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The Okayness of a Paradox

Note of content: suicide

While watching one of my new favorite shows on Netflix, "Blacklist," the character of Raymond "Red" Reddington uses a story, as usual, to illustrate a point to someone who wants to take their own life. He shares his memory of a suicide bomber and the devastation of that bomb to the people around him. He brings it home by saying the victims were...

"...Blown to pieces. The closer they were to the bomber, the more horrific the effect. That’s every suicide. Every single one. An act of terror perpetrated against everyone who’s ever known you. Everyone who’s ever loved you. The people closest to you are the ones who suffer the most pain, the most damage. Why would you do that? Why would you do that to the people who love you?"

These words flew into me and sank in my stomach. They were real and true, beautiful and horrific. I've struggled with how to talk of suicide on this blog because I have been on both sides of this topic. And not just the this-or-that side, but the multitude of sides that can exist:

I've been someone who has chronically considered suicide, a way out, relief. And I am a woman who lost my husband to suicide when he was the last person anyone expected to do that. He left behind beautiful children I know he loved. I have all the feelings of someone who knows what it's like to be that desperate yet I also never want anyone to take their own life because I do see it as an act of terror. In-between this exists a person who believes we all get to have our voice and choice and in my work as an emotional supporter, I honor the feelings of overwhelm and desperation that people feel when life seems to assault them from all sides and there seems no way out.

Suicide is an act of terror - hitting those closest to the bomber and spreading outward, like the worst ripple effect ever. I know my late husband's loss was felt wider than he could have known. But I don't see those who take their lives as criminals or hateful people. I struggle to see them as selfish because I have known that kind of disregard for my life in order to "help" those lives around me. I wasn't selfish...but misguided. Depression had created a dark curtain over everything and everyone I loved and contorted any potential hope. Yet I was spared. I pushed my way through and so many people didn't. Why is that?

I have stopped asking these either/or questions. I don't stop asking other questions. I ask how can I be bereft with grief and grateful for my life at the same time? How can I miss those I lost in the blast of his terror and also move toward a life I can call my own, without guilt and shame? How can I love myself when others blame me and how can I love them back when they don't want to be loved? So many realities exist between the two ends of this spectrum. But does it have to be a spectrum of this or that?

Can we embrace the paradox of feeling utterly destroyed yet reborn at the same time? Can we feel angry and curious? Can we feel saddened and relieved? Can we feel hopeful and scared?

What exists between your either/and? What exists inside your paradox of emotions?

How might it feel to turn your emotional gaze to this potentially unknown place of being in the middle, of being inside the mystery where no clear answers exist? I can tell you that it's terrifying for me. Yet also relieving.

Let this continue to be a space where difficult and challenging topics are raised and thougthtful, respectful responses are shared, embracing all our different realities and experiences.

In Okayness,


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