I have a close friend trying to end a very toxic marriage. Her husband is having an affair and has admitted it. He continues the affair rather blatantly with no regard for the emotional impact it has on her or their children. He won't move out. Just the other evening, the police called her place of work with an emergency. They wanted her husband's cell phone number. The mistress was missing and had threatened to kill herself. The story is still unfolding, but no matter the detail, it is serious. I certainly question why the mistress, who is also married and has children, would carry on such an affair as much as I question my Friend's husband judgement. That said, I can only compassion for anyone that feels so distraught that exiting this world becomes perceived as a better answer. I don't understand how anyone, especially with children, can be so selfish to feel that their own conquest for solace should trump those who love and depend on them. Thankfully, I don't know such desperation and despair.
I recently learned Scott Hines had ended his life. He was a political colleague and a friend. He was the former Mayor of Rancho Mirage, CA. We first met in Washington, DC in 2010. We were both attending a Victory Fund Conference. I remember him standing up from the audience and explaining to Ray Ashburn, a Republican CA Senator that had recently come out after being arrested for drunk driving following a visit to a local gay nightclub in Sacramento, about the fears he and his partner had about the threat of legislation that could impede their ability to raise their children and why they ended up in California. Scott was unforgiving and definitively aggravated that Ashburn not only lived 2 lives, but would be a stellar opponent against LGBT legislation. He pushed Ashburn to a point where he made an apology that I only believed to be honest. It was because of this interaction I made a point of interacting with both of them following the forum.
I never stayed in touch with Ray, but most definitely with Scott. Scott supported other efforts I embarked on in the years following that conference. I've met 2 of his children more than once. We have many friends in common. We saw each other at multiple Victory Fund events following. Not a close personal friend, but a friend and someone for which I hold admiration. His reelection campaign in Rancho Mirage took turns I found unfathomable in 2010 in the Coachella Valley.
Not winning reelection had to suck, especially the way in which it unraveled. It sounds like he had a very favorable relationship with his present husband, who I do not know. I know he adored and was dedicated to his children. I understand there have been other issues plaguing Scott. Unlike the woman I mentioned above, here is someone whom I knew, at least somewhat well, and I can't comprehend such desperation and despair.
It's not as though I see life through rose colored glasses. To the contrary, I've faced many an obstacle in my own journey and along the way I've met, known and witnessed many who have traveled paths that are unfathomable.
On the surface, I was a fortunate child. Nice homes. Part of my education in an extraordinary private school, along with country club swim team and vacations to a beach house in the summer. Behind the walls of our home was my parent's contemptible marriage. Adultery, mental and physical abuse, alcoholism, made me very perceptive and advanced in years very early on, but also riddled with anger and dissatisfaction most of the time.
I was, at least I thought, rather popular in my early years of school. By 4th or 5th grade, however, it started to change and I became increasingly teased and ostracized. I was also starting to realize my own sexuality at a time not nearly as accepting. I was very vulnerable. Vulnerability that led to my being sexually molested by two different adult men, one ongoing, starting at age 13. The one had a son my age and I attended his Bar Mitzvah.
Being the 80's, I also was coming to terms with my sexuality at a time where "signing up" came with being on the bus being chased by the plague. I remember meeting my first person with AIDS at 18. I wasn't sure I could sit on his toilet seat. We became close buds soon after meeting. Ironically, albeit every bit, if not more tragic, after so many close calls with AIDS, he was murdered on a bus in Montreal. In a city that murder was far less likely than the New York I left in the same period. I knew over a dozen people, many near my age, who died by age 25. A unconscionable number.
In early 2005, I thought I'd crossed over that wall once and for all. I met the man of my life, I had a position I really loved and was excelling. I owned my first home, a California stucco Craftsman. My California Dream. My biggest worries going into this Valentine's weekend was what blinds I might do in the bedrooms. That Friday ended with my being unexpectedly attacked and without provocation. This lead to my having emergency surgery in my head. The story gets worse and the 3 years of litigation that occurred following; costing us a fortune and netting mostly only further desperation and despair.
Suffice to say, I've been challenged in major ways from a very young age. Every time I think I've reached my limit on challenges, my limit seems to be to be raised. I've been very hostile. I've been very remorse. I've certainly felt desperation and despair repeatedly. Yet, I don't know what can draw someone to feel that forcing their own exit from society is a better answer. On the surface, I tend to jokingly say "I'll take a few out before I am taking out myself." I am no more capable, in fact less, of ending someone else's life and honestly, I can't think of anyone I ever loathed so much to even really even fantasize such an idea.
I've had many moments where I hate my life. I wish I could just walk away from it. But never wanted to end it. I've even tried to force myself to think of it. But, it went no where.
Is it a positive part of my Catholic upbringing where I can't conceive of the ultimate sin? (I am a reformed cafeteria Catholic and now Episcopalian).
Is it because my parents, despite their shortcomings, raised me with tremendous self-confidence? No, that isn't it. They contributed to my own lack of self-esteem at various times and otherwise were negligent in at least my latter childhood. Not that they didn't love me, not that they didn't mean well overall, but we are a poster family of dysfunctional.
Is it all my beliefs and efforts in the struggle for equality? I have to continue to live to see them and be around to foster their future. It's hardly over.
Is it because despite my achievements, I yet to feel truly accomplished? I think that potentially leads to more desperation and despair than inspiration and desire.
The grass isn't always greener. The skies sometimes take a while before they clear. But, I do believe that it can get better and we should stick around to see what happens. I also know that I am loved and so are all of us. We owe it to others to be there and contribute to society in all ways we are capable.