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Showing posts from June, 2018
Forging Forward
I can write with confidence that there are only a few people in the world who know more about suicide than I do.  Suicide is a shadow that has been following me since I was eleven years old - maybe not always visible but always there.
When I was eleven my grandfather, who I saw every day, committed suicide.  Almost twelve years later my college girlfriend killed herself. Over the decades since I have lost relatives and friends, neighbors and acquaintances to suicide. Thus I know the tragic effects suicide has on family and friends. Suicide tears people apart and leaves wounds that never heal, breaks hearts that never mend and fills the mind with questions that are never answered. I have been there.
I have attempted suicide three times - and there is no medical reason why I survived my third attempt. As a result I am fully aware of the black hole depression and despair can create in a person, a black hole from which a person feels there is no escape - and realizing the…
An Afterwards...and in the end

In the months leading up to my suicide attempt, I spent a lot of time in churches in Florida and in Ireland as well as on Cape Cod - praying, thinking and writing. Without realizing it, beneath all the words of my prayers and all the words I wrote in my journal towards suicide, somewhere below the surface of my subconscious I was hoping and begging for a miracle - for something miraculous or magical to take place that would change my life for the better and thus prevent the events of May 15, 1994 from taking place. But nothing happened and nothing changed. And on May 15th I sought death willingly and willfully.
But as I laid dying, in a coma and hooked up to life support, my body somehow rejected death and started to restore itself back to life. I survived and there is no medical reason why - simply a miraculous recovery.
I have learned three things from this experience. If on the day I eventually die I am as peaceful as I was on May 15th, I will die a …
February 17, 1995

You are not a failure unless you think failure is final. Failure is only a signpost. It tells you that you're going in the wrong direction. You've got to go in a new direction. Failure is not necessarily a dead end."
Jean Mayer - former President of Tufts University

A year has passed since I began this chronicle as a journal towards suicide - a vagabond's wanderings and ramblings toward death. It was Ash Wednesday and as I wrote the words, "Remember man that you are dust," I expected to be dead exactly three months hence - beginning the transformation from flesh to dust. But I escaped death and in being spared I have been forced to examine my life - and all its past sequences and consequences. And in so doing, I have recognized and acknowledged the harm and damage to my psyche - and I have seen the importance of finally being able to properly bury the past and have seen the need for a fresh start at life by simply living in the present. Thus…
February 16, 1995

"Until you know that life is interesting, and find it so, you haven't found you soul."
 Geoffrey Fisher  -  Archbishop of Canterbury

A few hours ago at the Samaritans meeting, I had an epiphany - a life altering experience that cleansed my soul and enlightened my mind. At this time nine months ago I was in the I.C.U. of Cape Cod Hospital, hooked up to life support systems and monitors - tubes and wiring all over my body. Machines were keeping me alive and I wasn't expected to live through the night. And now, tonight, I discovered a renewed interest in life - a  new purpose for living.

Although there is no medical reason why I am alive, I have spent the last nine months often wondering why I survived my lethal dose of drugs? Was it fate? Was it God's will? Was it divine intervention by a special superior and spiritual force, like my guardian angel or Saint Michael? Was I just plain lucky, damn lucky? Why did I live when I so wanted to die?

The ans…
February 10, 1995

"You are permitted in time of great danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge."
                                                                       A Bulgarian Proverb

It is often said the the hardest lesson in life and the toughest question to answer are which bridges to burn and which to cross - what to hold onto, what to leave behind? During the past year I have encountered a series of bridges, some I crossed, others I burned. I cannot say with certainty if I walked with the devil or not, but do know that the demons of depression and despair were often my guides.

I have no regrets! To imply otherwise would mean I could have done things differently, that I could have modified my behavior and changed directions - that I had choices. But once I decided to kill myself all choices were made, there were no other options in my mind - and I couldn't have acted any differently than I did. I cannot rebuild the bridges I burned and I ca…
February 3, 1995
Feast of Saint Blaise

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile...February made me shiver, with every paper I deliver. Bad news on the doorstep...something touched me deep inside, the day the music died."
                                                             Don Mclean   -   American Pie

Today's the day the music died, a long, long time ago. On this night in 1959 a plane crashed in a snow covered field in Clear Lake, Iowa - killing Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. I was in the eighth grade at Saint Gregory's in Boston and the following morning at recess the news spread, there were tears in the school yard - girls cried and were comforted by the nuns. There were no tears in my eyes but there was sorrow in my heart.

Buddy Holly was the first rock star I really, really liked. From the first time I heard, That Will Be The Day, I couldn't get enough of his music. …
January 31, 1995

"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart...who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."
Carl Jung  -  Letters, Volume I

For most of my life I have looked outward and dreamed, fantasies of a life that never was nor will ever be - unrealistic images of a life I would never live nor could live. These dreams were always haunted by demons from the past that were always part of the present. Since my hospitalization I have been forced to look inward and confront these demons - which is something I have never done before. The suicides of Anne and my grandfather were deaths that shattered my soul and damaged my spirit. Their deaths shocked my psyche and robbed me of life as I mourned them for decades and wondered what I could have done to have had their lives turn out differently - wondered what I could have done to have prevented their sorrowful passing? It is only now, through therapy, that I am beginning to heal, by acknowledgi…
January 24, 1995

"Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass."
                                                   John Steinbeck  -  Sweet Thursday

A year ago today I went to my dentist, Doctor Nick, in South Weymouth, to have my teeth cleaned. He has been my dentist for over twenty years and although I moved to the Cape a dozen years ago, I still make the fifty mile trip to his office whenever I need dental work. After having my teeth cleaned I walked to a nearby news store to buy the Boston Globe and on impulse I also bought a copy of the Irish Echo newspaper.

Once I got home I flipped through the Irish Echo and noticed an ad by Aer Lingus offering $399.00 flights to Ireland for April and May. At that moment my future plans crystallized, formed in a heartbeat. I decided to go to Florida in March and to Ireland in April - and after looking at  a calendar chos…
January 11, 1995

"Now is no time to think of what you can use that you do not have. Think of what you can do with what you have."
                                                        Earnest Hemingway  -  The Old Man And The Sea

Today is my birthday! It is often hard to comprehend the long, strange journey I've been on for the past year - and all the changes that have taken place. A year ago I spent the evening getting drunk at the Bee Hive Tavern and spent the night at the Earl of Sandwich Motor Lodge - sad and alone, absent of all other feelings except the pain of depression and despair. Today I am in a far better place, a much different person. Although I still have bad days, they are not as excruciating as they once were - my thinking not so extreme.

When I woke up this morning I suddenly collapsed from mental exhaustion. I knew that the period from mid December to my birthday would be difficult time and it was, emotionally trying and tiring. But I survived the pa…
January 7, 1995

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the truth."
                                                         Nathaniel Hawthorne  -  The Scarlet Letter

On Wednesday afternoon I was at the library in Chatham when I noticed two of my so called friends from Holy Redeemer by the front desk - John, the President of the Men's Club, and Lenny, the President of the Saint Vincent DePaul Society. When our eyes met they turned and walked away, right out the side door - without saying hello or asking how I was doing. Back in May and June I shared my soul with them, asking for their help and begging for any assistance they could provide. They listened to my pleas, offered to help and then abandoned me without another word - even ignoring me at morning Mass until I finally stopped going and disappeared. I hadn't seen them in months and when our eyes met, I…
December 31, 1994
New Year's Eve

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?"
                                       Robert Burns   -   Auld Lang Syne

Today is the last day of the worst year of my life, a year I survived rather than lived. I have never understood the importance and significance of this holiday - celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of a new. But tonight I make an exception, as I look back at this year I give it the fucking finger, with both hands. Nietzsche wrote, "Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."  What I've gone through, I must be Superman.

I end this year in better shape, mentally and emotionally stronger than I began it. This year seemed a lot longer than twelve months, and at times the past appears closer than it really is. There is nothing from this year that needs to be remembered, but I know nothing will ever be forgotte…
December 25, 1994
Christmas

"Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star."
                                                                Lucinda Franks  -  Pligrimage

The less written about today, the better. It was not a happy Christmas and it was not without tears. There was no merriment nor mirth, nut there was plenty of negativity and criticism - argumentative attitudes and underlying ungratefulness. It was a day of tensions and frustration, a day that needs to be forgotten. I am glad that it is finally over but wish I was snowed in and stranded in Sandwich.

I'm not sure if today was worse than last Christmas, but it wasn't any better. I spent last Christmas weekend with Andy and Yoyo - Maggie was off visiting relatives in Connecticut. There were no gifts to open, no one to wish, "Merry Christmas." On Christmas morning I walked to the 8:00am Mass. It was brutally cold, the sidewalk was slippery, pac…
December 23, 1994

"No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from."
                                     Charles Schultz  -  Linus in Peanuts

It is Friday of Christmas weekend. And a wild Northeaster is raging outside. The sea is high and rough and the surf is pounding the shore, the wind howls and the cottage shakes and creaks. The rain belts and blasts the picture window and slider like buckshot. It it was snow instead of rain I would be stranded here for days - which would be a blessing in disguise since I would miss Christmas at my mother's. But it is just torrential rain and it is suppose to clear in the morning.

For most of my life I have ran away from problems, thinking that by avoiding them, they would disappear - often the more complicated the problem the faster I ran. I'm sure this was one of the many reasons why Maggie divorced me. Surviving my suicide attempt did not solve this problem - I still ran. But my father's death ha…
December 12, 1994

"The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives."
                                              Albert Schweitzer

A year ago today I came home from Florida. After the plane landed at Logan Airport I went outside to wait for the bus. I wasn't dressed for the weather - it was cold, partly cloudy and windy with snow flurries, the sidewalk covered with snow and ice. The sun was setting when the bus arrived to take me from Boston to Barnstable, where Maggie was waiting for me - my fate entirely within her hostile hands, my future as uncertain and unclear as the weather. On the flight to Boston and on the bus ride to Barnstable, life slowly drained from my body until all that remained was a faint heartbeat - hope faded into anxiety and fear. I stopped living and silently sought death - and for the next five months I struggled to survive each day so that I could die on the day of my choosing.

For the next month, from now until my birthday, I know…
December 9, 1994

"Who is the rich man? He who is satisfied with what he has."
                                             The Talmud

A few hours ago I stopped by the Swan River Used Furniture Store in Dennisport - I was looking for a small night stand with a couple of drawers. But I did not find such a table, what I did find was my bedroom set for sale - bureau, headboard, frames, mattress and box springs. I shuddered at the sight and my chest tightened as if my heart was pierced by a dagger. I quickly left the store and went to my car. It was one thing to be told your possessions have been thrown away and sold. it's quite another to actually see them on sale in a store.

Somethings should remain forever lost and never found - out of sight, out of mind. I have been learning to live with the fact that everything I once owned is now gone forever. But finding my bedroom set for sale has made me realize how much I've truly lost - and it has confirmed within me the malici…
December 2, 1994

"Life demands skills I do not have."
      Susanna Kaysen  -  Girl, Interrupted


I just finished reading the book, Girl, Interrupted - I read it twice in two days. Although I was in a mental hospital for only a week, I could relate to being confined to a locked ward and could understand the tragic comedy that takes place within its walls. What I have learned from my own experience and reading the book is that life is a loophole of varying and vexing vagueness. If I'm ever in need of a mental tune-up, I might consider going to McLean's.

The everyday feelings that guide us through our lives are all probably the products of evolution - among them are guilt, envy, compassion, love, lust, a sense of justice, a need for companionship and a desire for happiness. This week I've been on an emotional roller coaster, suffering from mental whiplash and weariness. The everyday feelings that have guided me during this time have been loneliness and hopelessness.…
November 24, 1994

"Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused,, if it be received with thanksgiving."
                                                                     Saint Paul   -   Letter to Timothy

When I woke-up a year ago, Tuesday, November 22, 1993, I didn't know it would be the last time I would wake-up next to Maggie - with Yoyo between us and Andy laying across the bottom of the bed. We greeted each other with a smile, a tender kiss and a warm good morning. A few hours later Maggie took me to bus station in Hyannis for the trip to Logan Airport. Before departing we kissed and told each other, "I love you." It was the last time we kissed, the last time we said, "I love you."  When we saw each other again, three weeks later, we were enemies - adversaries in a dreadful divorce.

Dave Leavitt wrote, "Those who belong to no one but themselves can never be abandoned." There is much truth in this statement but also sad…
November 18, 1994

"I long to walk with some old lover's ghost, who died before the god of love was born."
                                                John Donne  -  Love's Deity


Since Halloween I've been thinking of Mary, my old girlfriend. We dated for five or six years and our relationship was often rocky. We had a lot in common and were compatible in many ways. Maggie and I had little in common, nothing of significance except love - which proved not to be substantial since it just eroded and faded.

Mary and I went on vacations together and weekend getaways - we enjoyed beer and booze, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Maggie never drank, a bad omen if there ever was one - at times I'm surprised we stayed married as long as we did. Mary and I rarely spoke of marriage and it wasn't often that we said the words, "I love you" - but we clung to each other because we often had great times together. Our downfall was that we argued, fought too freque…
November 9, 1994

"God knows that a mother needs fortitude and courage and tolerance and flexibility and patience and firmness and nearly every other brave aspect of the human soul."
                                        Phyllis McGinley  -  McCall's Magazine

Until recently my mother was a vessel of valiant virtues and all the other brave and bold aspects of the human soul. But since my father's death she is withdrawn and withering in silent sadness. Her speech can be rambling and her mind often wanders off in mid-sentence. The kitchen table and the den's couch are littered with unpaid bills, envelopes and junk mail. She has difficulty completing an act or task. All offers of help are refused. She is lost and languishing, alone and afraid.

She has become a mirror image of what I was and what I am trying to overcome. Just the sight of her saddens me, breaks my heart. I love my mother and must show my love for her now more than ever - must learn to accept the chan…
November 5, 1994

"Man, remember, until an hour before the devil fell, God thought him beautiful in heaven."
                                                            Arthur Miller   -  The Crucible

There are predators everywhere, slyly and secretly awaiting their prey, ready to pounce when you least expect it. They are malicious and merciless as they plunder and pillage the souls of the weak and defenseless - and those who think they are safe in their presence. Susan Smith is such a poisonous predator.

Yesterday's headline on the front page of the Boston Herald screamed in large, bold print, "How Could She!" - on Susan Smith's killing of her two small boys, drowning her babies. How could she! How could she do what she did? A few days ago she brought me to tears as I watched her on the Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN as she cried and begged for the safe return of her children - who were in the back seat of her car when it was supposedly carjacked …
November 2, 1994
All Soul's Day

"Absolve, Oh Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin. And by the help of Your grace may they be enabled to escape the judgment of punishment. And enjoy the bliss of everlasting light."
                                       Prayer From A Mass For The Dead

November, nothing separates its image from reality - bitter, brown and barren. it is a month of submission, a stubborn month that takes but never gives. Its days kill what life remains, its nights warn of winter. November is gloom and blight. It is death and the month for remembering the dead. November is stillness, silence, sorrow, seclusion, sacrifice, surrender and shadows. It is a month of dark days and endless nights November is notorious for nature's neglect and nakedness, death and decay are its defiant demons.

The surest sign of  age, of growing old, is not gray hair or deepening wrinkles - nor the birth of a first grandchild. It is when you pray fo…
October 31, 1994
Halloween

"So many ghosts and forms of fright have started from their graves tonight."
Henry Wardsworth Longfellow  -  The Golden Legend

I have never liked Halloween, even as a kid. I enjoyed the treats and candy but always hated parading around in a silly costume, knocking on strange doors - full of fear that I was about to receive a tasteless and treacherous trick. Prior to last year, I spent many of the previous Halloween's in Key West for Fantasy Fest - a week long celebration of debauchery and drunkenness. Everyday from noon to midnight I would drink one beer after another, moving from bar to bar, up and down Duval Street. Those days have disappeared and it's just as well.

Today is my old girlfriend's birthday and the last time I saw Mary was on this day fourteen years ago. I stopped by her apartment in Waltham on my way to see Maggie in Boston. But Mary didn't know that - I can't remember if I gave her a present, I can't remember…