Listen to that word, darkness, it starts with a force and ends with a softness. It implies you could slide into something else. Today’s story is a slight departure from other posts. It is a window into “dark” and how to move the “ness” from a hiss to the comfort of a parent’s shush as they rock their crying child to sleep.
Today’s story is inspired by Richard Wagamese. He is, and now I shall say was, an Indigenous writer. He took his own life not that long ago as he was likely unable to nest on solid ground when the darkness found anchor. I do not know him, but I do know darkness and have ways of finding solid footing when it seeks anchor in my mind.
The forward of Wagames’s posthumous book One Drum seems to state the sharing of experiences, stories, gifts, and talents as being integral to completing the ceremony of life. So today I share with you a couple stories I use to move to solid ground when darkness hisses purchase.
The first one is a story from work. I attended a domestic dispute that was full of the sad tar-like darkness. It was one of those calls that had pain so profound all it brought out in me was compassion, and humility. Upon arrival I spoke with one party and my partner spoke with another. It took all of five minutes for things to change as I heard my partner call to me, using a tone reserved for only the most critical of situations.
My attention shifted and I was informed the other party had locked themself in a room and through an obscured sight line my partner and I could see feet… feet that had no purchase. The two of us made an emergency entrance into that room and my partner wrapped arms around those feet and gave them purchase while I untied the mechanism. We were fast enough that no further police administered First Aid was required, other than calling an ambulance to transport the person to the hospital.
Now when someone is injured, while in the care of police, another organization is called to investigate and determine if police caused the injury. As a result of the aforementioned event that organization was called in as well as higher ranking officers from my service to perform a parallel investigation. Hence, once at the hospital, us constables were relieved from the call once the Sergeant showed up.
It was after the Sergeant arrived something interesting happened. The person told the Sergeant that once the stool had been kicked away they knew they could no longer do anything to save themself. They immediately regretted their life altering action, and in that moment they were absolutely powerless and acutely aware of their decision. They also told the Sergeant they were very grateful to be alive.
As darkness weaves in and out of people’s lives, pieces of those dark stories are sometimes shared. Here is another story that has been shared with me and it too helps my darkness find purchase in life. It is a piece of my puzzle. This story is something I use as a way to be gentle with myself, just like the calming shush of a parent rocking their child. I learned of this story after I asked a different colleague if they were at risk of taking their own life. You see, I was profoundly worried about my colleague and their answer came in the form of a short story. The following is a version of that story.
A number of years ago my colleague’s best friend took their life. My colleague witnessed and experienced the consequences of that permanent action. In the aftermath, what was witnessed was so powerful my colleague decided to never die at their own hand. During the aftermath my colleague noticed the sheer number of people who loved and grieved the person that was no longer. I suspect the numbers were so high, even that departed person would have been surprised. Numbers that would, if understood, have helped them to choose life in the middle of their darkness.
These are two stories I keep in mind when my mind’s weapon of futile darkness rears its ugly head. There are more stories, and basically every last one of them support getting off the suicide train. Basically each of us is so important in this life that we don’t really understand our power, our worth, our wisdom. In addition to our value, things taken too far mean we can feel ultimate powerlessness and need profound help. These are my two takeaways from these shared stories and I use them regularly when I want to rock my unsettled mind into a place of peace.
The intention of every post on Graytuft is to be both authentic and beautiful. It is my sincere hope you have walked away from this post with something authentic and beautiful. If so, consider sending this story to someone you care about and tell them how important they are. Tell them they are valued. Tell yourself you are valued. I promise to do the same.
Jt signing off for shift.