“How could I look at my wife and make love to her, knowing that I’ve raped a woman just like her? How could I hold my children the way I used to, knowing that I’ve killed those innocent kids back in Vietnam?”
“Yeah. When I was about grade 4, I remember skipping school one day. It was right after their divorce. My mom was curious when the school called. I didn’t have a cellphone then, but she guessed where I could have gone and called my dad.”
“Just let me be. Am I not allowed to be angry, upset or frustrated? This is how I express myself, just like when you screamed or punched me a few times. Don’t try to kill my emotions. I don’t have to be okay.”
“Well, actually, it wasn’t. They’ve known her suicidal behaviour. She’s attempted twice before, and when she succeeded, it was at her aunt’s house. They thought she’d be safe with the constant watch of her aunt.”
“Have you heard of the guy in Japan who opened a cafe next to the mountain cliff? He did that so he could offer coffee to those considering jumping. There are so many ways to help. You don’t need years of knowledge on cohort studies or comparative analysis to start.”
I may never forget the awkward look on my mom’s face. It was as if I had suggested something that would put the whole family to shame. Or perhaps, that was exactly what I did.
“No, I’m totally surprised. You just seem so normal! Wait, was that offensive? Sorry, but please don’t take it the wrong way. And man, I can’t imagine, overcoming that must have been a hell of life experience.”
“What? Suicide? But people here have such a relaxing lifestyle without stresses from work, why would they want to kill themselves? They look happy!”
“Thank you for sharing your story with me. I feel very privileged. For me, you are still the same you since we first met, but listening to your experience has helped me understand you and why you think the way you do.”
It works like any drug that provides temporary relief, then it’s gone. So you do it all over again. Everything in moderation. The ability to balance all void-fillers plus understanding oneself may unlock the benefits of retail therapy.