If you’ve ever been suicidal, you know what it’s like to hit bottom. But many people don’t. I’m sharing my journey since “the spectacular accident” to reassure those currently in despair and to enlighten those who don’t understand.
The accident was a simple one: tripping over a tenant’s deflated kayak on the new concrete floor in a dark garage. Both bones in my right lower arm incurred multiple fractures to the extent that the doctor about to do the surgery told me he might have to put in a plastic bone—right after the anesthesiologist gave me a glorious “surgery cocktail.” That wasn’t IT.
My niece, a trauma nurse, said recovery would be long and hard. Not IT.
Because I fell first on an old surgery knee, and then on my right hand before my body landed on my back, going down my stairs wasn’t going to be easy. My wrist is still out of alignment, so typing is awkward. But I’m a strong, independent woman, and I shoveled snow off the deck and the stairs every day through one of the deepest snow winters I’ve experienced. Not IT.
When others helped me by picking up groceries when they were going to the store or doing things I could not do, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life—the kind of thing that generally happens when we’re dying.
I realized, when I wasn’t busy all the time writing, how alone I am. And when the structural engineer from another state gave his opinion about the settling of my house (without any evidence whatsoever to support it) and told me that “It’s going to cost a lot to fix this place, and I cost $900,”* the distance from my pit to the edge got higher. It was the beginning of IT, even though my contractor friend laughed when he read the engineer’s email of “what to do” and said: “That’s just copied from a textbook.”
But what if he’s right? And each day, my pit got deeper.
As soon as I could re-enter my life as the property manager, three weeks shy of the predicted recovery time, the multi-skilled man I have relied on for years disappeared without a word. Marco (pseudonym) was the one who took that engineer to the only “stand-up” room under the house (where the water heater lived), around the house outside and inside because he “spoke engineer,” and he was the one who committed to doing the work.
This old house, a triplex, has three renters and me, who pay for the mortgage, utilities, and whatever repairs are needed. Homes must be maintained, and I’m the one who makes it happen, so I sat with the phone book and called electricians, plumbers, and carpenters to get the jobs done for their apartments before cold weather. Everyone was booked for weeks.
Swimming in a swamp of negative thoughts, I could not sleep at all.
And then my water heater broke, naturally, on Friday afternoon, and everyone I called was still busy. I washed dishes in cold water and went to the gym to shower, but I didn’t see myself doing that for two more weeks. And so, I called the one who advertises “available 24/7,” even though he charges so much more than the rest, even on weekdays. (That means less money for repairs).*
The pit felt bottomless, a direct line to hell.
That night, my mind raced with movies of my failures and thoughts about this house, my retirement fund, not being worth more than the dirt under it. If I couldn’t get simple repairs done because I was “out of the loop” in a town with a radically reduced number of blue-collar workers, how could I find someone to do the work that “only Marco could do?”
The next day, I continued my futile calling. By then, I had made seventy-two phone calls!
That night I was tortured by the darkest thoughts: OMG! If the renters leave and I can’t even pay the mortgage, what will I do? What if the arrogant engineer is right, and I can’t sell the house unless the issues are resolved? Despite various sleep-aids, I flipped like a fish on the bank: no sleep.
After hours of agonizing mental pain, I surrendered. I made myself be still and allowed my fear to wash over me.
IT was brutal. Finally, as the morning dawned, the darkness cleared, I asked for help and heard, “Call the realtor.”
The next morning, I did. I wanted the estimate of my dirt’s worth, but I hung up before anyone answered. What if he says it’s less than the outstanding mortgage? It’s all I have. I can’t face that now!
He called back while I was still holding the phone. I told him I needed these repairs done before I could see him. He asked, “Would it help to have our list of people?” Tears streamed my face.
I printed his email and made some calls. Boom! I had an electrician to run the 220 lines, so the gas water heater, the only reason for gas in this house, could be replaced by an electric one. Their plumber installed it. Their guy will take out the gas pipes, and their man will clear out the junk under the house (left behind by Marco’s previous work) and haul it away.
And, chatting with the plumber, I got the name of a contractor with expertise in “settling adobe houses.”
I asked the Unknown for help and believed my request would be answered, and it was!
Having slept last night, finally, I understand how I sunk so low: accepting other people’s words about my surgery, my introverted lifestyle, and my old house.
Ultimately, I remembered what I know to be true: what I experience—all of it—is a projection of my thoughts. It is held in place by my repeated thoughts and feelings. I dug that pit by accepting other people’s thoughts and words as real. They are not. And I attracted those people with my fearful thoughts.
*Update: October 30, 2019
If you decide to make someone the enemy and you’re pushing very hard against them, you don’t affect them at all, but you disconnect yourself from the Stream. If someone cheats you, they cannot diminish your experience. They only diminish their experience. You cannot be diminished by someone cheating you unless you get all upset about being cheated and push against them and use that as your excuse to disconnect from the Stream. ~ Excerpted from San Diego, CA on 7/25/98
Till next time,
“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi