God Exists

First.

I have to tell you a little story. Completely true.

I am in the Holy Land. We are handing out wheelchairs and eyeglasses. I am running around, taking pictures, sewing vinyl wheelchair footrests, counting rolls of velcro for inventory and sorting gifts for gift bags for our local volunteers for the end of the week.

I am the pop-fly shagger. The gopher. The water boy girl for the team.

I don’t mind. I’m happy and humble to do it. I have no idea what I’m doing, but as with improv, you simply accept what someone says and build on it.

“Martha, will you…?”

YES! Would you like fries with that???

I was not perfectly humble. Sometimes I grumbled. But then I would just pout in private, pray and move on when I could smile again. In the Holy Land, my butt-hurt recovery period was very short. Thank God! That 4:30 AM call to prayer came early and loudly. Right into my hotel room from the neighboring mosque. Punctuating the snores of my roommate. I would say my own prayers when I woke to those pre-dawn mournful meditations. I prayed. A lot. All day. For everything. Trying to incorporate that into this American life.

It also helped that I was witnessing miracles on a daily basis. Here’s just one. A tiny miracle that sows seeds of faith.


I was mostly in the wheelchair clinic. We were in a very large community center divided into two sections by a beautiful, dark red tapestry. The wheelchair clinic was about 2/3 of the space and the eyeglass clinic was on the other side of the curtain. Because I was helping with the sewing/upholstery department, I didn’t see but a few glimpses of the eyeglass clinic. I took many pictures, but I didn’t get to know the volunteers or patients very well.

They had a young man helping during the week with eyeglass distribution. He was a local tween or teen. Maybe 11, maybe as old as 13 or 14, I’m bad at carnival-guessing anyone’s age under 18, especially boys. I didn’t really notice him until the final two days.

Before the banquet on Friday, we were cleaning up the facility, putting things away, packing up our gear and returning the space to the condition we found it. Perhaps even cleaner!

I had brought several kid-centered trinkets from my home in the States. We had received an email before the trip about all the families and children that come to the clinics and how they might appreciate games, more interaction, activities and attention. I decided to pack a few things that my daughter didn’t want, we couldn’t use or that were cluttering our overfilled home. Things that kids would love. Stuff for bracelets. Pins for older kids. And a pair of neon sunglasses that were given to us. No one in my family wanted them and they were cool, but a little too…bright for us. 🙂 Perfectly good pair of sunglasses.

Well. They were sitting on our small utility table Friday as we were packing up. I never found a kid to give them to. They just sat all week. I looked at the sunglasses. I looked at my overfilled bag of cameras, computer and sewing accoutrements. Looked around the room and saw Swoopy-bangs Kid.

He had curly bangs. A little too long. Swooped to the side. Cool.

Maybe he wants these shades.

As I walked over to Swoopy-bangs, I had a sudden, slight sinking feeling of “do kids still like things like neon sunglasses? Am I the dorky old lady who offers the nerdy object to the cool kid and is totally oblivious to my own ridiculousness?”

Just ask.

“Hey man, do you want these sunglasses?” in as cool a voice as this 45-year old white lady could muster.

He looked surprised. I couldn’t tell if it was disgusted or thankful surprise, so there was an awkward pause.

He asked with a slight accent, “Who are these for?”

I pointed to him. “You! If you want them.”

He cracked a broken smile, averted his eyes sheepishly and heartily accepted them. Phew! Yay!

Sunglasses given! Smile achieved! Backpack and heart loaded for bear. Cool status confirmed.

What I didn’t know until later that night at the banquet…

Final banquet. Dinner. Speeches. Pats on the back. Gift bags!

Can I just say? As the Gift Bag Coordinator for 2019 Holy Land Trip, stop giving gift bags!

Or, buy one thing and give it. Don’t weigh down your luggage from America, burn jet fuel to get it there and then make some hapless pop-fly shagger distribute your American trash. I mean–Merry Christmas.

Fine. Praying over here.

Gift-bag giving was hell. Not one person was happy with the way I distributed gifts to the local translators. I relinquish my duties as the Gift Bag Chairman for 2019 and may all future gift-giving souvenirs burn on the Gehenna piles of Jerusalem. Ahem. Sorry. I’m still bitter. Still praying.

Anyway. Let us not dwell. LOL

Before the gift-bag portion of our evening, one of the directors of the clinics summoned me. “Martha, do you have an extra bag for this guy?” The director pointed to Swoopy-bangs.

Crap!

“No. I’m sorry. If I didn’t have his name before tonight, I didn’t prepare a bag.”

This had become my script. Before Eyeglass Director had asked this specific question, I had been bombarded with questions over the gifts all week.

Did you get this person on your list?
Do you have an extra bag?
Did you put my souvenir in my translator’s bag?
When are we handing out the bags?
Did you get the tea bags I brought?

Can we hand out the bags:
Before?
After?
During?
In front of…?
Can I be in charge of my bag?

Gah!

*In the voice of Pontius Pilate* I wash my hands of this.

The spirit of Christmas was truly lost on this night for me (it was Christmastime for this part of the world). People were obsessed. It was not a very Christ-like environment and I really had to pray hard. Not judge these Americans for their entitled, demanding, materialistic behavior. I made it through the night. Dinged and daunted, but not broken.

But to refuse Eyeglass Director yet another time, I started to feel defeated. He immediately dismissed his last-minute request and understood my frustration. “Nevermind. He just really helped us out. It’s fine.” I felt bad though because I really liked Swoopy-bangs. We only shared a few words, but he seemed appreciative of such a simple thing like the glasses I handed him. Gratefulness, in anyone, is something I admire and appreciate.

Later on that evening, I was relaying my frustrations to a new friend. We sat at different tables that night, based on our clinic service assignment. So when we got to talk after dinner, she asked how my night was going. We had become fast friends, despite our age difference and geographic extremes. (We live on opposite coasts!)

I told her I felt bad about the kid. “I didn’t have a gift for him. Did I miss his name at the beginning of the week?” She was in the eyeglass clinic, so I thought she might know more.

“That kid?” She pointed to Swoopy-bangs. “Don’t worry. He was there part of the time and he was helpful, but it’s fine. I think (Eyeglass Director) felt bad because the kid wanted a pair of sunglasses from the eyeglass clinic and he didn’t have enough.”

WHAT?!

“That kid wanted sunglasses???” I asked. I was dumbfounded.

“Yeah. It’s no big deal. We just didn’t have enough and he seemed disappointed, but it’s fine.”

“No! You don’t understand. I just gave that kid sunglasses before we came to this restaurant. I had no idea.” I was shocked. Humbled. I just kept repeating, softly. “I had no idea.”

I wanted to run over to that kid and hug him. Throw my arms around his neck and scream “Hallelujah!” But I just sat quietly with shiny eyes pooling with tears and the overwhelming knowledge that God had orchestrated all those tiny, tender moments.

Giving me some pair of neon glasses.
Packing them in my overstuffed suitcase.
Traveling halfway around the world.
Preparing hearts.
Creating desire for sunglasses.
Fulfilling wants.
Planting seeds.
Watering my desperate heart with words from my new friend.

God whispers small urgings to our overwhelmed hearts on a daily basis and we usually drown out his pleas with doubt and busy-ness. But this time, because I was tuned to his grace, alone in a foreign country, relying completely on his protection and will, praying my keister off, I took a small risk and the dividend was immense.

There were so many miracles on this trip of people served. This is just one, tiny example of God at work. But this is a reminder to me. God exists and he knows the number of hairs on your head. In the middle of our struggle, pain, ramblings, writhing, he cares. He is at work. And he cares about a boy, on the other side of the planet, and where that boy will go. Who he will touch. Whether seeds are planted in his brain of kindness and love and providence. And if his eyes are protected and stylish. 🙂

Luke 12:22-27 NASB

…“For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.


As I was writing this, knee-deep in word construction and heart-pouring, my computer shut down, unexpectedly. Nothing was lost. Everything was saved. Thank you, God. Thank you, WordPress. Thank you, AutoSave. God exists.

If kind, loving people exist, then God exists. If the watch is designed, the Watchmaker designs.

 

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I Threw Myself Away

The next article you are about to read is difficult. To write. To live. To relive. For you to digest. If you love me and can’t handle the truthfulness of what I’m about to retell, please, don’t read. You won’t hurt my feelings. This will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to relay. It’s taken me years to publish. It was the most significant obstacle in trying to publish the second volume of my memoir. Which I never did. And probably won’t. I could never finish this story.


Ice Cream Man

I am lying face down on dirty carpet. By choice. The ice cream van is swaying as we bump our way to some distant location. I can’t see out. I have been asked to hide myself on the floor of the van so the driver won’t be fired for having a passenger. Or that’s the excuse he gives. He may just be embarrassed to be seen with, specifically, me.

The driver is a boy that I just met two days ago. His name is Mike.

Mike is 18. He’s shorter than I am. He’s attractive. But not irresistible. Except for his pursuit of me. That is irresistible.

I am 16. Tall. Awkward. Overweight. Desperate for attention, excitement and love. And sex.

I grew up under the threat of nuclear war, the freedom of promiscuous sex and the towering height of materialism. A strange cocktail of risk and greed. Priming the pump of my stupidity.

I meet Mike at the mall. I’m talking to my best friend while she’s working in an ice cream shop. He’s passing through and spots my friend. They are acquaintances. He knows the boy she’s seeing. They greet one another and soon, Mike’s attention is squarely on me.

Mike chats me up. Even with my very limited experience with boys, I can tell he’s flirting with me. I’d been flirted with, at least. But this boy is hitting hard.

Within hours of meeting Mike, he is kissing my hand, walking me to my car, talking to me, kissing my lips and asking me for my phone number. This shimmering summer mirage of fantasy and thrill is what I have always dreamed. No boy has ever behaved this way. I’d never been kissed. I tell him so. I don’t know that he believes me.

He calls me the next day. He is interested in me. He wants to see me again. He wants to be with me. We talk for a while and he steers the conversation towards sex. With a few deft and experienced moves, Mike makes plans to see me again and makes it clear, we will have sex.

I agree because I am 16 and eager to find out what sex is. I am so lonely and desperate, I allow myself to believe that this is romance. I mistakenly equate sex with love. Something I will do, over and over, until I don’t.

I tell Mike that he was my first kiss. “No, really.” That he will be my first sexual partner. That I’m a virgin.

“Oh!”

He is surprised. He believes me and I think he understands the implication of that statement. That we will be married. Some day. I should have said that out loud.

Only to hear for myself how stupid it sounded.

I have no concept of boys thinking differently or having different expectations. Again, I am 16. I am naïve, ridiculous, impetuous, hormonal, inexperienced and mentally ill. My frontal lobe is underdeveloped, as are all teens. I am an irrational lump of glands and pumping blood.

I really think that this is it. This is how it happens. I meet someone, I am swept off my feet and I am happy. The end.

Oh, my dear young Martha. This is nowhere near the end. This is only the bottom of a very full trash can of thrown-away romances/flings/pieces of your heart. And you put them there.

My inexperience and naïveté lead to stupid choices. Horribly misguided conclusions. Risky behavior. Terrible consequences.

The van comes to a stop. I sit up. From where I sit, I can only see the tops of trees. I assume we are in a remote park, miles from where I left my car. I somehow trust Mike.

He gives me no reason to trust him. I don’t know him, but somehow his charm has nudged the longings of my heart and my body. No one asked my brain.

He’s friends with my friend. Or friends with my friend’s friend. I have his phone number. He called me. He kissed me. He is pursuing me. He is attracted to me. There is no doubt that this will, at the very least, be my first boyfriend.

I thought my heart was more than ready to take this leap. Many of my friends were already engaging in or talking about engaging in sex.

What’s the big deal?

We complete an awkward demonstration of how not to lose your virginity. I will spare you the lousy details. And when we are done, I am sorely disappointed and confused.

Is that it? What IS the big deal?

It is hot out. So I get dressed and leave the van. We are smack dab in the middle of a garbage dump. That is not a joke. I have literally thrown myself away.

I get back in the van, cry my eyes out and ask to be taken back to my car. Mike consoles me. Tells me there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Comforts me. Compliments me. Finally takes me back to my car.

I never talk to or see him again. I try to call him, but I can’t reach him. I only tried once.


I still bare the shame and humiliation.

Life is full of memories that bring happiness and a smile. Pictures that flash. And just at their flashing, warm feelings and chemicals surge through your body.

Negative memories have the same effect, just a different set of chemicals course. This is the most shameful memory I have. The most difficult thing I have to share. I’ve never told anyone except a few close friends and my husband.

I thought I owed it to my collection of writing to set down my shame and let it go for all time. I’m not that person any more. Thank God I didn’t die from that choice or any stupid choices to follow.

I wish I could take it back. Save myself for marriage. Save the most holy consecration of intimacy for the one man who would cherish it. I wish I could have saved that for my husband. But he loves me anyway. Thank God for that.

I got lucky.

Go With the Flow

My dad was dying. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was would be gone within two months. He had end-stage lung cancer and could no longer drive. So I had to cart him around. Which he hated. So did I.

He’d lost all autonomy and that was hard for him. A fiercely independent, strongly opinionated man. He couldn’t even decide to go home from the hospital at his leisure. He wanted to die in his own bed. He finally got his wish.

One day, we were taking the interstate home and I was dutifully going the speed limit. I was afraid if I went over the limit, Dad would say something. Criticize me. He did anyway.

“You need to speed up. Move with the traffic.”

At the time, I was extremely annoyed, but all I could mumble was, “Sorry.” And I put the pedal to the floor.

There, Old Man.

“Why do you have to find fault with me in everything I do?” I wondered.

Too fast, too slow. Too lazy. Too everything you think I shouldn’t be. But your sick. So I’ll just keep quiet and take it.

But today, when I remembered his nudge (I still think about and remember these things, ugh), I thought, “Thanks, Dad. Good advice.”

I drive for a living now. All I have is time in the car to think about things, past and present. Too much time, perhaps. It’s like all the thoughts you ever have when you’re working out and in the zone.

I’m a very good driver. I pay attention and know a thing or two about cars, thanks to my father. He was a mechanic by trade. He taught me how to take care of a vehicle, inside and out, and how to drive one.

I know why I was so sensitive at the time. Any opportunity my parents had to correct me was unwelcome and resented. They behaved in ways that grownups shouldn’t: fighting, engaging in unfair behavior, inconsistency, neglect. They were normal parents from the 80s.

Who are you to tell me anything??

And I held them accountable with my teenage indignation. Except, it didn’t help and I was just as wrong. Even if I was totally justified in rebuking their correction, they were still my parents. And they were, on the whole, usually right. Or steering me in the right direction.

I’m 44 now and much more confident about who I am and how well I drive. I’m well-adjusted and have worked through most of my past. I take criticism, for the most part, in stride now (thanks to mandatory art school critiques). 😉

Today I’ll just say, “Thanks, Dad. You were right.”

I miss my dad. I mourn all the years I lost to his mental and physical illness. But I also mourn all the years I lost growing up without him or knowing him as an adult.

He never saw my daughter. I know he would have been proud of the job I did/am doing with her. I wish he could have held her, heard her, helped her. But it was enough that he ever did that with me. I can only remember a handful of times, but it was enough.

I forgive you and I’m sorry, Dad.

Tough Love

I hate being the Mom. Being the Mom sucks sometimes.

I love being the Friend. The Goof. The Lollipop Fairy. The Boo-boo Kisser. The Cheerleader. The Philosophy Teacher. But I hate being the Mom.

The Mom–defined as the Law Giver. The Layer Down of the Law. The Disciplinarian. The New Sheriff In Town. The Obliterator of Fun. The Queen of Rules.

When my child comes to me and has a problem, my first inclination is to care for her emotions. Natch. But when the behavior continues without benefit from a pep talk or correction, I have to buckle up and hunker down.

My child is an easy one. She’s open to correction, soft-hearted, fair-minded, vulnerable, caring and intentional. Except when she’s not.

And when she’s not? I’m at a loss.

Lately, she’s been resisting change and challenge. This is a normal sign of teenage growing pains. Right? The urge to resemble a couch. I should know, I was a teenager and very much resembled our living room sofa.

She’s almost 14 and showing all the signs of impending, hard-core teen-tric lethargy. It’s concerning. I’m worried about her slipping off into depression if we don’t combat her lack of motivation.

That was my problem. That is a problem of teens, IMO. My freshman year was my most vulnerable. I tried to commit suicide my freshman year because I felt so isolated. Living by rules, wanting independence. On the cusp of adulthood, but still a child. Wanting total acceptance from EVERYONE, including your parents, NO MATTER WHAT!

These unrealistic desires could make any person frustrated, confused and DEPRESSED! Not to mention dealing with complex societal and peer group issues with a not-fully-matured frontal lobe. Suffering from inexperience, lack of impulse and emotional control, and hormonal imbalance.

With my mental illness history, I feel justified in being, at the very least, concerned. And she herself said, without prompt from me, “I’m unmotivated.” That’s awesome self-reflection and honesty. Great sign for us as we tackle her dissatisfaction.

Honestly, she has no reason to be dissatisfied. She has a nice, cozy home. Food to eat. Clothes (nice clothes) on her back and a good school. She has all the conveniences of modern society. I take her to school and pick her up. I am here for her in the morning and when she gets home. She is emotionally supported. And by Dad as well. But dissatisfaction is lying just under the covers of her more-than-adequate, queen-sized, Princess-and-the-Pea mattress.

Why?

It also doesn’t seem to matter that I remind her of her blessings. Put her life into perspective, in sharp contrast to those who have very little and have no opportunity to receive an education or are shot trying to get one. That has no lasting effect. I realize in my attempt to give her the finer things, I have denied her appreciation and gratitude.

We as a society are suffering from the same plight. Teenage apathy. Things are so nice that we forget how lucky we are. We are so dissatisfied after achieving some degree of success that we have to buy a therapist to figure out why. I’ve realized this, but my daughter hasn’t achieved any level of enlightenment in regard to privilege. And even so, do we act any differently? Or do we still chase those materialistic dreams of apparent success?

In my own life, I have accepted the ups and downs of luxury and deprivation. Some days you will suffer and at other times you will have plenty. Days with money aren’t stress free. You have to manage that money. No one has a money tree in their backyard. Any amount of money requires management. It helps when there’s enough to manage. I will say that’s less stressful. But having enough is only slightly less nerve-racking.

I try to be thankful for whatever situation I find myself in and remind myself, no matter what, you’re still breathing. It helps when you’ve been near death to frame life in this way. But I don’t want my daughter to experience what I have to know her place and value and blessing. I want to spare her that. But am I denying her an education in the lesson of life if I try to shield her from any pain or suffering? I’m not sure.

Last night, I showed her frustration on my part. I tried to be soft and kind, but I also let her know how frustrated I was. We try to be honest about our feelings. I let her know, “I’m trying here.” This was in response to her growing dissatisfaction with home, school, life in general. I could tell she was checking out. I could tell she was uncomfortable and uneasy. And she was. We are pretty in tune. Our whole family tends to wear our hearts..well, all over the outside, not just on the sleeve! LOL

I let her know, I’m trying to encourage. Prepare. Provide help-physical and mental. Shop for school supplies. Walk her into the office to learn about lockers. Pick up and drop off. Attend back-to-school nights. Be here physically while she’s adjusting. Help with homework. Communicate. Ask questions. Love. Listen. Linger. Snuggle up at night and let our hair down. Let go of the reins, at times. But doing all the right things doesn’t always leave her happy, well-adjusted or satisfied. That’s tough.

My happy, joyful, outgoing daughter has turned into the occasional emotional lump of tears. That makes me anxious, nervous, concerned. Frustrated.

I don’t want to guilt her. But I’m beginning to understand the power of wielding this device judiciously. Ugh. I hate that. But. A little frustration and letting her know how exasperated I might be? May be the only medicine. And it’s a jagged pill for her to swallow. But it’s also a tough pill to administer. You know the old saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Now I understand. Except my parents said that about spanking, not tough emotional love. LOL

Sometimes you wanna scoop your kids up. But sometimes scooping doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to be tough and show them, you got it pretty good, Kid. Appreciate it.

*Old man voice* “Back in my day, we rode a cow to school! And we liked it! Thankful to have a cow! And a school! And a butt made for cow-riding!”


NOTE: I did not ride a cow to school. But my mom did. LOL 🙂


What I really want for her is to know God deeply. To rely on him. What I really want is to see her help and work hard and get dirty in the business of God service. I’m hoping after graduation, she and I could find an outreach to really help people. Maybe even overseas. But that scares me. Mission work. Would I be endangering her life with illness or violence?

The Bible says:
Romans 14:8
“for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

I have to trust that God will protect us if we are about his business. He has plans to prosper, not hurt. But she has to decide what’s right for her. I trust her in that. That is a good feeling! And I know, I never want to be separate from her. That much I know.

And I want her to decide what’s best. Not become what Mom wants, not just do what Mom says. I just want to be a good mom and support her in whatever she does, wherever she goes, whatever decisions she makes. She may want to be a full-blown NYC artist or LA Nintendo character designer or international aid worker. Or Floridian housewife. 🙂 Whatever she does, she will change the world, offer kindness and show God through her spirit. That much I know.

I’m waiting patiently for her to make a decision about where she wants to go after school. It’s still 4 years away. Who knows where life will take us. Who knows what she will want in 4 years or what opportunities she will have. We have to be stable for the next 4 years to get to where God will have us. I think she deserves a 4-year period of stability to get through high school. To prepare her. To ride out this rough patch of frontal lobe and heart development! LOL

I’m ready for anything though. So is she. She has such a willing heart at times. She’s up for adventure, as I am, when we have each other to be brave. She’s my best friend. It took courage to get to Florida. Who knows what God wants for your life until you’re knee-deep in it, right?

After our come-to-Jesus moment last night, she had a pretty good morning. Praying that she has a great day. I pray that every day. But this morning I cringed at the thought of tough love after I dropped her off. But sometimes, it’s required.

Dear Lillian (and any other frustrated artists),

Oh, my precious daughter.

I have passed down my intensity. Frustration. Perfectionism. And insatiable need for applause and pats on the back. I’m so sorry.

When I look into those deep, brown, watery eyes of yours and see your struggle and pain? It breaks my heart. But at the same time, it pricks my own frustration.

I have somehow failed you along the way. Not that I passed down some negative trait, but that I haven’t taught you how to cope with it. Mainly because at 44, I haven’t learned my damn self.


Lilli is 13. Barely out of middle school and a budding artist. Her skills aren’t where she wants them, but writing as an artist, are they ever?

Taste and talent never seem to match. Do they? Ugh.


The most valuable skill as an artist, I maintain, is the ability to adapt. (Art finds its own way. You can’t force it. Its going to be whatever it wants. It has a life of its own. You’re merely along for the ride.) This is learned, not innate. So I have, at least, failed to teach you how to adapt. The most important skill I could teach  you. Beyond Photoshop, or how to use watercolor pencils (haven’t a clue), or how to shade properly (if it doesn’t get done with a drop shadow in PS, I can’t help you with shading, sorry!).

But I can teach you (sorry, I keep forgetting to) how to adapt. How to approach art. How to find solutions, how to experiment, find your style.

Do anything that feels real or awesome. And if you’re not there yet? Modify your expectations. I do. Every day. And if you want to get better and I don’t know how, Google that shit. 🙂 I’m sure there’s a Youtube out there concerning exactly what you want to know.

Be true to yourself. Don’t seek attention. Don’t wait for applause. It may never come. Make art for yourself and screw the rest. It’s that simple.

Oh! And have fun. :*


And Me? Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your daughter. Have fun. Take a deep breath. You haven’t failed. You have an amazing 13 yo who is awesome at art and life. She has a big heart and is full of potential and knows Photoshop, sort of. You. Have not. Failed. You have chances to learn. Just like her.

Thanks, Me. You’re awesome.

Vol. 2 (More)

This is more of unpublished Vol. 2. The next 3 chapters deal with my attempted suicide at the age of 15. It wasn’t a question of “if I would try to kill myself,” but “when?” I am not suicidal at this point in my life. I have put that demon down. Teens are the most susceptible demographic IMO, but you know, they don’t have a fully developed brain either.
Depression is rage turned inward. Suicide is an expression of that rage against self. Or can be. It’s also a hopelessness. Hopeless that anything will ever be better or different.

I can verify; it does get better. Get help at any cost.


The Day I Decide to Kill Myself


I am wandering around the basketball court. It’s gym class and I am lost. A girl is dribbling the ball up and down the court, complaining that no one is trying. No one is paying attention to her as she plays by herself, weaving in and out of reluctant, zombified teammates and opponents. No one even tries to defend the goal. I would call this forcible sport. No one gives a shit. This isn’t real basketball. This isn’t a game for points that leads you to a championship. This is gym. Required by the state.
The girl is abusive. She is hateful and accusatory. I was randomly selected to be on her team and she is disappointed by my performance so far. She tells me that I’m worthless. You’re not even trying. You’re lazy.
These are all things that my father says. We would all rather not have to change into shorts and tennis shoes in the middle of the day to sweat and mangle our makeup and hair. We would all rather not have to look at each other naked or shower together. We would all rather be somewhere else living life and not playing basketball. Except for this girl.
And what does it matter anyway? What does it matter if I play basketball in gym class? It doesn’t matter because I will never play on a team. I will never be this girl’s friend. An afternoon class of basketball will never change anything. It won’t earn me money. It won’t make me lose weight. It won’t make a boy fall in love with me. What is the point?
If I had any courage or care, I would say:
Bitch, pass the ball and maybe somebody could have a fucking chance.
But nice girls don’t say things like that. Nice girls don’t say anything at all. Nice girls let people walk all over them. I’m not really nice though.
I’m supposed to be nice. Being nice is what separates me from my father.
I’m just scared. I’m not scared of this girl. I’m scared of not being able to stop once I let go of all mannered society and beat this girl until she’s bloodied and unconscious. I am afraid to become what terrorizes me at home. I’m afraid that if I mess up then I will lose
my mother’s acceptance. My mother never taught me to stand up for myself, even when it was necessary. She taught me to take it. She taught me to keep it inside. She taught me through her own silence and inaction.
If I behaved like my father then no one would love me, not even my own mother. I can’t take any more abuse; in school, at home, in life, from this girl.
And I cannot be unloved by my mother.
I cannot go unloved one more day; by this girl, by my father, by the boys I want, by the world in general. I am completely alone and I want to die. There is no other option. I will kill myself today. When I get home, I’m taking the aspirin.

Algebraic Expressions (Basic Algebra Made Me Want to Kill Myself)


I am sitting in algebra class. I am completely uninterested in basic algebra and the teacher makes the material even more pathetic with his ridiculously poor presentation skills.
He’s actually a football coach who has to teach to have a job. No one pays
attention to this man. We all talk freely in his class. Also, we pass notes openly, seldom
listening to his demonstrations. He is a sad man who doesn’t require any of us to actually respect him. I am brazenly resting my head on my small desk as I listen to the conversations around me.
A girl behind me is whispering about taking an entire bottle of aspirin.
It makes your stomach bleed. That’s one way to kill yourself.
Why are they talking about suicide? Would it really work? How many aspirin though? A whole bottle of how many? Fifty? Five hundred?
That could really kill you? I asked as I slightly turned in my chair.
Yeah.
Hm.

Final Blowout


I am at home now. No one else around. I am scrambling through the cabinet above the refrigerator for the aspirin. There. A whole bottle. There are some missing, but the bottle says 500 tablets. Probably at least 400 left. Maybe 300. Surely that will kill me. I gobble them down. All at once. Chewing, swallowing, crying. Then I wait. I only wait for a few minutes before I panic. I don’t want to die.
I am laying in a hospital bed. I am drinking Ipecac (which is the sound you make after taking it) and liquid charcoal. I have an IV attached to my right hand. I have a pan on my stomach. 2 nurses, 1 doctor and my mother are staring at me, waiting for me to vomit. Everyone’s being nice to me.
My mother is stroking my hair and the nurses are showing me sympathy. The doctor is highly interested in my stomach contents and is excitedly anticipating their arrival.
Drinking the charcoal is better than having your stomach pumped, the nurse reassures me.
They have to stick a tube down your throat and then pump the same liquid down the tube.
Well, at least I wouldn’t have to taste it. That might be better. This ain’t no chocolate shake, bitch. I think this, but I just give a wincing smile while I chug-a-lug. The doctor keeps checking the pan.
Nothing yet?
I shake my head no. I don’t feel nauseous at all. I begin to wonder what the charcoal is doing. Does it just absorb all the bad stuff? Does aspirin really do anything to you?
Am I supposed to throw up? I don’t ask a lot of questions because I’m embarrassed to
speak.
A nurse asks me if I need to be admitted. My mother is there and I shake my head no. She asks me if I still feel like harming myself. I don’t.
No. I made a mistake.
My mother makes it clear that I will be safe in her care. She doesn’t think that I need to stay. They release me. I haven’t vomited yet, but they say it’s only a matter of time and if I don’t get rid of everything soon, I should return.
I stand up and walk to the nurses station, ready to leave. I should go to the bathroom before we leave.
I am sitting down. Without warning, I have to vomit. No time to pull up my pants, only enough time to stand, turn and bend. My throat tightens, my temples vein, my eyes tear and my stomach, back and chest spasm until the black is gone.
It’s like a horror movie. I vomit black liquid all over the toilet, the wall, the floor. I begin to clean the charcoal from all the surfaces and then it comes again. More black. Now I wait just a few minutes before I start to clean again. It takes several paper towels
to wipe most of it away. I’m not able to remove all of it. I’m ashamed to tell the nurse.
She is thankful. She is not at all disturbed by the condition of the bathroom.
I ask for my hospital admittance bracelet that they cut and trashed. We head home.
I realize that I was so desperate for affection that I was willing to go to great lengths to get attention of any kind. I am dying on the inside to be held, kissed and loved. I just want to be seen. I don’t want to die. I just want to be loved. At any cost, by anyone.