Lesson Twenty-Eight: Closing one door and Opening others

Kimberley used the phrase, “closing the door on suicide” while we processed my suicidal feelings. She recalled the compartmentalization work I’d done for heavy memories. I started to work on visualizing the idea of killing myself being trapped inside a bubble. I imagined the bubble behind a solid door. I was going to close and lock that door. I could throw away the key. I could imagine the door exploding or disintegrating or any other symbol of destruction. The very idea would be gone from my mind.

I couldn’t make myself stop considering suicide by visualization alone, I decided after a few months. I needed something that I could use as a marker. A ritual or a gathering or some event to serve as a wall between before and after.

For my twenty-fifth birthday, I created a ceremony to close the door on suicide.

It was a smaller group involved than the “Yay Brittany” party. I didn’t invite as many folks, and I wasn’t as social anymore. I’d lost touch with friends because I was constantly canceling plans. I was easily described as flaky or unreliable.

The ceremony would take place in my backyard. I’d have twenty-five candles before me. Each tealight represented a trait that I believed I had within myself. People would take turns lighting the candles and sharing a memory or story associated with that trait. Some guests couldn’t attend in person, so their bits were sent in and read by those present. I even took on a couple traits myself, though I forget which ones.

What I do remember is the way Shawna held my gaze as she told me that I was unconditional love, tears blurring her vision and mine. I remember JJ holding her youngest in her arms, smiling at me from behind his shoulder. I remember Stephen telling me that he hoped he’d be there for my fiftieth birthday since I was planning on being alive.

It was a beautiful ritual that made me feel loved and proud.

I reminded myself that it was also a metaphorical monument to my decision. I was done with considering suicide. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but killing myself wasn’t an option.

This was easier said than done.

My suicidal urges are a knotted fuckwad of guilt, denial, and self-hatred. I’d read The Courage to Heal at least thirteen times by then. I’d taken classes on self-love, in the emotional, mental, and orgasmic sense. I was assured within every part of myself that I wasn’t a bad person. I wanted to discover why I thought I deserved death. What had I done that was so terrible that I should cease to be, and by my own hand, no less.

Around this time, I had been dating a couple. My relationships had gotten more open with communication over the years, and I was all but finished with traditional dynamics. As I saw them, everyone was lying, cheating, and unhappy, but forcing themselves together for some imaginary standard that no one ever enforced. And divorce looked expensive. I was approached by a couple over OKCupid. They were swingers.

Three months into the relationship, I introduced them to my sister-of-choice, who was visiting. We all attended a non-sex party at the swingers club. The owner’s wife was working for some adult party company, like Pampered Chef for dildos. The establishment itself was a swingers club two weekends a month and a BDSM club the remaining weekends. The party held guests from both sides of the coin; some guests were swingers and some were kinksters.

That night in November, three things happened in quick succession. First, I saw an actual dungeon for the first time. I’d been aware of BDSM since 2004 when one of my college roommates told me she’d been tied to a cross and someone spanked her. I freaked out a bit, read a few books, and with some practice, I learned how to braid rope to help her make floggers. I was not a participant, but I was an open-minded feminist. I was an abuse survivor, so I did not partake. BDSM seemed like a recipe for disaster written in triggers. Laura and Ellen, authors of the book I used to guide my healing, said kink was downright dangerous. Still, I could take the tour, since I was there at the party anyhow. I asked a lot of questions not covered in my rudimentary research.

Secondly, the couple I was dating announced they were racist on the car ride home from the party. I was so blown away, I didn’t even know what to do. We were supposed to stay the night and go to the Ren Fest the next day. After everyone went to bed, Steph and I went back to my place. I was appalled and ashamed that I’d been dating not one, but two self-proclaimed racists for months. How had I missed the race talk, I berated myself. I ran an organization for equality. I couldn’t imagine what gave them the impression that I would be ok with those values.

Lastly, I met a boy from Boston and I gave him my phone number.

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