I was leaning into her car, when she told me. After a weighted pause, I was told that a person I knew had committed suicide. At first, it was quite difficult to take in. She didn't appear the kind. To commit suicide. She seemed so sure of herself. At times cocky, to the untrained eye. However, it would be silly to discount how she wore her chinks. There is no mistaking the vulnerability.
When I knew this woman, she was spearheading efforts to produce a play in which I was cast. It was a good project, it had all the trimmings for one hell of a reunion, if you know what I mean. In short, I really enjoyed my time working on this. I made a couple of friends, met up with others who weren't half as bad to hang out with while I lived (and loved) in this particular city.
She and I never really got on famously; the project however, threw us together and we were quite friendly and tolerant of each other. She was well loved by most of the group. Most of them were her friends. Others, weren't. I was part of the others.
The reason why I mention this is because, it is important to consider this as part of this post. It helps me explain, how I was able to look at her without the rose-tinted glasses and without the several layers we tend to draw as a buddy, lover, relation, friend or wannabe.
It helped me get there faster. I didn't need lifting, you see.
Most of the time, behind her smile - lay this fragile frame of energy. It was almost as if she was drawing all that she could from her source to hold herself together. As a result, her mood swings were excessive. Holding it together must have really taken a toll on her on most days.
The drink sessions or the get-togethers after practice on some days, was an escape. Indulgent and rewarding to her. Balm like. During practice, we would have breaks, and I would see her gnawing at her finger-nails and nodding excessively as the director and production team briefed her on what was going on.
Sometimes, she would walk over to some of us and display paternalistic emotion, asking us if we were doing okay and if we were pumped. I wanted to ask her the same thing, I never really did though...I was scared she's collapse into a heap if I did.
Everyone was going on about how strong she was, how organised, how adept and how she was the only one holding it all together for the project. Self-serving? Maybe, but I also believe that they believed it when they said it. Either they didn't want to deal with what they saw or they didn't see it at all.
She hung herself on the eve of February 14. After a night of partying and a fight with her partner / husband. 20 minutes. He stepped out to buy cigarettes and calm down. She locked her self in and got it over with. She left no note.
In one of my earlier posts, I've indirectly (or directly) blogged about suicide. A self-reflection piece. Yes, I had a lot on my mind. And yes, I have thought about it. Several times. Have I tried to take my own life? No. Maybe, just maybe, I'm chicken. I'm working on a more refined response, but this is what I have so far.
I believe for the next few weeks, the friends and friends of friends must have sat up in shock and tried to play back the hours that led to this catastrophe. Till date, no one I know has come back with an explanation. The last I heard, they say her husband was put behind bars, as a murder suspect. Her family thinks he's responsible. Well, if that's anything to go by he's fucked, for awhile at least.
When I thought about it (suicide that is), I've often considered the inconvenience it would cause others. The messy business of walking the thin red line between what went wrong and what one didn't see and saving one's own ass; since this is an unnatural death, of course.
I've thought about loved ones going in for questioning, dealing with the body, the hunt for personal effects. The hiding of or playing down of the suicide by a landlord, especially when it comes to finding another tenant. If it's your own house, it's the case of the messy memories and scared younger generation, who will never consider sleeping in the room until their over 30 and sufficiently skilled in the whole concept of being balanced when it comes to negotiating childhood fears and family legend.
I think of the funeral and the curious gazes from people who only come to watch the survivors of the family break down piece by piece. And then proceed to eavesdrop on close family and see if they can piece a good enough story to spread out and quench THAT thirst which is never slaked. I think of the wake, the ground, the rotting. I think of how everyone will move on. Most without a scratch. Others with a reality check. And a precious few with their vitals performing below optimal.
What drove her to do it? What was it that snapped?
Was it reason? Was it meaning? Was it feeling?
What does it feel like when your brain shuts down and you're a countdown to self-destruction? Literally.
How do you fashion a knot that won't give through all that rushed and insane breathing? How do you manage it in time? Do you have an adrenaline rush, when you're trying to do this before someone can save you? Do you have the satisfaction of watching them crumble when they find you, eventually?
Was it fear of failure? Dissatisfaction? Lack of purpose? Was it revenge, served cold? Were you tired? Did it not matter any more? Any of it?
I think as lives extinguish around us. We'll never truly learn the answer to our questions. Everyone has a reason, valid enough for their misery or happiness. When you can't look misery in the eye because it's too ugly, you'll never truly accept who you really are. Cause we all want to be beautiful, the illusion of perfection is such an intravenous addiction.
Being happy is necessary. No doubt. But it's learning to be sad that we need to master. Irrevocably so, and once we have, we must own it. Own it like it's your own. Not someone else's. Feel it, let it wrangle with you, shake your bones and flood your system. Clench hard, focus and coil into a big ball. Die inside. Rising from the ashes is the easy part.
Die outside. And you won't.