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the story behind "pendulum"


the "pendulum" poem saw its beginning several years ago, and only recently was i finally able to pen it in its entirety. it was a great weight within me during all this time, with a lot of false starts and stops, so it wasn't easy to write. over my lifetime i have known several people who were not only suffering from depression but were in fact considering suicide... and more than one followed all the way through on that plan. though "pendulum" addresses a few of those individuals in two of its stanzas, they have not been the only ones in my life who have at some time or other considered suicide. i dedicate this poem to all those who have considered suicide yet rejected it, those who still struggle with it today, and in memory of those who have succumbed to those dark thoughts and lost their lives-- whether i've ever met or spoken to you or not.

"you're loved and you're often remembered
you're worth so much more than you know
words can never describe all the pain that i'll feel
if your darkness wins over your soul"

the most consistent underlying element i have seen in people who have considered suicide is their belief that they are completely alone and that no one in the world loves them. this may be the hardest illusion to battle against, because often it is triggered by distrust. someone very close in that person's life has let them down in perhaps the worst possible way, and if the people who are closest to this victim cannot be trusted, then how can they trust anyone else? if you only know this person who is considering suicide as a distant friend or relative, an acquaintance, or strictly online, it becomes even harder to convince them of the above quoted stanzas. the degrees of separation may seem insurmountable between the two of you.

"i'm sorry my light doesn't shine for you more"

this is one of my personal weaknesses. i never feel like i am good enough for the people in my life. somehow i've learned how to blame myself for things i didn't do wrong-- i wasn't around when i was needed even though i couldn't have known or was unasked for, i said something the other person took the wrong way, i'm too clumsy and stupid, i didn't try hard enough, etc. my biggest fear for my relationships basically boils down to being a terrible role model, supporter, and friend. i'm supposed to be a shining light, but there are times when even my light gutters and dims. during these moments i struggle the hardest between reaching out for other people to lean against for strength and keeping to myself so i won't become a burden to them. after all, the logic goes, i'm not the only one suffering and i have a better life than many people. instead of focusing on my failings or what i don't have, i'm supposed to focus on the positive things about my life.

these are the echoes of other people's voices, not my own. such trite sayings only serve to force you to deny reality, and to deny the opportunity for your pain to shape you into something stronger.

"to the young one who lost all his hope years ago"

this verse refers to a boy i knew who committed suicide while we were in middle school. despite the fact that i knew him only as one of my bullies, it was shocking and heartbreaking to me. i remember the last half of that day after we received the news as the quietest day of school, save for one girl's sobbing voice from another classroom down the hall. i imagine nobody took it harder than his twin brother whom he left behind.

"to the one who remembered me, lived"

one of the most humbling moments in my life came when my closest friend in middle school confided in me that she had considered suicide months before, but thinking about me she chose not to. i never understood what i had said or done to offer that much hope to her, but whatever it was, i'm grateful.

"to the one had his heart crushed again and again
still holding me, still tentative"

here comes one of the hard parts. this verse refers to my husband. there was a day very shortly before we got married when i was convinced he was about to commit suicide and it terrified me. i ran out in the night down the side of the highway for several miles looking for him, my only comfort and source of sanity a friend of mine on the phone, the only one either able or willing to talk to me at that moment. when i found him and asked him about it, he denied it, saying he was just taking a walk to clear his head. about two years later, he confessed that he had, in fact, considered suicide that day, and if i hadn't gone after him he would have gone through with it. very recently he has admitted that he had considered committing suicide at least eight other times since then.

"to the one who has faded away from my view
and whose fate i may never surmise"

i briefly had an online friend who had expressed a desire to kill himself. one day he stopped logging in, and nobody in his friends list or comments knew why.

[continued in "the story behind 'pendulum' - part ii"]
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