Are you on the path that’s headed in the direction you want to go? I am. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am.
A few weeks ago, I was driving across the Hornibrook Bridge at 2am. I was coming home from a Halloween Party, dressed as Hipster Mario. You’ve probably never heard of him. I was smiling to myself, thinking about where I was a year ago, how far I’d come, and how close I was to being where I wanted to be.
It was almost exactly a year after I drove across that very same bridge, with my foot on the accelerator, my hands off the wheel, and my eyes closed, ready to end it all in a flaming wreck. A year ago, I wanted to be dead. It was almost all I could think about. And it almost happened.
Now, driving across that bridge at 2am, all I could think about was how bright my future looks, and how much I have to live for. I’m on the cusp of making a huge change. Not just with my health, but in my situation. I won’t go into details just yet, but suffice to say, everything’s coming up Milhouse.
I’m not going to pretend that suicidal thoughts don’t still bubble to the top occasionally, because they do. But I have coping mechanisms now. That’s a whole can of worms that I’ll save for another time.
The main thing that I have changed within myself is a shift in perception of my own agency in my life. Bullshit is always going to happen to you. Sometimes, you’re not going to get the job you want even if you’re the best person for it. Sometimes, the people you love aren’t going to love you back. Sometimes, freak acts of chance will change your circumstances beyond your imaginings. These things, or similar powerful changing events, are almost guaranteed to happen.
Just because something happens to you does not mean that you have to take responsibility for it happening.
The only thing you are responsible for is how you react to the cards that you’re dealt. The choices that you make define who you are as a person. Who you are will determine the path you walk through life.
The thing that made me snap my eyes open and grab the wheel in a white-knuckle grip while I was on that bridge a year ago was the realisation that if I did kill myself, I would be making the same cowardly choice as the person who had put me in that position.
When my ex-wife ended things, I was left holding a $20k joint car loan that I was now having to repay myself. I had a house I couldn’t afford alone. I had a cat that she had wanted, but I never did. We had moved out of our inner-city apartment to Redcliffe, which resulted in tripling my commute time to and from work. We were going through IVF. I had gone from having a wife who I believed loved me and wanted to start a family, to find out that I’d been sharing my bed with a stranger that had wanted to separate for years and had never wanted kids.
To boot, I felt like I was at death’s door anyway. I was pushing 200kgs, and could barely make it from the train station to my workplace without being an out-of-breath sweaty mess. So, why not go out on my own terms?
It was all too much.
If I had one or two of those things to deal with, maybe I could have seen a light at the end of the tunnel. Some bright, burning hope. But I couldn’t see it. All I could see was the monumental pile of shit that I had in front of me that I would need to clean up by myself if I wanted to continue on.
I knew that killing myself wouldn’t fix the hurt I was feeling. It would just disperse it, and I wouldn’t be around anymore to have to worry about who it affected.
But that’s not me. Making that kind of selfish decision that I know would hurt others is not something I could ever make in good conscience. Even though this whole mess wasn’t just my own to clean up, I decided that I was going to do it by myself anyway.
Piece by motherfucking piece.
That’s the path I want to walk. The one where you can come across a roadblock, and instead of turning down a branch in the path, you figure out a way to chip your way through the boulder.
That night a few weeks ago, driving back from the Halloween Party, I was happy for the first time in what felt like forever. Not because of any external force, although I do have plenty to be happy about on that front, from the satisfaction that came from knowing that I was on the path to being exactly who, and where, I want to be.
I don’t like the person I am yet, but I like the person I’m becoming.
I’m still in hell, but for the first time, I feel like I’m charting my own course.