“Tecum habita: noris quam sit tibi curta supellex.”
“Live with yourself: get to know how poorly furnished you are.”
Persius (34-62 AD, Poet/Stoic)
The best prayers I’ve found come from the book by Anne Lamott titled Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. The Help section offers many ideas that even I can grasp. Lamott writes of a God that “… has a certain kind of desperate person in Her care, and assigns that person to some screwed-up soul like you or me, and makes it hard for us to ignore that person’s suffering, so we show up even when it is extremely inconvenient or just awful to be there” (25).
More often than not I am that desperate person, not wanting to live but not wanting to die and asking for help is my last clawing finger hold on the awfulness of simply existing.
Screaming a silent Help in my head to myself is an act of futility, and help from a friend often comes with a “fix” as if there is some way to repair the circuitry that is alternately screaming or shut down completely. The oft heard, and well-intended, phrases “just snap out of it”, or “there are a lot of people who have it worse than you”, or “you’re as happy as you want to be” make me feel worse or homicidal which at least temporarily gets me out of my suicidal thinking, and luckily for me and the person trying to lift my spirits, I’m too beaten down and exhausted to kill anyone, even myself. Help! And from somewhere help emerges.
Having failed several times at relieving myself of the burden of living, I lamented to a friend that I couldn’t even kill myself right. Now the professionals who have, over the years, suffered through my suffering with me notice when I need to be relieved of the burden of even pondering the thought and suggest kindly but emphatically that being locked in, quite literally, to a little vacation from the world would provide me some relief from myself. Unfortunately my mind tags along. This time it’ll never end. It’s the big one from which I’ll never emerge. I do. I forget this one, yet fear the next. I can even get to Thanks and Wow.