When I was younger, I had a secret relationship. I was 12 when the boy from the English Public school started phoning me, a French Catholic girl, every single Sunday, for almost a year. He’d call me and we would talk for hours and I’d twirl the curly plastic phone cord between my fingers. If I ran into him at the hockey arena with my friends, he’d be ice cold and pretend not to know me. At first our secret “phone relationship” felt exciting. Eventually, as with many things done in secret, it left me feeling unworthy.
My childhood was fraught with “English vs French” sentiments, which played out at the local coffee shops and playgrounds in our small northern Canadian town. It’s a strange leftover tension from battles fought long ago, as if on a cellular level we just couldn’t let go of our ancestors’ baggage. Ours was not exactly a Romeo & Juliet romance. Mainly because we were 12 year olds and I’m pretty sure no one would have died if we had lived out our “crush” in public. Still, our backgrounds felt like a barrier and we hid because of it. Eventually he stopped calling and I moved on.
I often wonder what it was about that relationship that was so entangling for me? Was it the secrecy of it? Was it that he was such a popular boy in our small town? But, the truth is, things that are lived in secret eventually become a thorn. I remember after a while dreading his Sunday evening calls but somehow never giving myself permission to refuse to take the phone. I remember feeling trapped because it was exciting but also discouraging to only be admired in secret. I remember that the secret part of it became the most un-fun part of it.
Today is world suicide prevention day. I found myself in the principal’s office, talking about this painful subject. We got through the conversation, both emotional and struggling to wade through the murky waters of what suicide meant for both of us. I was a bit clumsy at first. But man, I would rather be clumsy than hide. I would rather feel awkward than safe. So we talked it through. And, we both agreed. This thing called suicide is complicated, and hard, and painful. You guys. Suicide is a hard thing to talk about. But it’s so necessary. So we shined a big bright light on it by talking about it and exposing it. One conversation at a time.
I still can’t believe how hard it was. But I just knew that when I walked out of that office, we’d conquered another small piece of the shadows where this thing called suicide hides.
It would mean the world to me if you could shine a light on the subject of suicide too? Because, unlike my 12 year old self’s forbidden romance story, people we love do die when suicide is kept hidden.
Let’s do this.
** I’d love to hear how you’re shining a light on this in the comments <3