The seconds ticked by, each yawning into the next as though time had truly decided that now it was appropriate to take a break and stand-still. I sat shaking like a Chihuahua at my computer, hoping I’d be able to find that I had some miracle answer; some cure, something to stave off the emptiness gnawing through my gut.
I’d considered the ER, but The Guy (now formerly) On My Couch had my car and I’d asked him to take me, in the vain hopes that the ER staff could change my anti-depressant (not so I could get locked in a padded room – I had no “plans” for a suicide*) or offer me something – anything – to help out, considering my doctor’s office had turned into something out of Oregon Trail – no running water, phone lines, or electricity.
He told me that he could not, in fact, take me to the ER, but that he could drop me off, if I so chose. If there’s anything worse than the thought of sobbing alone in an ER room (perhaps sobbing in the middle of a busy restaurant?), I’m not sure what it is. I said a quick, “thanks but no thanks,” and continued my weeping. I figured the black eyes this would cause would be a pretty awesome fashion statement.
When none appeared, I decided that some trashy television might be the answer. I grabbed my comfort object, my blankie, and my pillows and curled myself up into my wee nest on the couch. From the “Shows You Might (Not) Like” on the Netflix queue, I selected the one show I’d always been curious about – Intervention – and began to watch it.
Pro-Tip: while feeling semi-suicidal and bone-crushingly depressed, do NOT watch Intervention. While it may feel good to say, “wow, I’m glad I’m not THAT person,” when the Intervention fails and the person falls back into their old ways, you’re not left with a particularly positive outlook.
I ended the second episode even more depressed than when I’d begun. My mother had taken the kids for a bit that afternoon, after I called hysterically, begging her to help me.
So by the time I turned off the episode of Intervention, The Guy on my Couch, and my very best friend on the planet had come home from work.
“Hi,” he called to the eerily quiet house.
“I’m out here,” I called back.
He came into the room and sat next to my feet at the edge of the couch, where he’d sat so many nights, watching TV with me. He gave me a hug and I cried a little onto his clean work shirt, which smelled strongly of the outside.
“Sorry I just boogered on you,” I said, a little sheepishly. Having him there made things a little better for me – I was no longer alone.
“S’okay,” he said, “How’s it going?”
(cue weeping because Lord knows, the moment someone inquires after my well-being, my response is to cry like an asshole)
“N-n-n-not so good,” I said. “But I’m going to my doctor tomorrow and the therapist on Thursday. I’m working on getting better – making the right steps.”
“Good,” he replied, a little uncomfortably. “So, I’m going to need to talk to you or Dave about the logistics of moving out.”
“Talk to Dave,” I replied, the tears streaming down my cheeks. “I can barely figure out if I have to pee or not.”
I’d known, to be fair, that The Guy (now formerly) On My Couch was planning to move – he’d spent the weekend checking out places to move, I’d just assumed it was at a *waves hand* far off time way in the future. So when he said this, I expected that he meant a *waves hand* far off time way in the future.
A couple of minutes later, I asked him, “When are you moving?” assuming his answer would be a *waves hand* far off time way in the future.
“Tonight,” he replied, suddenly interested in staring his shoes.
My jaw dropped as I did my best trout impression, “TONIGHT?”
I couldn’t fathom it – I understood the motivations behind his departure (probably more than anyone else) but the timing was atrocious. I did the only thing a non-sane person could do, I began to scream at him. Appropriate? No. Out of character? Yes.
The children arrived home as I sat on my couch, sobbing and snorting into my snot-filled Kleenex like some overgrown toddler: my very best friend was leaving when I needed him the most. The kids came home and piled onto the two of us (no easy feat, considering we were on separate ends of a couch) like they did to us every day. I hugged them and sent them off to the other room to put on some cartoons with a potentially annoying lead character (which, let’s face it, is all of them).
The surge of anger died down as I hugged my best friend in the world, one of the few people who really knew me, and said, “Happy Trails.”
He grabbed his things, waved a sad goodbye to me, his face drawn and wan, and walked out of the door, ready to face his new life.
The sobs wracked through my body as though my heart were breaking. Which, I suppose, it was.
This time, all three of my children bounded into the room, hands outstretched and overflowing with Band-Aids and (oddly) some fish stickers. I thanked them as they covered all visible parts of my body, hugging them close enough that I could feel their tiny heartbeats.
And for one moment – one single moment – my heart felt as though it hadn’t just shattered.
*A big part of suicide is The Plan – if one has a plan as to how they intend to suicide, they are considered more of a risk for actually going through with the attempt. Thanks for the info, Nursing School!
Go Ask Aunt Becky is a purely useless advice column I’ve been running for years (although I’ve been on a recent hiatus). You ask me a question – I try to find you a better answer than “pants are bullshit.” You may always submit your questions through the link at the top. Be warned, I am not a professional – I don’t even play one on TV.
(insert more disclaimers)
Driver does not carry cash.
Dear Aunt Becky,
How is a person supposed to live the rest of her life and maintain her Tiny Tower? Balance is… Hang on, gotta stock the shoe store… Where was I? Oh. Right. How can I keep this game from consuming my soul?
In order to best explain how one can go about living a life while playing Tiny Tower, I have made you a Venn Diagram. It took me an embarrassingly long time to make it, but let’s pretend I just “whipped it up for you,” like those creepy Pinterest people who are all LOOK AT MY HOMEMADE GOODNESS, YOU LAME ASS SLACKERS! HOW DARE YOU NOT CHURN BUTTER WHILE I GROW MY FANCY ORGANIC SHIT (can you pick up a pizza on the way home, honey? I was too busy pinning healthy shit on Pinterest).
So I “whipped up” (lie) this Venn Diagram for you in order to best explain how one balances life and Tiny Tower:
I hope that explains it, Prankster. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stock my Balls On Ur Face Racquet Ball Court before I fly my Pocket Plane to such exotic destinations as “Detroit” and “Seattle.”
I know that my site is still janked up – you can blame the WordPress update for that (all together now: “THANKS WORDPRESS!”) and I’m hoping to fix it on up soon.
I have some other stuffs to write about this week – I’m nowhere back to normal yet, but I wanted to thank you – each of you – who has bothered to leave me some love. You don’t know how your words have buoyed my soul and shone a light in the darkness.
So, thank you. Thank you, Pranksters.
I laughed a minute, through the sobs, recalling a joke so old that when it flitted through my mind, dust poured from my brain:
“One day, the suicide hotline got mixed up and began to play that (now old) Nike slogan: “Just Do It.”
Because you know what suicidal people need?
COWBELL things getting in the way of finding help. I’d spent the entire weekend waiting for Monday, the day I knew I could get get the ball moving with my GP as well as begin the long and obnoxious process of finding a therapist. And so far I’d been met with this:
1) A doctor’s office who seemed to be ignoring me like I was a stalky ex-girlfriend
B) A suicide prevention hotline that, when I was told to “wait on the line,” disconnected me.
Nervous Breakdown: 2
Aunt Becky: 0
Being tenacious, even in my breakdown, I decided that I would call back – perhaps I’d been lulled by the soothing voice on the phone and had not, in fact, pressed a number like a good little semi-suicidal person should. I did.
This time, a woman with a German accent so incredibly thick it sounded as though she was speaking through honey, answered the phone. Not being one who likes to pour her heart out to complete strangers (which, I think even Alanis Morisette would agree is particularly ironic considering that is precisely what I’ve been doing since I started this blog), I was immediately on guard. Would she Baker-Act me? Did Illinois HAVE a Baker Act? Where were my pants? And where in the name of the Good Lord of Butter was that damn python?
She introduced herself and asked me why I’d called the hotline, or at least, I think she did. It sounded more like,
“Hi, my name is (garbled), and you’ve reached the suicide hotline.”
“Uh, HI,” I said, sobbing heavily, which I was pretty sure made me as indecipherable as her German. “I’m Becky.”
Except it probably sounded like, “I-I-I-I I’m Bu-bu-bu-Becky.” (snotty interlude)
“Hai, Becky,” she returned, “Vhy did yew call us today?”
Sputtering, I spit out (really wish WordPress had a “weepy” translation so I could toggle a button and translate my words into whiny hysterical bitch mode.)(I’ve also, a time or two, wish there was a “translate into pirate-ese) “I’m just losing it – I’m having a nervous breakdown. Things have been so bad.” I’m sure she heard something like, “Snorrrrrttttt….nerbous break…things….bad.”
“Vat,” she inquired, “Is dee problem? What hassss been going on?”
“Well,” I said, “I’b habing problems and I’b overwhelmed and so sad (as though I needed to point that out to someone I was acutely weeping toward) and I don’t know what to do.” I trailed off into a snotty burble.
“Arrrrr you married?” She asked – or I think that’s what she asked - she could have asked if I’d been contemplating my new life as an alien or a man named Steve – I couldn’t be sure.
“Yeah – but we’ve been having some struggles. He’s said some things that I don’t know you can take back.”
She clucked sympathetically, and rather than delve into those problems, which, you know, I’d have preferred skewing my eyeballs out with fondue forks than really delve into with a woman whose accent made it sound as though she was continually insulting me.
“I’m not sure he loves me anymore. He says he doesn’t,” I sobbed.
“Do you believe in a higher power?” she asked, and confused as to how it related to my husband’s love – or lack thereof – for me, I answered thoughtfully, “uhhhh, yes,” but before she could answer and harangue me with her Bible Talk, I quickly responded, “but I am not particularly religious.” Which is mostly the truth. Or as much of the truth as I cared to delve into with a woman who had (I presume) the capacity to call the cops on me, especially since the last thing I’d taken away from my upbringing was “do not discuss religion. End of story.”
“Vell,” she continued, “tap into zee energy of zaaa vorld. Can you feeeeel zeee energy of zeeee planets? Da sun, da planets, da universe, all sending their energy to yoooou.”
Great, I’d gotten the only (presumably) suicide counselor who believed in zeee power of zeee planets. Oh well, I shrugged, at least she wasn’t telling me “Christ died for YOOOOU,” because how is THAT comforting? (answer: it’s not)
“Uh, yeah,” I responded, the tears slowing a bit. Maybe there was something TO this suicide hotline – she’d certainly distracted me from my nervous breakdown as I wondered a) where she lived b) whether she did Tarot readings and 3) was she (currently) burning some Nag Champa?
We hung up soon after that – once you talk astral energy, you don’t have anywhere else to go.
I began, as I’d been doing on and off for a couple of days, to sob once again, the moment I hung up. I returned to the computer to assure my two best friends, Jana and Crys, that I was not, in fact, off offing myself. They’d been calling local therapists to see if I’d be able to get in to see someone ASAP, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when the phone rang.
I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway with a tentative, “Hello?”
“Hi Becky,” a soothing male voice greeted me. “It’s (insert name of old shrink). How are you?”
Assuming that this had been the handiwork of Jana, who’d been lovingly called some therapists while both of the guys in my life (Ben, and the Guy Formerly on the Couch) had gone off to work, I continued speaking to him.
I spoke honestly: “I’m not so good – I think I need to come in for a session soon.”
“Okay, how’s Thursday at 1PM?” He asked. “Hopefully, I’ll have the air on by then – the storms cut off my power and water, which means I’m sweating like a pig.”
“Sounds good to me,” I snorted, the tears falling fast.
“I’ll pencil you in for every Thursday through July,” he said, clearly hearing sobs.
“Oookay,” I replied.
“Now, I was calling to ask about Dave – he has an appointment today and I have no air conditioning. Figured I’d double check with him as to whether he wanted to show. I don’t have his cell – what is it?”
I doled out Dave’s cell phone number and we exchanged our goodbyes.
I sat, staring at the phone somewhat quizzically – how had Jana known that this was my old therapist? Eventually, I sent Jana an IM – “did you call my old therapist?”
“Nope,” she said in her mouthful-of-sugar Southern accent. “Why?”
“He just called out of the blue. On the one day I’m having a nasty nervous breakdown.”
“Wow,” Jana said. “Wild.”
I was quiet a moment while I thought.
“That? That’s Providence,” I said. “With a capitol P.”
And thus began my road to recovery.