Deciding Whether to Live or Die

This isn’t a very happy post, even though personally I am happy and delighted to be alive.

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I mentor t-girls. One lady whom I’m mentoring is wrestling with the question of whether to live or die. Fundamentally, it’s a question we all continually answer as we live our lives, but we generally claim to, or presume to, choose to live. If our actions end up being self-destructive then “oops” and “darn it” but it’s rarely a consciously decided unambiguous self-destructive action.

In the case of the lady whom I’m mentoring, her choices have become a lot more stark and urgent in their implications. Without divulging inappropriate detail, perhaps I can use the analogy of an airplane pilot flying solo and not being sure she wants to live to see another sunrise.

As a trans girl whose life has been a war zone with tragedy as its central theme, she’s seriously trying to figure out who she is, or as she phrases it, what she is. If she is able to conclude she’s female, she seems likely to want to live in a way that’s passionately intense, as evident in her writings and the art she values. If she cannot conclude she’s female then the plane might as well crash into a lonely mountain somewhere because she has tried and failed to live as a guy and she’s tired — bone-tired, exhausted — of trying and failing at life.

Unfortunately I personally relate to the quandary of being enthused to live as the girl I am, and being so unenthusiastic to live as a guy that my lack of enthusiasm was causing some severe neglect of my own body, a neglect that might well have ended with me ending up quite dead, as medical specialists candidly pointed out to me — and yet without that inspiring me to want to live under any circumstances other than with integrity.

I understand the insistence of the heroes of the human race, to live with integrity or die trying, or die otherwise. I am proud to share that insistence. I am unwilling to violate the truth of who I am. I am female. I am unwilling to compromise with anyone wanting me to pretend otherwise. My enthusiasm for life is so deep and vibrant nowadays that it’s difficult to remember that, four or five years ago, I was on my way to an early grave due to a terminal lack of enthusiasm to live as a guy.

For this reason, I am both a good choice and a bad choice for mentoring this lady. I can relate to her situation so well, but I can also not offer a magical short-cut out of the quandary except to figure herself out and then choose to live with integrity and the confidence, peace and joy that it brings.

The problem is that, in the analogy, the pilot is doing all this pondering while the airplane is in a dive and is headed towards the ground very rapidly. Deciding too late will in practical terms have the same effect as not deciding to live at all. Even if she decides that yes, she passionately wants to live, it might be too late to pull the airplane out of its dive. If that’s the case, then the most she can hope for would be to realize that she wants to live — right before she becomes unable to do so. Applying this analogy, the lady I’m mentoring is in a situation where the decline of her health represents the airplane in the dive.

I’m trying to find a way to explain to her that, fundamental to the decision-making process is the premise that the decision matters. That in turn requires being able to act on the decision. That in turn requires the airplane not being in the dive. So, regardless of the decision, I’d urge her to get the airplane back to safe and level flight first, and then resume the thinking process. This is not that complex a concept but so far I’ve lacked the ability to convey this.

Does this mean she is suicidal? Yes and no. Just in case, I’ve made sure she has access to the suicide prevention hot-line and I have urged her to contact them but … she’s approaching this in so cerebral a way that the pondering process has so far spanned months. The slowness of the decline in her health makes it difficult for me to inspire a sense of urgency. The airplane lost altitude very gradually, and has gradually been losing it faster and faster.

By now, in my opinion, it IS a crisis. But I don’t know how to help as a mentor. And no, I’m not being a counselor; I’m being a friend. She has a formal counselor who is professionally tasked with helping her.  So far, it’s not been working. Also, she’s not in Nevada where I could have helped by carting her off to a better counselor. And now, she’s too weak to travel to Nevada anyway.

After sympathizing sincerely at an emotional level, I’m now writing this as logically as I can in the hope that it’ll help inspire her.

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