Learning to live again is serious and exhilarating. I’ve recently stepped back from the precipice of self-annihilation and am now experiencing a newfound compassion for myself and appreciation for life.
Coached and coaxed by friends and therapists, I engaged in any activity that held even the most remote possibility of pleasure. I took jewelry making classes, boxing lessons, studied the Kabbalah, went faithfully to therapy and of course, experienced the joys of my body’s ability to stretch and exceed my perceived limits at the gym. Naturally I was employed as soon as I embraced myself. And for this I am deeply grateful.
However, I realized with horrifying clarity, how serious I was about suicide after I’d been employed. I’ve survived the death’s of my parents, my sister, my beloved. and precious pets. I’ve withstood severe emotional abuse, abandonment and physical exhaustion that almost took my life when my appendix burst. Still I could not imagine withstanding losing my New York apartment. My sense of security resides in the luxurious home that I’ve created on the Upper East side in close proximity to a group of dwindling but essential friends. I could not embrace the exigencies that I felt were forcing me to flee New York in search of more economical accommodations. Somewhere, deep within, I had accepted suicide as a rational and reasonable alternative. Leaving my h0me, the last bastion of security and familiarity, was something that i could not bear. God heard me at the penultimate moment of my despair as I trudged through the last of my savings before ravaging my “retirement” fund – about one year’s worth – if you don’t count my co-op. Salvation was granted at the moment that I’d accepted my mortality. And for that, I am deeply and profoundly grateful. Perhaps there is an ultimate plan, perhaps my existence has not been conducted in profound vanity. Maybe I’m still here for a reason.
I’ve now trained in two new jobs, though I feel that my nascent self-compassion will allow me to relinquish one of my three jobs and live with lesser means for the sake of my sanity and life balance. I was profoundly grateful, at the end of my first week as a digital sales manager for a thriving website, when I was told that they were amazed at what I accomplished during my first week. Yet the hunger to share my success with a significant other lingered and I was disappointed as the plans with my x devolved into a parry and thrust about whom had given more in the relationship and had I appreciated all that he’d done for me. I felt that this was conveyed in a bullying fashion that forced me into a manipulated confession of lasting gratitude which did not allow me to express my true feelings. The best defensive is a good offensive. I’ve never forgotten that. As my friend informed me that he would not be able to spend the holidays or my birthday with me, I was coerced into receiving this information with grace and gratitude for what he had done. And I am grateful. Truly. But the holidays are about family. If, after 15 years, he doesn’t consider me family, I am recusing myself from the equation. There is nothing left to be said, shared or debated. I received this information with an unexpected sense of calm and proceeded to make some jewelry which gave me pleasure. I chose life. I didn’t engage in self-destructive, self-effacing behavior. I’ve spent birthdays and holidays alone. But the reality is that I have friends who have asked to spend my birthday with me and I have sisters with whom I can spend the holidays. And even had I none of those, I have myself. And that is something wonderful – finally – at last – I can count myself as friend.
I’ve learned that when I let go, something comes in. I gracefully extricated myself from the laborious debate with my x and responded to a man who’d been calling me for the past few hours. I invited him to my apartment for a celebration – for I felt that I deserved that – and allowed myself the pleasure of reveling in his admiration. We sipped wine and sank our teeth into freshly baked bread and cheese. I felt appreciated and respected. I allowed myself to accept my situation and to find gratitude in the midst of accumulated blessings. Perhaps it is as simply difficult as I’ve heard. Close one door and another opens. But one has to be prepared to walk into the unknown before the unexpected can arise. I had to face the void of non-existence before I could embrace my life. There are mysteries and paradoxes and the simplicity and joy of being. And for this, I am deeply grateful.