Hanging On Until The End

“You should be dead, why didn’t you kill yourself? Most people kill themselves who’ve gone through that.” In most cases, a striking question from a psychologist to a patient, but the therapist was fresh out of college, his information from school hitting the hard cold realities of reality.

They thought about this as the internal scream rang over what had been lost. Their mind touched on how had they killed themselves as a child their life would have amounted to no less accomplishment, but much less pain. A scream with no listeners, besides maybe ministerial spirits, the angst of failures, and despair of a future with some small victories, but mostly loneliness, and worse. Age without money. The inevitable loss of more teeth, further wear on a body broken, and improperly healed time over time.

What had been stolen was a life of their own, one in which they might have shined. Though in most things age degrades, in hindsight it may enhance, and they could clearly see their young voice destroyed, love starved to hate, worth turned to shame, and how at every turn when things might flower in life, they could not speak, could not love, or could only step off the ever-present cliff astride the world’s embrace. All the more frustrating, that only now, after all was lost with the loss of youth, did they grasp who they were, what they wanted, what love might be, and that which drove the rage over mistreatment, their worth. They fought to not tamp down by despondence the flickers of what might still be, to try, and speak their poem, to love another, to realize their potential, but again someone had played with their heart, and the feelings that ensued brought them back in this room with this man. ‘Above all things do not feign affection,’1rang in their mind’s ear, and they thought of karma, and its’ cruel humor, poking back at all the young women they had hurt, for as poorly as their education had been delivered in the ways of relation, still they had felt when something they were about to do was deceiving, or hurtful, sometimes struggling without success, other times bringing hurt with relish.

And, of course, they had most enjoyed the willful destruction they had brought upon themselves, in an, ‘I’ll show you, by destroying myself,’ fashion, and it was this that brought their answer back to the psychologist without discord, “It’s funny you say that, that’s actually the miracle, if you call my recovery a miracle, that I’m still alive.”

“I do call your recovery a miracle, but I’m curious, what kept you going, why didn’t you give up.”

“Why didn’t I kill myself, you mean, like with a gun?”, they asked, and the psychologist gave not a nod, but a coaxing flinch, and they continued, “I don’t really know, it just seemed too easy, and also at the time I believed in hell, and all that, now it’s reincarnation, and though it’s okay to kill yourself with reincarnation, we’ve all done it,” they paused to see if therapist got the joke, it didn’t appear so, “I guess it was a few things, I don’t want to reincarnate again if I can help it, and I’m curious about how things are going to go with the apocalypse, and all, sometimes I held on because I wanted to finish the Star Wars Saga, but you know I really did try my best to kill myself by being wild.”

This was the nuts, and bolts reason they found themselves where they were now, with damaged vertebrae, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and nervous system, dishwashing for a living, because all lucrative work bridges had long since been burned, and though they knew their fate had been set in stone from birth, the true feelings underneath it all continued their mostly unconscious interchange between terror, anger, and sadness, with unresolved shame shedding its skin at times. They kept coming back to the same conclusions, ‘this is some real shit,’ and ‘life is so fucked up,’ and to those who look on, ‘Why is it so hard? Seriously, why?’

The psychologist knew some of their brushes with death, the heart stopping with a needle in the arm, the machete to the throat, he had an idea, but not an understanding of the incessant recklessness that spanned decades of his patient’s day in, and day out. “Let’s talk about recovery, then, what’s going on with that?”

“Ummmmm,” they took a long pause, wanting to get it right, “Recovery is… a trip, it’s… there are people there, who come in, you know I’ve been going a long time now, and so I’ve seen a lot of people come in, and stick around (or not), and everyone, or almost everyone, who sticks around gets some kind of help, you know, recovers the child within, learns boundaries, you know the program, right?”

“I’m not sure I do, you go to NA?”

“No, I go to ACA, Adult Children of Alchoholics, and Otherwise Dysfunctional Families.”

“That’s the name?”


“Okay,” he wrote it down, and waited for them to go on.

“So, I can’t share the things I’ve heard, because that’s-, it’s anonymous, but I can say I’ve seen people come in, and do things right, and then, due to no fault of their own, experience tragedy, I mean real tragedy, and it shouldn’t matter, but these are good looking, smart people, like, it’s really, really sad.” Another pause, as feelings had come up, and they wanted to try, and feel them, “And, you know it’s so sad that I cannot help but feel something, you know me, you know I don’t, or didn’t have the ability to connect. To feel anything for others.”

“I know, that’s-,”

“Yeah, so fuck, I don’t know it’s just so fucked up, they’re in there, out there in the world, they’re trying, they had such a hard time as kids, and it really fucked them up, but they’re trying, being honest, feeling the pain, and then they get- well, fucked up, they get even more fucked up, by no fault of their own, and I’m telling you this world if fucked up, man, this life is hard, and it’s just not fair.”


“And this is America, for Christ’ sake, we got plenty of food, there used to be, at least, plenty of opportunity, half the world is Super Fucked Up, I mean they don’t even have shit like ACA, or AA, or therapists, you know what I mean, I mean, aargh!” They finished not loudly, but with emphasis.

“But you’re not giving up.” And after this half query by the councilor, a long pause ensued.

“No, no I’m not giving up, I told you I want to see the Apocolypse.”

1 - Desiderata (Max Ehrmann)

Submitted: November 26, 2022

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