The Hope of Suicide

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15584c4b3cd604b06f70fadf2f50d547I have a mental illness; this means for me that I often live in many different worlds all at the same time. I have angry worlds, happy worlds, manic worlds, and of course the so depressed can’t do a damn thing worlds. I often have strange and rather appropriate voices for each world. It is my norm. I live in it and am known in it.

I have learned that there are parts of this mental illness that I have that others can not comprehend. Parts that seem radical or dangerous, or even horrific. I have learned that if you don’t have a mental illness than simple comments can often set you off onto a path of worry and angst; while those of us who said the comment have quickly moved on. This can be reversed, but for the most part what I find to be commonplace scares the holy hell out of my doctors, my therapists, my family, and my friends.

For instance, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about suicide. The killing of my own self. The disappearance of my body and soul from the lives of those I love. You and I both know that the ones that I love are easily and with somewhat disdain stating that this is selfish and they need me around. The truth is the world turns no matter what happens. The truth is that whether I am around or not only matters to me.

I don’t believe suicide or suicide thoughts are selfish. I find them to be the exact opposite. Not once have I considered killing myself for my own gain. Not once have I considered killing myself for fame or fortune. Not once have I thought of killing myself for the spotlight it could possibly attract. Not once has my thoughts of dying been about me at all.

Usually they fall in line somewhere between if I do this, this so and so will…. or if I do this, they can finally move on. Or they can finally find the peace they deserve or at least the partners they need. A lot of my suicidal thoughts are about giving freedom to those I love to find peace, find solace and finally find the ability to live a life away from this disease. You can’t argue, ever, that these mental illness don’t affect everyone around you. They do. And for me, the thought that I could give some relief to those I love seems like the greatest gift in life.

Most of my suicidal thoughts are easily ignored or if not ignored put aside because I am too busy to kill myself. I do that on purpose. Most of these thoughts of doom aren’t real because they can be easily justified. The vast majority of the time all I have to do is look in the rear view mirror at my children, and I can continue on.

I imagine that some people believe that suicide thoughts hurt; physically or mentally it hurts to imagine your own death. I don’t find this to be true. I look at the thoughts as proactive plans incase the time comes when I need to implement them. I look at them as an honest reflection about how I really feel; who I really love; and what I am willing to sacrifice. I look at suicidal thoughts as any other thought about the ones we love. It is there and there is no reason to panic.

But most people do panic. And the only thing you can do is hide these thoughts so deep in your soul that while they corrode the lining of said soul, at least they don’t bother anyone. Your family doesn’t immediately demand your admittance to some sterile hospital, and your doctors can live in familiar bliss that they have helped another soul. Sharing suicidal thoughts isn’t always the best idea.

Until those thoughts become greater than you can control. Until those thoughts scare you. Until those thoughts take you from a place of planning to a place of hope. Once hope enters the picture in regards to suicidal thoughts it is time to hint softly but strongly that you may need a little help.

Usually the help I need lies in not being left alone for long periods of time; especially when I know that no one is coming to rescue me. Usually the help I need is the use of something out of my norm to convince myself that I have moved to another plane/world/sphere. Usually the help I need is not in dissecting the thoughts, nor even figuring out where the thoughts come from (I already know) but in finding enough time to be able to get past those voices and the ability, the strength, to find new voices. Comfortable voices.

Suicidal thoughts come with the territory. And while I recognize that three out of four people never think about killing themselves, at least not on a consistent basis, I do. It is part of me as much as it is part of the disease. Suicidal thoughts are part of the person I am and will continue to be a part of the person I am becoming. They are an important part for one reason only – they are a perfect gauge to what I am really dealing with. And while I never allow anyone to take my temperature, I can simply by listening to myself.

I have been struggling with some deep and difficult suicidal thoughts. The kind of thoughts that scare me because of the simple ease they come and the simple ease that I accept them not as suicidal thoughts but as literal hopes. It is hard for many people to accept that suicidal thoughts can be hopeful, but then most people can’t figure out quantum physics.

I sat in a Chinese take out restaurant last night when the kind of thought that scares even me happened. I use the word restaurant lightly because even though they cook and sell food, there are only a few tables and most are filled with people waiting for their take out order. The walls, the floors, everything is filled with this level of grease or at least oil that seems out of place and while the restaurants never seem completely clean to me, it also occurs to me that however they are cooking the food probably kills everything in and around that store.

I was sitting in that restaurant waiting along with about five other people, and out of the blue came the image of one of the men getting up from their chair and opening fire. I acknowledged immediately that I was in an extremely vulnerable spot sitting where I was, and I recognized that the death would most likely be sloppy if not quick.

There was the suicidal thought. Not the killer, not the killing, but the general acceptance that if it happened I would be fine with the outcome. Yes, I was in a vulnerable seat, but why move? Yes, there might be pain when the bullets entered my chest, but it would be such an easy and less messy way to die. My family would not suffer the guilt of suicide (which is ridiculous, but very real). My children could be told an easy story about their mother and fate. It would all be nice and tidy.

And those are the thoughts that made me realize that for one more time in my life I was reaching a dangerous place. Because dreaming of dying or at least realizing that you could isn’t dangerous. But realizing that there is hope that death is met in this way is. Suicidal thoughts are only dangerous when mixed with hope.

Hope is one of those emotions that are probably healthy for the three out of four people who don’t have a mental illness. But hope and thoughts in a mentally ill person can be a dangerous proposition. It is the reality that kills. It is the reality that because of the hope seems so perfect. Hope makes those thoughts not dangerous but easily obtained. This is the death, quiet death that changes the game completely.

Hope is literally the most dangerous emotion we feel. And yet we seek it, we need it, and ultimately we allow it to destroy us. Everyday suicidal thought isn’t something to really worry about; it is when we add hope that we find ourselves standing in front of a mirror holding a knife and knowing exactly what we are suppose to do.

Trash to Treasure

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892e7d66c976a106accd2f436e80df8bI have waited over two years to write this post. I have waited not for my own benefit but in the vain hope that these words never said could not hurt anyone. What I didn’t put it to place was the knowledge that it didn’t matter if the words were said or not, the sentiment was felt. I am not here to blame and I am not here to hurt; I am only here to tell a story.

Our story begins fourteen years ago in a small town in South Georgia. My family had come for my graduation and we were planning to visit one of the more popular local sites. Standing across from my Grandmother who was sitting on her hotel bed, I watched her beckon to me. My Grandmother has been beckoning to me for years. She now does it to my children.

My Grandmother had decided that since one chapter of my life was ending and another was beginning that I need the next piece of advice given to her loved ones throughout their lives. The advice was simple as it always was: marry your best friend.

I imagine that when she said that I was blushing for my best friend had already asked to marry me; we were just keeping it on the down low for the moment. So while the advice was already taken, the relationship between me and my best friend would be tested through the years before we officially made it down that aisle.

I can remember the night before my wedding. Without aide of alcohol or any drugs I was able to sleep easily and deeply the night before my wedding. There was no doubt in my mind. There was not one iota of a sneaky suspicion that marrying this man, who was still my best friend was the wrong decision. That day when my father stopped right before we got to the church and asked if I was sure, I didn’t hesitate in my reply. I was marrying my best friend and that was exactly what my fairy tale was supposed to look like.

Then that one thing happened; it changed. Every person over the age of twenty, and a few younger, knows that life changes. It is supposed to evolve so that our ability to survive is increased according to the favorite local naturalists. It is supposed to change in order to tempt us, keep us entertained, and help us to find the metaphysical answers that will bring us peace. Life moves, it revolves, it evolves and it changes. These things are as real as life itself.

And despite being prepared for those changes, despite believing that I could weather those changes, I have come to learn that life no matter how beautiful was never meant to be easy. I am just not sure when our trash became the treasure that we hoarded.

I consider myself a reactionary person. I will directly react to the situation, the feelings, or the people around me. If you are having a bad day, at some point in the day I probably will as well. If you are angry, I will get angry. If you misunderstand me, and decide retaliation is the answer, I will easily start the pattern. I am not proud to state this about me, and I certainly don’t mean to say that I don’t cause enough problems, but the deep down truth is that I react.

I don’t know when my best friend and I really started having trouble. I don’t know why it happened, who thought that our mutual loss would be a good thing or even had the answers to what happens next. I don’t know when our trash became our treasure.

When did the hurtful and game like statements start to be acceptable to either one of us? When did we stop wanting to be friends? When did we begin to play games in order to get attention and to spotlight the darkness that the other couldn’t see? When did we stop finding happiness – treasure – in each other and begin to resent instead?

And why don’t we want to be friends anymore? Why is it for every step forward, I seem to be about a thousand steps back? What changed? What made the difference? And why do two people who once believed in each other, stop?

I suppose it is naïve to think that my relationship would always be with my best friend instead of a stranger that looks a lot like my friend but easily and effortlessly destroys and finds games to play. I suppose it was dumb to believe that our relationship wouldn’t dissolve into a “well, you did it first,” or “well, you are known to do,”. Thousands of relationships have before us, including both our parents, a very influential source.

I feel like I am on the bottom of the greatest mountain top that this imagination can give one. I am there, with a pack and plenty of water, getting ready to begin this incredible climb. Along the way I will stumble, but I will also see some incredible sites. I feel like this journey is beginning after so many years, I feel like I am finally learning, and there is only one thing missing; my best friend.

He isn’t on the climb because he doesn’t want to be. It is possible he is simply scared of what he will find on my journey, which could so easily be our journey. It is more likely that he has forgotten and has belittled us to the point that it is simply gone for him. It is likely that he has forgotten that trash is meant to be taken away.

I don’t know. Part of me desperately wishes that we could be back to that moment we held our son in our arms for the first time. Part of me wishes that we could find our way back to the days at strange restaurants, or fun friends coming over for dinner. Part of me wishes that we could find a way to like one another again.

I don’t hope for love anymore. I don’t believe in fairy tales anymore. I don’t believe in truth or trust or even dependability. I have had to learn over and over again that no matter if it is all my fault or not, life is my burden alone. To the world I will always be at fault; this is one fact that will never change. Now the goal is simply to make sure I am keeping the treasure and finally getting rid of the trash.

Harry and Sally

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560e60aa2010679b1e134828056c8c69The moment someone confirms that you are on a journey that few will ever travel, you want that journey to begin now. And while I am perfectly able to see the parallels in the famous quote from the Harry and Sally movie the sentiment still applies. You are given a glimpse into exactly what the world has to offer someone like you, and yet there is so many working parts that must compliment each other, that you are stuck in a reality that has existed since you were born.

We all know that change doesn’t come either quickly or with smooth sailing. I am beginning the journey to fundamentally change who I am in my soul, so the reality of the dishes waiting for you sucks. Life has a way of not only interrupting the greatest moments of our life, but the actual life it is representing – say that fast three times.

Most people who go to therapy work very hard to learn to cope with the vagaries of life. Death, hatred, life, taxes. Everything that each of us must be able to cope with is often much harder to handle than our parents taught us. Being parents they couldn’t teach us everything, and when it came to teaching us math or what to do when a man beats the hell out of us, unfortunately the lesson were based on assumptions. It is the fundamental flaw in motherhood – you can’t teach your children what they need to know.

So most people go to therapy to learn how to don socially acceptable masks. The kind that hides from the nurses and doctors in that emergency room what you are really feeling seeing your child in that large bed. The kind of mask that allows you to face your boss and speak to him on a level that shows no real disgust. The kind of mask that shows the world that you are functioning, at least until you are able to finally sneak off to bed and cry your eyes out. These masks are a learned trait, and while it may seem that some come by it naturally, the truth often is that they came by this trait because they had no choice.

I think I have had the ability to cope from a very young age. My life, like everyone else’s, has never been a smooth ride on a merry-go-round (I like the blue and white horse). It has been a series of incredible highs and in the next turn almost overwhelming lows. There have been disappointments, excitement, fear, happiness, ecstasy, and even loneliness that felt so perfect it scared me. This is life. We accept this as life. And the learning to don a mask is a part of it.

Some in my life, on the periphery and right in front of me, swear they know what my masks look like and when it is I am wearing them. My response has always been to agree with them, but one of the things this journey has already taught me is that I am a brilliant strategist, I am an incredible liar, and I have learned to hide in plain sight so well that even mentioning this talent leads to shaking their heads. They are so convinced that they know the truth of me, even the idea that they could be wrong is like eating a lemon when you thought you were getting a piece of bread. It doesn’t cross as possible. Because then the next truth comes: I am a manipulative and oftentimes selfish young lady who is simply trying to survive in a world my parents forgot to teach me about.

Most of my therapists would agree that the one and truly great talent I have is my ability to cope; to apply the right mask for the right situation and never allow others to see any more. My therapist will tell you I don’t need to learn about coping or even the bottom of that deep fathomless feelings that can only be felt by those who know how to hold their breath. No, my journey, the one that started in April of 2013 is one I have been silently waiting for; the journey that has been in my soul longer than my breath and has simply waited for me. Whether it has waited for me to grow up or to be prepared for the loss and the tragedy of this journey, I don’t know. And I don’t want to ask.

So if I don’t need a therapist to learn to cope like most, what question is my soul waiting for? What answer does my soul need to finally figure out the ways to go beyond the truth and finally see, and finally be, all that I think that I can be. At what point does my soul finally find the sense of contentment that it has been searching for its whole existence and probably much, much longer.

So here I am, the journey has been confirmed, the tickets have been purchased, the bags packed, I am ready to start. But what no one reminds you, even those therapists with their nasty and inane homework that keeps one up at night, is that there is still reality. For most of us, we can’t put on our lives on hold so that we can figure these large and oftentimes painful steps. We still have dishes to do, air conditions to repair, blogs to write, and the usual cleaning up after three of the most undisciplined Pig Pens someone thought would be funny to stick me with.

So here I am ready to explore the new horizons that will show me the possibility of what I can be. Here I am ready to embark on a full tour of my psyche to put the pieces together that have lived inside of me since I was eleven. The butterfly inducing belief that finally the answers that I have asked for decades may now be answered. Those secrets that only a soul can reveal are waiting. And despite the fact I know that they will wait in this life and the next for me, I am desperate to simply and finally have a sight of them.

No matter how I wish differently, this journey will go its own course. I can’t hurry it along any more than I can stop it once a new chapter begins. While Harry might truly believe that once you make a realization you should begin to live with that realization, it doesn’t work that way on soulful journeys. These kind of journeys are not in your control and your soul will not let you forget this.

The Greatest and Most Sublime Tragedy of Life

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78853cd246c4d17ca2f173b3ebfb55c3I suppose in life, like in anything, there are tragedies and then there are TRAGEDIES.  Death is always a favorite. Poverty, sudden or constant. I would even say the major discussion that you are forced to participate in with doctors and parents the day you are diagnosed as insane is in itself a tragedy. But this isn’t the greatest and most sublime.

I am in the middle of the most intense therapy of my life. I don’t know why this time is different, if it is me or simply my courage. I don’t know if I particularly like all the internal changes and the external questions. I am not sure about these huge revelations that are beginning to occur. Revelations that are so big that my therapist has moved our appointments from once a week to every other week so that I have time not only to ingest these new sublime thoughts but so that I can began finding an answer within myself. I don’t go to therapy so that they can tell me what is wrong and what is needed; I go to learn it for myself.

Today I learned that I have incredible coping skills among those with mental health. I should get a plaque. My son breaks both arms, not a problem, hospital on my way. There is no power or a/c in my new apartment…not a problem I can call all parties in the hopes to find a solution.  The point is I can cope, and I can do so with a perfectly acceptable social masque that does not give a hint as to how I really feel. Apparently my use of the masque has finally become socially acceptable.

I knew going into this therapy that there were major things happening inside of my soul, if not my brain. I knew that despite finding the right therapist, I was needing a guidance I have never asked for. Someone was looking out for me because I got the right therapist.

What she has taught in the few weeks others couldn’t do in years. And yet in our sessions I would say she only speaks about 10 – 20 words. Total. But she slowly forces me to ask the questions that I know are sitting there, and I know that I can touch, but have only just now found the courage to do so. She requires that I don’t fix the wound on the skin, but the major and most sublime wound on my soul. And I can’t be led by her, because scars on the heart heal but scars on the soul destroy. And the only one who sees my soul is me and I have long been destroyed.

Today’s meeting wasn’t on coping skills, according to my doctor that while most come for only that there is something more important happening with me. The changes that I am slowly and almost desperately wanting to happen aren’t those that can be taught in a session. The teachings go way beyond the sessions. Think Buddhist Monk on mountain top praying in the lotus position.

There was one hurdle that I was going to have to overcome. There was one little, tiny, bitty issue that was blocking the way forward. My therapist couldn’t quite answer if this was only one of many such hurdles, but I am also learning to have hope.

What is the greatest and most sublime tragedy of life? When our friends and our love ones categorize us to the extent that we lose all sense of our identity. More specifically for me, when my family, my husband, and to an extent some strangers look at me and see nothing but a disease. I am a disease. Not, I have a disease. But that the only thing I could ever be is my disease.

I know that I am guilty of doing this same thing out of fear and laziness. When your husband can easily blame everything you do and don’t do on a disease there is so much you can get away with. When your parents are racked with guilt and self-denial, you get presents because you are a disease. A disease, alive and breathing, that completely and totally subverts the real self is not the tragedy. Those who have perpetrated the myth that who and what I am is only this, lost me. And the loss of myself, whether good or bad, because no one can see beyond the disease including myself, is the tragedy.

I know they lost me because for the first time in my life things are changing deep inside of myself. My soul is finally starting to stir. The air in my lungs are finally breathing the first steps of freedom, and while I think it will ultimately destroy everything I have and everything I know, this is a journey I might have to take.

Because it is time to finally figure out who I am. Not the disease, but me. And if you think that will be easy do I have real estate to sell you. For instance, let’s talk food. My favorite food is…wait for it…hell, if I know. I don’t like my son’s pizza, my daughter’s spaghetti, my husband’s wings. I don’t think I really like meat, bread, or even over seasoned food. I think I like plain vegetables and fruit only, ONLY.  But I don’t know if  this is exactly right, because those who blame this disease, also expect that I perform in a certain way. And yes, in some ways eat in the same way.

And maybe it is not fair to say that I have been a trained dancing chicken for so long. Maybe it is my fault for not concentrating on who and what I was growing up. Maybe it is my fault that I forgot that sometimes I am important too.

But if I can’t even definitely tell you what my favorite food is, then the world just became a lot larger. What color do I really want my hair? Do I really want another tattoo? Am I interested in running? How easy would it really be to quit smoking? Do I want to wear jeans or some of the dresses I have been buying? Do I feel anything if the world is left alone, and not touched by me in any way? And if my greatest dream is to run away, can I even with the disappointment it would bring?

I can handle tragedy in all forms. My therapists checked that box years ago. But can I handle figuring who and what I am, beyond this disease? And can I do it with my mother’s doubts, my sister’s cynicism, or my father’s ignorance? Can I do it knowing that my husband will never be able to see me beyond this disease and will believe with his unbelievable capability for not only doubt but his ease in believing the worst of every situation? Can I do it if the mother that lies within the earth and beats so wonderfully through us, doesn’t allow it?

Can I have courage? Overcoming the greatest and most sublime tragedy of life isn’t about the change, but the courage to see it through.

Well, It Ain’t That

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0207deb05f4636345076aacc0248cf11I have this tattoo on my lower right belly; directly over the ovaries. As this was my first tattoo – of what I hope to be more – I had no idea that sticking a needle in that vulnerable flesh would cause that much pain. I put the tattoo on my stomach in the hopes that every time I looked in the mirror I would be reminded of why I put that tattoo on my body in the first place. Instead I am sad to say that I am more apt to study those horrendous bumps of cellulite than be inspired by my tattoo. And the tattoo was always supposed to be inspiring, stating the words: courage, strength, faith and love.

I didn’t put these words in a language I could not understand, and I tried to make them a part of my mantra since the moment I first conceived that a mantra is ridiculous in practice but incredibly useful in repetition. This mantra was going to save me; this mantra was going to at least get me through that extremely difficult yoga practice.

But none of this really happened. About ten days after the pain left, that tattoo was as much a part of me as my nose; and therefore just as important. Tattooing my body was supposed to be symbolic, instead it is just a nice picture on my skin. Not something to regret, just not really ever remembered.

I have always believed in courage, strength, faith and love. I honestly believed that with these four things I could do the things that I only dreamed of; and I think that I am right. I think that finding courage and the rest allows us to proceed in directions that in some cases we are dying to go and in some cases become the places we must go.

So there it is tattooed on my body; and according to my therapist for the first time in my life I am beginning to pay attention. My therapist challenges me on many levels, often asking questions that while easy to answer not altogether comfortable. Or just the opposite happens and she asks me a question and I have to look at her in horror by the mere answer I had never even thought.

When do we change? When do we decide to change? Is it an event that says ‘okay, you can’t be this anymore’? Is it a day, a week, a year? And if this change is catastrophic what is the price? If this change is big enough to write about who loses from it? Because there is one thing I know more than any other: there is always a cost.

Things are changing in my life. I am changing in my life. I suppose that there are those that notice, but I imagine beyond my too perceptive son, not many. I don’t have many confidantes that can watch this change, and I can’t make any change fast enough to be a brilliant star in the sky. My life may be changing, but it is changing in ways I could not have imagined.

I have been lying. I have been lying for three years to those that I love. This is not a braggart statement except to say apparently I am good at this. I have lied easily and with skill. I have lied about some of the biggest things that affect the day to day person that I am. In many cases I had to lie in order to begin the metamorphosis that is coming, and in others it was simply a case of ease – not going to lie it was easy.

I am a good liar. It protects me and keeps me at a distance from everyone that I know. I know what to say to make those I love more curious and I know what to say to manipulate people to leave me alone. I think this is as much part of a mental disease as the crazy insurance forms you have to fill out every time you get sick. But I also don’t think that it is a bad thing – it protects those I love. Not only from the truth, but from the changes that are coming.

I have never been great. I am not great looking and I am not a great friend. I am simply a girl trying to find her way in a world that is upside down. I fight not only those who are supposed to love me, but I fight myself as well. There are thousands of opinions about what is wrong with me – and not one of them comes from me. Those closest to me see me in the greatest clarity – no matter how many times it breaks my heart when they get it wrong.

In the last while I have begun to change, and it is a hidden change. It is a hidden change because I don’t want the derision, the disappointment, or even the disbelief that I could be anything other than a sick human being. It is a hidden change because that is the only way that I will find the courage, the strength, the faith and the love to actually make myself into a better person.

I had someone I trust insist that I try on these glasses. They were tri-focal or something crazy and they made the world look nauseating. I couldn’t look at the world for very long through those glasses, but that wasn’t the lesson. The lesson was simple: we look through life through the glasses that have been given to us, when what we should do is take them off, throw them away and see the world for its reality. Not always a beautiful reality, but a real picture of what it can be.

Most of us with mental illness live inside our heads. We move there, we live there, and eventually we will die there. It is who and what we are. But what if, one day, without much thought we realized that we didn’t have to wear those glasses at all. What if one day, maybe not even through conscious thought, we started to believe that there was more than what our husbands wanted us to see, what are parents were comfortable for us to see, even what our Pastors believed we should see? What if one day two years from now you woke up and realized that despite the fact you didn’t think about those words tattooed on your body each day, you were beginning to learn how to find them?

My therapist made me write a time line for the last couple of years in a practice to try and figure out what has caused this desire to change deep inside of me. When did the status quo stop being beautiful? When did our reality start looking an awful lot like the reality on our favorite TV show?

I will never show anyone my time line; certainly not the people I love. It is a list not of those perfect moments, but rather the opposite, a list of all the things that life threw at me these last years. It was an exercise to look beyond the full contents of the years and look at the days. It was an exercise to begin to see not only what was beginning this change but who was bringing this change. It was an exercise to begin seeing that sometime in last couple of years – my glasses have been slowly and carefully coming off.

Do I know what it means when I finally find the courage, strength, faith and love to live? Nope. Do I know what it means when I can finally stand up and say this is the way? Nope. Do I know what it is going to be like to listen to the world and only hear those that truly hope for me? Nope.

But I might be getting closer. I might be finally trying to figure out why it is that six months ago I insisted – despite having no insurance – changing my medications. I might finally be trying to figure out why my husband and I have gone from a perfectly bland marriage to one with fights and purposeful hurts. I might have begun to figure out why those who are suppose to love me, love the disease more.

And I might, just might, finally see that yellow brick road in the midst of all the weeds; and the day that comes, when I find the road and the courage to walk upon it – I am gone. Not from life but rather I will find the courage to be gone from this life.

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