One night fifteen years ago, I stood brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed. I was 14 years old, having a casual yet serious internal battle in my brain: how could I kill myself “accidentally”?
As my toothbrush swished and gyrated and I hawked some foam into the sink, a thought occurred to me: is it normal to think about suicide every night before sleep?
A friend in the program says he never would have made it out of High School alive had it not been for drugs and alcohol. They anesthetized him. I never became suicidal, but it was always an overly appealing option. My face, my body, my mind, was unbearable. Pot and alcohol served as numbing agents, but above all, they fed the most valuable coping mechanism for survival: my façade.
In 9th grade I was alone with the shaky remains of who I had been in Middle School. My undefined identity, or lack there of, was unsustainable…I needed to change. The transformation didn’t take long. Skipping one class with blatant disregard was the first high I got from attention seeking. I wanted to be the “bad” kid.
“Are you going to Psych?” Someone asked.
“Nope,” I said with self-proclaimed authority.
From then on, I strived and succeeded at being the class failure. The class stoner. The class I-don’t-give-a-shit-girl. Suddenly everything about my new persona was so easy; I knew where to buy weed, how to roll a blunt, who else wanted to cut class with me, who would pick me up in the morning to take bong rips, and for the first time in years I felt like I belonged. Granted, every conversation was uncomfortable up until the point I got high..which is why it was a 24 hour a day job.
Sitting in the back of the class and reeking of ganja gave me a fucked up sense of confidence. See? I don’t care.
“Did you study for the test?” Someone would ask.
“What test?” I would say humorously, but seriously.
I barely graduated, I had no interest in college, and suicidal thoughts popped up on the reg. However, thanks to my well-maintained image of comical failure, my “outsides” appeared just fine. Carefree, even! Weed! Yay! Day drinking! Yes! Future? Fuck it!
Up until getting sober, those thoughts remained prevalent; for years I believed them to be my only true potential. The hardest thing about working on myself right now is reversing the notion “as long as I’m doing nothing, I’m doing ‘me.’”
Now I know: if I’m doing nothing, I’m being nobody.
The bad news is that I wasted a shit ton of time trying to mask emotions and bury whoever the hell I was scared of becoming (or not becoming.) The good news is, I’m getting an idea of who I am, and I’m liking the person I see in the mirror. My identity crisis up until my sobriety date was just as real as it was that night standing in front of the sink fifteen years ago. I didn’t pay attention at all in high school, but I think it was that Michelangelo guy who said:
“I am still learning.” (Age 87)
Me too, dude.