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Compassion / Pay It Forward

TW: mention of suicidal ideation

Ron had two really bad days in a row, and didn’t sleep in between. Ze told me ze was suicidal. On the first day I took time from my visit with Banji to have an extended phone conversation with Ron, anything to keep zir connected. On the second day I drove for five hours, successfully chaired a 90-minute meeting, reconnected with Fox after 5 days apart, then welcomed Ron into our home at 10:30pm. We decided to hang out in the back yard.

I knew Ron was intense, but I’d never seen zir like this. Angry, agitated, refusing to hug me, talking a mile a minute, saying all the work we’re doing is killing us and we can’t win and why are we doing it?, throwing information at me so fast I couldn’t understand it, much less try to figure out how to respond – all with this self-righteous attitude, like I owed zir something.

We kicked a soccer ball back and forth. I stood my ground, maintained my composure, tried to find the balance between comforting and “tough love.” Ze talked about how wonderful I am and how much ze wants me and how lonely ze is and why does everyone hurt zir? It took all my effort not to cry.

Ron felt cold, so we went inside. Fox cleaned off the bed so he could hang out in the bedroom, while Ron and I took over the living room. “I just need to sit quietly for a while.” “Do you want to lie down?” “We can do that?” “Sure.”

We lay down on the futon, zir head on my chest, our arms around each other. It was wonderful. I held zir close. Ze was still cold, so I gave zir blankets. It wasn’t long before ze fell asleep.

For a while I lay there, listening to Ron snore, but a sadness crept over me. I was holding someone as they slept, but it wasn’t Fox. I should be – I wanted to be – with my husband.

So I slipped out from under Ron’s arm, made sure ze was well covered by the blankets, and joined Fox in the bedroom. I snuggled up to him and he held me while I told him about my concerns and how Ron’s behavior was affecting me. I checked on Ron a couple of times; ze was sleeping soundly. So I did my best to settle in and sleep next to Fox, who was watching a video. He rubbed my back, which felt nice.

Ron woke around 2am, thanking us and saying ze had to go home. We said a rather awkward goodbye, then I rejoined Fox.

We talked about what we each could do to try to help Ron – if ze’ll accept our help. I told Fox I feel like this is an anomaly, and usually I feel wonderful around Ron, and ze is such a beautiful person, everything ze does is to help other people, and I feel like our relationship has had such a positive influence on me. Fox reminded me how powerful depression goggles can be, and how difficult it can be to get someone you love to see past them.

I cried against his chest, saying: “I remember when I was suicidal, how painful it was, I felt like I didn’t have a future; there was so much I couldn’t see. But you were there.”

“You want to know what helped me be there? What I drew from as a source of energy?”


“Love. And the connection I feel with you.”

I told him I feel so blessed, and I want to pay it forward. He said he needs to do more to pay his blessings forward, too.

The next day one of the Committee members was yelling at me. She’s in her early 20s, Maiden aspect, powerful and fiercely protective:

“You can’t take Ron on as your next ‘project.’ You think you can fix zir? Ze’s not going to change!

“I am sick and tired of trying to be what other people need. We can’t go around trying to heal everyone else. You need to put yourself first. You need to protect [the Wounded One] and take care of [all the Committee members].

“What are you getting out of this relationship, anyway?”

Well, I’ll be honest, it feels good to be wanted and needed. But it’s more than that. I truly feel like we have something special, like this relationship contributes something unique to my life and enriches my other relationships.

We just … Well, all four of us have mental health issues. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have and/or meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis, now or at some point in their life. Considering 1 in 5 adults in America experience mental illness in a given year, this most likely is not an unreasonable statement, nor a rare occurrence.

I could make some social/political commentary, but I’ll save it for another post. It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, so I intend to write some more awareness / social justice-related posts anyway.

The point is, if I run away after my first intense encounter with Ron’s symptoms, I could be depriving myself of something beautiful. And I … I wouldn’t be alive if Fox and/or Banji and/or other loved ones abandoned me when my symptoms became “too much.” I’m sorry (not sorry), I’m a healer. I might not be able to “fix” or “cure” Ron, but I can be there. I can hold zir while ze falls asleep.

And as much as my parents wounded me by running around with undiagnosed mental health issues and requiring me to keep the family from descending into complete and utter chaos – I’m not a child anymore. I’m an Adult. I can set and enforce the boundaries that were once forbidden. I can monitor, respond to, and prioritize my own needs. And I can communicate them.


2 thoughts on “Compassion / Pay It Forward

  1. Pingback: a day with depression

  2. Pingback: a day with depression

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