I know the mainstay of your advice on such matters is basically to stop saying your life sucks and make your life look like what you need it to look like in order to be content with it, but what if a disability means I can never make my life look like what I need it to? What if I've spent years putting every effort into making myself happy with what I've got and fail every time? If I can't be happy in the position I'm in, and there's no way to get out, is suicide a valid option then? (3/4)
[cont’d] I simply cannot grow old counting all the things I cannot have, and I cannot make myself content with the things I do have and I am so tired of grieving what I’ve lost and missed out on. Help. (4/4)
For starters, suicide is never the better option, full stop. Whatever is on the other side, I would rather have you on this side until you absolutely can’t be. Can we make a deal about that? Your story isn’t done yet.
When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be a writer, or a musician, or an artist. I was interested in all of those things as hobbies, but I had one concrete dream that burned so fast and so hard that it had to be a goal. Yes, it was competitive, and yes, it was difficult, but I liked both of those things about it.
I wanted to be a fighter pilot.
I’ll let that sit in everyone’s minds for a moment now, and you can feel free to laugh at me if you want, because I don’t mind, I’m ridiculous. (joke: how do you know if there’s a pilot at your party? answer: they’ll tell you)(I should have been a pilot)
So I daydreamed and planned out this life for myself, and then, suddenly, my eye sight started to go. Not a little bit, like, oh dear child we should get you some spectacles. But like, um, let’s warn this child of the warning signs of imminent blindness. I went from whatever eyeballs are supposed to be to legally blind without correction in just a few years. I have a prescription that makes every new eye doctor scoot their chair back from the desk a little. If it gets any worse, they don’t make my sort of contact lenses for it anymore.
My eyes, they’re not very good at being eyes.
For the longest time, I kept that calendar where I wrote down THE GREAT ANNAPOLIS LET DOWN the day I came back from the eye doctor with a prescription officially too bad to ever fly jets.
You may have noticed that I am not a fighter pilot.
Yeah, I was crushed. Yeah, it was non negotiable. My body was and is never going to be able to fly jets. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find something that makes me feel the way flying jets was going to make me feel. I don’t mean in a “I’m traveling at 500 mph yay” way. I mean, what was it about flying jets that pleased me? Not on the surface. Deep down. What is flying jets a metaphor for? What does it mean to me?
For me it was about speed, of course, but it was also about usurping my way into a man’s world, and it was about feeling like I had a job that moved as fast as it possibly could, demanding all of my mental resources, and it was also about looking cool in aviator sunglasses.
I found a life that did that that didn’t have anything to do with flying a jet. It took awhile to get there, and I suffered from a significant failure of imagination when I first got dealt that blow of blindness. I don’t know what your disability is, but I believe in your imagination to find you a life that feels the same way as the one you want now.
And when you figure it out, shoot me a letter and let me know you got there. Remember that we have a deal.