DISCLAIMER: The following text examines the topic of suicide in great detail. Be advised, this content is not suitable for children.
Zane was proud of his courage, but like most men his courage was purely fictitious. His over-inflated ego would often times provide him with memories and anecdotes designed to bolster his own self-image. It wasn’t unusual for his ego to visit the forefront of his entitled mind, so it was commonplace for it to dwell in a self-generated haven in which it never had to face up to the shortcomings. Zane’s hubris was held at bay on this particular occasion because his ego was overwritten by an uninvited presentation of truth, which forced him to confront his deep-seated cowardice.
Zane was conflicted because he desperately wanted to be brave, but reality was telling him otherwise. The ego attempted to squelch the feelings of inadequacy, but it was to no avail. “What’s the most courageous thing I’ve ever done,” he asked himself as he gazed into the flickering candlelight? He strained to perceive the sounds that only Zane could hear as he tuned into the frequency emitted by the vulnerable flame. He repeated the question in his mind, and answered by saying, “I stood tall before a court-martial and explained how the Marines cheated me! That took courage!” He reviewed the events that led to a Bad Conduct Discharge and concluded that he had done the right thing. He was struggling to locate additional events that would prove his manhood, but all he could come up with were examples of a yellow streak. He sat there in the candle lit darkness as he pondered the events that led him here, to this precise moment in time.
A sparkling example of Zane’s cowardice centered around a personal act of betrayal. He couldn’t exactly remember the year, but he knew that it was right around the turn of the century. “Was it in 1999,” he asked himself? “Maybe it was ’97?” Zane decided the exact year wasn’t important and his mind went on to recall how he quit his job after he injured his left hand. He had some cash in his wallet and some time on his hands, so he contacted Tonia who was residing in Oregon. Hoping to re-kindle a stolen love, Zane drove a worn out Ford Pinto over a thousand miles to visit her in person. Upon arrival he was greeted with an authentic smile and promptly invited inside.
As his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkened room, the first thing he noticed were two very large intimidating hounds who standing silent vigil. Zane never liked dogs because in his mind they were too needy. Cats were much more entertaining, and Zane subscribed to the notion that “if you want my affection you’re going to have to earn it.” This was meant to say that he couldn’t respect a creature who would so willingly display their own vulnerability. Said differently, Zane hated it when people, or dogs in this case, showered him in unbridled affection. Like some sort of confused sociopath, Zane wrongly associated affection with danger. As a result he would instinctively reject kind advances because he associated them as being irrational threats.
Having said that, Tonia’s dogs were different. The dutiful animals walked in slow circles around the intruder as if they were a pair of curious Great White sharks! In a suspenseful moment, Zane suspected his life was in jeopardy! It was the first time he had ever experienced the sensation and the animals were keenly aware of the apprehension. Slowly and methodically the dogs sniffed and examined the sudden arrival of this mysterious specimen. “The animals are well behaved,” Zane thought. “Otherwise I’d be dead by now.” He stood cautiously as if not to make any sudden moves, but that didn’t stop him from mentally challenging the large creatures. Zane’s cognitive mind was subverted by his primal being as he processed what was happening in real time. If Zane were self-aware, he would have noticed his own elevated heartrate, because he realized these dogs would eat him if left to their own devices. As a result, his sympathetic nervous system energized which prompted his reptilian brain to communicate with the hounds through a metaphysical conduit. Zane was never one to cower, so he put on a brave face and embarked upon some telepathic taunting. In his mind Zane silently cried out, “If your gonna kill me then do it and do it quick! I won’t fight you! Being mauled by a couple of natural killers sounds like a fabulous way to die!” The dogs each responded with two respectful snorts as Zane continued. “Come on dogs, I dare you! If you kill me now you’ll be doing me a favor anyway! I’ll even let you call it a sacrifice if you make it a good clean kill!” In response, the large dogs continued with their investigation as Zane stood firm.
In spite of his perceived demise, he was silently impressed with their obedience. Zane had never encountered such well-trained beasts, and he was pleased with the fact that they were highly trained killers, rather than just annoying ankle biters. Zane stood his ground as he grappled with his own mortality. Tonia, who suspected that Zane was in ‘fight or flight’ mode, cautiously attempted to pry his attention back towards her. She awaited an opportunity to make eye contact, but Zane kept his gaze squarely seated upon one dog, and then the other. To break the silence Tonia stated, “These are Boerboels. They are bred to kill lions.” Upon hearing the words, Zane responded by saying, “Yeah, I’m not surprised.” To signify their approval, the dogs sat one abreast at their master’s feet. Tonia, being an awkward hostess, struggled to make small talk, because she expected Zane to lead off the conversation.
Zane’s intention was to sweep Tonia off her feet, and to instantly live happily ever after. When the realization that he had no plan took hold he lost his footing and began to founder. To alleviate the uncomfortable moment, Zane began to speak of Jessa because she was always at the forefront of his mind. With sad eyes the young father explained how he had abandoned his daughter in Australia, but he couldn’t find words to explain why? Tonia patiently listened in earnest, but Zane was only managing to produce a word salad of sorts. His preconceived notions were shattered as he came to realize he couldn’t live up to his own expectations! He had a fantasy of starting a new life with Tonia while gaining employment in the nearest casino. Much to his chagrin, there was something about Tonia that crippled his ability to remain in dreamland. He had to be real with Tonia, and he didn’t know how? The situation was overwhelming his senses, and he was drowning in the sensations, but he lacked the words to properly express the onslaught of his unsettled state! He felt vulnerable and insecure, and he tried not to let it show. The emotions tangled and became knotted as the confusion intensified. Like Tonia, Zane was lousy at producing small talk. The awkward couple were still standing in the in the entryway as the clumsy conversation labored on. Zane had never experienced this kind of anxiety before, and it was a force to be reckoned with. The shame that Zane felt from leaving his daughter was intensified in the moment and he couldn’t bare to talk about it any longer! In a desperate attempt to change the subject, he suggested that he should order a pizza. It was the only thing he could think of, and the unedited words came tumbling from his mouth without his authorization. Tonia correctly informed him that a delivery was impossible this far out in the country, and Zane secretly found solace knowing he had an exit. He had summoned the courage to face his potential demise, but somehow he couldn’t look Tonia in the eye? In a fleeting act of desperation, Zane said, “I’ll just drive into town and bring it back.” It was telling because he didn’t bother asking if there was a pizza restaurant nearby?
She may have become suspicious by this point because he was acting very peculiar. Zane’s body language and facial expressions spoke volumes and Tonia correctly assumed that he would not be returning with pizza. In fact he wouldn’t be returning at all. Zane didn’t say goodbye as he struggled to show himself out, and he clumsily tripped over the welcome mat as he walked backwards through the front door. Tonia responded with a look of stunned curiosity as Zane turned his back and walked toward his parked car. She wouldn’t see him again for several years.
Zane tried his best to repress the memory of the shameful act, but on this particular occasion his demons were relentless. He came back into the present moment long enough to realize that he was cozy in his room, but the illusion of safety was only temporary. Once again his cognitive mind was catapulted backwards through time. In the moment, Zane was forced to relive a ghastly episode in which he attempted suicide. The memory made him cringe as details of the horrific event forced themselves upon the backdrop of his guilty mind.
The memory centered around a bitter fight with Renee, which corresponded neatly with an exceptionally rare solar eclipse. Like a petulant teen, Zane felt compelled to even the score, so he abruptly decided to overdose on his prescription meds. It was to be a selfish act on a galactic scale, and he was determined to follow through!
As Zane sat in his darkened room he recalled the event in full detail. He remembered how he lifted the amber plastic cylinder to his mouth as he gazed at his own reflection. He didn’t think about it, he just did it! In a fluid motion he tilted his head back and opened wide. With his left hand he raised a nearly filled glass of water to his lips and quickly flushed the pills down! In macabre fashion, he momentarily stared into the medicine cabinet’s reflection as he contemplated the foul evil deed he had done! He was captivated and stunned by what he saw reflected back to him! The image of his mortal being was not being properly represented. Instead of seeing his familiar face, the mirror presented him with pulsating images that alternated in form between one demon and then onto another. In the mirror he witnessed a long stream of assorted foul specters who were all lined up behind the glass awaiting an opportunity to take their individual shots at him. Using telepathy as a conduit, one of the visiting demons introduced himself as ‘Asmodeus,’ while the lesser sprites simply writhed and giggled in a hedonistic state of sadistic glee! It took Zane more than a few moments to shake free from the vision. To break the spell Zane side-stepped two paces to his left and positioned himself over the toilet bowl where he gagged himself repeatedly while the grotesque reality began to set in.
He couldn’t get the pills to come back up, so he calmly took command of his body and led it outside where he found Renee sitting alone on the poorly lit entry way steps. “I took all of my pills,” he told her. “You better call an ambulance!” With that he simply turned his back and walked silently into the night. Renee was still perturbed, and because of it the somber announcement failed to resonate. Not having fully grasped the severity of the situation, Renee shouted into the darkness, “YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE ECLIPSE!”
About a minute later Zane found himself lying face up on the grassy knoll that resided behind the back fence. It was a hidden enclave where he could die in peace. He planned to avoid detection by hiding in the protective foliage. As he lay upon the grass in the late evening he noticed how the trees were blocking his view. In a solemn state of eternal regret he realized how he forfeited a chance to gaze upon the stars one last time. He knew Death was near and he welcomed her, but still a nagging question persisted. “Why did I tell Renee,” he asked? “If I’m this hell bent on dying, then why did I encourage her to call an ambulance? And why did I attempt to gag myself?” Zane didn’t know the answer the questions, and besides he had better things to do with his final thoughts on earth; his mind was starting to blip in and out. He understood he was dying, but in his delirium he forgot what had led up to this point?
Zane’s slurred mind became cognizant of the approaching ambulance because he could hear the approaching siren wailing in the black distance. He was relieved to know he was out of reach of the rescue team. Surely he would succumb to the overdose before the frantic crew had time to locate his empty husk, and he intended to remain holed up on the knoll until the transition took hold. His eyelids became heavy; the scenery was blurred and seemingly out of focus. He was just about to drift out of existence when he realized what he had done!
“OH SHIT,” he declared! “I FORGOT ABOUT THE KIDS!” In his mania he failed to factor the children into the equation! In the moment he imagined how it would fall upon Renee to inform the youngsters that their father was dead. “I can’t go out like this,” he said! “It would be too devastating for Aiden and Elise!” He staggered back up and onto his shaky feet as he grasped the trunk of a young sapling to aid with the ascent. He made his way up the slope and out of the forested knoll. He was staggering by the time he reached the sidewalk, but he managed to cover thirty paces as he emerged from the darkness; he was walking towards the light! It wasn’t the kind of light that leads to eternal salvation; instead the brilliant beams were emanating from a parked ambulance.
A few days later he was jolted awake from a deep sleep. He had never in his life felt a more urgent need to urinate! He slowly took stock of his situation as an anonymous attendant looked on. Renee was there also. At first Zane had difficulty focusing on their faces because they were alternating in and out synch with reality. The faces presented like inverse shadows meaning that he couldn’t tell if they were earthbound entities or something more sinister? Suddenly the mysterious vision took a back seat as his attention focused upon his bound wrists. His arms were extended over his head and both wrists were secured with robust leather straps! He correctly ascertained that he was deemed a suicide risk, thus the necessity of restraints. Strangely, Zane admired the workmanship that went into the construction of the bindings. For a moment he marveled at the bold white stitching that ran the entire circumference of the shackles. It took too much effort to tilt his head downward towards his toes, but he assumed the ankle bracelets were equally as robust as the ones that had bound his wrists. Zane focused his intention back upon his need to urinate, and he shouted, “I HAVE TO GO THE BATHROOM!” He was squirming in discomfort and gritting his teeth! “I HAVE TO TAKE A PISS,” Zane commanded in a highly agitated state! It was at this time that Renee informed her bewildered husband that the nurses had installed a catheter into his bladder. The comment failed to register so once more Zane shouted, “I’M GONNA PISS IN MY FUCKIN’ PANTS IF YOU DON’T LET ME OUT OF THESE FUCKIN’ SHACKLES!” By this time, a frightened nurse said, “Sir! Sir! You have a catheter installed!” Once again Zane heard the words, but their meaning failed to gel. It took some time, but soon he realized it was safe to urinate. After emptying his bladder, the Ativan that was trickling through his veins lulled him back to sleep. The urgency had subsided, so he rested.
When he awoke he was still clearly agitated. Zane was convinced that he had only taken a short nap, but in reality another full day had passed. In spite of being groggy, he clearly noticed that Renee and Elise were standing bedside, along with an attendant. With a guttural and evil growl, Zane looked at the Nurse and said, “Get these people out of here!” He meant it! Somehow his diseased mind found it necessary to chase his loved ones out of the room! With a confused look of genuine sympathy, the nurse looked at Renee and said, “There is no easy way to say this, but I’m going to ask you to leave.” Renee was stunned and Elise was nearly too young to comprehend what was happening. Mom knew what was going on, so she led Elise out into the broad corridor that led to the nurse’s station. Renee briskly shuffled Elise down the hallway in an attempt to shield her innocent ears as her father belted out the words, “STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME! DON’T YOU COME BACK HERE! I MEAN IT GOD DAMMIT! YOU STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” Knowing that the foul commands were emanating from her father, Elise looked up at mom and asked, “What’s wrong with papa?” Renee, who was doing her best to maintain her composure, looked down at Elise and said, “Just keep walking.”
He was in the hospital for a week before he came to his senses, at which time Renee assured the staff that Zane was “all Bark and no Bite.” The support team reluctantly agreed and so he was released and sent home with the wife and kids. Upon arriving at the house, Zane decided to forget the incident ever happened. To make matters worse, he never processed the event with the children who were so clearly traumatized. Instead of explaining himself or apologizing, he simply filed the entire event into his “Repressed Memory Folder.” The attempt he made on his own life was a taboo subject. This fact was made abundantly clear, and Elise found out the hard way! A fair amount of time had passed since the incident and Elise felt compelled to instigate a healthy discourse. In a calm yet frightened tone she spontaneously brought up the topic with her father who responded by saying, “I wasn’t going to die! The Fuckin’ Ambulance drivers already know where we live! I knew I would get there in time to get my stomach pumped! Elise’s father spat the words at her with an ancient sort of hostility that was born out from an elusively cryptic disdain. Elise, feeling defeated, never brought up the subject again. Looking back, Zane rightly concluded that avoiding an opportunity to process only proved what a coward he truly was.
Zane was conflicted because he desperately wanted to be brave, but reality was telling him otherwise. He had been sitting alone in the dark for hours contemplating his existence, and the facts suggested that he was the world’s biggest coward. “I tried to kill myself,” he thought. “What’s more chicken-shit than that?” He sat alone in the dark for a while longer when a voice suddenly resonated from deep within his tormented mind. In a nurturing tone the entity stated, “It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge your own cowardice.” Zane, who was still stuck in the throes of his own pity party, failed to grasp the significance of the wise words. Instead of pondering the wisdom, he snuffed out his candle and ventured out into the kitchen with the intention of starting a fresh pot of coffee.
Fifty-Two-year-old, stay at home dad, philosopher, and recovering narcissist.