Faking It – A Dangerous Proposition

These days I’m acting as though I have hope. I’m getting up and getting ready for a day. Planning meals for a week. Making plans to get together with people. Clearing out the old books and papers to make room for the new future.

But I don’t feel hopeful. On the contrary, I feel hopeless. Not helpless, at least, but hopeless. Why engage in meaningful activity when I feel miserable to be alive? Physical pain is Not Helping, but the pain is much, much deeper.

I’m haunted again by thoughts and feelings I had during my most recent hospitalization:

  • I’ve had a good life, and how could I ask for more? Don’t need to see or do anything else to have had a good life.
  • The thin lines that connect me to people, places and things are tenuous at best. Easier to snip them and float away.
  • Ready to leave this world and it’s constant suffering for a sweet nothingness. Not sure at all I believe in heaven, and I don’t believe in a hell. I don’t know what happens to us when we die. I hope we just return to the collective unconsciousness and have no more suffering. Just nothingness.

And therefore, suicidal thoughts come back into play. I’m not acting on them. I recognize them as thoughts and feelings. And I keep acting as though I have hope when really I have these other thoughts going through me. I have choices. I have to keep reminding myself of options, limited though I feel they are. This is still dangerous space, though. I’m not in denial about that.

People are trying to be helpful by reminding me of things I used to believe in. Sadly not helpful. They tell me they are holding hope for me when I can’t hold it for myself. This is moderately helpful. I don’t feel so alone. The most helpful is knowing that I’m not walking this road alone. I can find a little hope when it’s not so lonely. Sometimes it’s just that tiny amount of hope that helps me get through that moment or hour.

9 responses to “Faking It – A Dangerous Proposition

  1. You are not alone. I know that’s how it feels right now. You’re a courageous woman to share your inner thoughts & feelings with us. Know I am holding you in the Light.

  2. Oh, Deb. Please hold on to the FACT that all of us are holding you in HOPE all the time. That’s why we’re here – to pray for you when you can’t pray for yourself. My life would be so much poorer without you in it.

  3. I’m letting myself go to the dark side for a while here. To remember how you’re feeling, because I’ve been there, I’m acknowledging it. For you, there’s chronic physical pain. This isn’t my experience, but years of self-loathing for my physical image is something I can own, starting back when I was in grade school.

    Recently, in the last eight years (adult life), my husband’s downsizings have taken their toll. We first lost half of our income, and I thought we couldn’t go on. Then we lost our job (his) in total and I became the sole bread-winner. Then, he couldn’t find a job and we made the decision to send him back to school – on what money? – while I worked for a church with no retirement or insurance benefits. I prayed for two full years that my children would not get sick or hurt. Never mind me. To have this happen – to have a child or adult have, say, cancer and to try to pay for it….well, it’s how people become homeless.

    Then, in an act of spite, my church decided to “downsize” me. They let me go after 13 years of out-pouring. Of believing these people were my family. Of my best creative efforts at growing a ministry, but alienating key members of staff (they wanted LESS, not more). My world crumbled. Zero income, zero self-confidence, zero future, zero control. Deb, I did not think I could go on. Zero God? I just didn’t know where he was for me. I had prayed and prayed and prayed before taking the Youth job. This was his answer? To leave my family completely vulnerable? On the edge of a cliff?

    Add to this overwhelming experiences of my children – all rocky, stories that can’t be shared as I don’t have their permission, but each, the three of them, very significant. Parents don’t suffer in a vaccum. The family suffers together. And there is my husband’s story of sobriety, which impacts your entire life and whips it around, so that you don’t recognize it anymore. All this in the last eight years.

    God? Worship? Faith? I believe he seeks me out. I believe there is a creative power, a creation power, and I believe in the blood of Jesus Christ. But church community? Brothers and sisters in Christ? I just don’t know.

    So I focus on beauty. And kindness. And kindnesses. Friends. Growth, in whatever way it happens. I have seen minor miracles – ways my family has sustained itself, strengthened, made it throught he dark times.

    People try to be kind. They’ve all been hanging in there, waiting for my husband to graduate with his MSW, so that he can get a job. “Oh, it’s almost time for him to graduate! Do you think he will get a job?” I say I believe in this moment, but there is a part of me that feels like the dark won’t go away.

    Yet, there are people who need me. And there are people who need you. I believe that Satan persecutes us and perpetuates our worst fears; he certainly has yours down. And mine. If anything, I refuse to live a life that is conquered by him. Not by an angel of darkness. Not when I love the light.

    Finally, I don’t believe my life is mine to take. It devastates those left behind. It leaves people with lifetimes – and sometimes multiple generations – of psychosis. To have a loved one kill themselves is not something that is ever overcome. I have seen it too many times. Keep those people’s faces – Dave, your closest friends, family – in front of you.

    Deb, you aren’t alone. Not by a long shot. As in sobriety, take it minute by minute, day by day. Your hand is being held, your body enveloped. You are loved.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Jeri. So much of our stories overlap, as did our lives for a bit in Louisville. 🙂
      There are irrational thoughts, and I know they are irrational thoughts. And they carry real, very real feelings, that I remind myself constantly are just feelings. I get to choose my actions. Thoughts and Feelings don’t automatically lead to actions. It’s hard to live with these thoughts and feelings, knowing they are false and true at the same time. Ultimately, they just are. They are present and I live with them. It really sucks! I’m glad I weathered last night. But without hope, I’m still not convinced I’ll make it. Just one day at a time.

  4. The theory is that if you act “as if” long enough your brain will start to believe it’s true. Then you will actually be hopeful!! So keep plugging along and keep acting “as if.” You’ll get there. 🙂

  5. Deb, I so love that fact that I knew you at SFTS. You brought so much to the seminary experience. I want you to know that I think about you every day. I pray for you every day. I miss you.

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