I Want to Keep Living

Flowers

Trigger warning: I talk about the desire to die in this post. I also talk about wanting to live. Proceed with caution if this is a sensitive subject for you.

Sometimes, I want to die.

Sometimes It’s just too much. Sometimes life is overwhelming. Sometimes I feel so fragile in the middle of the storm that I’m sure it would be better to shatter than to brace against another onslaught. Sometimes death feels like a way out, a way to peace, a way to stillness. Sometimes death seems like an invitation to rest.

Other times, when I am lost in the dark with my demons, I am sure the only way to end the pain is to end it all. When depression consumes my mind and tears my heart to pieces, when I’m sure healing can’t reach even me, it’s times like these that death feels like an escape hatch, a way to end the clawing and rending and scouring of my being, a way to leave behind once and for all the fire under my flesh. Sometimes death feels like the only way to silence the voices of shame and regret that keep screaming in my ears. Sometimes death feels like a way to end it all.

There are times when life feels meaningless to me, times when I fear the never ending cycle of day and night, times when I don’t see a point to the amount of effort I put in just to stay alive. In these nihilistic moments, death seems inevitable and I wonder why we wait for it for so long. These are the minutes and days it is hard for me to go to work, to eat my food, to even sleep because I don’t understand the point of anything. When the color of hope drains out of your world, when there is nothing to look forward to, when no amount of self-medication or pleasure chasing can bring feeling back to your numbed heart, death feels like the final destination.

After reading all that I’m sure some people are going to be worried about me. Don’t fear, I am safe. I have no plans to leave no matter the motives that may come and go. I’m just being honest with you here in this safe space. Sometimes, I don’t want to keep living.

No matter the reasons I have for wanting to die, the truth is I am dedicated to staying alive. I do it on purpose. I intend to keep myself alive, growing, learning to thrive. I mean to keep living, as hard as it is sometimes.

And it is hard. Life beats at our doors and rattles our windows on a regular basis. There are funerals that interrupt our years. There are jobs that get lost or never gotten in the first place. There is divorce that shatters our future. There is sickness, spiritual famine, personal war. There is the unexpected around every corner and in every shadow. The shadows themselves are long and hard to run away from. Life is not a spectator sport and playing on the shadowy field will leave you bruised, beaten, bloody, and full of scars. Life is not an easy thing.

If the horrors of life haven’t touched you yet, count yourself sheltered and know that storms will come and wreck you.

For those of us who have been wrecked, sometimes it’s hard to keep going, hard to keep alive, hard not to die. But most of us don’t. Most of us keep living, keep breathing, keep moving. Most of us find reasons to stay, reasons to be here, reasons to not die.

If we are being honest, we have to acknowledge those that don’t keep living, though. Sometimes suicide is the step they take. It’s sad. It’s hard. But they didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t commit some unforgivable sin. They didn’t chicken out. They didn’t take the easy way out. It’s no easy thing to take your life in your hands. We honor their life, mourn and respect their death. There is no shame here for those who have fallen.

Those of us who remain, we stay for reasons. There are things that tether us to the present, that tie us to the now. We have reasons for remaining. I want to share with you some of my reasons for staying, reasons not to die, reasons to want to keep living.

I stay because of my family. I know what it is to lose a parent. I met death when I was two. My mom died. It left a gaping hole in my life, one that can never be filled. I won’t do that to my boys. As much as is in my control, I will stay for them. I will stay because I love them, and I love my wife, I don’t want to leave her alone. I want to raise these beautiful children with her, watch how her life unfolds, see her happy. I also love my dad, my aunts, and uncles. I love these people and that keeps me grounded in the face of death.

Love does a miracle in keeping me tied to the here and now, and sometimes the here and now keeps me from death. There is goodness in the world. There is so much beauty. There are lovely things. There are simple things to enjoy, like coffee, food, sex. There are things to experience, places to go, people to meet. There is a whole unwritten future before me and even as it is full of storms and shipwrecks, it is just as full of goodness. There is hope in that.

Hope is another tie to life. It is flimsy at times, it’s fragile and breakable, but it always heals. The fact that hope keeps getting resurrected in my life tells me that there are things worth hoping for. Justice. Grace. Peace. I hope to see these things in the world. I hope to grow old and look back on a life well-lived. I hope to see my children grow into men and craft their own well lived life. I hope to travel more. I hope to be a published book writer. I hope for rain on the dry places of my life, on the drought of my heart. I hope and I pray and I hope a bit more.

Ties to life and choices made, these keeps me going. People, love, hope: these feed my will to live. As much as I understand wanting to die, I also understand wanting to remain alive. There are reasons, but ultimately it’s my choice. I want to keep living. I want that next breath, the next heartbeat. There is power in that choice. Even when things are dark and the demons are loud, it is still my choice and I can remind myself that I made this choice before, and I can make it again.

  • harrisco

    Thank you, Aaron, for your wisdom. In case you ever forget, when those brutal thoughts come, remember something that you wrote: “There is goodness in the world. There is so much beauty. There are lovely things.” There are indeed. Don’t let the lies of the mind take those away. The beauty is there, just for you. When depression lies, go back to that reality.

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