A Disingenuous Smile

By Sean Moore

 Photo Credit: Pexel.com

Photo Credit: Pexel.com

My house is empty, I can finally stop pretending to be alright. The house is silent, almost eerily so; My parents just left for the day – my dad with a hot cup of coffee in his hands and his briefcase tucked under his arm, and my mother adorned in brightly colored scrubs scrolling through her phone – both of whom gave me a brief, yet, tender kiss on the forehead before walking out the door. I told them I wasn't feeling well today; Which isn't exactly a lie, but, isn't exactly true either. Nevertheless, it didn't stop me from seeing both of them off with an exuberant smile – their favorite kind. It was the least I could do.

With each glimpse of my life here, my heart fills with blood – an agonizing pain that only feeling worthless can bring. My heart seems painfully engorged, ready to burst from within. Even still, I'm able to fool those around me with my disingenuous smile, a bandage on my shredded heart, yet for some reason I can't fool myself. I can't shake the thought that maybe God created me to punish those around me. Me; The sum of God's most useless parts – gathered through the dreaded slums of heaven's waste.

I pick up the photo closest to me and a wave of apathy moves through me. As I gaze upon the younger version of me, adorned with a medal freshly won in a third-grade spelling bee, a single thought tickles my mind, “I wish every day could be as blissful and amazing as that day.” The smiling child is almost unrecognizable to me from where I stand now, ironically I relate more to the splintered wooden frame surrounding the photo. My mom, with her sentimental visor, counts each splinter as a trophy – each one representing the countless years of supposed joy I bring her. However, when I gaze upon the broken frame, all I see are the countless times I've prayed and hoped for a reprieve from life's unforgiving hammer.

I keep my feelings to myself, placing them in an air tight container to keep everyone around me happy. They don't understand what it's like. People don't want to hear about how I really feel, that would ruin the euphoria of their life – a selfish bliss achieved by ignoring the plight of those around them. You see, it's only when someone dies that people are encouraged to reflect and wish that they would've done something more – asked, and meant that one simple question. By that time though, people like me have already been consumed by their inner demons. We try desperately to fight our way out – alone, out of fear of displacing others' happiness – but no battle can be won alone. Everything I do is to ensure the happiness of others, yet I'm left alone with hell's demons scraping against my mind. I don't want my family or friends to hurt; But, me, I was born to hurt. The thoughts of ending it – my insignificance – comes to me easier than breathing; But, even with my hand on the blade, I think about how much it would hurt those around me. However, at what point does me living cause them more pain than me dying? Instead, I chose a different route; I continue to live awaiting the relief of death while smiling my disingenuous smile.

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I would love to say that the above narrative is purely a work of fiction, but that would be a lie. There are plenty of people who go through life and never have to experience the sort of emotion, or thought, mentioned above; Yet, there are those in life who are plagued with these thoughts each day, and are forced to fight simply to want to stay alive.

What does that mean to you? The average person who probably hasn't ever had a suicidal thought, or felt utterly worthless. It should mean the world. You, along with everyone else, play a huge part in helping your fellow man thrive and feel loved. There are a plethora of reasons as to why an individual could feel like their life has no meaning, yet the one common factor that could encourage someone is knowing someone cares enough to listen and values them as a person. Simply knowing one person on this planet cares enough to check in and see how you're doing could help combat suicidal thoughts.

To put this into perspective, I'll admit that I'm one of the people who – in the past – was riddled with self-hatred and contemplated suicide. At the time, I had just graduated from high school and was entering my first year of college: a place where a vast amount of lifestyles converge. Growing up in a religious household, I was told that being gay was a sin and punishable by eternal damnation, yet here at this university I met people (religious and non-religious alike) who fully accepted me for the person I was. A part of me was conflicted; After years of being told that being myself was wrong – that I wasn't allowed to express or act upon my feelings – the amount of self-hatred I accumulated was astounding. I remember lying awake many nights in high school and college praying to be changed – to be someone who was “right”. That type of mentality doesn't just change overnight; I was sure that others could be that way, but not me. With that being said, at the same time, I yearned to be free, to be loved and to love without judgment. Going from such a drastic change in mentalities in such a short amount of time shook me to my core; It made me question everything I'd ever believed about myself. The effect that had on me, mentally, was both freeing and emotionally devastating. My mind simply couldn't understand the idea of unconditional acceptance.

In the span of a year I went from a young man with no self-confidence and an overwhelming fear of rejection to a person who found a family to call his own: My group of people who loved me no matter what. However, acceptance never works from the outside in. It always starts from within yourself and shines externally. Therefore, before I could allow myself to be accepted, I had to challenge those demonizing voices that had berated me for years – chaining me down. Thankfully, I had friends there to lift me up during my most trying battles. They were able to reassure me, talk to me for hours, even stop me from following through with several self-harming attempts – some of which could have evolved into potentially fatal mistakes. Although, not everyone can be so lucky. Many people who suffer from suicidal tendencies don't have a support system, and ultimately end up taking their own lives. Though it wasn't an easy task, I attribute and give thanks to those people who stood by me in my darkest hours and accepted me. To me, it meant the world.

Mere words aren't worth much, they're about as rare as a pebble on the ground. Simply telling some they're worth it is the equivalent of handing someone a rock for their birthday. We, as people, are all searching to surround ourselves with people who disregard common pleasantries and extend a hand of empathy towards us. To put it bluntly, we're searching for people who give a shit and aren't afraid to show it. This fact is no different for those who feel worthless, in fact, they're searching even harder; A small difference between these two groups of people is those who suffer usually do so in silence. There's a fear -whispers that comes from within and that tell you no one will care about you. That fear is like a raging flame that consumes you, and won't let you effectively ask for help even if you want to. Aside from that, this isn't even addressing the stigma of suicide being dismissed as a solution for the weak, a cry for attention, or just plain selfish. I believe that people have a subconscious thought that something like this could never find its way into their lives and tend to dismiss this conversation as insubstantial. However, I would urge you to encourage open conversations about suicide with those in your life, whether it be family, friends, or even acquaintances. You being open and focusing even a 1/10 of your attention on how someone is doing could potentially save a life.

Thankfully, the topic of suicide has been prominent in the media in the year 2017. I wholeheartedly commend the writers of books and shows like “13 Reasons Why” for tackling such a devastating issue with class and care. It's thanks to shows like this that we're able to promote an open and honest dialogue about the topic of suicide. Naturally, this directly correlates to the amount of information we are able to share with the general public, in which we not only educate the masses, but ultimately save lives. As a person who has had friends, even acquaintances, come to me expressing the idea of suicide I believe it's not a matter that should be dismissed. We need to continue to tackle this issue head on, by encouraging empathy, education, and open dialogue between people in order to prevent further suicides. With that being said, If you have any inclination that someone in your life might consider this as an option there are countless resources to help. I'll list a few of the most common resources and some personal advice down below, but know that more information is only a mere Google search away.

  1. Stop and listen to them.

    - This person might be on their last leg. You taking a second to truly listen and understand them might be a key moment in having them reconsider taking their own life.

  2. Empathize.

    - The purpose of this article was to give anyone reading this a sliver of insight in to the mind of someone who is suicidal. This blog post probably doesn't even begin to cover the many feelings someone might have, but I hope it gives you a starting point in understanding them. Some way to show them you can understand how they feel – and hopefully express that their feelings are valid.

  3. Know your resources.

    - The NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE website is a wonderful place to gather information. They have 24/7 phone lines, instant messaging chats, and even a website that can help you find someone who is trained to help you de-escalate a situation.
    Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255

    Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

    - The TREVOR PROJECT website is a place for those who are looking for LGBTQ support, but is also open to any individuals who are suffering.

    Phone number: 1-866-488-7386 (Available 24/7/365)

    TrevorText: For text support text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200. (Available M – F between 3pm – 10pm ET/ 12pm – 7pm PT)

    Website: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now

    This includes a live chat with a Trevor-chat counselor (Available 7 days a week between 3pm -10pm ET/ 12pm – 7pm PT)

My most sincere wish is that anyone who reads this post will leave more educated and empathetic on this issue. This is merely a stepping stone on the journey in understanding suicide and I hope that you continue that journey, whilst taking it upon yourself to spread awareness to your fellow man.