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Okay. I Give Up

The formal title to this exercise is Surrender to Reality. When I wrote something about it on a slip of paper and stuck it in a drawer somewhere like I always do, and later found it, it said: "I dare to ride out into the vast desert of my lonely self, sit down, and wait for death." Someone asked me once if I kept a writer's journal. I said no, that I kept "writer's scraps." Another slip of paper that turned up on the same subject said: "If your world is truly empty, you will not be able to hide so easily from your own soul." Here's one more scrap: " How odd that the fear of a thing hurts but the reality of it never does." That has been my experience: reality never hurts. So if you are hurting, you are not in present reality, you have slipped into the primal mind and are caught up in some kind of fear, some kind of rote idea of past or future. All of which is what lead me to the conclusion that feelings should not be confused with objective reality.

I remember once I felt terribly betrayed by a good friend. I got so depressed I thought I was going to die. In the past, things like this had bothered and depressed me for two or three years at a time. I just decided that since it ends finally in three years anyway, why couldn't I just do it all at once and end it in three weeks instead so I don't "waste another three years of my life?" So, resolutely, I lay down on my bed and invited The Beast, "Okay. Give me all you've got, right now. If it kills me I'll just die. Just give me whatever you're going to throw at me for the next three years and make my life miserable, give it to me now. I'm ready to suffer." I concentrated as hard as I could on feeling it all. I didn't want any pain to escape and come back to haunt me.
I really had decided that I could escalate the whole thing and just suffer for three weeks. I don't know why I gave it that time period.

After about twenty minutes, all the depression was pretty much gone. In the next two weeks I would get waves of it, but I went through the same surrender scene and, although quite ready to suffer much longer, it usually only lasted about twenty minutes, sometimes only two or three minutes. I was surprised. As it turned out, after three weeks, I was totally over the whole thing. I would feel around and see if I could come up with any twinges, but it was finished. I'm not sure I could call this courageous because I was so down at this point that I really didn't care all that much if I died or not.

I must be truthful, though. I have never once considered suicide. I have often been so depressed I thought I would surely die from the pain, but it never entered my mind to kill myself. My father used to threaten suicide from time to time, and so did my brother. At first I was terrified for them but after a while I felt manipulated by them, as if they were trying to draw me into this complex conspiracy they had going against themselves. My father seemed to just want to shock me and get my attention. I remember one time he drove me to college for a final exam. When I got out I stood by the driver's window to thank him he gave me a kiss and said, "Well, this is the last time you'll see me because I'm going to drive into a tree and kill myself." With this he raced off, squealing the tires behind him. I took my exam with tears streaming down my face.

My brother's threats were usually preceded by his trying to get me to lend him more money or do something for him "or else I have no recourse except to blow my brains out, and then it will be on your conscience." Perhaps this had some influence on my own feelings of suicide. I don't know. Now, of course, being a mother, I would not put that fearful, painful burden on my children.

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