Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coping with Suicide: The Scottish Play

In my first post in this series, I said that I wanted to get back to normal as son as possible. This particular hour, these past few days, I am not sure what ‘normal’ is. My normal is doing lots of things so as to avoid discovering, as Henri Nouwen would say, my loneliness.

This past two months has been so slow. It’s been 52 days since Christmas and 73 since dad died. It feels like it was only this week that we had his funeral. It feels like only a few months ago that I saw him, alive and in Canberra.

I miss my dad. It seems like an odd thing for someone who avoided seeing their father to say, I guess; but I really do miss him. I’ve missed him for the past few years. There’s a voice in my head that says I should have made more of an effort to see him, but that voice isn’t reasonable. There is no way that I could have.

I had put in so much work to be able to get to the point where I felt like I could call him, to talk to him, to relate to him as both of us were able and as I needed. It was only the end of November when I had, with the help of my counselor, got to the point where I thought I might be ready to call him again. I’d intended to do so around Christmas time.

But I couldn’t. I can’t.
He’s dead and I can’t.

Normal, in 2012, was trying to figure out how I could best relate to my dad. That’s not really something I can get back to. The same was true in 2011. Trying to figure this out was difficult and often resulted in poor academic and social performances on my part. I cannot yet begin to relate, even to myself, the process that I went through, mentally and spiritually, to come to the point where I felt that I might be able to relate to my dad in a way that befitted both our natural relationship (that of father-daughter) and the history of our relationship, together with our personalities, various addictions and crosses.

I have supped full with horrors.

Yet, having had my fill, I had begun to digest them. Just as I was preparing for the battle of repairing my relationship with him, I received the terrible news, almost word for word:

Your dad, Kelly, is dead.

He should have died here after. There would have been time for such a word.
I could have at least made an attempt, have tried to heal some of those wounds which I had caused him; I could have shown him the wounds he caused me as the beauty that they now display. They are, in a sense, very much like the Grand Canyon (I borrow here, Nouwen’s image.) They are a great schism, a tear in the surface of my self, my identity. Yet, they have become a source of knowledge about myself. I wish I could have shown this to dad while he was alive.

Glenn Morrison, a past lecturer of mine recently reminded me that there is no limit to the pain a person can feel. There is no limit to any person’s woundedness. There is always, however, also an infinite possibility of healing. Often, there are multiple wounds, multiple levels of woundedness; yet, these always hold within themselves the possibility of limitless levels of healings. But they take time.

All my yesterdays may have lighted fools on the way to dusty death. They have very often lit that way for me. However, they do not have to. Seen in the right light, as it were, the path leads away from dusty death; all my yesterdays can be, should be, are filled with hope. “[A]t the very least, hope is moving from despair to something more positive,” Fr Tony Kelly writes in Eschatology and Hope. “Hope in all its registers implies a trustful and confident movement toward the future.” Despair is not too strong of a word. It is often over used to mean ‘great sadness,’ however, it is more than this. It is defined by the lack of hope; dusty death is the image of despair. If death and dust is all that is left for us, then despair is the most reasonable attitude. However, one would not wish to hasten the inevitable.

Glenn challenged me to change my thinking on suicide. “Suicide is actually an act of hope,” he said, “it’s as if they’re looking forward to something beyond this life.” If anyone other than Glenn had said this, I would have rejected it straight away. However, Glenn’s appreciation of the face of the Other (to use his own terms) makes me think there might be truth in what he is saying. I don’t know. I would like to believe that it is so, but I really, really can’t say.

I will get up and do things like an average person

And Tomorrow
I will spend more time in prayer

And Tomorrow
I will live in the hope my God gives me through His Son.

Thus creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time:
Time continues to move slowly for me, but I must make the best use of it. I must continue to live in His grace, His Love. In this way, though I am a poor player with but an hour upon the stage, I dare not strut because I rely on Him for everything; I need not fret, for I live in the hope of Him providing everything.

Life is often full of sound and fury, it is so important to  take a break from both. It means switching off, as it were, the voices in my head, the anger, the mistrust, the misgivings; it means becoming comfortable with my loneliness. It means sitting and binding my wounds one at a time. Because life does not signify nothing.

“In Him was Life.” “In hoc signo vinces


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