Parenting Blog / Travel

Holding It Together While Thinking About The Ending To My Story

Holding It Together Suicide Prevention

I would have never done it, but isn’t that what they all say.

It probably goes without saying that waking for the day at 2:37, 3:14, or 3:51 in the morning, every morning and in excruciating pain at that, has a myriad of only negative consequences on a person.

The ripple effect of this A.M. horror show scenario, on repeat, for months, spreads further than would be ideal and there isn’t anyone within a few concentric circles of the inflicted who is spared.

I frequently thought about hurling myself overboard or off a mountain ledge.

It had gotten that bad that my mind went there, but then my mind, at that time, in those moments, wasn’t my own. I couldn’t recognize the pattern of my own thoughts while I was struggling holding it together but my grizzled baby face still looked familiar in the mirrored reflection found on the doors of the ship’s many elevators.

My once reliable mind, high on the drug of inconsolable pain, had developed a demented mind of its own.

This guy, who has defiantly stiff-armed drink and drug for his entire existence in order to maintain perfect control over his thoughts and actions, was quietly out of control from the inside out.

I was coming apart at the seams but couldn’t show it because we were far away having the time of our lives. Yay. I was holding it together while thinking about the ending to my story.

But wait, there’s more.

If not for the will of my wife and the love of my daughters, my marriage could have ended a couple of weeks later, in a nondescript Fairfield Inn less than a mile off the Ohio Turnpike.

I was certain that I was sticking up for my youngest kid but no one else heard it that way. 

Somewhere between Glacier and Yellowstone, the disc moved off the nerve, as if by magic or some automotive medicinal premium package of the Sedona, but the stress, weariness and anxiety that had been banked over months of physical therapy, epidural shots, bottles of useless white pills, and a complete lack of restfulness from the dark of mornings on were still paying out dividend checks no one wanted to cash.

An uber to Cleveland. A flight home. I could have had my stuff out of the house before they finished the drive.

Family travel looks beautiful from afar and often it truly is, but being with people for 24 days straight, even people you cherish, people you long to smell, hear and touch when apart for just a few hours, can be, and this is going to sound terribly callous but there is no other way to put it, pretty fucking unbearable — whether you have excruciating pain coursing down your right side or not. I did, and my mind was telling me that I wanted everything to be over.

Our coast to coast, Alaska to Atlantic, cruise + road trip looked great on paper and on the screens of laptops and smartphones but it was flawed, like flowers that don’t bloom when you thought they would and when they finally do, aren’t as straight and narrow as you’d hoped.

The questions that keep getting asked in my recovering mind are these: does imperfection make flowers any less beautiful? Do flaws caused by nature and nurture negate the art inherent in each and every petal?

I’m fortunate that my pain was physical and, I believed and still do believe, fixable or, at least, more manageable than it has been. Others are struggling with much more pain, inside and out, than I could ever imagine. If you are saying you’ll never do it but can’t be certain you are being honest with yourself or those you love and who love you, please seek a shoulder or an ear, someone to listen, to hear you, to help you.

I am loved and so are you.

suicide prevention hotline Holding It Together

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7 Comments

  1. Beautiful,Meaningful piece of writing.

  2. I am sorry that you had this experience, but grateful that you were able to share it. You are absolutely right – you are loved, brother. Wishing the best for you and the family.

  3. Wow. Just, wow.

  4. Katie McGlade says:

    You are an inspiration, my old friend. And a miracle. That you could have a moment of clarity and hope – and embrace it – is grace in action. You are a very special man. Always have been. Keep on trekking.

  5. Seth Taylor says:

    You just put a face and voice to an experience that can be so scary and overwhelming. Thank for writing this, Jeff. Yes, you are most definitely loved.

    Seth

  6. Glad you are feeling better and past this so ugly feelings.
    I hear you about the 24 days straight being much. I’m sure that would not work well for my family. We all would go nuts without having some space.

  7. Pingback: FoF: Be Prepared, Boys | Dad 2.0 Summit

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