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Sweatpants & Sanity | The Art of Repairing Broken Things

By Emmie Arnold

On my Tumblr, I have a question box. A few years ago, I received this question: “Should i commit suicide? I honestly dont think i can make it through another day tbh, too weak for this life.”

I answered:

Beloved,

Short answer: No.

Long answer: let me tell you why.

You are so worthy of life in ways that you could never possibly expect or understand or even feel like you deserve – especially in the unspeakably difficult emotional state you’re in right now. But these ways, these reasons, are the truth.

It’s the thought that you should be dead that is the lie.

Nobody is too weak for this life, nor too strong. Nobody is too imperfect, nor too perfect. Nobody is unworthy, nor too worthy. Life is SO challenging and so many people end up feeling the way that you do at some point. Trust me; I know.

I was a suicide hotline operator for a while. I talked to many people, though I never got the privilege of seeing their faces, of having a long-term relationship them, or hearing their entire life story, complete with all the words about their experiences of feeling worthless, hopeless, and lost. We always found a reason to keep going to the next day, and trust me, there were a lot of people who called this line.

You are not alone in this.

When I became a suicide hotline operator, people in my life – friends, family, colleagues, friends of friends – started opening up to me about the way they sometimes feel worthless, hopeless, and purposeless.

Why do I tell you this? It’s not to make you feel as though there are many people who are having a harder day than you are. It’s to help you see that you are not the only one.

You are not the only one. You are not alone. You are not weaker than they are. You are not too weak for this life.

They all, to my knowledge, made it through the nights that they never thought they could survive. Hell, I’ve made it through several of my own nights that I never expected to survive. And yet here I still am, and I am so grateful that I chose to keep having hope.

Even if I could only think one moment at a time. Even when I had to ask my friends to hold enough hope for the both of us because I felt hopeless. Even when I had to activate every last resource I had, including going to an inpatient psychiatric hospital, just to stay alive long enough to have a chance to fight again in the morning.

It’s okay to feel weak and hopeless and purposeless and worthless and unlovable and undeserving – so long as you remember that these feelings are not facts; they are false. So long as you remember that they are feelings that have a high percentage chance of passing somewhat, or even completely, at some point soon.

I no longer feel hopeless, purposeless, worthless, unlovable, and undeserving. The only one of those adjectives that I still feel sometimes is weak, but then I remember that it is in my “weaknesses” that I have the ability to be strong. Knowing that I’ve made it through terrible nights before – and that I have a 100% survival rate of getting through the moments that I never thought would end or that would kill me in the process – reminds me that even when I feel weak, I am truly a warrior.

How badass is it that you’re still here, even though you battle these feelings?

You are still here, and you are still fighting. Being alive in a moment when you wish you very much weren’t is an act of strength.

I have made it through so many of those feelings that are going through your head at this very moment, and if I can do it, I know that you can too. I am no stronger than you. You are an equal of mine, someone about whom I care deeply, even though I have never met you.

Kintsukuroi (金繕い, きんつくろい, “golden repair”) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. I’m strong at my broken edges, and so are you.

People who do something that can kill them – including something that has a very high percentage chance of mortality – often regret it. I’m sure you’re wondering, “How can we possibly know this?” All people – yes, all – people who have survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in a suicide attempt realized midair, or even higher up, that the reason(s) they jumped – the problems that seemed insurmountable, the things that they hated about themselves – were ALL fixable.

Every. Last. One.

A testimony: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped.”

Read that again: Except for having jumped.

You have a beautiful opportunity here, wrapped up in an absolutely horrific moment, day, week, however long you’ve felt like this, to reach out for help. To tell people in your life – whether it’s your family, friends, professionals, (or 911 if you feel that these aren’t options) – that you feel like jumping and don’t want to go through with it. That you want help. That you want a chance to end this chapter in your life and begin a new one rather than ending your life.

You can mark this day as the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one when you gave every single thing you had to recovery.

I am a living reminder of the fact that recovery can, and does, happen every single day. So are the 40-50 or so people whose stories of survival (and hopeful eventual thriving!) I’ve had the opportunity to witness. There are countless examples of people going down the difficult path of recovery and making it, even thriving. You’d be surprised to know how many people you’ve met who may be doing that themselves – people you never would have expected in a million years.

You are more loved than you could ever possibly imagine or dare to dream.

A random person you’ve never met, possibly never will meet, loves you. Since that’s true, can you imagine how much more the people in your life love you? There may be some awful people in your life who have abused you and hurt you. Even if it feels like you have absolutely no one, that everyone in your life is terrible, know this: You are not alone. You will meet more people. I lived through a chapter when I felt that way like every single person in my life was terrible.

You deserve love, compassion, care, kindness, and so much more. It’s okay to be loud and to ask for help.

I’m so proud of you for reaching out to me right now. It shows so much strength and hope. Take yourself to the arms of someone in your life who loves you and tell them how much you want to keep fighting, even though it doesn’t feel possible right now. I’ve done it.

When I was 20, I called my dad, sobbing, and I said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But the instant I did it, I knew that I wasn’t carrying the weight alone anymore. He made me stay on the phone with him until I was in the care of a friend who could drive me to the hospital. And guess what? He later told me that he actually knew what to do because I had told him about one of the phone calls I had with a caller a few months prior, over the hotline. If that wasn’t a sign or blessing for me to stay alive – that something I once did to keep someone alive came back to help me in that moment when I thought I couldn’t live another second – I don’t know what was.

Whatever you do, my friend, please don’t kill yourself tonight. Please let someone in. Let someone help you. Let someone love you. Let them into this part of your life that you’ve been trying for too long to carry by yourself. Get away from the Golden Gate Bridges of your life and get to a safe place with safe people where you have a chance to live to tomorrow.

I have done it a few times, and I know you can, too. I am no stronger or better than you. If I can do it, so can you.

You are beloved. You are worth it. You are important. You are valuable. You are the only you that there will ever be. You are more special than you will ever know.

Please check out these links to distract you until you’re ready to ask someone for help:

You are so worthy of life.

Emmie Arnold

Emmie Arnold is a follower of Jesus, survivor and thriver, graduate student of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary, blogger at Illness to Wellness, musician, photographer, traveler, goofball, and optimist.

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