My “R U OK?” story.
Today was “R U Ok?” day. A national day of action that aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones. Whether it is those words or simply someone asking “Are your alright?” or “What’s up?” Just a simple act of kindness can alter the course of one’s life. When I think about it just the thought that someone took the moment to see if I was okay has made a huge impact on my own life at different points of my own journey. Lately I’ve been pretty open on this blog sharing my thoughts, struggles, hopes and I feel on a day such as today, I should share just one of my experiences of when someone took a brief moment in their day to see if I was okay and dramatically changed my life.
It was 1999, my final year of high school. I was never a popular kid at school, if anything I was the social outcast and the basis of many jokes amongst the popular kids, At the beginning of grade 12, one of my only true friends at the time moved to Germany, I found my next door neighbour dead, I was forcing myself to believe being gay was a choice, dealing with my mother’s constant abuse of alcohol and of myself, sticking my fingers down my throat after each meal fearing I was fat at just 45kgs, add my finally year of high school into the mix and the pressure of at the time being the only one in my family to make it to grade 12, nothing but success was an option. I had always put up the front of “happy chad.” Something I still struggle with today, people don’t ask questions if you always seem happy. Anyways needless to say on the inside I was completely spent. One Sunday afternoon after another one of my mother’s outbursts which finished with her slamming my head into a wall because she had burnt dinner, I was left wondering what’s the point. It was right at that moment I remembered the train tracks not too far from my house. One step into the oncoming cargo train, I’d be able to forget about everything. I could finally get off the roller-coaster ride that was my life.
But there was just one problem. There was one last friend, that I knew if I just went and jumped in front of a train without at least seeing her one final time, she’d never forgive herself. She was the kind of girl, that would have over analysed to the cows came home. My plan was to see her act like everything was fine just so when I did do what I planned to, she wouldn’t be able to blame it on herself. So anyways I went to the bible school that she attended nearby, for one final hang out. The problem was, when I got there she was no where to be seen. I remember sitting on a lounge chair passing time, while inside thinking, “Fuck’n hell, so typical!”
It was during this time, that an American guy from Seattle who I had seen on the odd occasion at the school sat down and started talking to me. We had never really spoken before. He was one of the athletic looking types, the kind I had grown to despise from high school. He just started talking to me. Now here’s the thing, there wasn’t some big deep philosophical conversation, we just spoke. He didn’t say anything that was life changing, but some how through him just taking the time out of his day, sparked something from deep within that made me feel I could hold on for just a bit longer.
Now as the story goes, I didn’t meet with the cargo train that day. I held on for a bit longer, and well that little bit seemed to stretch out even longer. The two of us had many chats after that day from everything like the meaning of life to movies. He was also the one who enlightened me with Dave Matthews Band. Something I’ll will be eternally grateful for. He flew back to the America a few months later, we did keep in contact for a few years and somehow lost contact. See this is the other thing that constantly blows me away about life, people constantly cross our paths, some make major impacts while some make minor ones, the thing is, it’s an impact nonetheless.
I won’t pretend I’ve never felt like I had that day since, I’d be lying to you if I said I did. The fact of the matter is sometimes life is a real bitch, circumstances are circumstantial. I’m not gonna say life will be 100% fine and dandy, because the harsh reality is, it isn’t. At the end of the day it’s your choice what you choose to do with it, but remember a simple hello, smile, or even just asking “R U OK?” can change the course of one’s life in a way you never thought possible.
Nick Harris, I highly doubt you will ever read this, but know one thing, Thankyou.