Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being Alive

I was thinking I was only feeling half-alive yesterday morning.  Then I thought of a friend who has an immediate family member who can barely breathe, as a "normal" state of being.  That border of being alive, physically speaking, and not.  I thought of some others who were NOT outside walking their dog, in part as they could not do such a thing while I can.  My head was and is full of pollens which triggers all sorts of allergic reactions and asthma difficulties for me, and M.

Then it occurred to me; I'm not half- alive, I'm overly alive.  Over extended last weekend, overly-sensitive to our world, overly alive?  My body reacting to the pollens and triggers, my body overly-processing sugars at times (hypoglycemic), so I watch those and balance my food and carbohydrates, I fill up my life with so many things and interested in more!, my skin has more sensory perceptors per square inch than anyone in my entire high school science class, retested to be certain.  E has decided that he won't smoke bad-tasting cigars any more, which had been a rare treat for him, anyway, and I told him twice to go ahead, "I'll have to tell [friend] that he's ruining my love life!," and was surprised when I told him the other night, "Oh, Sam Adams?" after we'd kissed hello.  (I can ignore his occasional cigarette, but that cigar taste was nasty even the next day and both of us brushing teeth and using moutwash a couple times.)

And I try to stay aware of M, not "hovering" too much, but being aware as we share and I guide her to, basically, making good choices in her interests and greater family and community interests, to enjoy life along the way, and ultimately to not require me any more.  In time; not yet.  And I'm never fully leaving her life just trying to help her grow, confidently, utilizing her skills, appropriately.  So, I've noticed her texting and cell phone usage and her increased need for sleep and her not being as fully on top of her homework as usual, heck, not even her Spanish, huh?  Yet my restricting her cell phone usage to more normal hours and such, met with not just an upset or disappointed child, but almost hysterics, as if defensive of her friends not just socializing.  I'd tried to give her parameters previously, we talked of more sleep time and it's not that I don't care about her friends, but my primary responsibility is HER, etc.  She knew I was serious enough about restricting her cell phone usage that she discussed this with friends, and tried to rationalize with me as she had some during the past couple weeks.  I reminded her that the times and phone #'s of calls and texts show on our bill.  A bit more irresponsible for her moments, minor really but different for her, I wasn't too happy; I relayed that, also told her she was thinking ahead and being responsible for something she DID do on her own initiative, how proud I was of her at the show, etc.  Being a full-weekend of recitalling, and I not always right there with her, she kept her cell phone then.

Monday night she didn't plan out her homework well, still tired from the weekend, and from a very early start last Friday for charity work the class did in D.C., and hmmm, odd hours for cell phone usage.  I was tired, too, yet had wanted to spend some time with her in a positive way.  I went to take her cell phone away at a reasonable hour for the evening.  Drama, hysterics, defensiveness.  Yes, she's 13, but this is all NOT like her.  She knows I won't actually talk with her if she's yelling, even if not yelling at me.  She went into her room to cry, and I ended up getting her to agree to having the door reopened (I had that capability, locks on my side), and to go in.  She also knows I won't hurt her.  I DID hug her.  And we talked.  And I stayed hugging her while she cried.

All this stress on her.  She didn't tell me whom, but I know it's "Al."  I know his dad is an alcoholic and some of the other family stresses.  M did finally break down and tell me that he'd been either considering or planning to commit suicide, and she and another (unnamed), had essentially talked him out of it.  I had told her a few weeks back that if he's in a situation that needed an adult, who all she could contact (not necessarily ME), and she had said someone did know.  I DO know he is getting professional help, et al, yet I asked her, too.  And reminded her that while she's a good friend, she's not a professional and for her to take this on all by herself is a lot, is probably too much.  She feels convinced he won't do this now.  Such crying.  Such a good -hearted child, who cares.  Sometimes TOO much yet I can certainly understand that.  How to help her set boundaries.  I hold her face in my hands, look right at her. How to let her know how special she is, that I love her, that I believe her and that suicide is very very serious (I did tell her that two people close to me had done that and it still hurts but that people hurt so much inside of themselves that they don't realize that others will hurt).  That God used her to help Al, that God put her in that place and time, to help be the human touch for His will.  A lot of talking.....  Then I told her that I'm sure that there is a feis in Colorado (where Al may be moving), but I couldn't promise anything yet being that I don't even have a car right now.  And she laughed. 

Then we talked again about the cell phone, that I'll entrust her to stop using it at x time at night, and if there is a crisis, she has to let me know that, at that time, or some other exception (such as actually using it for homework), and if I see she hasn't done this, then I will be taking it.

Today is the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.  A murder-suicide.  A lot has been said and thought and researched about that man, what coule have been done, what should be done in future situations, what is legally and ethically okay, what is going over the line.  His parents still hide in shame and I feel for them, too.  The pain of losing a loved one is no less when the person has died of suicide (and of course, the horror of knowing that the pain of ones own loved one led to also killing others ack -- of course I feel for all of those lost on that day and don't diminish anything from those shot, whether wounded or killed).  My coworker's sister still attends, eager for her graduation next month.  May all those on the campus now and past and future heal, always remember, while continuing to move on.

As I mentioned, there were two people close to me in my life over time who have committed suicide.  I worked through my thoughts on Lori some years back, my elementary through high school friend, who couldn't face the agony of her life after her college freshman year.  The other, well, the initial parts are all worked through, sure, but it's still hard to think of his pain, and that he's gone.  I prefer to see him laughing, driving a boat, doing something he loved.

I look at my cell phone bill -- M and I went over our minutes about a week ago and have about 1 week left.  We've only gone over about once previously in years, a vacation month. She and I have both been careful since then (some ofours are "free").  But, I look at it a bit differently now.  It may be .40 a minute for the minutes we've gone over, primarily HER going over, but, what is the cost of a life?  "Al" is still here, and I give God thanks for that, and that M did finally tell me, too, so I can better help her (or him if needed). 

Suicide is a leading cause of death for teenagers (in the U.S., at least).  Whether or not he fully intended to do so, Al was still in need of help, of attention.  That shouldn't be, cannot risk being, ignored, but taken seriously.  Just in case.  I am thankful for all survivors.

May all of those in pain today, find some peace and relief from suffering.  May all those who can live life, may you take a moment to not focus on the negative, but feel grateful for the good, to appreciate your mental and physical and, hopefully, your spiritual health.

As I sneeze and tear up for the pollens from the new life growing outside; the cherry trees in my neighborhood are beginning their blossoms of pink in a blue sky.  I thank God for always giving me sufficient personal reasons to stay hanging in there and living life.

p.s. -- I'm sure that there are great suicide groups, helplines, survivor groups (or those for families), teenage suicide stats, and links and such out there.  If anyone wishes to add any in the comments, please feel free to.

p.p.s. -- in other news -- on this date in 1862 - American Civil War: A bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia became law.  A very important moment of overcoming, perservering, and moving on (even before The Civil War ended in 1865).



  1. Ah,what a lot for M to be carrying.  I'm so glad she was finally able to share it with you.

    And I have had the families of those who were killed or wounded at Va Tech in my thoughts all month, but particularly today....thank you, for remembering.


  2. I did not realize it was the anniversary of VA Tech, your right there are so many  youth suicides it's very sad.  My oldest (will be 11) wants a cell phone so bad, I don't know, I just don't know if I'm ready for that <sigh>

  3. You're right, it is the VT anniversary, Robin. Suicide is still such a taboo, but at least if someone still talks about things there is hope.


  4. Hi Robin, I've been a bit out of touch for a few days and somehow missed your alert. You've had a lot on your mind. You are one of the most alive people that I know; I think that your analysis of being "overly alive," makes sense. I know that what draws me to you is your intense involvement in life. When you write, your words speak of living life, not merely experiencing it.

    I hope that M's friend gets the help that he needs. I attempted suicide when I was 14 and again when I was 21. I gave it serious thought when I was 24. I don't consider it as an option any more but I still recall the darkness that enveloped me and made me think that it was a solution to my pain. I pray that M's friend gets the guidance to help him find his way our of that darkness.--Sheria

  5. I've decided over the last two weeks....Alive is an amazing place to be.
    I have to admit I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed these days with the concept of life. With my Grandmother dying last week and now, my Brother attempting to commit suicide (I just found out last night) on Monday night.
    It all makes me take a good hard look at the movement I maintain each and every day. Half Alive, is a state of mind and the good thing about it, is Alive is beautiful, no matter how the glass looks.