Suicide and Sexuality, Part 1 by Kyle Phoenix

Recently brainstorming with my small team of friends and students on book topics we circled back to when I'd done several YouTube videos on depression.  There have been times in my life when I have been depressed, mostly out of frustration for some life situation I was in or at my family or at a failed relationship but never directly at my sexuality.  Insanely enough my sexuality is something I've never felt doubt about or allowed it to be trod upon.  Conversely there have been other areas of my life where I can't say I was always so bold.  

To some degree being very intelligent can be depressing because I'm also brown and this world projects a lot onto that physical state that I really had no say in.  That coupled with sexuality have often times put me out of sync with the greater numbers in my family, with classmates, with friends and even with lovers.  I had to learn how to manage my intelligence and not suppress it and I think I'm closing in within the next handful of years with having a grasp on "using it" properly.  By that I mean I've made some funky choices in friends and lovers and knowing that I was much smarter than the choices or even the friends./lovers has driven me to depression.  And inevitably depression suggests itself to varying modes of suicide.

In my teens there was the high school love affair break up that sent me spiraling in silence---because I wasn't out to anyone and the most melodramatic almost-suicide attempt with multiple credit cards, every sleep medication I could buy, a sojourn through Prospect park in Brooklyn and then as soon as I felt the effects of the pills---I ran to the hospital in Park Slope, delightfully next to my high school.  I wanted to die because I wanted Sean to love me and be a whole lot smarter and surer than he ever was capable of being as a teenager.  I wanted peace and rest from my own self, from my own thinking, from my life.  For about ten years after that my mantra was that "I don't want to die".

If I was job hunting and it got tough.
I don't want to die.
If I was in an argument.
I don't want to die.
If I was lonely.
I don't want to die.
If I had to pay a bill.
I don't want to die.

I lived a decade focused on not wanting to die as an overcompensation to at some point considering dying.  But that too, ala The Secret was calling in the impulse, the desire to die by considering death through not dying.  Every time I brought up to myself not wanting to die I was emotionally eroding myself, my inner strength so that when I stopped chanting it to myself I was left with the alternative of dying.  

Then I died.

To be fair, I was in the hospital and they gave me the wrong medication and the meds flipped my gourd out and I literally started to feel myself dying.  My body slowed down, my thoughts became sludge-like, my life didn't so much flash before my eyes as it went through an organized check list but I just kept getting sicker and sicker until one day I lay on the bed and accepted death....and closed my eyes.

Then much like my Lana Turner twist in Prospect park a decade earlier, I woke up.  It wasn't some sort of---"I want to live!" movie scream (good movie by the way) but it was more of----oh, I'm not done here yet.  Again. 

I try to take one day a week to just rest, to sleep, to get 12 to 17 hours of sleep---to rest this mind, this heart, this spirit.  I have found that I no longer have to be everything to everyone. I regularly give myself permission to curse people the fuck out and to walk away from any person, place or thing.  That was one of the big engines of my death revelry---I had a terminal case of the Disease to Please.  I caught this disease from exposure to sexual abuse, parents with multiple addictions and my own prodigious intelligence.  My knowing gave me so much insight early on that it flooded my brain with too much information and not enough emotional maturity to handle it.

Yet I was never conflicted about how I define my sexuality including men and women, and I guess transsexuals (there was that one time.....) but not animals nor children, as omnisexual.  I sit with a lot of men, some women too and they tell me of their angst at whichever way their sexuality wind blows---ohmigod, they lament it, they sail on the pain, they crucify themselves on their feelings, on their confusion.  People tell me lots of stuff because I am non-judgmental---that doesn't mean I don't have morals or some beliefs, it means that I'm extremely flexible in what I see in people, what I expect.  Rarely am I finger wagging as much as asking---"Was that your best thought?"   I simply can't imagine being so upset by it but I have considered killing myself over break ups that now I realize I was reallllllllly lowering myself to even try and attempt to love such a person.  That I was in truth, finding ways to abuse myself and here's what makes me a motherfucker---when I connect to the bottom line truth of what I'm doing---I shift immediately.  In order for the phoenix to rise, first it must burn.

I had a friend a few years ago who was self destructive and passive aggressive but I was loyal to this friend because one of the Disease to Please and two because we'd been through so much.  Then one day I found out, ahead of time, that the friend intended to betray me and ruin my work and home stuff with some financial madness.  Suddenly I got it about this person.  Not that I hadn't gotten it years before, not that people hadn't mentioned it, not that the writing wasn't on the wall but I got tired of softening the person's madness.  I got up and silently walked away.  Not a look back, not a dark word, just bounced.

Another time I was in looooooooove.  LUV---Love! and this dude was bouncing back and forth in his madness and I was I willingly participating with him.  We went to dinner and as I was letting him convince me that he was available if and maybe I did such and such  I looked at his teeth.  They were little rat teeth to my eyes.  I got up and walked away.  I yearned for this guy, I cried for him, I pleaded with the Universe to give me this---and suddenly he arrived back as a possibility and I said no.
I realized from the two instances that those were times that I died.  That with each of them I left some deformed piece of myself that was the key, the rope in our relationship.  I killed off some element of myself to free my belief that they were appropriate for me.

Are there days when I still don't' want to die or do want to die?  Yes and no.  Oddly once I popped back from the whole hospital stuff---the death urge was gone because I was alive.  I let go of that mantra because to my own knowledge at the time, closed my eyes in what was to be death.  Circle completed.  I wish I could tell you that as an only child, the healthiest member of my family, and I'm eating kale and every other green veggie to drop a few pounds and avoid diabetes and heart disease and cancer that have buzz sawed through my family, that I don't see death on the horizon directly and passively.  I see it in the horrendous things my family have done to their bodies, I see it in the amputations and the cancers and the high sugar levels and I know that I'm going to outlive them all.  On one hand---yay, I live! but on the other hand, I'll be alone probably within a decade or so---all of my original family will be gone.  Don't get me wrong---I don't like all of them and a few of them hopefully there will be some pain in their deaths---but I will have my other family, the family I've created but not those people.  

Another "me" will have died.  No one but me will hold childhood memories, secrets, knowledge of who's in various photographs.  And not being "known" but still existing I expect will be immensely freeing and terribly lonely too.  I discovered at my mother's birthday party a few weeks ago that a cousin remembered the walls of our apartment when I was what---3 or 4 years old and when he mentioned it---I had the blurry picture.  But only a couple of people remember that.

One of the roads my sexuality offers is a sort of spiritual/physical suicide of hope of self through fear and a rapacious predatory sexuality towards men---terming them meat or trade, debasing the homosexual with sexuality.  I teach a workshop where we work on dismantling fear of men, anger at men and once I prick the skin of that beast it all comes out.  I often stand a midst anguish and pain and I have to not identify with it but see it, comfort it, reshape it maybe even bring some closure to it.  Then I go home, both energized and drained and I contemplate my own selves, all the dead ones and if there are more within me, ready to die.  And how will I know when I lose a parent or a child or a lover, if the "me"that's dying isn't just a piece of useless char but one day, the real me, the totality of me?  

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Kyle Phoenix
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