There is a girl I know, a girl who is closer to me than anyone else in the whole world. She talks to me all day long, in a familiar and cajoling voice.
She never fails to respond when I feel rejected or alone; she encourages me and puts her arm around my shoulder.
“You really shouldn’t be friends with that person anymore,” she whispers. “They will only hurt you again and again. Better off without them.”
“Rejection is too painful to risk,” she says. “And you’re sure to be rejected if you put yourself out there. I mean, really, look at you. You’re far too crazy to be accepted. Let’s retreat and stay safe.”
She especially likes it when I’m feeling manic.
“Let’s have a great time!” she urges. “Forget everybody else, let loose a little and be free!”
“You only live once!” she cries.
The thing about the Other Girl, however, is that she is always, inevitably, dead wrong.
She got me into trouble, this Other Girl. She caused me to question people’s motives, to mistrust even the closest of friends, to push my husband far away. She tempted me to commit reckless acts that would leave a wake of devastation in my path.
In order to contain her, I found within my psyche a secret place, a sort of sewer deep within the recesses of my being, where I could shove her, along with all my disappointments and fears and worries and anguish.
She didn’t like it in there. It was dark, and she raged to get free. I could always feel her there, pushing and straining at the manhole cover. I stood on it with all my strength to keep her contained.
One day, she overpowered me.
She exploded out of the sewer, scattering the accumulated shit of a lifetime as she went.
She screamed at me that I was worthless, that I would never be whole, that the world would be a better place without me.
I believed her. She was so strong, and so convinced, and so angry. I could not withstand her onslaught.
I tried to take my life.
The Other Girl told me it was my only option, and I listened.
In the hospital later, The Other Girl told me to wait, and when we got out, we’d do it again, but properly this time, so no one could intervene.
She was so emphatic, and I was too weary to stuff her back into the sewer. I looked around and the mess we had made together, and felt utterly defeated.
Fortunately, there were people in the hospital who knew how to help me. They knew about the Other Girl, and they weren’t afraid of her. They knew how to quiet her voice, how to render her impotent. They helped me clean up the mess; they let me know that now that it was out in the open, it could be dealt with.
They taught me not to stuff my emotions into the sewer, they taught me how to deal with them in healthy ways.
The Other Girl still exists. She is a part of me and always will be. But I know the feeling of her hand on my shoulder, and I know how to escape its grip.
Perhaps you know the Other Girl too. Perhaps she is even now telling you that the world would be better off without you.
I am here to tell you that she is a liar. Don’t let her get the best of you.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit The Mighty’s suicide prevention resources page.