A few weeks ago, I completed my final interview for the book I am writing. I was feeling like I had just wrapped up the most transformative year of my life. I felt changed and accomplished and happy and hopeful. I felt like I had finally gotten my shit together. So then of course the Universe said Oh hey, take this. I imagine an evil laugh accompanying those words.
In California, the place of my final interview, I went to see a healer whom my friend had recommended. I had nothing to lose and a heavy dose of salt. But then this woman started to be real spot on some things. Like, real spot on. After doing what was essentially a reading in which she consulted all of my spirit guides (I see you rolling your eyes, but again……she was real spot on), I laid down on a table for an hour of reiki, sound healing and guided mediation. And some stuff came up. And my shit fell right back apart. I contacted my therapist the day I got home and told her that I needed to come back.
My therapist told me to try to put all of this in a box for a while because she knew I had my cousin’s wedding in New York coming up. I was there, in a strange place, surrounded mostly by strangers, when I got the news that my friend Crystal took her own life. My box grew a little larger. My car was parked at the Asheville airport (long story) and so when my flight was delayed and then cancelled from Charlotte to Asheville on the way home, I took a two hour Uber ride. It was worth every penny…..as my choices at that point were $120 for an Uber or me collapsing into an incomprehensible puddle in the middle of an airport.
I slept in the back of the Uber and at one point I awoke to see our driver was navigating through a fog thicker than I had ever seen. And I don’t do this often….but I prayed at that point. I drove home the next day from Asheville and it rained the whole time, sometimes in torrents that flooded the roads. What are you trying to tell me? I asked the Universe out loud, my hands clenching the wheel. Get home and take care of your people….and more importantly, let them take care of you, she said.
Crystal was a pretty new friend in my life; we had only started hanging out a couple of years ago. But we had this immediate, special bond. We were both Leos, we were both navigating post-divorce dating life. And my heart still fucking breaks when I think about never seeing her walk into my yoga class….or texting me to see if she could spend lunch break on my porch. My heart breaks for me and for the rest of us…..but more than anything my heart breaks for her and what a terrifying place her mind must have been in those last days.
I think I will probably always want to play out some sliding doors, clicking my heels fantasy in which I was a better friend to her the past month or so and she would still be with us. My life has been chaotic lately and I’ve loosened the reigns on a lot of my connections. I know that many others are in this similar place of regret and confusion.
One of the first things I did upon hearing the news of Crystal’s death was go to her Facebook page But she was smiling and think about the last time I saw her She seemed so happy and the last text she sent me This too shall pass. I was trying to get answers to questions that can’t help but to be asked, but have no real result on the outcome.
Crystal was so, so loved. And for absolute good reason. She was caring and fun and smart and intuitive. I truly celebrate the time I had with her. I’m joined in this sentiment by so many people that not even the four walls of a church could hold us all. It’s just this cruel trick to think that someone so loved could feel so alone in some moments.
And I get it.
So I’m gonna get real transparent here. For all of my life, I have battled depression on and off. Bet you couldn’t tell that from my social media, could you? And I don’t say this to elicit any sort of sympathy or worry. I’m saying it because I am not ashamed of it. I say it because everything I have been through in this life has shaped me into the woman I am today and I am proud of her and I am hopeful for her; even if she’s done some really stupid things in the past. But my god, it’s been a journey and it ain’t over yet.
But these are the things that we don’t talk about when all we see is the pretty pictures on Instagram.
When I was in yoga school, I had a major realization that scared me straight. We were working on our chakras and it was root chakra day. In our bodies, this is our home of ‘right to be here’. We had a yoga session focused on this chakra and then we were told to observe silence. As I wrote in my journal, the words that came out were: I have no sense of survival. Though I had never been seriously suicidal, there were certainly times in my life where death seemed like a more peaceful option than dealing with my pain. Some weird stuff happened that day that involved my aunt’s spirit visiting me and an earthquake while I slept but that’s neither here nor there. But that’s the day when I knew I would start fighting for myself.
These days I have a therapist, a psychiatrist, self help books and at times, healers and tarot card readers. It takes a village, y’all. I know that I need support for my mental and emotional health so I’m gonna work real hard to seek it out. It’s really no different than seeking medical doctors, dieticians and exercise coaches to support your physical health. When you see me out and about and I’m happy and spunky, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m lying…it means that the final product is not always easily won.
It also means that when my smile is a mask, I have those around me who know the truth because I have let them in. They get me to the other side. There have been appointments with my therapist at real low points in my life where I have been asked to promise that I won’t do anything to hurt myself in the time that exists until our next appointment. I’m nothing if not a people pleaser; so sometimes this is just what I need to hear in order to start trying to heal myself a little bit.
And then, days, weeks, months, years later…I find myself on the other side. Sometimes I have to squint real hard to see it.
But here’s the thing. We have to start talking about this shit. I know it’s weird and uncomfortable and super foreign to do but, my god, I swear it might be worth it. And you might feel like you’re intruding on someone’s privacy by checking in constantly. Check in anyway. You might feel like it’s offensive to ask if they are thinking about hurting themselves. Ask anyway.
And if you’re on the other end—on that deep, dark hole side of things…I know that place. Every single number in your phone seems impossible to dial. Just pick one. Some demon is telling you that you are not loved and that no one would miss you. Fuck that guy. You are so unbelievably loved and your absence would leave an unfillable hole. And if you don’t have a number to call, use mine.
Take care of your people…..and let them take care of you.