18 Oct you matter.
Here’s the thing: you matter. You are loved. You are valued. You are an original. You might think you don’t matter. You might not feel loved sometimes. You probably have days where you don’t feel valued… maybe you even feel invisible. We all feel these things, sometimes. The challenge is to decide to feel differently. I make it sound easy, right? Believe me, I know it’s not easy. I struggle every single day with feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, and desperation. I make a choice every single day to believe the opposite of how I feel. Hear me out…
This week, I have learned of three suicides directly affecting people I know. THREE. My heart broke three more times this week. The feeling of hopelessness swelled within me, and I cried for three more deaths. Three more families. Three groups of loved ones. Three??? In one week??? I am overwhelmed and scared out of my mind and fighting mad. I am freaking the flock out and have no idea what to do. I am paralyzed by sadness, and motivated by madness. I am starting a riot in my mind, a protest in my heart, and I haven’t even left my bedroom yet today. What is happening? Why are people disappearing from our lives? When will this stop? Where do I begin to make a difference?
I want to race out of my home and hug every single teenager I see. I want to hold their faces in my hands, look them square in the eye, and tell them how much they matter. I want them to know they are loved. I want them to know life is real, and death is permanent, and love can change everything. I want to throw glitter and hope and colorful construction paper hearts out of my car window as I drive through this town. I want to race thru puddles of joy and splash everyone I pass! I’m starting to sound like a crazy person here, but I swear to you I am thinking about and feeling through and mourning each and every one of these losses like it’s my own son. AGAIN. I cannot stand this.
My fingers are typing almost as fast as my thoughts are erupting. I cannot wait to make a difference. I cannot stand being silent. I am dying inside thinking that one more person will be lost… there were three this week in my circle of friends, how many tomorrow? Who will be sobbing for their child next week? Who will be blaming themselves next month? I cannot bear it. When my own son ended his life, I was in complete shock. He was the last person I would have ever thought could do this. His snap decision changed my whole future. I will forever mourn the loss of the most beautiful human being I have ever met. Do others feel this way about their own children? I’m sure they do! Yet more kids will surprise us with their snap decisions. More teenagers will suffer in silence, and end it all. More and more and more… when will it stop?
Sometimes there are signs and warnings and cries for help. Sometimes, there are not. We all want answers and we want explanations. We want ‘notes’ from our loved ones explaining their suicide. We want to put it in a box and tie a bow around it, knowing we can explain it. Or we want someone to blame. We want someone to be at fault. We need to know what the hell happened, or else we cannot put it away. Guess what? We cannot explain the un-explainable. We cannot tie a bow around a big, fat, effing mess. We cannot sweep the blood and brain matter under the rug. We cannot clean the razor off and put it back in the cabinet. We cannot hide the rope, or the belt, or the pills and think the rest of our lives will be normal. Sometimes there are no signs and no explanations and no reasons and no logic.
Life will never be the same for me. Never.
So what do I do? What do WE do? It’s not just up to me… the mom who lost her son. It’s not up to my friend who lost her cousin, or my other friend who lost her nephew. It’s up to you, and him, and her, and them. It’s up to ALL of us to actually start caring about each other. We need more than glitter and construction paper hearts to fix this epidemic. (But hey, wouldn’t you just laugh your head off if you saw me driving down the street, decorating the world with some homemade-arts-and-crafty-love?) It isn’t an easy question to ask, and even more difficult to answer. There are probably 498 things we can do right now, today, to make a difference in one person’s life. But will we?
Tonight I am going to help Mason’s friends set up for a Quinceanera. It’s a 15th birthday party and I’ve been invited. If Mason was here, he’d be going. He’d be in the dance with all of his friends, performing for the family. He’d be laughing and getting silly all night long. He’s gone, so I am going in his place. I am going to help set up then watch the kids practice their dance. They are nervous and giddy, but they are each doing their best in this performance to honor the birthday girl. I feel privileged to be getting a sneak preview. I am going to hug every single one of them, and look ‘em square in the eye, and thank them for making a decision every single day to stay. I am going to say “you matter” as many times as I can.
I want them to believe they matter. I would be devastated if I lost any one of them, and I’m not even their family. Do they know that? Do they believe that? I received a text today from the friend I call “Twinzle” and she told me if I ever had thoughts of ending it all, I needed to call her first. I saw some of my high school girls from church post on twitter this week that they would be there for anyone who needed them at any time. This stuff helps. This is the stuff we need to be doing. Sometimes, we have no idea who is feeling lost, abandoned, lonely, overwhelmed, scared, depressed, angry, or mistreated… we just don’t know. So it’s a good idea to be communicating love and acceptance at every opportunity, isn’t it? Maybe in ‘that moment’ someone will remember you and pause. Maybe your kindness today will prevent self-harm tomorrow.
I started with this: you matter. You are loved. You are valued. You are an original. You might think you don’t matter. You might not feel loved sometimes. You probably have days where you don’t feel valued… maybe you even feel invisible. We all feel these things, sometimes. The challenge is to decide to feel differently. There are people manning self-harm and suicide hotlines all over the world, donating their time and hearts and voices to people in need. They don’t even know the people they speak with, but they believe those people matter. Life is real. Death is permanent. If someone who doesn’t even know you will take time out of their day to talk you off the ledge, could it be true that you actually matter? Is it possible that you are irreplaceable? Is it imaginable that you are loved?
I know what it feels like to be hopeless. I know what it feels like to hide in the closet, feeling like you don’t fit in. Trust me, my closet has absorbed many tears. I know what it feels like to be fat, to be lonely, to be insecure, to feel ugly, to be ashamed. I’ve been called a slut. I’ve been told I’m ‘too much’ by one person and ‘not enough’ by another person. I’ve been judged, criticized, emotionally abused, abandoned, and lied about. We all have, right? We all have hideous stories to tell about how hard life has been. Some stories are worse than others, but this isn’t a pain competition. This is real life. Is it possible that we just set aside our insecurities for a sec, and trust someone with our real story? Our truths. Our pasts. Our hurts. Our insecurities and misgivings.
Let’s choose to live. Let’s decide every single day to survive this incredibly difficult life. Let’s fight for the underdogs. Let’s be available and real with each other. Let’s acknowledge that each and every one of us is an original and cannot ever be replaced. When we feel hopeless, let’s seek someone out and talk things through. Not in text or on twitter, I mean face to face, real life, real connectedness. When we feel unloved, let’s eat ice cream and chocolate and drink Rockstars and watch happy movies with a friend. Let’s pick up the phone, get a live voice on the other end of the line and tell them we need some luvvin’. If no one answers, keep calling. Keep dialing.
I don’t know what advice the therapists and psychologists give… maybe sugar and caffeine and hugs aren’t enough for some situations. My point is: get help. We all need it sometimes. There is no shame in asking for help. Get some. I just know what advice I would give, as a mom who lost the love of her life. Love is free. Kindness cures. Ice cream is delicious. Construction paper hearts are fun. Life can get better. Moments pass. Emotions are fickle. Decide to stay.
If you have no one else, you have me. I read your comments. I pray for your lives. I am grateful for who you are and what you represent in my life. You matter.