Tired from another long day I entered home and immediately knew something was wrong. It was very quiet and the only light on was in the kitchen. Entering the room it was spotless, clean dishes and glasses shining in the dishrack of the sink.
On the table there was note. It read:
"Dearest Lee, I love you but I can't take it anymore. The girls are at Mum and Dads. Goodbye sweet man. Tell the girls I got sick and died. Don't worry, I know you will find a lovely new wife. I love you. I love you, xxx Susan"
I ran down the hall, burst into the bedroom and there lay Susan on the bed. I lifted her up tears flowing, she was alive, very groggy but incoherant. A rich cocktail of emotion then raced through me. I was angry, distraught and relieved at the same time. At any other time I'd have called an ambulance but that isn't what I did. I sat there hugging her and she tried with all her might to speak. I lay her down in a comfortable position and lay beside her. I decided to wait and lay there till her condition changed one way or the other. As it turned out I lay there, our faces inches appart, all night and into the next morning. What the fuck was i doing not phoning for help? God knows.
About 9am she opened her eyes and spoke ... sorry .. sorry ... we hugged and cried together for an hour or more and after coffee and a light breakfast she came around to 'normal' The next day we resumed life as if nothing had ever happened.
Susan was 18 when we wed at the Ridgehaven Assembly Hall Adelaide South Australia. Now she was 24 with two beautiful daughters. I was a well respected MS, building a strong business and had almost finished renovating a home we were well on the way to owning. Life seemed wonderful but with the pressures of long workdays I was rapidly turning into a womans worst nightmare. A male chauvinist who didn't even know he was one. Just at the time when she needed me most I was abandoning her emotionally.
Later I learned that, on top of whatever crap i was putting on her, Susan was suffering post natal depression. We'd read about it in the "baby manual" but it said P.N.T. was common and didn't normally last long. I also learned that her paternal grandfather suicided when her father was 5 years old and her Elder father fought the urge to top himself his every waking day. (isn't that untheocratic? .. I think you get demoted to a 'second resurection' .. a class stigma bad jws get to carry into all eternity)
That little incident would have set the alarm bells ringing in the thickest of craniums but no not me. Less than a week later I was back to being 'head of the house' It didn't take much to bully someone as sweet and mild as Susan and I was a real bastard. (pisces are pushovers)
These things were happening in the mid 1980's and looking back, there seems to have been an epidemic of suicide around my life about then. One day my elder sister called me sounding desperate and pleading me to "come 'round and talk to Derry". Her husband Derry is a Vietnam Veteran. He introduced me to the marvels of Jimmy Hendrix and Stevie Wonder and other psycodelic rock. He even painted his lounge room black and installed special fluoresent lights that made your shirts look strange colors. The only furniture was 3 black beanbags and the cartridge powered quadraphonic sound system that made the house shake.
Gently pulling my car to a halt in the meticulously groomed gravel driveway my sister raced up and half whispered: "he's inside be carefull" This puzzled me and made me feel nervous as i walked through the open door and into the silent house. The door to the lounge was open and I could see Derry's outline facing the other way and sitting bolt upright in the bean bag. "g'day Derry" I say quietly as i slowly walk around to face him .. no responce .. i'm in front of him now, his eyes are closed as if in meditation .. as i slowly ease myself into a bean bag facing him, my eyes start to adjust to the light and for gods sake he's got his rifle at his feet. Something calmed me from doing the natural thing of jumping up and throwing the rifle out the window open or not. Life doesn't imitate hollywood that well.
I just sat there and after a while he opened his eyes and asked "what are you doing here?" I said "i'm not here, this is just a dream, whatabout you, are you here?" he said "you'd better go away Lee, i'm going to kill myself" I said "you can't do it now, I don't wanna go and i don't wanna see your brains blown out" the conversation got pretty weird and went on for a long time. When the sun rose so did we. Over tea and toast life got back to normal.
Derry's main problem seemes to have been my sister marrying him "out of the truth" then going back to meetings etc... Derry is still a bit weird but now very happily married to a nice methodist girl.
About the same time one of my sisters was draining me emotionally with her depression to such an extent that i started loosing sympathy for her. Years later mum said that she spent days in the nuthouse crying out for me while i was 1,000 miles away full of my own trouble. Such is life.
Another day I came home to a quiet spotless house and a note similar to the one i'd had before. Susan loved me but was going to take her own life. This time her car was gone, what was I to do? Many desperate phone calls and driving about in my car bought no news. After about 4 days with no sleep I confided all to my father in law. We agreed that I get some sleep then set about calling every hospital, the police, salvation army etc...
Going home I again started crying uncontrollably into my pillow. While sobbing in prayer I began hallusinating and drifting in and out of some kind of dream state .. during this a freaky idea hit me .. please Jehovah I will do ANYTHING if I can have Susan back again ... I'd sell my soul! .. that's it .. it's worth a try ... Satan Lord of the dark you can have my soul if you help me get Susan back!
Just then I sat up and one of the strangest feelings of my life came over me .. it sounds stupid but I actually felt something leave me. Now I rationalise it as a natural psycological thing bought about by my lack of sleep and highly arroused state. Drugies have told me of similar things. But at the time it really freaked me out. What the #$@% was that? Jehovah removing his Holy Spirit? Was it the Devil taking my soul? I lay there in wide eyed astonishment that it worked... i'd done something big and I soon fell into a deep sleep.
Waking up I thought well, i've sold my soul to Satan, Jehovah's removed his Holy Spirit .. the gloves are off. I thought that if Susan hadn't managed to kill herself she'd probably rent a flat somewhere. To do that in SA one had to fill out a 'residential tenancy' agreement. Calling the 'residential tenancy tribunal' under the guise of a police sergant, they said if I called back later in the day they'd have the address of any Susan ______'s on thier record. That afternoon I rang again using my deepest 'thick sergant' accent. With other public servants giggling in the background (obviously I was over doing it) the guy gave me an address.
I went around there and met Susan. We talked long and deep and it became clear that a lot of Susans problems were due to us returning to the congregation of her youth. Guilt over impure thoughts, guilt over never being good enough (Susan is very bright but her straight A's from school were met with a shrug), guilt about not feeling "joy in service", now other guilts, guilt at not even being able to suicide properly and so on...
I immediately put our house on the market, borrowed money from Susans father and we went on a 3 week coach tour of New Zealand. We had the time of our lives. As soon as I got back, our house sold, I passed my business on to the 'real unclebruce', packed everything we had into a large trailer and headed for Sydney. No goodbyes no regrets.
Arriving in Sydney we attended a few meetings then Susan said she couldn't go anymore. "It might be the truth but it isn't for me." was her simple philosophy. I went to a few meetings on my own then thought "bugger this .. if I have to die at Armageddon for the love of a woman so be it" I walked away and never went back.
Susan had bouts of depression but slowly and surely climbed out of it till, by the early 90's, she had graduated with honors from university and was begining a teaching career. Susans depression never returned and by the late 90's I even stopped calling her "my little black cloud"
While I was in Sydney another of my eight brother-in-laws was having problems with depression. Peter was a user but my sister couldn't see it. All his screaming and abuse was met with "poor Peter" (the worse thing possible in my book) At that time we coresoponded a lot and shared music interests (the pogues, elvis costello, tim buckley etc..) Joanne phoned and said Peter admitted himself to Glenside loony bin (i think that's the name on the gate ;) and could i write.
I wrote a long letter and inside wrapped in black inluded a sealed "Peters eyes only" section. My sister phoned and asked if she could look in the sealed section I said "no, only Peter is allowed to see it" The next day she went to Glenside and handed Poor Petie his sealed message. By all accounts it had a huge effect. The nursing staff were horrified. The man was in there being treated for suicide and all I wrote was "Silly Bugger!" ... pages of it in every different font style i could think of.
SILLY BUGGER silly bugger SILLY BUGGERSILLY BUGGER silly bugger SILLY BUGGER SILLY BUGGER SILLY silly SILLY BUGGER and so on and so forth...
Peter later told me my sealed section had him laughing for days but it was the old woman trying to remove his clothes all the time and other real lunatics that made him realise he wasn't really crazy. I guess locking yourself in a cell each night while various mad folk try and break in has a sobering effect on a man ;)
A few weeks before we left Adelaide we helped erect SA's first "quick build" Kingdom Hall at Murray Bridge 50 miles east of Adelaide. The Murray is a big muddy river, Australias Mississippii. We took our lunch break on a picnic blanket underneath giant river gums overlooking the slow moving water. We had a young sister with us who was progressively driving me nuts with her depression and negitivity. Jackie was suicidal. During lunch she pushed me once too often and I rolled her little frame up in the big blanket carried her to the river, the wife swinging one end of the parcel, me the other, one two, three .. we tossed her in. This brightened her up for that day at least.. and she says it's one of a number of things that helped her on the path to recovery. She is now contentedly married neither of them "in the truth"
anyhow i've raved on way too long but i guess all I am saying is that people wanting to suicide are not suddenly less human and we needent pussy foot around them any more than we wouldn't give an old lady the wheel chair ride of her life! (another day)
I have known many JW women who are sent spiralling into depression by the misogeny and guilt induction of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I am convinced that male power/control freaks are a womans greatest enemy and the downfall of inumerable relationships. In the Kingdom Hall women are of little value, men rule. It's so mindbogglingly stupid I get lost for words. Is that why "tea and cake" isn't done at the Hall? I mean even in these days of womens lib, women still seem to control the china and cake tin. lol.
I know two beautiful young sisters who succeeded in taking thier own lives and many who rollercoaster between, Jehovah, the pills and the madhouse.
The W.B.T.S has set up a religion of pain and sorrow while promising freedom. It's a sad sorry story and the sleazy way they operate make me wonder wether we really are dealing with "victims of victims" here or something much more sinister and evil. Not that it matters, the end result is the same.