Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Although I have never been an Idol fan, I became an immediate fan of Fantasia Barrino's after her first album dropped, and I fell in love with her as a human being after learning her life story. I saw so many similarities between her story and my own: young poor single mother, low self esteem, had been sexually assaulted, mistreated by her daughter's father, had a beautiful little girl, and was doing what she could to make life better for herself and her family. The only difference was that, unlike Fantasia, my ticket out of the hood wasn't Idol, but the University of California, Berkeley.
I bought her first two albums, I bought and read her book, and I watched her Lifetime movie repeatedly. I don't think there is anything about this woman that I don't like. I have an appreciation for the underdog, because I am she. I applaud the fact that Fantasia went back and got her diploma, the fact that she has sacrificed for her daughter and her family. I also applaud her for every single accomplishment that she has under her belt, and I was saddened by the news that she attempted suicide. I was saddened mostly because I understood. I was saddened by the reactions of others to the news.
Its always amazing how much people who have never walked a mile in someone's shoes have to say about choices that are made. I have read every reaction from "oh it was a publicity stunt" to "she needs to put "him" behind her and realize that her child needs her". I have to just stop and say that, when it gets down to the point when someone has chosen to take their own life (or attempt to do so), nothing else matters. A person is not thinking about working things out or who will be left behind or what might be different tomorrow. They usually arrive at that point because they have already concluded that things will not work themselves out, the people left behind will be better off without them, and that tomorrow will make no difference because tomorrow will be just like today. I've been there. I could even say that I vacation there. The thoughts, the breakdowns - I think Fantasia herself described it best when she said, "... that one moment of just breaking or feeling like I can't, I can't go on, it's too heavy." That's exactly the point of no return.
There are many people who see this point as an extreme weakness, and it is, its a moment when all control has been lost and the end is crystal clear. There are those who follow through, and those who are afraid to follow through. I think the one comment that always infuriates me, or maybe the couple of areas that people like to focus that most get under my skin have to do with talk of selfishness and talk of children.
Hell yes, to commit or attempt suicide is a selfish act, often the only time that a person feels that they are doing something good for themselves! Why wouldn't someone who is suffering want to end the suffering? Especially when the person feels that they have reached out and have not been heard or that instead of adding to the world they are either taking from it or that everything within them is being taken. So then to provide one's self with "peace" is highly sought after. Its not entirely that a person who attempts or commits suicide is being selfish per se, but rather that s/he is putting self first in an effort to be cured. Nobody wants to admit to experiencing and/or hear about extraordinary pain. The focus is always on being past said pain, never on the work it takes to get through the pain. Always "survivor" driven, but never centered on the recovery process. If recovery isn't allowed, pain can be so excruciating that death seems to be the only way to be freed from it.
I hate when someone says that a person must live because their children need them. Do you really think they don't know that already? The experience isn't about who will be left behind, but about the extreme pain that the person is obviously in. Adding more feelings of failure does NOT help at all! Its much more productive, as a friend, or as someone who is giving advice or words of encouragement to focus solely on the individual, NOT on what their decisions and actions would do to someone else!
Thankfully Fantasia had someone immediately at her side to do that when she woke up. Although I know that pain, I am very glad that she woke up.