General Non-Fiction posted June 30, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Essay on life, essay on you

Take a Moment to Read...This is Me

by GregoryCody

My life was nearly taken four years ago. The sad part is that I would have gladly accepted it with open arms. Pain has become a comfortable friend for me since then. See, it gives reason behind the sadness, behind the inability to take joy in life. Without it, we are left to blame only ourselves - or have nothing to blame at all. When the pain drifts away so do the excuses. Sadness is a ravenous monster. Faceless. Loud. If I could only see its face, or hear its name then perhaps it wouldn't be so powerful, so frightening. There is no cage to lock it in or shackles to restrain it. It's a feral beast, hungry with anger, starved for attention, and fueled by hatred for its prisoner. I could never put it into words. I've tried. I've written an entire book of poetry on it. But words could never do it justice. It is a magnificent evil. It's hard to understand how a feeling, an emotion, could make you physically ill, could debilitate you entirely. Like a storm cloud hovering under the sun, this beast feeds behind my heart, steals every ounce of joy my life has to offer. It's internal. There is no logic to it and there is no way to tame the monster. It lives off despair. It inhales hope and exhales fear.

Life is a gift. I hear that often, especially in religious settings. Talk to the sufferers and offer them that nugget of insight. Don't be surprised by their reaction. Yes, life is a gift, but to many it is a burden - a gift never asked for. Many people say, "Just smile. Act as if you're happy. Be kind and remember how blessed you are..." What they don't realize is that it is exhausting, it is quite literally painful to "smile", to "act as if". What if that person had diabetes or cancer? Would you say the same thing? Mental illness is a disease just the same. Try staring at your life, your family, your friends and truly being ever so grateful, feeling ever so lucky. Then imagine feeling tears fall down your cheeks because you cannot emotionally feel it. Try breathing, walking, living but knowing you are dead internally. I've had two very dear, very close friends take their lives. ("Suicide is Sacred" and "Beyond the Sunrise"). Jacob ran to New York City and leapt off the Brooklyn Bridge. Cj hanged himself. I loved them deeply.

Growing up in D.C., I had no family. I had no one but my friends. They became my family. We all had tragically dysfunctional homes so we had to rely on one another. There were ten of us. Now 8. All suffer from depression today and call me when they fall. I know exactly what to say and what to tell them to do. Unfortunately, I am deaf to those words myself.

Four years ago, I caught my arm in a table saw. I nearly lost it. I came as close to death as one can get. Following that incident, I went downhill. I was reckless and I honestly didn't care if I died. Without a doubt in my mind, I would have been dead within a few days if He hadn't sent her, and no one would have found me. I was out of control and alone. I was there at the bottom when Candace came into my life. I was in bad shape yet this person saw past that. She saw me. She saw past the monster. I fell in love with her instantly. One afternoon I held her in my arms and looked up. I felt God for the first time that day. I mean, I really felt God. I had an infinite amount of conversations with Him within an instant. He had sent her to me when I was lost. He had heard my pleas as a child, begging to be found, begging for someone to just care who I was. It took thirty years but He had a plan all along. He kept me alive that night of my accident. He just needed me to hang on for just a bit longer, as His life for me was about to begin. He sent the flock to find His son, and I desperately needed to be found.

"God indeed made my heart beat that night...but she was the reason it asked to beat again"
-Within a Few Letters

When I had cried, as a child, He had cried with me; hugged me when I was begging for touch. He had been there all along - helping me stand, helping me walk into the future He had set before me. I thank God everyday for loving me, for being the Father I never had. I thank Him for finding me and for sending an angel to lift me from the trenches. I am truly grateful. Candace and I were married directly after.

Imagine knowing all of that. Imagine seeing this new, wonderful blessing of a life. How relieved would you be? How ecstatic would you be? What a gift. But now imagine seeing all of this, living this, and feeling nothing but sickness in your heart. Ah, now the monster's claws had come out; the sharp points of guilt. How ungrateful could one man be? How dare I not love, not cherish every minute of this newly received, beautiful existence? Guilt. Immense guilt. The monster whispers in my ear that I'm a failure, a disgrace before my wife, before God Himself. Guilt is the icing upon a rotting cake of mental agony, and it is heavily lathered on.

So yes, God is real and He is my Father. He loves us all. He does. I'm not sure why some suffer and others do not. All I do know is that there are certain paths, certain purposes for certain people. I do not know what the purpose for this pain is but I trust that I need to hold on to reach and fulfill His purpose for me.

This essay is not meant to be religious and it is not meant to be the story of a victim. I wrote this to try to explain how heart breaking mental illness can be. I wrote this to perhaps ask each of you to reach out to someone in pain. I'm sure there is one person in your lives, each of your lives, that is in pain. Reach out to them. Take thirty seconds out of your day. Look into their eyes, take hold of their hands, call them, write them, reach out, and tell them that they are NOT alone. Let them know that you love them and that you are there. This will not heal them by any means, but I promise you it will be embedded into their hearts. It will make the beast stumble, giving them a moment of relief. A moment for the sun to shine onto their pale faces. Something small to you can be large enough to possibly save a life. God is love. Let Him be physically present in your arms when you reach for them. I humbly ask that each of you please do this.

In conclusion, I want to thank you all here at FanStory. You have no idea how much you have all meant to me. This site - and each of you - have played a part in saving my life. For over a year, I was practically bed ridden with physical and mental pain. Some of you know the particular details. I wrote over sixty poems during this time, some dark, some religious, some hopeful. My only outlet, my inspiration, my drive, came directly from this site. It came from reading your beautiful work and developing friendships with you. I will not name you individually but you know you are. You know exactly who you are. From all over the world. Even an Aussie in Hawaii ;) Really though, you all know who you are and what our relationships mean to me. I can honestly say that I've never known a group of more loving, genuine and caring people in all my life. Your friendships gave me strength. Your praise gave me strength. Your love gave me strength. So I thank you. Each of you. For saving my life.

When I was finally able to lift my head from the depths I compiled the poems I had written since joining and gave them to a dear friend. Rama. She organized them and, before we knew it, there was a story, a kind of diary chronicling my every day through that darkness. This collection creates a story of pain, love, God and ultimately hope. It is my heart. My heart on paper. Rama, you beautiful soul, there are no words to explain my gratitude for what you've done for me. I love you. Thank you. I have no strength to do so now but I do want to get it published. I just desperately need the strength. As I told Rama, I don't even need credit for it. It can be an anonymous publication. I just want it to have the chance to reach people in pain. I want it to have the possibility perhaps to reach that one person who needs to know they are not alone.

I'm sorry that I have not been on here as much the past month or two. I've been trying to recuperate, trying to tame this beast. I have dips but overall it is a steady incline. I AM getting better and I have to remember that. So please never think that I am neglecting your wonderful talent on purpose. I genuinely miss each of you and I miss reading your work. I will try to post as much as possible but please never feel the need to read them. I have been bad at reading lately so I would never want you to feel obligated to read my work. I promise though, I cannot, cannot wait until I am well enough to be on here in full force again. This is my home guys, and in a way, you are all my family. I love you and I thank you for everything you have given me.

~Mahogany Prayers

(Dedicated to the family that saved me...)

I was once torn free of agony ~ threaded iron whiskers
Draped in the rags of a winter's mystery, I was stripped
Alive and full of breath then, but uncovered ~ naked heart
Gusts of frigid air slapped my back ~ the pulse of a dead twilight

Confident to deliberately present; the Lord's arms always fall
Water from a spigot dripping endlessly onto weary souls
Each uniquely identical, selected but one...the match to His son
The splinter to its groove ~ the divot dug onto mahogany prayers

I met the ones to be my friends, who'd lift my body to the sun
As I grasped at wet dirt, sought for a sinking foothold
The faces aglow became twigs, roots, rocks within my grip
Defeated, reborn ~ my life lifted its head from the earth

His sons to his brothers, brothers to His son
Forever my opened palms ~ grateful
My roots within the mud...
For a life saved...for a life won.

Thank you all so very much for reading. Please reach out to that person in your lives. Do it for me. Do it for them. Please know how much you mean to me. Please try and understand that some people live with a monster and that it's not their fault if they cannot smile. They need help. They need to know that they are loved. That is the only thing that can hinder its hunger. You are my family. I love each of you and I humbly thank you for saving my life.

Gregory Cody

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