The following is not an attempt to spill family secrets: it is simply the reality of mine and my father’s suicidality. I’m going to warn you now: I have worked through this. It is by no means “bad”. But if this is a problem for anyone, you may not want to read this. Unless, of course, you want to know the blatant reality of suicide.
Was my dad perfect? Is anyone? Amazing absolutely does NOT mean perfect. So often, we chase this dreamlike illusion of perfection until we are consumed with a sense of inadequacy; of not feeling like we measure up. We always pursue more; are never satisfied with our own humanity. Workaholics, alcoholics, drug addicts, those with eating disorders(add any addiction to this list); permeate out society. I cannot speak for my father; I am not him. I don’t know his thoughts, only my own observations. Considering my father was eerily like me; I dare say that they are fairly accurate. Unfortunately, my father succumbed to his problems and committed suicide at age 48. I had a serious attempt only 2 years later at age 23. Somehow, my life has skyrocketed from the point his ended. I used to wonder “Why?” . Fact is… it just has. I am simply a human being; I do not know “Why?” I could ruminate on this question. Honestly, it would just keep me miserable and dwelling on a question that will never be satisfactorily answered.
My father was brilliant, successful, and incredibly kind. He was also impulsive, irrational, and prone to emotional fits. Being impulsive and irrational myself my whole life, I am quite sure this was inherited; I believe genetically. I will never be able to fully explain which parts of me were influenced by nature versus my nurtured self. I have come to believe it a moot point; it does not make any difference. I am Arlyn, NOW; finding a solid answer would not change a damn thing or serve a purpose. No dwelling on “If only” would change a thing in my life. It would be exactly like going to a doctor, ignoring their advice, and then complaining about my ailment. Unless I take the doctor’s advice and implement it; the diagnosis is just that. A justification for poor health. If I don’t take the necessary action, I have no right to complain about not getting better. If I truly knew the way in which my father impacted me and wasn’t responsible for my OWN life; it would be a simple diagnosis.
Suicide is final; there is no do over. Some things you can never, ever take back; this is the ultimate. My father felt so poorly about himself that he did not want a funeral, to be buried, or even a marker for his ashes. My family respected his wishes; there is no grave or memorial. He was cremated and his ashes scattered. Unlike he had hoped; his impact is eternal. I have part of his DNA in my body, as do my siblings. Everyone he ever came in contact with has his memory. I see him in the faces of his grandchildren. There are thousands of pictures. He raised me; he was my dad. We built playhouses and went to the gym together. He took me to swim meets and sat on the sidelines and cheered me on as I played Varsity field hockey in high school. He was my first gym partner.
He was the very first person to instill in me a love for athletics. In elementary school: I would run laps around the indoor track while he worked out on machines. At 5 am. He taught me that you just do. No matter how hard. That sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. That if I wanted to be the best I would have to give my all.
A moment of deadly desperation cannot unmake the memories that dwell withing my psyche. I know now that nothing I could have done could save him. I do not have the power to save any other human being; their actions are their own. I can only control myself. I cannot stop someone deadest on self-destruction; only be an example. Savior is above my paygrade.
I cannot even begin to fathom why I remotely thought I should do the exact same thing to my family only 2 years later. As stated before; I was at the time, completely impulsive and irrational. This largely manifested itself in substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-mutilation. I wanted to feel numb NOW, dammit! I do not have the wherewithal to sit through even slight discomfort; was like a toddler who throws a fit inside a toy store until their parents quiet their tears by breaking down and buying them a new toy. This lull is only temporary until the next instance arises. Suicide is the most grandiose of fits. It is not poetic and romantic, as you may read in novels. It is incredibly sad, it causes runny noses, red eyes, quarrelling relatives, financial upheaval, mental disturbances in your family members, PTSD, etc. Trust that suicide is NOT romantic or glamorous!
My father’s suicide found a shop vac hose connected to the exhaust pipe of a Toyota Camry. My attempt left me unbathed with matted hair and vomit stains on my hospital gown, a dextrose iv running through a needle delicately inserted into the crook of my arm. These are anything BUT glamorous images. The lawyers, the courts, the therapy, rehabs, and psych wards that followed my father’s suicide were NOT romantic; they were God awful.
That is the horrific and disgusting reality of it all. I believed it some grandiose ending. Sylvia Plath’s swang song. Hardly. Rather: an extremely sad ending. All possibilities for a future exterminated in an instant. No do overs. Hopes and dreams vanquished forever.