The Ultimate Selfish Act

You know, I was in a good mood this morning.  I have a lot going on, but it is all good and I am happy with life.  I got into work on time after dealing with a bed wetting incident in the middle of the night (and by “dealing” I mean stripping the kid of his wet clothes and putting him – yes, naked, he is 3 – in bed with me.  I will deal with the bed when I get home from work, and next time I will not forget that all important “go pee” step right before bedtime).  I had a nice departmental meeting and finally sat down at my desk to read up on the news, sip my coffee and just generally get my bearings for the day.

I should have skipped the news part.  Within a few minutes I had read two stories that had sucked the charm and my good mood straight out of me.  Top stories that I could not miss, even though I desperately wanted to.  Let me warn you, this may be a bit negative and my views, to some, may be harsh.  I stand by them.

First told the story of an Indiana woman arrested for killing her 33 week old fetus by ingesting rat poison in an attempt to kill herself.  She, of course, survived.  The article made all kinds of noise about the dangers of this being a precedent for women who attempt suicide who “happen to be pregnant.”  SHE WAS 33 WEEKS!  The baby was viable!!! It was not like she just found out she was pregnant and had a meltdown and killed herself, she has known about this baby for MONTHS.  I don’t give a damn about her desperation.  Had she given birth and then shoved rat poison into its mouth there would be no issue and no activist groups would be outraged.  The father had abandoned her and she was trapped and felt death was her only way out.  It is her life and if she did not want to live it then that is fine with me.  Give birth and then go jump off a bridge.  The baby can be put up for adoption for all the thousands of couples suffering from infertility who desperately want a baby and she can have her escape.  Win-win.

I know this is a hot issue and people are passionate about where the line should be drawn.  There are those who think abortion is never acceptable.  There are those who think as long as it is inside a woman, it is “her body” and she can kill it if she wants.  [Aside: Let me be clear on my personal views, I would never consider abortion, although I will admit that anencephaly – and spina bifida to a lesser degree – terrifies me and I don’t know what I would do in that situation.  But Jay knows that if it comes down to me or this baby, baby wins hands down. If I have to be kept on life support until it is 30 weeks, so be it.  But then I also don’t believe that my personal views should be law or forced on others.  Morality is individual choice and cannot be legislated.]  I believe there is another choice.  Once a baby is viable you have had ample time to decide whether or not you want to be pregnant.  By then you have crossed the line from “it is your body” to “it is another life” and you have no right to take it.  This story just horribly saddened me.  There was nothing in the article that seemed to care at all about the baby, which I suppose should not surprise me since the baby’s own mother didn’t care about it, either. 

Being fed up and disgusted after reading about the above situation, I decided to move on.  I went to  I should not have bothered. 

The big, huge cover story was about a mother who, after a domestic dispute, loaded her 4 children (10, 5, 2 and 11 months) into her van.  She drove to the Hudson River where, for some reason she decided to let the 10 year old out of the van, and then she drove herself and the other children into the river to drown.  I suppose she is a shade better than Susan Smith because she at least had the decency to kill herself, but the utter selfishness and horror of it just turns my stomach.   The idea of what had to have happened in that van under the water bring tears to my eyes and rage to my heart.  And God only knows what the 10 year old who was allowed to live will be like for the rest of his life. 

I have lived with depression all my life.  I have been through times when I did not know if I wanted to live the life I had.  I had to look at it and make a decision.  A very, very simple one: was I going to live or was I going to die?  I had to make a choice and follow through with one or the other.  Period.  And once the decision was made there was no reason to ever revisit it.  And now, as a person who has been down more times than she ever wants to remember, who has admittedly by her own choices caused great pain to herself and those she loves and who love her, and as someone who lived with that guilt I KNOW what it is like.  I know shame.  I know self-loathing.  I know despair.  I know and understand the attraction of getting out permanently.  (If you are curious about my thoughts on depression, I wrote about it in The Flip Side.)  

I also know how selfish and self-serving all of it is.  I know how taking your own life is really just the ultimate fuck you to anyone who loves you.  Taking your children is beyond the pale.  You are not being noble.  You are not doing anything that can in anyway be considered doing anyone a favor – beyond yourself, that is.

I had a friend tell me once that if someone wants to kill themselves, fine, let them.  She just asks that they feed themselves to sharks or something so no one else is saddled with cleaning up their selfish mess.  Harsh?  Sure. But I don’t disagree.  You want to check out, that is your prerogative, as far as I am concerned.  Just leave the rest of us out of it.  And remember, the only person you are doing a favor for is yourself.  Unless your in Hell (and maybe you will be, I just have no absolute facts on the matter), it is only the rest of us who have to live with the consequences of your actions. 

Now, as Stephen King so eloquently put it: “Either get busy living or get busy dying.”

  1. Succinctly put, as always. I heard a revision of the Newburgh story. That she didn’t LET the 10-year-old out, but that he got the power window down before the van became submerged and swam out in 40 degree water.
    That he was soaking wet and suffering from hypothermia when he reached a fire station. So Mama wasn’t even THAT noble!!

    • These stories turned my stomach and made me wish for a Hell.

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