selfishly I ask. For my sake.
Anger: I woke up this morning and began to get dressed. And then it hit me; nothing major, a little tap. Why this necessity to clothe myself? My services, my presence for that matter, are in need of absolutely no one. My isolation on this planet is astonishing. So as I sit and wait, I hear the seconds of life ticking away.
Vengeance: Are there people in my past who deserve to die? Not for me to say but I’ve prepared a list if anyone is interested. Their demise would not cause me to shed one tear.
Terror: One moment, inconsequential thought, calm. Then, without warning, panic. The sensation is internal, from head to gut, as if someone pours nails down my throat and my stomach explodes.
Confusion: Can I pinpoint an event or behavior that triggered the chaos of today? No, I can’t. I’m not a drug addict. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not a criminal. I haven’t elevated one particular vice to Godhood. I’m not morally corrupt. I’m a good man. Aren’t I?
Losing contact: So tired. No energy. I can hardly keep my eyes open. The nightmares are incessant, soaking me with defeatism. Depression is dragging me under. I don’t want to write or think. I don’t find any aspect of life interesting. Talking to God is even a chore, my prayers half-hearted; seems a waste of time.
Questions of sanity: As an archetypal basket case, identifying the who’s who of voices rambling around my brain is like detecting whole conversations in Grand Central Station. Although, in one area I can confidently say that Satan has been a busy little camper because the suicide iterations that run through my mind never seem to wander too far from the campsite.
Life without meaning: Does my spiritual emptiness have something to do with my circumstances? Is my lack of divine perspective the reason I’m so unwise, so ungrounded? My life is not properly ordered, so how can I possibly stay on course or maneuver through a minefield of bad moments. Is that my problem?
Slipping into darkness: These thoughts are my own. The devil isn’t working up a concoction of pity and despair. It’s all my doing. Evil hasn’t taken hold of my senses; I’m the proud author of all my fears. Hope, the precious resuscitator to all souls on life support has abandoned me. With hope, breathing is automatic. I’m comforted. Without hope, I have to think of every breath and the tenuousness of life is glaring. Without hope, I’m not buoyed up in life, I’m not sustained and my heart is not open. Absent this virtue of hope, will it ever return? Alternatively, have I masochistically destroyed it as a function of will?
Giving up: Life and prayer are not correlated. It’s as though I’m walking west and my shadow is defiantly standing pat. It makes no sense. Lord, I’m struggling on your hook. Throw me back into the water. Let me float away if you’re not going to help.
It was at this point when I began to plan the unthinkable. My next post. Phase II of Self Murder. The How-to Stratagem (Absurd!). It’s here.