They Both Die At the End (or why reading matters)

On September 5, Adam Silvera’s newest release entitled They Both Die At The End released. This is not a review of the book.

I have seen numerous tweets and Instagram posts about how reading this book emotionally wrecked people. As I saw all of these posts, I said to myself, “what is wrong with me? I didn’t cry at all while reading this book.”

The answer?

2017 has been a downright traumatic year for me.

In January 2017, my co-worker’s son was killed by an (allegedly–hasn’t been convicted yet….) drunk driver.

In May 2017, I found out that I have a tumor on my thyroid. It’s too small at the moment to biopsy so I don’t know what will happen with that.

In May 2017, a co-worker found out she has breast cancer.

In June 2017, someone I knew was murdered.

In June 2017, another co-worker died of cancer just 4 months after diagnosis.

I have faced so much hurt over the last 9 months that when I read the book, the one thing it did was made me feel grateful.

It made me feel grateful that I was alive.

But 6 days after I read Adam’s book, my world came crashing down completely. I found a friend’s suicide note on Facebook just 3 minutes after it was posted. I immediately called the police. Over the next 24 hours, I faced a whirlwind of emotions as it was first reported that he was okay only to learn an hour later that the police were with his parents—not him. He wasn’t found until the next day, at which point he was found dead.

This is one of the most traumatic things that I have ever faced in my life. I keep wanting to blame myself. I keep wanting to say, “if only I had seen it earlier….if only I had kept a little more in touch…if only…if only.” For me, I have learned a number of very unhealthy coping mechanisms over the years including self-harm (in particular cutting). For me, this traumatic event has made me want to self-harm.

Last night was a particularly traumatic night. It had been exactly 3 weeks since all this happened. I had an emotional disappointment earlier in the day, and then at night, I just lost it all together. The only thing on my mind was cutting. I felt that needed to bleed.

But through this, a thought that rambled in my head was about Adam Silvera’s book. I thought to myself, “this book reminds me that there are uncontrollable forces in this world.” It reminded me that while I can blame myself all I want, the fact is that my friend had bipolar disorder that he kept hidden from most people, including me.

I reminded myself that I did what I could do. I was put into a situation that I never expected to be in, and I did what I could do in that moment.

Adam Silvera’s book ultimately reminded me too that what I do have control over is HOW I spend my life now. What I do matters. What I do does impact others, sure, but what I do most of all impacts me.

Last night, admist tears and a deep desire to cut, I made the decision to not cut.

I couldn’t ultimately stop my friend’s death.

But I can stop me from cutting myself, even on the nights where it doesn’t feel like I can stop myself.

It may sound odd that with a book that brought so many people to tears, it brought me to a place where it reminded me that I have a chance to live through my own deep tragedies. That’s not a chance that everyone gets. Heck, 2.5 years ago, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to live through the deepest tragedy of my life. But I got a fourth chance at life (would have been my 3rd suicide attempt had I not been stopped).

And even among the tears and the deep pain, I’m not wasting this chance. I know that I will still have some really really painful days and nights ahead, but I am hopeful that I will always remember that I am alive, and perhaps it’s not by accident that I am still here.