How could I know myself? Should I even try?
I was suicidal because I was in pain and I wanted the pain to stop, and that was the only way I knew how. But I did not kill myself because I wanted to survive. I argued myself out of it thinking I must not wrong anyone- you could crash your car at 60mph head on, that would probably succeed and appear to be an accident, but you would murder the other driver and passengers. Arthur Miller’s Salesman tried to crash his car into a wall, but bottled it, crashing too slowly to kill.
At least, that seems a reasonable explanation of it. I think of the two moments I decided to take action to kill myself, and the thoughts about it in between. I thought about it a lot. I did not kill myself.
I thought about hitting someone, and decided I did not because I was confused, because the rules had broken down. I decided I seek safety in rules. Then I remembered I always thought of myself as Antinomian, rejecting others’ rules, especially with relation to transition. So, I live by rules, until I do not- or I reject others’ rules, until they seem to be my source of safety. I could not make a useful statement of how I respond to rules to predict my behaviour in any situation.
Why would you want to predict your behaviour? Because I don’t trust myself. I want to be assured that I will behave sensibly or usefully in any particular situation. Or, as with the procrastination, I want to know why I do it so I might stop it. Or, even, stop expecting too much of myself- energy and motivation is a finite resource, this is as much as I can do.
It might be good to trust more. These questions are useful: what delights me? What do I want? I want to be safe- yet I am still alive, I have always bimbled on, rarely comfortable but safe enough, though I have not always recognised that.
I could see my wrestling with thoughts of suicide as progress. I wanted to die, I argued myself out of it, I don’t want to die any more. That teaches me nothing beyond my ability to change. All the past shows us is that things change.
Or, I could see it as evidence of my ability to learn and progress. I have done so before, and can now. I encouraged people- “You have accomplished huge things before: you learned to walk and talk!” Perhaps because you did not recognise that you might not manage- or there was no reason not to try. Each achievement, each fall onto carpet on a padded, nappied bottom, passed and you kept trying. Now, you have all that experience of success and failure- can they balance out?
“I see only the past”- ACIM lesson 7- means that I do not see so much potential.
We see the future in our mind’s heart and we take the small next step that will enable us to get there together. This is the activity of radical hope.
– Deena Metzger