Life.

“Although life is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller

Quite unfortunately, I’ve known about two incidents recently where people have taken their own lives. They were not clients of mine, thank goodness, but people in my extended community. People who had families and left behind not only people who loved them, but also many questions. Questions that may not ever be answered. For whatever reason, these two incidents have left me contemplating. Contemplating the suffering that these individuals must have felt and a deep empathy for them and their families. Truly, it must have been insurmountable in their minds – as I sat here holding my newborn, thinking that I can’t imagine ever intentionally leaving her behind without me.

When I was interviewing for my counseling internship in grad school many years ago, this topic came up and the two people I’d be working for and I got into a great discussion around exactly how preventable we believe suicide to be – in other words, once someone has come to the conclusion that there is only one way out, is there truly much any of us can do about it?  Now, this is not to say that I, as counselor or friend or family member, wouldn’t do everything in my power to prevent it. Of course I would as most anyone would. But, I also know that much in this life is outside of our control, including other people’s thought and actions.  It’s a sensitive subject, but despite all the preventative measures we might put in place, people can still do the unthinkable.

What I most want people to understand though is that we all have a responsibility to notice the people around us to the best of our ability. Take more time to look people in the eye and ask how their day is going – look for any changes in behaviors, attitudes, emotions and actions. This can even include someone who is struggling for a very long time who suddenly seems to be doing just fine –  it’s not a bad thing, but we need to understand the sudden change. We need to be supportive of people getting the help they need, if they need it, whether though psychotherapy or psychiatry.  Give people resources and outlets for help and acknowledge how it is more than okay to ask for help – keep shame and stigma at bay.

Remember: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

 

Luck.

“We have an infinite number of reasons to be happy, and a serious responsibility not to be serious.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

 

Two years ago, in March, I bought these baby clothes. Someone had given me the idea of “if you build it, they will come” when it comes to conceiving a child – in other words, buy some baby clothes, baby stuff, and keep it around – perhaps the baby gods will look kindly upon you and bestow you with that little bundle you’ve been so desperately hoping to receive.

A year later, which is a year ago, my husband and I sat in a doctor’s office, after some brief medical intervention, and he told us you have a less than 1% chance of having a child and there isn’t anything more we can do for you. Being in my early 40s, I wasn’t all together surprised, but I was still heart-broken. I had always envisioned being a mother. So, being the therapist and believer in personal growth that I am, I did the work. The grief work. I let go. Day-by-day, moment-by-moment. I performed little rituals in line with my spiritual beliefs, and told the baby gods, whatever it was they did or didn’t have in store for me, not only would I survive, but I would thrive. Because…well, that’s just what I do. In fact, I even took those baby clothes and put them in a chest from my husband’s home in Africa and wrapped them up in my stepsons’ baby blankets. A burial of sorts. And, in case you miss it, those are clovers on those baby clothes.

So June rolled around and we got married. July rolled around and I had this funny feeling and so I bought a pregnancy test. It was positive. I went to the doctor. That test was positive. Having known this doctor for close to twenty years, I said, “This is crazy. We were told we had less than a 1% chance.” He said…”Well, this just might be your 1%.”

He was right. It was our 1% and, believe it or not, our daughter was born on St. Patrick’s Day this year. That’s right, St. Patrick’s Day. Could I have taken out these baby clothes and put them on her?  My husband found them at one point and asked if I planned to use them. I told him those baby clothes would stay right where they are for now, and probably quite some time to come.

Call it luck, call it karma, call it a miracle, it happened.

Now, this isn’t everyone’s story, but the point is, I let go and even if this story hadn’t ended this way, I was at peace with whatever the outcome might be.

May you find your own peace.