It was the beginning of the holiday season, and the ending of so many things in my life.
I felt suffocated by the weight of it all. The end of a career, the end of a marriage, the end of my mother’s life, the end of my children’s childhood. Each event its own significant hurdle. They were all happening at the same time, and they coalesced into thoughts of my own mortality.
Since childhood, I’ve often thought of suicide as a means of escape from the expectations, unknowns, and consequences of life. Now, under immense pressure, I had finally settled on an acceptable way to get control over everything.
I did not reach this conclusion on a whim, nor under the influence, and not by accident. This was well researched, well planned, and… well…
The logic for my method was sound. Cutting my wrists seemed too slow, and painful. The thought of the incision. The stinging pain of the blade cutting deeply, through the skin, severing vessels and slicing through flesh and muscle to allow enough blood flow without coagulating. Then, waiting. What would come first, death or salvation? Pain or judgement? Aside from the gruesome scene, I didn’t want to leave in a way that might appear to be asking for help. I was beyond it, or so I thought.
Firearms, while highly effective, were out of the question. So much blood, and bone, and brains? The smell of iron and the stench of death. I had no message to send, and no point to make. Shock would probably eliminate the pain, but what about the sound of the blast? Would I hear it? Or would the last moment of consciousness be when I realized that half of my face is missing? Or the back of my head is gaping, and the part of the brain that processes emotion is gone, so all thought is numb right before a fade into oblivion. What a mess, and how inconsiderate!
What if I took a bottle of pills? The last thing I wanted was to writhe in pain, waiting and wishing for it to end. Or wake up in the emergency room or hospital bed with the shame of another failure. Intentional overdose has the lowest success rate due to many factors. Metabolism, BMI, and hydration status affect everyone differently. The only thing I was certain of is that I wanted an easy exit, and poisoning offered too much uncertainty.
Might as well jump! It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop, right? Falling is one of those things that terrifies most humans. I am one of them. I'm not sure what's more terrifying. Knowing that I'm certainly going to die soon, and that I can't undo this decision? Or the terror of falling out of control, similar to a roller coaster or skydiving. Maybe the combination of them. Anyhow, jumping was too terrifying, and messy, and perhaps painful.
I decided on something simple, effective, and selfish. Suffocation. This is was my plan.
Through a combination of alcohol, sleep aides, tarp, rope, knit cap, and bungee cords I could nearly guarantee one final success. I had gone over the scenario many times. Nothing is ever 100%, but you can get close.
The great thing about alcohol is that it eases our inhibitions. It gives you liquid courage, and it would help me wrap my mind around things, making every threshold easier to cross. The sleeping pills would eliminate the wait. Rope would support my body, keeping it from slumping over into an unfavorable position. The bungee cords would slowly restrict air and blood flow. The tarp would make cleanup easier on the poor bastards dealing with the blood, saliva, vomit and feces squeezed out of my body or released after I expired. The knit cap would conceal my bulging eyes, distorted face, and death expression for the unlucky souls who discover my corpse.
Then, turn off my phone so that family and friends wouldn’t track my location and wouldn't be looking for me. Text the office, as a final courtesy. Check into a hotel and enjoy the rest of my final day. I calculated a 98% chance of success.
After losing control of just about everything else in my life, suicide was the only handle I could still reach.
I was comfortable and satisfied at the idea of my choice, my time, my terms. The sweet taste of Jamison and ginger ale. Drowsiness, like waking in the middle of the night and drifting off again. This is how I would go. No more struggle for control, peace, or fairness. No arguments. No pleading, no persuasion. No permission. No more.
The genius in this plan, so I thought, is that I thought if I failed I would just wake up. Disappointed, but alone in my failure, with opportunity and resources to at the very least try again. But if fate would have it, if in fact it wasn’t my time, then I wouldn’t be responsible for my own death.
I am always logical and in "sort of" a relentless pursuit of perfection. Suicide seemed like a solution and I embraced it.
But then, I paused.
I had never asked for help. Not doing so, I felt that I had not truly explored all possibilities. For the first time in my life, instead of defending against it, I embraced my vulnerability. Instead of going to the hotel, I went to the hospital.
This gave me time to think, reconsider, and reorganize. It helped me become aware of remaining facts that I so desperately wanted to forget.
Because of this experience, I have accepted death, and I am no longer afraid of it. I’m really not afraid of anything anymore.
I have accepted that death is not a solution. It's just the end. Everything ends.
If I had no choice in my beginning, is it fair to choose my ending?