Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Way Out

"There is only one way out and I am going to research it."

I came across those chilling words the other day, written by a troubled young man 20 years ago this week, and found them all the more disturbing for one reason: I was the teenager who wrote them.

We were in a new place, a cold and lonely place, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter. I was 16. All my friends were far away. I had no job,no license, no social life. I felt useless, hopeless and miserable.

But the closest that I came to suicide was to write those words. I toughed it out for another year at home, with the peace of the Northwest forest and the misty Puget Sound to calm my torment, then endured one horrible summer in military training camp -- and then it all changed. I reached my nadir, my absolute midnight, watching the waves roll onto the sand of New Jersey, holding heavy military boots in my hand that would help me walk out into the water and not return -- but I did not take that walk. The morning came. I made it through training. I returned home. I got my driver's license. And then college opened up a whole new world.

My story had a happy ending, a new dawn. I ache for the millions of people, young and old, who hurt so badly that they never make it to sunrise. You see, I was so wrong: there is always another way out. Sometimes it takes a while to arrive, but it is worth the pain and worth the wait.

8 comments:

troutbirder said...

Good for you. Unfortunately for the bi-polar and schizophrenic that truth is not alway so obvious.

Chase March said...

Wow, what a discovery.

I think everyone has had that thought once. Fortunately it was only a thought for you.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Troutbirder: You are so right, and that is the greatest tragedy of those conditions.

Chase: I would have missed so much if I had given in to that thought.

Molly said...

It's not easy to be sixteen, in a new place, no friends, all alone. With all the moving we did in the AF, I know what you're talking about.Fortunately we all made it through, but I know it was sometimes really hard on my children....Glad you made it through the darkness!

kat said...

Which is why I tell myself..... Indeed, the best is yet to be. Believe it! Achieve it!.....

Feeling so good now, it is hard even imagining the many recent months where I had no energy nor desires except to make it through each day, one at a time.

kat said...

The adolescent years of life are some of the hardest.... and being so young, personal life experiences have not yet taught one how to respond and cope with many challenges..... and the adolescent, in terms of brain development, still has several years yet to fully develop those areas of the frontal cortex where the very important responsibilities of judgement reside and the full awareness of consequences .....

A helping hand and compassionate understanding hopefully can and are extended to any so troubled.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I also considered the way out as a teenager, and if not for the affection of my peers, none of whom knew of my difficult life at home, I probably wouldn't be here.

Over the years I have realized that everything can change in a minute. Lives can suddenly become wonderful or terrible; the only certainty is that they WILL change. And I want to be here for as long as I can, through as many changes as I am given.

I wish young people realized that.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Molly: The military life is tough -- but how many civilians can look back on their childhoods and remember exploring English castles or the feeling of a hedgehog's soft tummy fur, or the taste of real Korean kimchee, or the experience of immersion in German culture or learning to swim in Hawaii after spending a winter in Alaska?

Kat, Susan: It is so important to be sensitive to the vibes that the people in our lives give off, young or old, and to take them seriously.