2024-01-13: we used to tell ourselves it gets better but that isn't always true (CW: discussion of suicide)

years ago (and i mean decades-and-years ago) i was on a forum that in retrospect has become very complicated in my memory, but at the time just felt like fucked up young people helping other fucked up young people in a mostly supportive environment. one of the things we used to tell ourselves, that we used to repeat almost like a mantra: it gets better.

because, it makes sense, right? if it doesn't, what should we do with all this pain? i've kept up with a surprising number of those people over the years, and while it got better for some of us, it certainly wasn't true for everyone. a lot of the the people with hard lives kept hard lives, and a few decided to end them. there was one well-known/traumatic incident, around the end of the forum's natural life. and then a couple in the last few years.

i lucked out: the worst part of my life only lasted a year, and was well before the forum ever started. once the shame (& shaming) mostly passed, once i stepped back — i wouldn't say i've dealt with it well, but i'm still here. i got on with the business of the rest of my life. i picked a major. in retrospect, i picked a good major. i got an education, got a good job. i met a lovely girl and married her. she centers me. when she's next to me i can fall asleep at night. if nothing else my adult life has had love and security, and that's a hell of a good place to be.

and i've been thinking about that in the context of how many people i've lost in the last few years. too many old friends and acquaintances. car accidents, heart problems, overdoses. i'm not young anymore, but i'm not particularly old, either. most recently i learned about an acquaintance i'd met just after coming to this city, who i'd talked to a bunch and done a few social things with. he eventually got his phd, went west, got a job, started a family. i found out he took his life a little over a year ago.

i don't know how to feel about any of this, other than sad, other than, once again, i'm still here. i'm getting older and getting an understanding of how many people become frozen in time. outliving no small number of people i thought i'd grow old with. there's a kind of guilt to achieving what could maybe be described as the ordinary or expected trajectory of a life. being the beneficiary of something between statistics and dumb luck.

not sure what to say except that i'm feeling it; not sure what to tell myself other than this is what other people are going through as well.