Thursday, February 23, 2017

Suicide is Never the Answer, Unless the Question is: “What is it Called When you Kill Yourself?”

I came across an article on suicide written by Becky Cavender of the Huffington Post about 3 years ago. At that time I was in the darkest point of my life and suicide was constantly running through my mind. It was starting to become an obsession. I couldn't sleep at night as I was busy planning and running through options and the ifs, whys, hows, wheres, whens, etc. in my head. I had thoughtful, meaningful letters written to my children telling them why I was doing this and how much better we'll all be in the end. I was drowning in the icky darkness and being done w/ my life in my way on my terms seemed like a warm, comforting blanket. I cringe when I think back to that time in my life.

I know sometimes it feels like there's no way out and suicide is the only way. 3 years ago I was there. I couldn't handle the fear, the self-hate and shame, the feelings of worthlessness and sadness. All the heartache and chaos and turmoil I had caused those around me b/c of my stupid choices and addictions was crushing me. The thought, "everyone would be much better off w/o me" began to make more sense and seem right. Sure, they may all be sad and hurt for a while, but eventually they'd heal and move on and they'd see they were happier b/c I wouldn't be there any longer to inflict hurt and agony. My wife would eventually remarry a man who would be a much better father to my children than I could ever have been and a more decent, loyal, faithful husband than I ever was.

But those are all lies, lies, lies told to us in our fragile state by the master deceiver. We're already heavy and overshadowed w/ darkness and pain and sadness, that suicide starts to become a light at the end of the tunnel. Every person on this planet goes through painful, overwhelming, and seemingly impossible patches in their lives. Some are worse than others. But they do eventually get better. I can't and won't say the difficulties or hardships will end completely, but they do improve. It may take a month or 5 years, but the sun will shine through the clouds again. We MUST endure the presumably endless pain and hurt and sadness and trials b/c in the end we'll realize it was all for our benefit! How much more strong and resilient and wise are we when we make it through those terrible, disastrous times!? Doing just that is was this life is all about!

I happened upon the following article by Ms. Cavender as I was researching suicide stories and methods. While it didn't completely pull me back from the edge, it did stir my soul and it still stirs me today as I re-read it. I think it's beautifully written and very touching. Please, please, please share it w/ others as I have done here <3

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ON SUICIDE
Becky Cavender
Huffington Post;
April 11, 2014

She shot herself that March. At 14, whatever pain clawed inside her, my cousin believed hunting it down, releasing it with a bullet from the chamber, was her answer. Our family and her friends were left behind to grieve. We took on her hurt and let it explode in anger or confusion. Some still say she was selfish... that suicide is the most selfish thing anyone can do; but she was young and must've truly believed there was no end, except to create her own.

I know what it feels like to paint yourself in a tight, dark corner so when you look down, all you see are thick spirals of injured agony, a deep sadness, the abyss. You think all there is left to do is let yourself fall. You hope there will be freedom from the ache that gnaws and chews your bones. In desperation, you're unsure if you have a heart left. And if you did, it surely would be charcoal.

The word sadness doesn't cut it. It's an all-encompassing pain that ties and wraps around your muscles and bones, pulling tighter, stringing you to the edge where you feel trapped. Alone. Without choice. Exhausted. So tired from feeling so much, that you just want it to stop. You don't know what to do.

If you suffer from mental illness or if you don't have the skills to cope with disappointment -- the knowledge that things don't always stay so bleak -- and if you don't talk to anyone, get help, you won't see yourself anymore. All your bones will have been squeezed so tightly, that they become scarred and wrung out. You believe you're crumbling. That even your skeleton won't hold.

After she died, someone made me promise I would never do the same; I knew I wouldn't keep it. Then I was asked when I would get back to normal, be my regular, happy self. People needed me to be happy for them, they said.

You don't get over someone killing themselves. It stays with you. It's a story that belongs to those left behind. At Thanksgiving when we gather, we see photos of her on the wall. During weddings, we know she should be there. Her life was not supposed to end the way it did: She is supposed to be with us. There was much more she was meant to give to this lovely world. This beautiful world that can sometimes, yes, feel ugly.

At 17, I made a promise I intended to keep. I promised to pay attention. To recognize the dimness that others get in their eyes, the sound of cracking bones. To remember what it looks like to get that close. I promised to remember the crocus, so resilient, budding with snow kissing its petals. It survived and pushed through winter, ushered in spring. In just one afternoon, the sun can shine enough, the temperatures rise enough, to allow for new growth. That fast. That fast. Things change. Nothing, nothing, nothing stays the same. Not even an abyss. And I promised to live like that, breathing, with new perspective, noticing the smallest piece of beauty. To become a collector of moments and keep them wrapped safely in my heart.

You learn that feelings are not necessarily the truth of a matter. They ebb and flow. Wash out to the mighty sea, and are released there. Yes, you will hurt sometimes. You will experience pain that brings you to your knees. You will feel you've already died. Your stomach will cut you up; but after awhile, that terrible pain fades.

This is when you choose to paint over that corner you painted yourself in: And it is just a corner. It's not the whole room, let alone the whole house or the whole neighborhood, the entire world, your life in full: It's just a corner. There is more beyond it. Look. Step over the edge. Paint it white.

That invisible rope that has scratched you to the bone... kiss it off you. Look at your delicate mortality. You have skin. You are not desolate. You are here. You exist. You belong. There are people who love you. And sometimes, that doesn't feel like enough. So you look in. What do you love? You know you love something. There are things you would miss if you were not here. Music. The stars. The sea. The taste of salt on your tongue. Old oaks growing and all the storms they have weathered. They didn't stop. They kept growing and now give you oxygen.

This is the thing: You have to save yourself. You have to believe that there's something worth it. Because there is. There is no one else like you. The world needs you. You need you.

So here you are. You're stronger than you know. You can plant yourself, grow your own roots that spread so deep and marvelous, allowing you to stretch and bloom like a cherry tree. Sprout out from that darkness and lift your arms in the sun. Let it brush against your sweet face that is precious and rare. Put your palms out and allow it to seep in.

Life is a gift. So fragile. So miraculous. So mysterious and exquisite.

You won't be the same. It will take time to heal, to learn new tools on how to cope with life. You'll learn how to think differently -- and that's one of the most important things -- because much of this, how you live, is in your head. You can choose how to think.

You'll give a blessing of compassion to others because you know what it feels like to get through to the other side, that life is not black and white. (It is NOT black and white.) You will help others by not judging them -- because you'll know there is no way you have any right to judge another person. You will see despair on someone's face when others don't notice. You will smile at them. It may save them for one more day -- and you know this. You know the kindness extended by a stranger can save a life.

Daffodils. The beach. Campfires. The smell of babies. A loved one's touch. The wind. Walking barefoot in the grass. A full moon. These are the things that will mesmerize you for the rest of your life. You'll know it's simple, really. It's not the car you drive, the kind of house you have, the job you go to, the clothes you wear, or if you had a hard day. It's your spirit. And it's the things that you can rely on to always be there, these stunning little gifts of magical life. Someone's laugh. The feel, the warmth of a forehead kiss. The smell of the earth after it rains. They ground you. Remind you what a blessing it is to live.

Twenty-four years later, we still think of her. We miss the girl who rode horses in the fog; the tough country girl who scoffed at me -- another country girl -- for not wanting to scale a fish. She could do it with her smile. We still ask questions. There was no note. We have coffee, talk of her, and cry. We tell our children that sometimes life is hard, but it is -- in equal measure, at least -- splendid and captivating. We miss her. We love her.

And the best thing I can think of to do is not just exist, but to love -- really love. To live -- really live. To pay attention. Keep gratitude close by at all times, because that, truly, is what keeps our mind full of wonder. That wonder keeps us here, shining. And that's what we're meant to do. So shine.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Choking the Chicken and Other Such Matters

✊Tossing off...jacking off...beating the meat...spanking the monkey...bopping the baloney...giving yourself a handy...jerking off...flogging your log...waxing the dolphin...whacking your willy...

I could fill pages!
Last month I heard the term "geeking out". I always considered 'geeks' to be those people who are typically into IT, sci-fi and fantasy, Star Trek/Star Wars, comic books, 'magic' games, video gaming, LARPing, Lord of the Rings, and who usually fall short in personal hygiene. Ok, ok...I'm stereotyping a bit, but honestly, in my experience, most of those types of guys (geeks) have quite a number of those things in common. Am I mistaken here?

Anyhow, I thought 'geeking out' refers to when a 'geek' or group of 'geeks' really get lit up and passionate when talking about any of the above mentioned items. It's what ignites the fire w/in. I've been asked what do I geek out about and nothing really came to mind. What do I get really passionate about or obsessed with and enjoy learning about and soaking in as much information as I can get? After a little bit of thought, I realized I do have some things I geek out about...

a) Golden Girls, b) horror movies, c) soda pop, d) DIY projects, and e) playing w/ myself.

Masturbation is one of my favorite subjects b/c I consider myself to be a veteran of it. I started when I was 7 and for most of my life, like many men, have been a complete and total addict. I've never even had a wet dream b/c I've never given my body time enough to build up my juices and naturally release them! Though it sucks to suffer the pains and trials of addiction, experiences like these have changed me and taught me and helped me grow and understand more about myself and my physical, carnal body and the experience I'm having as a spiritual being inside a mortal body while here on the earth. The whole purpose of this life is to learn to master our natural man desires, appetites, passions, lusts, etc. and for some, this comes easy. But for many others, like myself, it takes a life time to master. This is especially the case w/ masturbation!

Unlike an alcoholic who must go to the store or bar in order to purchase liquor, we carry our vice around w/ us everywhere we go and we go to it for soooo many different reasons. Little boys are constantly fiddling w/ their tally-wackers. And why not? He's fun to play w/ and it feels good. Exploring our bodies and discovering ourselves and the things that give us pleasure is a normal and natural part of human development. We love to smell and eat delicious foods, have our backs tickled or scratched, soak in hot tubs, have our hair shampooed by another person, watch colorful sunsets, listen to beautiful music, etc. In the preexistence we couldn't wait to come to earth and receive a physical body so we could have these physical experiences and delight in the things that only a mortal body can do. 


I do believe in something called mindful masturbation: completely emptying your mind and focusing on the sensation of it all; to really indulge in the experience and sensation and purpose. Let it be something special, not something quick and fast and lustful and 'carnal.' Use it to relax, or reduce stress and anxiety, and to free your mind. This is particularly the case for those who aren't married or for whatever reason will never have that opportunity. I can't even imagine going through my whole life w/o having and enjoying the pleasure of sexual relations w/ another human being and then being made to feel like an occasional jerk off is a terrible sin and that I'm a bad, naughty, unclean person. WTF? The first commandment God gave to Adam before any others was to go forth and multiply! Think about this: do you think it's by accident that our arms and hands end at exactly the same point our nether regions are located? Coincidence? HAHA That sexual desire is bred in us from the get-go! It's our natural instinct to have sex or have that experience and release. For men, this is a natural and normal part of ALL our lives. But for some of us, it can become habit forming and addictive. That is where we need to be careful, b/c as we're taught and I believe: the natural man is an enemy to God.
 
A lot of it depends on the thoughts and actions that are going on whilst you're masturbating and where you're at and what your intentions are and the frequency. Are you doing it 8 times a day? Is it interfering w/ your work or schooling? If you're married, are you keeping it secret and is it interfering w/ your relationship or desire for sex w/ your spouse? Are you viewing porn while masturbating or has it led you to? Are you fantasizing about someone or the porn you've viewed in the past or past experiences you may have had w/ another person ? Are you doing it publicly or in a steam room or somewhere risky that adds to the thrill of the act and ultimately strengthens the addiction? Are you doing it w/ someone outside your marriage or if you haven't yet married are you masturbating w/ another person? Whether they're hands on you or off you aka sitting side by side, that would still be a definite no-no.

I've done it all, and in some instances, continue to do so. But I'm aware and am continually working on it and keeping it in the forefront of my brain. I do not get hung up on masturbation as some LDS folks tend to do anymore. Now, is it something that ought to be controlled and kept to a bare minimum? Yes! When and if you do toss off, should your soul be racked w/ torment and guilt? Absolutely not! We are healthy, vibrant, normal, virile, sexual men! Stop sweating it!
  
If masturbation is one of the things you 'geek' out to and consider it to be one of the best things since sliced bread like myself, that's swell. But if you're finding yourself overwhelmed w/ guilt and pain after every jerk session, maybe you should stop and take a look at yourself and try and understand why it is you feel that way and why you're masturbating in the first place. Maybe you're jerking off 10 times a day and you feel completely out of control of this addiction and it's interfering w/ your life. Recognize it and try to make some necessary changes. But please try and let some of that guilt go! You are normal. And you are not a terrible person. Just keep working on mastering it and try what I said about the mindfulness and stop obsessing! Similar to the Lord's Word of Wisdom that we Mormons LOVE to pick and choose our judgments on ("herbal" teas, cola drinks, pigging out at buffets, all-meat diets, Veganism, etc.), the whole masturbation topic is a personal thing between you and the Lord or between you, the Lord, and your spouse.

The one and only time my Dad and I ever talked about masturbation, he said this: "Are YOU controlling IT, or is IT controlling YOU?"
Solid, sound advice that I will never forget. And that is my measuring stick.