How To (Not) Save A Life

There is a sentiment that gets resurrected every Memorial Day: “If you need anything, if you ever feel like you can’t go on anymore, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would rather you talk to me for hours than attend your funeral.” This statement is said to the world at large, very generally, and I am sure it is said in kindness…but I wonder if these people have ever been someone’s mental crutch.

I wonder if they know what it is like to answer the call…over and over and over AND OVER again from the same person. I wonder if they know what it is like to stay up until four or five in the morning, listening to drunken rants and to incoherent sobs, talking someone off of a cliff again and again FOR MONTHS…I wonder if they know what it is like to begin to cringe when they see a name on the notification tab on their phone or computer and to hesitate, knowing what would come in the hours ahead…I wonder if they have ever dreaded a phone call, and didn’t answer, choosing their own sanity…and I wonder if they heard that the man put on his motorcycle helmet and hung himself in the garage because they didn’t answer that phone call.

Or what about answering the suicidal phone calls of someone else who saved their life? A debt was owed, no? And god forbid this one kills themselves too. So it begins again, with the added guilt of the last person they failed to save. There begins the listening, the soothing, the talking down…over and over…I wonder if the person offering help to the world at large has ever been told, “Why do you think I called you? You’re the only reason I am still alive…I have held a gun in my mouth and called you so many times. Your voice kept my finger off the trigger.”

I wonder if they know that responsibility, that weight…that terror.

Because I do.

And I can’t do that anymore. I can’t be that crutch. I cannot offer myself to another in that way. My responsibility is to myself and to my sanity. Do I wish for them to die? Fuck no. Do I hope they get help? Fuck yes. Do I think I am the person who can help? Not anymore. I will answer the phone if two people need me like that, Virkler and Salgado, and I know they would do the same for me (TO AN EXTENT FOR BOTH PARTIES). Otherwise, I have to protect myself now.

Because do you know what motorcycle helmets do? Prevent your eleven year old son from seeing your bruised and swollen face that was suffocated to death when he finds your body.

How fucking dare it be my responsibility to save someone from themselves? I can help to the edge of my boundaries, but I am choosing myself first.

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