I’m laying in bed with a pain in my right side, sharp and intense and tears flowing a bit too liberally down my cheeks. I just watched Mara Akil’s BET show Being Mary Jane and witnessed both a suicide of a supporting character and how each other character was then affected by it.
In some ways I feel exposed. As though the deepest darkest secret I’ve ever housed was just displayed for all the world to see. In other ways I feel so sad that anyone should ever feel so unheard unloved and insignificant to end their own life. When Mary Jane admitted that she would ask her friend how she was doing without a real want to hear her truth, I broke down. Because I’ve been both Lisa and MJ.
I’ve felt unloved unheard and insignificant. “She died because of the silent treatment…” I winced. It was as if everyone in that room could see how the sum of their interactions added up to all the pain housed in this now lifeless body. Selfishly I wondered if those who chose to answer me with silence would ever consider the pain they caused?
I’ve also felt so consumed in my own life my own experiences my own emotions that I did not check in with those around me. I have been the silent one. And I have been the one to skimp on giving significant attention to friends’ troubles without diverting attention back to myself. I have been self-centered and involved only in my own orbit never minding the other paths I affect.
I can feel the anxiety spreading throughout my body and even my hands feel tight as I type. The desire to be relieved of pain is so destructive. We drink because of it. We smoke because of it. We get high, have sex, risk our lives in various ways just to “feel alive” because our stasis is in a vice grip of suffering. I can’t name all the ways I’ve tried to escape it before falling deep into the pit of depression where it holds you captive and makes you feel all the things you’ve been avoiding all at once at amplified. That’s why it hurts all over your body.
I know the havoc I’ve caused in my life escaping pain. While I never had a plan, I also know I fantasized and romantacized the freedom I perceived in death. I didn’t actively want to die. But I also didn’t actively want to live. I cried just this morning wondering if there’ll be a morning soon when I wake up at peace. When I wake up not thinking immediately of my first reprieve.
Yet…somehow we aren’t supposed to talk about it. Let’s distract ourselves with a pumpkin spiced-Pinterest-perfect life only to discover that joy cannot be found in the perfect Christmas card or mini quiche. And who do we think we are fooling with these lies?! I appreciated most MJ’s call to get real. And the promise to love even the ugly truths of our loved ones. Even at my worst…find the love you have for me and cling to that.
Above all, even my own emotions and experience with suicide, depression and pain I love how healing it is to see it depicted through artistry. To know that someone else knows this pain so intimately that they can tell their story, my story, with enough depth and detail to bring me to weep. The courage and authenticity in that artistry…there is so much power in it. And God I promise, I am going to use my own art to the same end. To tell ugly truths and bring healing to festering hurt. Even as I recover…especially as I recover.