Afraid of the Dark

By Andrew Best

On the anniversary of his mother’s suicide, Andrew Best posted this beautiful and powerful piece on Facebook.

27 years ago today, Susan Adams Ferguson locked herself in a lonely room, wrote, “I love my children” in lipstick on the mirror and then took enough medication to extinguish her pain, forever.  She was my mother.

David Raithby says that Passion is the pressure of the soul to be released.   I think what’s even worse, for those of us who feel we’re going to burst if we don’t find an outlet, is smothering that passion until our world folds inward on itself and the last pinprick of light disappears.

I can only assume that the wretched life my mother lived before she died was so devoid of any light that she lost her fear of the dark.

For the first 35 years of my life, I was terrified of that darkness.  “You’re too sensitive….so much like your mother”… always haunted me.

What I’ve learned is that for those of us who dream big, love deeply and play hard – the inevitable disappointments, heartbreaks and gut-wrenching loss can feel eviscerating.

Anaesthetizing (with drugs and alcohol) and distracting myself (with work, relationships, travel, shiny things) didn’t work.  That god-awful insistence on “staying positive” only left me circling the drain.

I was pretty determined, so I voraciously hunted for “meaning” and “answers”.  After all, our mothers are the essence and symbol of life, right?  They’re not supposed to be its antithesis!

If I understand religion, it says “don’t worry, this life may be shit, but the next will be better”.  Self styled “gurus” say “let go of attachment”, which to me sounds a lot like disengaging from life to the point that nothing really matters anyway.  Then we’ve got those snappy folks like Anthony Robbins who say to simply change our focus and our “state” will follow. Ayn Rand’s world of reason sounded oh so seductive, but at the cost of compassion and meaningful connection. All these philosophies seemed to require the choice between abdicating my heart or mind….wtf?!  Not very helpful, thank you very much.

Every day I see many forms of passive suicide: people circling the drain  through the inexorable force of inertia, cynicism and self destructive eating, drinking, smoking and extreme risk taking.

All I can say, to all of you with big hearts and minds is: stop suffering in silence and isolation. I’ve discovered that if you are willing to look into the darkness there is so much light, laughter and joy on the other side.  This process hurts like hell… and detours only bring you back to the pain.

I truly believe, with every fiber of my being, that there is so much love, joy and possibility – on the other side of anything you wrestle with.  I know from experience ( that there is a place that can integrate our head and hearts so we can embrace all of who we are. It doesn’t require huge leaps of faith, and over and over again I’ve witnessed enormous acts of courage and compassion.

I’m working on a documentary, to honor my mother’s memory, and celebrate life – it’s called “Afraid of the Dark”.

I’d like to think that if it helps people to understand and honor their feelings (even the most scary and painful), and offer some light (where all imagination has been extinguished) – then fewer people will kill themselves.

When I look at my kids, my heart aches knowing how much my mother would have loved them; and how much she could have offered them.

My Christmas wish is: don’t be afraid of the dark, and no more suicide.

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