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.