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Reinvention of Me: Releasing the Potentials

To my very many possible children never conceived,

I love you. I love the idea of you. Had you been conceived, I would have loved you no more than I do now. Part of you has been forged within me and stamped upon my mind, deep within the ancient code yet undefined, those neurons that would jump into excited preparations should you become.

At times I have longed for you, willed you, pleaded for you, dreamed for you. Before my firstborn and after – I craved motherhood. The ache I have experienced my whole adult life – this unassailable need for you all – abates today by my own choice, and you should know why.

I recently forgave my old selves and gave them to their past. Today, I give you to some past or future, as befits you, not because I must forgive you but because I must live a whole life in your absence.

Many friends and strangers may think this letter, these feelings, are silly.

I do not set this sense of absence on the same level as the loss of a conceived child, a born child, or anyone else. I do not pretend that I have suffered or suffer now.

The truth is, I don’t know when the soul is formed. I don’t know where it is formed. I do believe your soul is not taken from me in remnants. It may exist, waiting for a human to become. It may be formed alongside its human. This is a great mystery.

Your life was or is or will be potential energy. Your soul, I believe, bears a similar potentiality.

Go with me back to 2008, when Third was born. He was healthy and whole. I was a wreck. My body and hormones were wrecked from babies and breastfeeding for four straight years. Then my mind was wrecked from the hormones and depression and anxiety. Several months later, I sat for this picture, fully intending it to be my last.

And then my plan was preempted. What followed was a steady stream of depression, culminating in a diagnosis of conversion disorder in 2011. Our broader family changed much during this time due to growth and loss and trials. My connection with everything eroded.

Fast forward to January, 2016. I clawed my way out of some huge hole in which I had left myself. My first foothold had me transfer my boys from virtual to physical school. I cried to my mother and my doctor about my love for my boys and about my nagging fear that I had doomed them to a less-than sort of life with me, their anxiety-riddled, depressed mother. I love them and I want them still, as much as ever, and yet I could not release this overwhelming thought that I should not have been allowed children, that it would have been kinder to let their potential remain without my interference.


 

Other places I’ve written on this life stuff:


 

If that makes no amount of sense to you, you may be thinking any number of things now.

But if you have been or are there in that thought place right now, it is depression. Depression has colored my life. It has infected my thought process. It has required things of me that a healthy mind would never demand. That acknowledgement is step one.

My process of reinvention underway, I allowed myself (with some help) to think I might be fearless. I allowed myself to imagine a world in which nothing made my decisions except for me, a world in which my life was sufficient, a world in which I not only needed to be healthy and whole but wanted to be so. I wondered if I could let go of the depression and anxiety that had become my personality, if I could find a person buried beneath time and illness. I considered what my life today could be like if I let anxiety and depression make no more choices for me.

So I forgave myself, the me-army that held me to what-ifs and if-onlys. Now, I must let go the tether holding me to potentialities that depression told me could complete my life. That is, I must let go of you, my potential progeny.

Had you come to be (or if you come in the future), it would not have been (will not be) to complete me. My life and love would expand and become right along with you, but not toward my self-completion.

Depression lied when it said I was empty.

Depression lied to convince me more of anything would make me other than I am.

Depression lied when it told me to yearn for you and lied when it told me I was not good enough for my children fully formed and present.

Depression continually deceived me into believing that any risk was worth your existence, including the risk to my mental health and its impact on my family now here with me.

You would not have it so. You would have me full, as I am, in this moment.

So must I.

Not sadly. Not resentfully.

Peacefully. Present. Self-directed. Contained. Contented. Sufficient. Looking in the rooms of my heart already occupied.

If you come, you will be a surprise. And I will love you as I have always loved you. And you will join with us. And we will, to the very limits of our capabilities, be as healthy as you deserve us to be.

Another foothold that gets me closer to good health is this one: you all are released from my expectation, my longing, my great and terrible need.

Love, Me

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What Matt Walsh Gets Wrong About Suicide

Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of depression and suicide. If, right now, you feel like the choice of suicide is a viable one for you, please get help. Find a friend, a doctor, anyone you can talk to. There are ways to heal depression. There are ways to clear your head. Please don’t die.

It’s six years, thereabouts, since I had a plan to end my life. It was a good plan, as plans go. I thought I had covered all my bases. My plan was interrupted. I am thankful to have survived and even more thankful to have enough distance from that day six years ago to lend my voice to the conversation.

My sister, a family practitioner and amazing friend, sent me a link to Matt Walsh’s recent blog post about suicide. She wanted my insights if I felt comfortable giving them.

I get it. When a celebrity, someone who seems to have what we are taught to covet – a career, a family, friends – commits suicide, the conversation is on our lips. It is an opportunity to raise the social consciousness. So, here I am, doing something I didn’t intend to do: I’m writing a post about suicide.

At first I didn’t read the link. Then I did. I read the post but no comments. Afterwards, I wrote the following email to my sister. I wrote it hastily and passionately. And I’m sharing it here without edit. It may seem trite to say this is a brave thing, so I am trite. I finally have enough distance from that day six years ago to stand up to someone who doesn’t get it and to tell them where their thinking is flawed. I don’t claim to be the everyman of suicide. I don’t claim to know your pain, Robin Williams’ pain, or anyone else’s. But I speak for the me who couldn’t have spoken six years ago.

Feel free to read Matt Walsh’s blog post, which triggered my response. But, as a personal favor to me, please come back here and read my response. An issue this big and deadly deserves multiple viewpoints. 

Email to my sister, 8/12/2014, 10:18 PM:

Okay. I read it anyway. Only the article, no comments.

I feel extremely ragey about his words. He claims to have been inundated by suicides even in his family but he presses free will. Where depression ends with a choice (and may well begin with one or many), heart disease begins (and continues and may well end) with a choice, too. Every disease has an underlying choice. Swim in a pond and you may just get a parasite up your nose to eat your brain. Eat to obesity and you may set yourself up for diabetes, heart disease, cancer. Smoke and invite cancer in. The truth is that everything we do in life is about choices. We just like to judge other people’s choices more than we like to reflect on our own. We like to say some sins are bigger than others. We like to say some decisions are bigger than others. But far more often, we cannot judge the size of a choice until we are past it.

Saying that joy is the only thing that overcomes depression forgets that the depressed person can no longer see joy, feel joy, hear joy. This is why you cannot church a person out of depression. Why you cannot sing or eat or dance or sex a person out of depression. Why you cannot love a person out of depression. Your non-depressed-person joy has exactly zero to do with a depressed person’s depression. While spirituality is a component, it is not the only component to healing depression any more than it is the only component to healing acne. God gave us people with minds attuned to sciences and maths so that they could determine ways to heal diseases. Physicians heal depression, too.

Expecting a depressed person to make a sound decision is not unlike asking a person with dementia to make a sound decision. It may happen by coincidence but not by design. So when choosing life or death, the whole difference between the suicidal and the not suicidal is depression. The depression colors everything, including life and death decisions. 

AAAAAAAAAAH! Okay. I’m better now.

As to ‘free’ – that is used whenever anybody dies and it is sort of a weird thing. In the strictest sense, a dead person is free from all the pain, sickness, and depression of this world. That person may have new concerns but he/she is free from this world. Is a person who died at 96 in her sleep free? Is a person who died in a car wreck free? If yes, then why wouldn’t a person who died from suicide be free? If no, then death does not equal freedom. Death is either equal or not equal to freedom. It isn’t a case by case deal.

The person contemplating suicide will find plenty of backing for his decision. Yes, saying another person was freed through suicide may compound that. Any more so than telling a new cancer patient that another cancer patient was freed in death? I don’t know. 

Calming breaths.

I’ve long, long been depressed. I’ve been in the proximity of suicidal ideation more than once. I’ve been very near commitment to suicide once. Before I was very near commitment to suicide, I think I believed the same way as the author. I think I believed that people just chose rashly or without thought to others, with only their own desires in play. Now I believe very differently. I was going to die FOR the people I loved. I was doing what was best for everyone. Not in a self-pitying way but in an I’ll-never-hurt-my-children way. I wanted to be free. I wanted it to all stop before I did something irrevocable to someone else. That was freedom at the time. That will never make sense to a non-suicidal, never-been-suicidal person.

Therein lies the problem. It is the nonsuicidal, never-been-suicidal people who are in the position to examine these matters and argue their points of view. The suicidal people are far too busy fighting or dying in their disease to become part of the debate.


Thanks to my family who stands beside me at every opportunity. Thanks to Matt Walsh and to my sister for prompting my voice. Thanks to my sister and my husband for telling me my words were good enough to share. Thanks to you for reading. 

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