CW: Discussion of past suicidal thoughts.
Yesterday, it rained.
It rained the kind of rain that makes you nervous to be driving home from another town with a trunk full of groceries. You’re nervous even though you love the thrilling feeling of driving in the rain. Even the hard rain. Even the hard rain in the middle of the day. Even the hard rain in the middle of the day that feels like, if you stepped outside, you’d become more clean and holy than you’ve ever been in your life. Yesterday it rained like that. Yesterday I walked all through it.
I woke up this morning with a familiar feeling that I couldn’t place. I laid in bed and relaxed my shoulders and tried to unzip my heart so I could think back to when I’d felt this alive but this beaten and bloodied all at the same time. And it took me back to college.
It took me back that late night/ early morning when my body was raging with a new and inexplicable energy. This was before I learned that panic attacks were going to be a chronic thing for me and that I was in the midst of one. It didn’t feel anything–other than having been overtaken by a monster. Everything in my body was impulsing me to take the car and drive on the freeway and maybe everyone would just think that you fell asleep and then it would all be done. And then everyone could just breathe their collective sighs of relief and move along.
I sat out there in the middle of the circular lawn that connected the boys’ dorm to the girls’ dorm and clutched the keys in my hands for what felt like hours. I don’t know what I was waiting for. I kept waiting till I was all alone but I just kept seeing people. Couples getting out of cars. Couples getting into cars and never leaving to go anywhere. People walking across the lawn. No one waving at me. To anyone else, and also in retrospect, it was probably obvious that I wasn’t going to do it. But understand that in my mind, it was happening. In my mind I was all but gone.
The sky cracked open and the rain started without warning. The kind of rain that hurts. The kind of rain that was enough to knock myself out of my place and drive me inside where I stripped off my soaking wet clothes and laid naked in my twin-sized bed with the window still open, mist making its way through the screen and covering me. I could listen to the violence and crashing that was happening outside. “Tomorrow, then,” I thought to myself and I tried not to fall asleep.
I remember waking up and feeling truly surprised that my body was there. My room was filled with my things. My skin felt clean and cold from the breeze blowing in the window. I felt tender and bruised and slow-moving but I still felt alive. I remember that I wrote a poem about the way that the rain can clean away and hold down or drown out everything. I remember feeling truly joy-filled that I’d made it through that night. That I’d made it through all alone. Someone knocked on my door and shouted, “Happy Easter!” and I felt like I’d had my resurrection. In a twin-sized, rain-soaked mattress.
That is what I woke up covered in this morning. That familiar feeling of having brought yourself to one of the most painful places you’ve experienced so far and crawling out. Only this time, I hadn’t made it out alone. I could feel Ryan curled up next to me and reaching out one hand to find me like he does every single morning when he’s just barely, barely awake. I had a phone full of texts from chosen family that said, “Just checking in.” I felt more alive today than I did even that Easter morning eleven years ago.
And I will keep doing what it takes to be, stay, and feel alive.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.