When I was in college in the late 1970’s, I loved to read. My favorite book was “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin. The reason it was my favorite was because the book had been deemed so scandalous in 1899 that libraries were ordered to take it off of their shelves. The idea that a woman, whom by all appearances “had it all” according to the society of her time, might still be unhappy, was considered “objectionable.” The real source of her unhappiness came from the lack of choice that was allowed to a woman at the turn of the century. The main character, Edna Pontellier, is the wife of a wealthy man, she has two healthy young sons, she spends her summers on an island off of New Orleans listening to music and watching her children play, but she wants more. In spite of her efforts to find adventure and excitement, she comes to the realization that the idea of choice for her is limited to one. She can either live the life that has been laid out for her or she can take her own life and escape the prison her life has become. Not to spoil the ending or anything, but she chooses the latter. She swims out into the gulf until she is too far to come back. The ending left me speechless.
This book actually did help to create options and choices for women when they decided to read it in spite of the authorities of the time. In the years that have followed, women have and continue to fight for more choices. Choice really is the key factor.
This was such a powerful lesson for me that it has stayed with me all of this time. One of the reasons is because suicide is something that I contemplated as a teenager myself.
So whereas I am not a doctor, a therapist, or even a life coach, I am a survivor. Not many people know this about me and I am sure that many are shocked to hear it. The reason I feel compelled to write about this now is I met an old friend yesterday who told me that her son took his own life. She seemed hesitant to tell me and my instinct was to share with her my thoughts on the matter. Since yesterday, I have continued to think about her and her son. I’ve been thinking about other people I know who have lost members of their families to suicide. I’ve been thinking about my own experiences. So I have decided to write my thoughts down in this blog with the hope that it will help someone else out there.
If you are thinking about taking your own life, there are only two things you need to know. First, if you choose life, time will pass, things will change and you will be happy again some day. Only you can make that choice and only you can make your dreams come true. As long as there is life, anything is possible. Be courageous and live. Take each day and find a reason that makes it was worth living. That reason could be simply to feel the breeze against your face, it could be the chance to read another chapter in a good book, or it could be sitting down and eating your favorite dessert. Simple every day things that are only possible if you chose life. The second thing is that if you are taking your life to get revenge on someone, you won’t be around to enjoy that revenge. It is a much better revenge to survive and thrive in spite of those who have hurt you.
If you have lost someone who has chosen to end his or her pain in this way, then I want you to know it’s not your fault. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming in a person’s mind that once they decide to end their life, they feel peace for the very first time. If you know someone who is thinking about suicide, spare nothing in trying to stop them. But if in the end they do take their own life, you need to know that it was their choice. Their death does not mean they didn’t live. Don’t be afraid to speak their names and to talk about their lives. They were and are loved; they lived and loved. They should be remembered and live in your memories. Don’t bury your memories with them. Healing can only come through sharing with others and with the acceptance that you cannot control another person’s actions. But you can choose how to live the rest of your life and your choice can affect and help others. That’s what I did.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy