By John Gregory Evans | Featured Contributor
Life can be quite demanding.
One may find themselves trying to overcome childhood sexual abuse and jump from the frying pan into the fire by volunteering with the USMC during the Vietnam War from 1971 to 1972; subsequently, sexually molested by a mid-level NCO while serving active duty through Combat Training. As well, with combat related scenarios one may also be injured upon a field training exercise after three consecutive explosive blasts are detonated, hurling an M-60 spent cartridge to its potential target, a young seventeen – year-old male’s cervical spine, thus, inducing a permanent nerve damage that could potentially one day paralyze him from the neck down, including the larynx. Hence, my patriotic chore that led a confused, dazed, and mystified young man to serious suicidal attempts and further ideation. This continued for many years.
Will there ever be relief?
Will the suffering end?
The answer to this is yes. Give yourself time.
For me, a survivor of childhood abuse, and of Military Sexual Trauma, suffering was inevitable. Suicidal attempts (there were three), and an ideation so in-depth and permanent, suicidal thoughts remained embedded within my consciousness for years to come. Suffering is difficult even on our best days. Given the conditions within my experiences, suffering became a way of life.
But it does not have to be this way.
My relief came through reading books. I began with spiritual self-help books and spiritual poetry that somehow lit a fire within my soul. This experience itself, was and remains a life altering, cataclysmic, and resurrected occurrence. Upon reading Jane Hirschfield’s Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, and Gary Zukov’s Seat of the Soul, I explored further, investigating the euphoric and esoteric value with how these two books changed my life forever, and for the better. I discovered not only the real me, but my predestinated purpose to live. I discovered who I always have been, who I was now, and who I shall be from here on out: a master poet who has embraced ideals as systemic racism, sexism, and equality for all, a true democratic value for all people—that I can now write about.
My favorite excerpt from a poem by poet Nelly Sachs helped me to see how in death, life begins:
Press, oh press in the day of destruction
The listening ear to the earth,
And you will hear, through your sleep
You will hear,
How in death
But, for the first-time reader, this does not mean to die a physical death, but through your suffering, and through your sleep (we are all asleep until we grow through the acceptance of our failures, and of ourselves), then, and potentially, only then, will your soul’s eyes begin to see, how spiritually we must die to our selfishness before we can see that life truly begins. You must look within your own heart and accept yourself as you are, broken and worn down, and discover a beautiful thing: you. You are worthy! How about that? You are worthy.
So, healing has become an option. Certainly, your purpose may not be as mine, but yours may be as educator, scientist, teacher, writer, architect, designer, or whatever your heart has always been aspiring to show you. There remain so many opportunities for a comfortable, abundant, and lucrative life, both in spirit and in personal achievements. One important imperative is once the act of suicide has been followed through, none of this endearing and achievable experience will occur, for once the hammer hits, there is no coming back.
Life I may now see as worth living. Since I have discovered my heart’s desire and chasing this dream to be a successful and master poet, I have not ever been so happy. Happiness remains with me every day. Your purpose may be different than mine, but as I lay in that field of rock and dirt at MCB Camp Geiger, back in 1972, paralyzed for a moment, bleeding profusely from the neck, stunned and dazed, I sincerely thought I was going to die. Now, from a near death experience by fault of the humanity factor, and then desiring to die by my own hand is exceedingly oxymoronic.
Think about that for a while.
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If you find yourself having thoughts of suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Or just reach out. Because we all need to reach out sometime.
John Gregory Evans is an author and poet who writes from the gut, transforming free-verse poetry of his life experiences, good or trauma-related, and craft into art. His accomplishments include having authored a comparative paper with regards to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture “Ecstasy of Teresa” and Eros in terms of understanding the differences among human espousal love as an ecstasy cooperating in a divine manner with Christ.
Evans lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and Shih Tzu named Paavo.
John’s Blog: JohnGEvansPoet.com
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