• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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And I Try And I Try And I Try And I Try

This morning I received an email from a FOB (friend of the blog) saying that I can’t say IFLKM (Ifeel like killing myself) and then not post the next day. I apologize and thank said FOB for reaching out. I too am a worrier when people say things like that. And since I post as regularly as Rob Lowe brushes his teeth, it might be a tad disconcerting when I miss a deadline. To be clear, as said IFLKM because some soft porn got buckets of publishing dollars. I would never kill myself. The worse day alive is better than the best day dead. Life is for the living. I love all of you who wake up and write or try to write or shake off a rejection or get some good news.

Do you think about it?

74 Responses

  1. I kind of like thinking about Rob Lowe brushing his teeth. Especially the young Rob Lowe in the picture. I also imagine being dead and how fucked up my kids would be because of it. And yes, I have imagined killing myself. I always imagine myself crying when I do it. I think it’s probably the most selfish act anyone can perform because I’ve seen the byproducts suicide leaves in its wake. I’d never do it. Even if I sometimes have difficulty loving myself, I love my friends and family too much to ever hang that on them and then split. And I’m glad you’re not dead Betsy. That would have sucked.

    • I think anyone who takes their life is deep into a depression many of us, hopefully, will never know. I don’t see it as selfishness as much as the worst desperation and despair. I agree with what you wrote about those left behind. One of the hardest things is forgiving yourself for not having the power to change what has happened and accepting that it was a loved ones’ final decision.
      (One thing I hope I’ve learned is to listen when someone talks of suicide and I’m glad someone worried and that many of us care.)

  2. Well, it wasn’t me because I had no idea what IFLKM meant. I’m kind of hip like that. I believe suicide is the one unforgiveable act of the universe. Won’t bore you with the details.

    • I apologize if this sounded flippant. It wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes I am oblivious, but am not mean spirited. I’ve flopped around in the dregs of life and was lucky to claw my way out. Here’s wishing anyone else in that situation finds their way as well.

  3. Well, IFLKM when you wouldn’t even look at my book. I’ll bet a lot of writers feel similarly when you casually reject their book solicitation without you even looking at their query. Sorry, not trying to be a PITA.

  4. Most selfish act, yes, but that’s assuming a logic that can’t be applied to someone who can’t dig themself out, who doesn’t have the tools, who has lost hope.

    Hope is knowing that you wrote that and someone reached out just in case.

  5. Yeah. I can’t say never because I don’t know what I’d do if confronted with awful medical news or a catastrophic loss, but I’m a page turner, intent on finding out what happens next, unexpected pleasures or anything else that’s just plain interesting to help balance out the skyscraper high mounds of shit that seem to be piling up. It’s what you make it, I guess, and that manure does help the herb garden grow.

  6. I for one (of many) am glad for this post today. Good for whoever it was to reach out like that. We all should have. I must admit that yes, I thought about suicide, back in my how-stupid-can-I-be college years when I was the only important person in the world but couldn’t convince anyone else of it. I probably didn’t go through with it because I thought, ‘no wait, I’ve got an exam tomorrow. Let me ace that first and impress the professor and then I’ll kill myself and show the bastard boyfriend how wrong he was to leave me.’ Or something equally idiotic. What a mess I was. Glad that’s behind me.

  7. I don’t really think about it but I SO know what you mean when some piece of utter trash makes millions. I feel like it when I look at my spam folder compared to the number of comments I get on my blog, too.

  8. Yes. Wish I didn’t. It’s cowardly and selfish. Had some bad days in the winter just past when I wanted out. Feel better now. Don’t want to go out that way. Have work to do. Art to make. Gonna go someday anyway, whether I want to or not. I’d probably choose to go if I had some terminal illness and it was unmistakably time to go. But I don’t and it’s not. So–I’ll do as Ecclesiastes says: do my work, love my spouse, and enjoy my food and drink. All else is vanity.

    • As John Denver said, “Life ain’t nuthin’ but a funny, funny riddle…” What do you think he was smoking, that friggin’ grin and all. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, Tetman. There are two bright planets (Jupiter and Venus?) in the western sky these days, well worth checking out on a clear night away from the city lights. Maybe not an affirmation or anything, but still pretty cool.

      • Those planets look terrific in the light-soaked Dallas area sky — they must be a knockout in those dark New Mexico heavens!

      • Yes, Jupiter and Venus in an uncommon conjunction. Que bonita, mi buen hombre, y tan suave. And maybe an affirmation that beauty and wonder are all around us, should we choose to see and contemplate.

      • I was replying to Mike D, but to you also, Mary Lynne, and so should have written, mis buenos amigos, or something like that. I live in the middle of a city of a half-million, but we do have a good view of the night skies here.

        Out away from the cities, deep into the deserts, at night we can reach up and touch the face of god. We can look out into a universe so vast, we know that everywhere we look, out there somewhere, even if it’s millions or billions of light-years away, there is someone looking back.

      • I live in the east and this morning just after sunrise the biggest, brightest day-glow orange sun glazed through the bare branches. It was a WOW.
        To behold the wonders around us takes us outside ourselves. I need to do that sometimes, me thinks you guys need to as well.

      • The thoughts I had a few times this winter recently past were not such as I had had in quite a while. But I hit a rough patch, where part of what I thought was the foundation under my feet fell away and I thought, Why still bother? Once I found my footing again, bothering was no bother. Resilient I am. A regular basketball inflated to NBA standards, I hit and I bounce.

  9. Ugh, I have so much to say on this topic, and I’m also feeling uber-fragile and even though this feels like a private treehouse, I have to remember it’s the public and permanent interwebz. So, in answer to your question, yeah, but not pathologically. Also? Feeling insanely protective of this blog space and I want to fire off a hundred shitty acronyms right now. Instead, this. ILY. All of Y.

  10. Don’t ever make yourself dead Betsy. Dead sucks. Your FOB should know that too. The lose expands in ways that can never be known and should be avoided. Your blog and all those on it are so giving. Even in any snark what’s here seems to be a reason to go on, stay connected. I don’t know how I handle rejection. Since I still think of the girl who stole my first boyfriend in junior high as the stupid bitch with the cheap bad eyeliner, my thought is very badly. (I’ve made it an adult vow to not refer to other women as bitches ever.) As for rejection of my writing, I tend to count on that. It tells me the world is working as I expect it to and nothing has gone that batshit upside dow crazy yet. On other peoples’ success, especially when it seems undeserved, I’m not sure. We’re human. It can hurt, we bitch and moan. Then we notice our shoes need polishing. The cat meows. A stranger smiles. We say why the fuck not and smile too. Make sense?

  11. You know, almost 75% of the general population has had semi-serious suicidal thoughts. The other 25% are liars. This is not necessarily abnormal thinking unless in the context of intent, and even then, a grey area. I spent many years talking people down as it were, but I always wondered how much of my business it really was. At any rate, Betsy, glad you DWTKY.

  12. Used to volunteer on a suicide crisis line … my favorite were the mad masturbators.

  13. Every day. It’s a comfort, like the eject button on a fighter plane.

  14. I’m glad I didn’t get to read that particular blog because I’ve dealt too often with loved ones saying that and trying to follow through. So glad you treasure life and all that it brings, the joyful and the sorrowful, each of which blesses us.

  15. An acquaintence (once a casual friend who went very, very rogue and financially and emotionally nearly ruined a close friend) did the deed just within the last two weeks. He had run his string out as far as it would go. I suspect he had no more alternatives and the road ahead promising nothing but bleak. In a sense I can understand. That in the end he felt he had painted himself into such a corner that it was his only way out. It makes me sad even though he proved himself legally and emotionally a scum-bag of the highest order. Sad, because of who he could have been. Sad, because of what he became.

  16. I did once, but then I wrote another novel instead. Writing a novel is a great way to keep your hands busy. I guess knitting could work just as well.

  17. I agree, Tetman. Is IS cowardly and selfish. I have never thought about it. Not even when I was sexually abused. Not even when I was in a physically abusive relationship. Not even when I forced myself to live a lie, in the closet for most of my life.

    No one ever told me that life was easy or fair. It is what you make of it even if people and situations within it throw you a “curve”.

    Duck or go around it. Even if the “curve” hits you, get up and keep going.

  18. Not since becoming a mother. Of course, in my darkest hours I have entertained thoughts of filicide.

  19. You said in the column you were kidding about suicide and you say you have therapists and meds and are having fun with your career right now, so why would someone think your life had stopped? I know you are not even supposed to kid about it, and I know seven of these commentors are going to go after me again for saying it, but you sounded pretty alive to me. And,do I have to post my creds? I think I know what suicidal sounds like. Anyway, the whole post was confusing about someone saying “argh” at being deflowered. That is SO wrong. I googled fan fic even, and the columnist at Smart Bitches said she couldn’t even finish the book. I read the Amazon sample. This is a fluke, guys. Like twilight. Please. Some burglars get rich too. Climbing in the window and asking your hot neighbor kid to explain stuff about sex is way cuter and kinda sexy. Take my word for it. And since when do people blatantly query in these comments? I thought we covered that. And, no, I’m not quite through. Geez.

  20. I used to use “I wanna kill myself” as a figure of speech with some regularity until someone called me on it about 25 years ago by suggesting I check myself into a psych ward, and I stopped. In my day job I’ve had to deal, albeit fairly tangentially, with three suicides in the past three weeks. Such things plant me firmly in the “suicide is temporary insanity” camp. For me, the list of things which restores my sanity is blessedly long: writing, knitting, cooking, talking, looking forward to a coffee date, weight training, etc….

  21. i’ve tried it. but it didn’t work. so i guess i’m here to stay. i decided to do something amazing with my time above ground, like share my story with others who are in pain. we’re not alone, and together we can heal our broken minds, hearts, souls.

  22. I’m trying to think of something profound to say about offing-yourself. I’m trying to think of something funny, lighthearted, lift-you-up kind of phrase because some of these posts are so sad. Are so many alone and fragile because an agent rejected them or didn’t read what they sent. Jeez, it seems so trivial but what is trivial to me is huge to someone else.
    Okay, I’ve used this before but how about Cher, raising her hand to Nicks cheek, smack…”snap out of it ! ”
    Did that work? No…at least I tried

  23. I don’t have time to explain, but suicide is vastly misunderstood these days. One can look into distant or even recent history and find many reasons other than depression for why suicide has been and still is chosen. A good beginning is A. Alvarez’s book The Savage God.

    This isn’t a direct answer to Betsy’s post, perhaps, but it’s the first thing I thought to say after looking through the comments. A direct answer: I’ve thought about it, certainly, but not lately.

  24. If you have ever been close to the possibility of death, then you would never want to venture there again. Each day becomes a new adventure whether the sun is shining or a storm is blowing itself out above you’re head. Is anyone ever ready for leaving loved ones, children, grandchildren and even Dog? Or am I kidding myself that I would be missed, because surely now they could all manage without me? Even Dog would follow the tune of the next person to rattle his lead.

  25. Suicide? Jesus, way too big of a commitment.

  26. To anyone contemplating suicide, believe me when I tell you that it may be nothing more than a sick body messing with your mind. That’s how it was for me, anyway. As soon as I realized my body was off-kilter, I started working to fix it, and the desire to live came roaring back. Health is a lot more than just being not sick, so take the steps that will make you healthier not just free of illness.

    • Oh, and I just wanted to toot my own horn a bit. Recently on the Assbook newswire, I noticed a comment by a “friend” (but not really a friend) to someone I didn’t even know. There was nothing in the comment to alarm, but I was impelled to click on it and see what was what. I found myself reading status updates by a guy who was in the process of offing himself. Pills. He had been taking them over a 24-hour period, was barely coherent, and it had been about ten minutes since his last post. What ticked me off was that all his friends were saying stupid shit like, I love you, and Don’t do it. I messaged my friend, asking, is this for real, and the dip-shit said, I think so, but I’m too freaked out to deal with it. So I said, I’m calling the cops. I got some bureaucratic runaround (not so easy to access emergency services from another state), but long story short, he was in the hospital within a half-hour. Turns out he has schizo-something, doctor changed his meds, and it was not a good idea. He probably wouldn’t have died anyway, but boy, did I feel good about myself for awhile.

  27. This year began for me with a dear grad school mentor killing himself. Will forever try to make sense of the senesless, that’s why I write. But suicide lives in another realm entirely.

    • Bless you, CJ. A few years ago my best friend’s son drowned himself. 16. Their marriage did not survive. Our friendship did not survive. The aftermath lives on.

      Hang in there.

  28. Betsy, I just figured you were busy, and that had kept you from blogging. Never considered that you might have taken the express check-out.

    On the larger question, I sure as hell don’t judge anyone who decides that anything or nothing is better than their life. It’s not for me, though, for lots of reasons, and people I care about is high on the list. Hell, I just came in from laying on a beach with the woman I love, so I think I’ll stick around.

    I worked a case once where a young, successful business guy had been caught stealing, big time. He bought a .44 magnum, ammunition, a quart of liquor, some cokes and smokes, checked into a motel, and wrote a long note to his wife.

    Sitting on the edge of the bed, facing the mirror, he titlted his head back, put the gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.

    The wife and kids arrived, and tried very hard to get in the room, to get one last look, and I said no. It was not something for a wife and children to see.

  29. Used to. Then a pair of doomed friends went and did it. I knew they would but I am still gasping as I think back.

  30. I do, every once in a very long while. But I don’t want to miss anything.

  31. What??!! We’re talking about death now? Can we go back to fucking, please?

  32. There’s thinking about it and there’s thinking about it.
    Reading these comments shows me that considerably more than half the commenters have no real understanding of how someone gets to that point of seriousness about it. Lucky them.
    And lucky the rest of us too.

  33. Um…. holy cow?

  34. I used to think of suicide as a selfish act. A friend described his mother’s suicide as “getting lost in a storm from which she could not escape,” and so I changed my mind about that.

    Beetlejuice pretty much ended about twenty years of frequent suicide thoughts. “No, no. You don’t want to do that. It is even worse over here.” The possibility that it might be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire hadn’t occurred to me. That would be downright aggravating.

    The ocean swells looked like a hug, and I thought people that jumped. I won’t say that I was having serious thoughts, just thoughts. Obviously, I didn’t jump, and a beautiful moonlight night just after made me think, “I would have missed this moonlight.”

  35. Having prevented a fellow student from completing her suicide attempt, I saw first hand the raw anguish that can motivate someone to such an extreme action. Never-the-less, decades later, that memory hasn’t stopped me from dramatically assuring one of my vendors today that I was so frustrated with a particular problem “I’m ready to walk into traffic”. He knew I wasn’t serious (especially since his office was so far away from any real traffic that I would have to wait at least 20 minutes for a car to slowly drive by). IFLKM is irreverent shorthand; spoken fully, aloud and in a dangerous tone, it’s something else. Context, in this case IS everything.

  36. I’ve met your husband. No way would you kill yourself.

  37. Too many suicides in my life for me to even consider it. 2 were because of depression. 1 was because of terminal illness.

    I did go through a spate of wondering, in a detached way, if I’d feel better if I let my car just steer into a tree. But since I was wondering how I’d feel AFTERWARDS, I didn’t take myself seriously. But I did go (back) into therapy.

  38. I used to think about it all the time, but now I might think about it a couple of times a week, in passing. The older I get, the more I like living.

    I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time on it when I was young, but you can’t go back. I was depressed. I coped the best I could. Pets helped. So did fiction.

  39. Rhetorically: all the time; actually: never

    I once said it for rhetorical effect on this blog and I had two people check on me, for which I am quite grateful. I am more careful about my choice of words now.

  40. I want to shout out a “bless you” to the kind soul that emailed you, Betsy. More of us should be so sensitive and thoughtful. And in answer to your question, no I’m not and never have been suicidal. Thankfully my angst is restricted to mild anxiety.

  41. I think we’re talking about three different things here. There are the genuine suicidal thoughts and preparations that involve means, motive, and mode–where people are so desperate and forlorn, feeling no connection to others, no hope, and no way out–that clearly needs to be taken completely seriously.

    Then there are people who don’t actively try to off themselves, but engage in suicidal behaviors, taking incredible risks and “tempting fate.” This is pretty scary as well.

    And then, there is the “figure of speech”–the “IFLKM”–that sort of easily rolls off our tongues or pens when we are beyond frustrated at a situation that feels beyond our control.

    With all the humor and life that Betsy regularly conveys, I suspect this is where she’s at. Glad you’re with us, Betsy!

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