Suicide, Feelings & the American Dream
I was deeply saddened this morning to hear about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. I hadn’t realized Kate Spade had taken her own life as well.
First I felt a wave of empathy – how alone and utterly hopeless one might feel in the moment of choosing to end life. But the depth of my sadness arrived after in the form of a broader despair – If these people with all of the fame and wealth the American Dream teaches us to strive for can’t find inner peace and wellbeing, what hope do the rest of us have?
Though I haven’t been suicidal or ever inflicted intentional harm on myself, I will admit to having occasional suicidal thoughts over the years – little fantasies almost – picturing the pure relief of simply not having to deal anymore.
I share this not to ask for sympathy or as a cry for help or to freak you out (sorry, Mom), but to normalize this experience. Because I know I’m not the only one. And the shame and self-judgment we feel for our pain only causes it to get stuck and to spiral deeper into depression and despair.
It’s a shit cycle and it needs to stop.
So I have two thoughts which I hope will bring you some peace no matter what you’re currently experiencing.
1- If you feel depressed, sad, anxious, overwhelmed, deeply stuck, or even suicidal – YOU ARE NORMAL.
Deep, intractable, inexplicable sadness is part of the human experience. Period. Please stop judging yourself as broken or inadequate for feeling it. We all do. Some are better at numbing it and stuffing it down than others. Some have done the deep work to process it and come out the other side. All of us have felt it at some point.
For me the only thing that has helped is finding ways to accept and feel what’s there. To get out of my head and into my body and allow myself to cry, to punch, to kick, to feel numb and utterly miserable and to just let it all be ok. We hear this all the time now, but it’s true, emotions are just energy – if we find a way to feel them, they will move through us. It’s our judgments, stories and stuffing them down that cause them to get stuck.
It’s perfectly ok to seek help in learning how to do this. I certainly have and it’s been life changing and life affirming every single time.
2- Fuck the American Dream.
I have spent so many years striving for success – yes, doing my best to find it “on my own terms,” but still very much stuck in the paradigm which values striving, achievement, monetary success, fame, accumulating more and more and move over just about everything else.
That traditional success will buy you happiness is a boldface lie. A lie we’ve bought hook, line, and sinker that has most of us consistently denying our truth, shoving ourselves into the mold, and stuffing down and numbing out our feelings in order to get by in a day to day endless struggle of doing more, being more, getting more.
It’s not worth it. Success achieved in this manner does not bring inner peace and wellbeing for most people. It just doesn’t.
What does? Well it’s at once simple and complex, both the easiest and hardest thing you can do. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers or have it all figured out.
For now I’ve been working on slowing down. Slowing way, way, way, way down. Finding moments of stillness with myself, to get honest about how I really feel, what’s working in my life and what isn’t. What steps I need to take to follow my heart and align more with my truth.
It’s a journey. It can be rugged. Terrifying at times. But living my truth is what I’m on this planet to do. I’m pretty sure I didn’t incarnate in this body to stuff myself in the uncomfortable, ugly ass box that society demands, hate and judge myself for not being good enough at it, and numb myself just to get through it. Fuck that.
I came here to love and be loved.
To revel in the beauty that is this outrageously intricate and stunningly gorgeous planet.
To learn to open my heart and feel all of it – the joy and the pain.
To accept and allow all of my human experience and heart’s desires.
And to hand out permission slips to you and everyone I meet so that you can accept and allow all of your human experience and heart’s desires too.
Consider this your permission slip to feel all of it, to say fuck it, and to start living your truth.
Not that you need one, but it is nice to have sometimes, isn’t it?
Loving you all so much with my fierce, wild heart –