In his book This Is How, Augusten Burroughs makes an important distinction between suicide and ending your life.
Via This Is How:
I realized suicide was the last thing I wanted to do. It was actually the opposite of what I desired. Suicide would not accomplish any of my goals:
1. Punishment of those who made me miserable
2. The infliction of lifelong guilt and remorse in everybody who had ever met me
3. Idolization by other suicidal teenagers
4. Something named after me (could be small but not a sandwich)
5. The end of my fucking nightmare of a life
6. Personality transplant
When I saw it this way, I realized something. It wasn’t that I wanted to kill myself.
What I really wanted was to end my life.
I hadn’t been able to make the distinction before really thinking it through. Ending my life didn’t mean I had to die.
It meant I could change my name from Chris to something more alphabet-dominant and with numerous syllables, not just the measly one. Something with the subtle sheen of celebrity to it.
As far as last names were concerned, I could toss my father’s creaky old rundown Robison right into the trash pit. I could pick myself a brand-new last name.
Come to think of it, was there any reason whatsoever I could not name myself after the legendary Burroughs Series E 1400 Electronic Computing/ Accounting Machine with magnetic striped ledger?
Oh yes. I could. If I ended my life I could start another one. Where things did not happen to me, but I made them happen.
Just because most people never even think to step outside their life didn’t mean I couldn’t do exactly that.
This little speck of Western Massachusetts was the only place I had ever known. But it was not the only place.
What did I really and truly need in order to be reborn?
Maybe just two things. A door. And then a highway.
I began to feel something flutter, then rise in my chest. It was the smallest amount of levity. It was the start of that feeling known as relief that I had assumed suicide would give me.
You cannot be a prisoner of your past against your will. Because you can only live in the past inside your mind.
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