The Power of Hello

Recently, I said hello to a rather person in support group that I joined several years ago. During their share, they had communicated their daily struggle with thoughts of suicide. As this person struggled to release his words, I immediately went back my own struggle to say word suicide out loud.

Not long ago, I began recovery for an issue unrelated to my suicide attempts. I had begun recovery for a disastrous marriage. During that recovery, I began joining groups with the hopes of relieving emotional pain related to prior traumatic experiences. During those meetings, I began seeing the correlation between my suicide attempts and my past traumatic events.

Prior to joining groups, I had cringed and fled people who had communicated their prior attempts at suicide, despite my own attempts. I feared that listening to them or empathizing with them, or heaven forbid communicating my prior attempts would somehow allow the feelings of madness associated with my prior attempts to overwhelm me. Plus, I was deeply ashamed of my attempts, and felt no compassion for my struggle.

However, with the steady return my group meetings, I became more and more comfortable with hearing other people’s experiences and even the history with no attempts but the daily idolization of suicide. I began a slow courage bubble up inside me, until one day, I communicated my own prior attempts and daily struggles of suicidal thoughts. To my shock, I did not die from shame, my heart did not stop beating for fear of the truth being said out loud, nor did I feel I might lose my mind.

As my experiences grew with communicating my attempts, I began to notice that others came to speak with me about their experience. At first, I was terrified to hear their stories as I feared that I had done something wrong, but gradually I began to realize how many people have struggled with attempts and their daily thoughts of solving their problems through suicide.

As of now, I’m a long way from where I began. I no longer fear hearing other’s stories, and I no longer fear telling my own. Progressively, as the shame has lifted, so has the desire and thoughts of suicide. Through the lifting of the shame, I have felt a desire to attempt kinship and support to those who communicate their experiences and struggles. Now, instead fleeing from it, I move towards it. In every encounter that I say hello to someone like me, provide my phone number, and request that they reach out to me if they ever feel that desire again. Because of this, I recently became aware that I had not only said hello sufferers, but I had also begun saying hello to suicide itself.

In greeting my thoughts of suicide, I acknowledge that they are there. I know that have affected me in the past, and I know that they may or may not affect me in the future. I do know something even greater than becoming friends with suicidal past and thoughts, I am no longer afraid of it. Suicide no longer scares me. I know that it is a cohabiter in my mind, but as with any annoying roommate, we begin to accept their sloppy ways and move on about our lives the best that we can.

So now, as my roommate suicide appears in my mind, I say hello to it, think about how annoying sloppy it is, and then go about my day knowing that I do reside with an annoying roommate, but I have other things that interest me more than it.

After the new member to my group had shared their struggle, I followed by sharing my own in effort to help them know that they are not alone. After the meeting, I exchanged phone numbers with them. Since then, we have communicate often, reassuring each that the other that should the thoughts become overwhelming the other was there.

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