The Suicide Story

Major trigger warning on this one. I’ll be discussing suicide casually, perhaps too casually for many. You’ve been warned. And don’t commit suicide. Please don’t. Hopefully this story shows that it can be a misinterpretation of what’s happening around you. Don’t kill yourself.

 

I don’t remember where I first heard it; maybe it was on TV or at my doctor’s, or perhaps even my first therapist visit, but I took it seriously. The message was something to the effect of “we have totally confidentiality unless I feel that you’re a danger to yourself or others.”

The “others” part I understand. If my wife goes to see her doctor and says she’s going to murder me, I say please intervene. When it comes to myself, I can read through your state board of health mandated language: If I tell you I’m going to kill myself, you have to tell them to take me away.

Now to me, this is counterintuitive. If somebody actually is suicidal and you want them to tell you, you can’t first threaten them with involuntary hospitalization. The serious ones are going to keep their mouth shut.

I was always afraid to ask the question: “How far do suicidal thoughts have to go before they actually become dangerous?” I thought the men with the jackets would come and get me just for wondering that aloud.

I think since I was a kid I always wondered how I would kill myself if I was going to do it. Would I have the guts to hang myself or would I try something more passive like carbon monoxide poisoning? Could I slit my wrists or even in my last moments, would that pain be too much to handle and I’d just swallow a fistful of pills? It’s dark, but I figured everybody had those thoughts.

I can’t quite explain this, but when I was 19 years old, I went to Amsterdam and when I managed to pull myself away from the Red Light District, I visited the Van Gogh Museum. It instantly became my favorite museum on Earth. Something happened within me that just connected. Maybe it was that we shared red hair and a beard. Maybe it’s that we are both destined to never sell a painting while we’re alive. I can’t tell you what it was, but a feeling washed over me that told me like the great artist, my life would come to an end at my own hand at 37 years old.

This plagued me for a while. Suddenly, I was convinced I knew when I was going to die. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was suicide. I brought up the “have you considered how you’d kill yourself?” question to a few people over the next decade and found that they have never asked themselves that question. I started to keep my mouth shut about it and never mentioned it to a health professional.

Wouldn’t you know, my personal and professional worlds started crashing not long after I turned 37 years old. I couldn’t figure a way to save my businesses or relationships with those around me. The addictions exploded. Bad memories came flooding back. It wasn’t a good scene. I was falling fast and nearly circling the drain.

On Christmas night 2013, about six weeks before I was to turn 38 on February 8, after everyone else had gone to bed, something washed over me. It was a feeling of calm warmth that I’d never felt before and it came with a message: Now is the time to kill yourself. There was no debating how to do it. No finding pen and paper to write a note. I knew it was time and it would be by hanging in my garage.

The only thought of worry was if the beam would hold me. I walked out to the garage and looked up the beam when I realized that both cars weren’t in our driveway. We’d only taken one car that day to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner. If I was going to hang myself in there, I’d have to move the car. If I did that, the garage door would need to be opened and the car moved. I’d have to then shut the garage door so nobody passing by saw me. All of that would have been too loud and woken up my wife and kids.

And then, like air shooting out of a balloon, that warm feeling left. I was cold, in the garage, in my pajamas. I knew how I got there, but I suddenly felt very removed from the out-of-body experience I just had. I didn’t want my kids to discover me and I didn’t want them to grow up feeling like they lost the DNA lottery because their dad couldn’t handle things. I left the garage and went back to the living room, scared that I was capable of having such a clear message to take my life. If that feeling is what people have before they commit suicide, I can see how it happens.

Thankfully I’ve never had that feeling again, in my last few weeks as a 37-year-old, or otherwise. Keep in mind, this was about 12 weeks before the police showed up at my door. Even during the entire legal ordeal, I never felt this way again and hope it never reappears. There was a calmness and finality to it that is scary in retrospect.

Fast-forward about two years to 2015 and I’m between the time I was arrested and sentenced, becoming mentally stronger every day, starting to understand how I became an addict, and learning how to live a life of recovery. I finally decided to share this story with my therapist because I wasn’t having any suicidal ideations, almost for the first time, in my life.

“I think you were about six weeks off predicting the end of your life,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You turned 38 on February 8. You were arrested March 20 and let’s be honest, that life, the sick life, came to an end. I don’t think you subconsciously planned anything, but it’s interesting that nearly 20 years ago, you knew something was going to happen when you were 37. You just got the fine details of timing a little wrong,” she explained.

I liked that conclusion and have adopted it. The rush that my life was going to end didn’t mean my physical life. It meant that the illness of addiction that was enveloping me came to an end. I have pictures and plenty of memorabilia from that other guy’s life, but I’m not that other guy anymore. He died, and every day, I make sure he remains dead.

 

 

 

Porn is 100% Objectification of the Human Body… 100%, I Say!

I’m sure there’s something cool to see in Amsterdam, but beyond a long street and it’s offshoots known as De Wallen, I can’t recall much.

You see, De Wallen is Amsterdam’s Red Light District and as a 19- 21- and 22-year old, I didn’t spend much time doing anything in Amsterdam except drink a lot of alcohol and stumble in and out of strip clubs, live sex shows and hash bars.

If you read my stuff before, you know I’m an alcoholic, and there was nary a night back then when I didn’t finish without being double the legal intoxication limit. Today, I have negative thoughts about the legalization of marijuana, and I’d be a massive hypocrite to espouse them too loudly considering I probably smoked even more than I drank back then. So we’ll just leave those aspects of my Amsterdam excursions alone for now.

I’ve mentioned before that I hold no ill will toward the pornography industry. Trying to fight the industry seems pointless, especially since so much of it comes to us digitally from overseas companies. There’s no reason to fight Penthouse or Playboy…they’re imploding on their own, just like your local newspaper.

I’ve been working on a book with a brilliant therapist out of California, Tony Overbay, over the last several months. I’m hoping we’ll have it ready to shop around sometime in October, and that you’ll buy at least 5 copies.

One of the themes that we’ve been exploring — that I never gave a lot of thought to during recovery — is how pornography exists for the sole purpose of objectifying another person. When you think about it, unless you’re a biology teacher using it for demonstration purposes, that’s completely accurate. Nobody looks at porn and wonders how smart that naked lady is or if that naked guy recycles.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese/Big in Japan

Twenty years ago, I lived in Tokyo, Japan, for about five months. I was working for a newspaper called Stars and Stripes that went to armed service members in the Pacific Theater. I won’t tell the long version of the story, but suffice to say, a white, English-speaking 22-year-old who was half decent looking and open to new experiences can be very popular in Japan.

I ended up befriending several American baseball players who were over there. They liked to spend a lot of money and party hard after their games. Most of them were in their late 20s, still hoping some American team would come calling, or in their early 30s, understanding their best days were behind them and this was the last stop of their professional career. I think I served as a mascot of sorts for them. I had the combination of naive, deer-in-the-headlights fanboy and…nope, I was just an amusement to them, but that’s cool. I played my role.

The guys I knew played on the Nippon Ham Fighters. I still don’t know what that means, but I prefer to believe it’s not about engaging pigs in battle. When these guys were in town, it meant three-to-five days of non-stop partying and they always started at a strip club. They’d buy me plenty of private dances and have me run the tips for the girls from the table to the stage. I was kind of like a young Henry Hill in Goodfellas, but since it involved pro ballplayers and beautiful naked women, I obliged with a smile.

When I returned from Japan, I had a hankering for strip clubs. I’d never visited them in the northeast before, but after being treated like a VIP in Japan, it seemed like the kind of thing that would be cool to have a few miles from my home.

Born in the USA/Proud to Be An American

In Japan, I’d come in with the ballplayers, be immediately ushered to a VIP area and be doted on all night. It totally played to my need to feel special. I think the Dutch called it narcissism. Not sure what we call it here. I realized quickly that I had nothing to do with any of that special treatment when I got back to the US. Whereas the strip club in Japan was a 2-3 hour start to a night of fun, here it was the only destination, and I didn’t go with anybody else, much less millionaires who could play flipsies with their own baseball cards.

I only went to the strip club in Maine a couple of times. It was so pathetic. Instead of beautiful women from around the world in a well-kept place with a $50 cover charge, it had a $3 cover charge, looked like it had last been remodeled in 1978 and featured a bunch of average looking women wearing too much black eye makeup and sporting plenty of stretch marks and cellulite. Nothing against mothers or chunky gals, but the Japan club wouldn’t have employed any of them.

There was no VIP section and looking at the clientele, it wasn’t famous people and high rollers. At the Japanese club, I met members of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs (who were in for an exhibition game), and members of the group Bon Jovi. I wasn’t even going to run into members of a Bon Jovi cover band at my local strip club.

The guys there were probably an average of 45 or 50 and just seemed beaten by life. The girls seemed beaten by life. The DJ was beaten by life, as were the bartenders, waitresses and guy who watched the front door. Seeing the women who would drag their feet across the stage under the guise of dancing, the whole thing was just sad. I didn’t want to objectify anyone here, but it still wasn’t for the right reasons.

I Can See Clearly Now/Redemption Song

I can see how someone would get addicted to going to strip clubs if the experience was always like mine was in Japan, but with the depressing scene in the Maine club, I would rather stay home and find porn on the computer. I think it’s been 18 or 19 years since I went to that strip club the last time.

It never occured to me that those were a form of pornography, but now that I think about it, I went there with the sole purpose of seeing good looking women naked. It’s also made me realize that aside from the chemicals I could put in my body, Amsterdam was little more than an exercise in extreme objectification with an in-flight movie. Watching people perform sex acts in front of me wasn’t about anything other than flicking the dopamine receptors in my brain.

I’m now starting to recognize just how much I objectified women (and men) in the past. Just because they are wearing bras and panties doesn’t mean the Victoria’s Secret catalog isn’t porn. If you’re not shopping for underwear, and barely notice the clothes, it’s porn. If you’re at a Hawaiian Tropic bikini contest, let’s be honest, you’re not there as an aficionado of low-SPF results.

If you’re watching a movie mostly because you’ve heard it’s sexy and had scenes that may appeal to your more prurient interests, how is that not porn? Why do you REALLY watch female (or male) Olympic beach volleyball? I highly doubt it’s your American pride, especially in those Brazil vs. Sweden matches.

I know that nature has built us to notice the attractive people. It’s part of the whole mating/furthering the species thing, but we’ve taken it to levels far beyond nature needs. We’ve always lived in a world where sex sells, and that’s not going to change, but how you personally analyze and view the world can evolve.

If you’re driving down the street and see a good looking person walking by, what thoughts go through your head? How long do you look at them? What body parts of theirs do you pay special attention to as you pass them? Do you slow down for a longer look?

I had a therapist at a rehab who once said that you’re allowed to think anything for three seconds because it’s involuntary, but beyond that, you’re making a cognitive decision to continue with the thought. That fourth second is conscious objectifying.

Where are you come the fourth second?