MISERY LOVES COMEDY by giorgina liguori
One night when I was still with “him” and mad as hell, I called The Suicide Hotline. I know it was a Monday because one of the few things I watch on TV is So You Think You Can Dance and, that night, they were pre-empted by a ball game or something that held no interest for me. If it had not been a pre-empted, if one of the three close friends I’d called had been home, I probably would not have called.
He was in the other room watching a tennis match, as if nothing had happened. Men are great at this. It never ceases to amaze me that they can sleep immediately after an argument. I think I even remember him once falling asleep during an argument.
So, there I sat, alone, drinking dago-red from the bottle. Italians are allowed to use that phrase. It means the stuff that’s one step up from Jive Seven which is what you see on the sidewalk sticking out of brown paper bags.
Even in the hollow pits I found myself that evening, had you asked me if I felt unloved, I would have answered, “No, I am loved, very much so.”
“What I am not, is appreciated.”
There are times when nothing seems right. There are times when you have to call someone who knows you and ask them to tell you what you were feeling so good about yesterday. It has been called, variously: the hour of the wolf, the blues, weltshmertz. Whatever you call it, it hurts.
I ruminated. What did I ever see in him? Why did I marry him? I fantasized how marvelous I’d be married to someone else. Or home much happier I’d be alone (fodder for another chapter.)
Some people, when they get like this, have to be alone. My friend Eddie will disappear for weeks because he doesn’t want to “lay it on you.” I’m the opposite. I need people around me when I’m down. I need them a lot. So, not finding any of the people I love and trust at home and really needing a voice, a shoulder, a sounding board, I started looking on the Internet. I was trying to find a crisis intervention service or some type of hot line where I could talk with a counselor. I did not want to text or email, I needed a voice.
I really wanted a friend, but with none available that night, I needed to speak with someone.
As usual, I could not figure out the category. Google and my brain have a very different filing system. I skipped from here to there. I would lie if I said I was getting desperate; I was getting annoyed. Why can’t they post things where I might find them? Then I saw the listing for The Suicide Hotline. They would surely have someone who would listen – and care.
I punched in the number and got a busy signal. I hit redial. It took thirty-five minutes to get through. Really! When I, finally, did reach someone, I was told that I would have to call a local office for actual counseling and they gave me another number.
Can you imagine if I were actually sitting there with a pack of razor blades?
I called the second number. This time I got through after about ten minutes. But, as soon as the person answered, they said, “Wait one moment,” and put me on hold.
A few minutes later, a young male voice came on the line, apologizing profusely because he’d had to go to the bathroom. I laughed and he seemed relieved. I would imagine he does not hear a lot of laughter.
He was very nice and we talked for about an hour. I told him where I hurt and how I hurt and while he did not give any actual advice, and while I didn’t really need any, we communicated and I felt better.
I decided once, a while ago, that if I ever did kill myself, exactly how I would do it. I’d had a mole removed and the doctor had warned me that when the Novocain wore off, I would hurt like hell. She gave me a few super Darvons. They were amazing. I decided, then, that if I ever went it would be with a fist full of Darvons because, when I go, I want to go out singing.
Was I really thinking of offing myself that night? No! Would I really consider it ever? No!
Although, the last time I saw the inside of a church or temple was a year and half ago at a friend’s wedding, I do believe that God or the Universe is watching and I don’t think God or the Universe (think karma) would take too kindly to a healthy woman abandoning her family and her friends because she is ticked off about something.
I have discovered the pattern of my life. My MO is a roller coaster: mountains and valleys and no plateaus. So, even at the worst moments, even when I believe that I am not going to get through this one; I know in my heart I am. By fifty, most of you have reached the same conclusion.
We think back and remember times we thought we would starve, we were so broke or that we could never love again because he had betrayed us so badly. But we did, we do.
I cannot make judgments for everyone. I do not believe that people who commit suicide go to Hell. I am not talking about the very old, the terminally ill or those on life support systems. I am talking about your run-of-the-mill mild neurotics like you and me.
The classic description of depression: anger turned inward. The obvious answer, now in my lucid, non-emotional state, is to turn it out. No, don’t buy a hand gun; pick up a pen or buy a book.
The pen is for writing to those people who are causing you grief and unlike Dr. Phil or others who give advice, who tell you to write all your terrible thoughts and then throw the letter away; I say mail it. If that load of anger you are carrying around is making you feel so miserable, get it off your back and give it to the ones who deserve it.
And when do we consider suicide? When we are depressed.
The book? Spite Malice and Revenge: The Complete Guide to Getting Even. I have not acted on any of the suggestions and I probably never will.
But, just thinking of doing some of the outrageous things mentioned had me grinning like a fool.
It was Dorothy Parker who wrote:
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
On a more serious note, someone else once observed that the problem of having a baby is that after you have a baby, you have a baby. Well, the problem with taking your own life is, that, once you do it, you are dead and you will never become famous, win the lottery or get even with cousin Jane. Your friends will be miserable and your enemies will be glad.
With all this in mind, I expect to take whatever life has to give, pick myself up and get on with it. I do know that there will be other nights like that Wednesday. I know that there will be times that I will grab for the phone as if it were a lifeline. I’ll count the rings, waiting for JoAnn to answer. If she isn’t home, then I’ll try Marianna, or Marcia or Andrea.
If it’s a night when everyone else in the world seems to be out carousing,
I very well might call that hotline again.
I hope I get the same young man and I really wouldn’t mind if he put me on hold again. I would not have believed that I would laugh that night, but I did. I did not expect to get as much warmth and caring as I did. Calling a Suicide Hotline did not save my life. There was never any danger that I was going to take that fatal step. What it did do for me was to underline all the reasons that I would not do it.
I might sound like the infamous Goody-two-shoes, but unless you are in severe physical pain, unless you are truly terminal (and even then I would make sure I saw at least six doctors and/or chant a lot or pray a lot) you really should never consider this as an option. It will get better. Tomorrow really does dawn again.
In case you are seriously considering taking such a drastic action, I will end this with one more thought on the subject and this is a supposedly a true story. (It does sound more like one of those urban legends, but I like the moral anyway.)
There was a young man who dove head first from a sixth floor window. On his way down, his body turned and he went through a canopy, feet first, which left him on the ground with no greater injury than a fractured ankle. He’d left a suicide note on his kitchen table. The note read, “I never do anything right.”
Remember, too, as a psychology professor once said to me, “The idea of living is not feeling good all the time; there are many people sitting in mental institutions who are always laughing. The idea of living is feeling it all.” #women, #counseling, #coaching, #over50, #laughter, #hotlines