Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Suicide is stupid

I'm just going to come right out and say it, suicide is stupid. It is, as my father likes to say, a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But of course, that's the 40 year old me talking. The 14 year old me would have said it was a perfectly reasonable choice. That is one of many many ways 40 has 14 beat. I may have wrinkles to go with my pimples now, and my figure is more clock than hour glass, but I have fucked up. I have done dumb things, and wrong things, and been to bad bad psychological places. And I have lived through them. I may have a bunch of scars on the inside, parts of my mind may be held together with crazy-glue. (Which explains so much when you think about it.) But I am very very happy.

At 40, you have so much experience, both with how terrible things can be or feel, and how-- surprisingly enough you can survive them. Being secretly video-taped having gay sex and then having that video shown around the world, would be embarrassing, but not as bad as some of my other secrets getting out. I would know that unless I wanted the Tea Party Senatorial Nomination in Delaware, my political career was, umm, undermined. And that I'd be the butt of a few jokes. On the other hand, I'd know that quick round, of “Silly me, I forgot to ask for royalties” or “It's terrible, that angle makes my bum look huge” and it would be pretty much over.

If only that poor boy from Rutgers had had those extra 20 years, then he would have gotten another 40.

It's easy to say the evil room mate stole them from him, but it's more complicated than that. Does he bare all of the blame? He raped the psyche of that poor boy who killed himself. There is no denying that. He broke another's will to live. Still, the boy who killed himself, he did that, he choose that. How much free will does a person have after an assault like that? Most rape victims don't kill themselves. What about the poor Irish girl in Boston, bullied for being foreign? Those other girls, hounded her viciously, and deserve punishment. However, to say that a suicide has no choice in the matter, was driven too it by the actions of another – that is dangerous too. Because every time someone says “they were driven to it” it takes the choice out of the dead person's hands. And that choice is so important. I know at 14, or 20, it feels like you have no choice, but you do. You do, you do you do. Choose, angry, choose hurt, choose drunk, choose trashing your room-mate, but don't choose nothingness, because you will never get to choose anything again.

Now that was never me, college was fine, and micro cameras belonged only the CIA, who did not care about me. But elementary school? That was terrible. I can suppose in retrospect that somebody has to be least popular, I just wish there hadn't been such a gap between second least popular and me. Or rather that it hadn't been the done thing to tease, torment, and whack the least popular. So trust me, I know how much it hurts to be taunted, to not fit in and have that held against you, to be deliberately humiliated by the people you though were your friends. How you feel for Cinderella's evil step sister who cuts off her toes to make the shoe fit. Because had you been able to cut off some part of yourself to make it stop, you would. So I will say this to you no-fit-in-ites, fuck 'em. That's right, fuck them all. They are bland, scared conformists. And they are mean. If they would taunt some one for being atheist, or black, or different when they are 10 or 15, you know what sort of person they are? Future Hitler Camp Guards. They suck and their opinion DOES NOT MATTER. So don't give them any power over you, rather give them the finger and know your tribe is out there waiting for you. Or your peaceable hut in the woods. Whatever works for you. But if you stop looking you sure as hell won't find it.

Please, oh please, all you hurt little children, know that it does get better. Or rather it gets better, it gets bad, it gets better, and you learn that the bad is never forever, and the good out weights it in the end.

Don't get me wrong, my heart bleeds for those people who kill themselves, who are so drowning in pain that they can't imagine a way out. But, live, damn you live. Sometimes it hurts, but sometimes avoiding the pain is the dumbest thing. And don't waste your chances in an instant.

Abinormal

PS: And to all my dear gay friends, I love that you are reaching out so vocally to all those gay children telling them it does get better. But may I please ask you to reach out a hand to the misfit, bullied straight children? Just as I would ask my misfit had-been-bullied straight friends to reach out a hand to the gay children. Remember, it's the bulling that hurts not the being gay. (Dear gay kids, being gay can turn out to be a lot fun. Give it practice.) The bullied are being bullied for being different, and gay is just a flavor of different. Between 10 and 30% of teen suicides are committed by gay kids, which means that 70-90% are committed by bullied straight kids. Every hurt child needs to know that better is out there, that fitting in- or not caring about fitting in- is out there.

5 comments:

Delle Jacobs said...

I'm glad bullying is finally getting the attention it needs. I was bullied. My husband was bullied. My father was bullied. My brothers were bullied. My children were bullied. My grandchildren were bullied.

You are absolutely right, it's not about being or not being gay. It's about being bullied. I had crooked teeth and was skinny. They'll always find something. Because they must have power over others, must be able to smash them, that being the only way they can feel like they matter.

They DON'T matter. But how do you get a bullied kid to comprehend there's nothing wrong with them, and it's the bully who is broken?

Amazing Toddler's Mom said...

Bravo! I completely agree with you. Of course, I am still smarting from the bullying I experienced in seventh grade (and like you, it was not because I was gay.) I also have memories of the bullying my youngest brother experienced, and he was gay.

Tina said...

Neuroscience tells us the that adolescent brain isn't all there, literally. Huge swaths of processing ability not developed yet.

We held a fund-raiser at our church for a local organization: For The Love of Larry. It as formed after a suicide that followed bullying. I don't know why the young man was bullied -- that's not the issue the organization takes on. But I wonder if that young man could have seen this . . .

Also, in my dark worry spot, I wonder about all the media coverage of these suicides, which must look like crack to the teenage brain. Like, I'll show them and be on the cover of People too. It's warped sad thinking -- but entirely typical of that time.

What I see might be a good thing about focusing on the aspect of LBGT teen bullying, is that the LGBT adult community is stepping forward specifically. Suicidal teens feel alone, and awfully special in that aloneness. Community breaks up that cycle. Community speaks truth.

We grown-ups of all stripes need to step forward and be community for somebody -- LGBT kids, geek kids, girl kids, boy kids, different kids who feel alone in the differentness. US culture has no such rituals, no way to be with your tribe. And we all need tribe.

Yes, even the bullies, who are broken. They don't know what it is to be strong by themselves. And there are few roles models for this kind of power, the power that doesn't need to inflict itself.

Rambling this morning. But this hit a nerve with me. Thanks to Abby and Delle for their thoughts.

Laura Valeri said...

What a great post, and I agree with oh-so-much of this. I speak as someone who was bullied viciously in high school, primarily because I had an accent and couldn't speak English all that well. I survived. I'm glad I didn't hurt my family and friends so badly by taking my own life, without thinking about those who would have to survive it. But I look back and think that those people who bullied me DID take away a huge part of my life. They owe me years of suffering, and a life that was a lot harder than it should have been because of all the baggage I carried and all the damage they did. In movies you always see those tearful apologies: they last all of a minute and we're led to believe the bully is then relieved of his responsibility to his victim. But the damage of bullying does not end in a minute; it doesn't end after the victim gets home; it doesn't end after high school is over; and it certainly doesn't end after a two minute apology. It doesn't end. Period. The damage is permanent, even many pills later and many counseling session later. If one of the bullies from high school comes ask for my forgiveness, please don't. The best you can do for me is pretend you never existed. If you regret it, that's your tough luck. Live with it, as I had to live with your bullying of me. You're a monster. You always will be. Know it and go to the grave with it.

I'll say two more things:

1. Bullying of gay/lesbian kids is twice as vicious as anything because those kids have to struggle with mainstream society telling them they're less then human, and religion has a big hand in this message, especially Christianity, which is supposed to be all about loving others as you love Jesus. I have students who are Christians and believe that they will go to hell. Talk about permanent damage to an innocent soul. There are things a suicidal teen can choose, yes, but sometimes the choice is tough: a lifetime of hurt or a quick death.

2. There is a silver lining, a light at the end of the road. Those who suffer do acquire wisdom, compassion, and a short cut to enlightenment. Unlike in the movies, where the victims of bullying are always portrayed as becoming serial killers and monsters (as if to say, the bullies were right, they smelled the monster in the victim), many who were bullied as children become thoughtful, caring loving, and spiritually sensitive people. They are truly the "meek" that Christ talked about in his sermon, and the word is not meant to imply weakness, but rather a gentle connection to the whole, the unity of all living things. There is no question in my mind that those who survive become stronger for it, better people, wise men and women, leaders of souls, but never catch yourselves saying "It's because they did this to me that I am better." No. It's because you are better that they did this to you.

Laura Valeri said...
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