Past & Presents - How Not To Die

“Past & Presents” is a collaborative photo project where I explore gifts that have been given to me in the past by people whom I have lied to, victimize, emotionally abused and exploited. I don’t know how to articulate that I am sorry with every inch of my being, but I do know how to use a camera, so for right now art will be my voice. SF

The Present: Ironically enough this is a book titled “How Not To Die” with a chapter on how not to die from suicide due to depression. This gift was not a target at me but something the givers had found had greatly enriched their lives and wanted to share than enrichment with me. It was a kind, thoughtful gift that said, “we care”.   I saw it as a statement of not being good enough and outright rejected the gift to the point where I left it at the givers home for months.

The Lies: Like many before, I lied to these people and I lied about these people. What was more damaging was the lies I told myself about these people, I believed they were ultra conservative to the point of being homophobic, I believed them to be unintelligent, out of touch and selfish.

The Truth: If I had been successful in suicide, I would have hurt these people the most and the cruelty of that potential act will haunt me for the rest of my life. Love is not a strong enough word to describe this relationship. When a person sees you with all of your faults, all of your deception, all of your terrible acts and simply loves you as you the power that comes from that acceptance is what has allowed me to recover. Despite all of the rejection, anger, hate and distrust that I spewed at these people they still believe in me, they still love me, and they will always support me.

I am thankful for the fire as it sent me down the path of having this mental breakdown at a fairly young age compared to many who struggle with similar mental illness. The greatest gift of that is these people are still alive to help me, had I continued my destructive behavior and broken down 30 years from now it would be likely that I wouldn’t have them to lean on.

These people have told me that they forgive me for everything I have done; they have said they will forgive me in the future if I make a mistake and encouraged me to live in the present. Forgiveness has made it possible to love myself and I cannot thank them enough.

In kindness,