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Attention



Why didn't they reach out? Why didn't they ask for help? Two public figures dead to suicide and the talk is the same as every time. Suicide prevention hotlines. I am available. But you are not, in fact, available, there is no one available for the person who is mute with depression, who is unworthy of your time and who knows it's best if you don't get involved.

There is a stigma in our world about asking for attention. We see a girl with small percentages of her body covered and we whisper to each other that she is doing it for attention (if not many worse, more derogatory things). The person with bifurcated tongue, the head-to-toe tattoed, the one sobbing at the subway, the one passed out in their own urine. We make the same comments when someone comes out about battling depression, despite the fact that we beg for it when another celebrity silently drowns. Worldwide, one death every 40 seconds. As you this, that's NOW. One we didn't get to save.

There was a point in which asking for attention was not frowned upon. There was a time when we were little, and we cried, and others came to us. Even other little tots tottled to us, to kiss our boo boos and give us hugs (there are videos of this plastered all over this web). We took ownership of communal pain and realized the only thing there was to fix was sadness. The way a small child inappropriately asks about someone with burns on their face, or a missing eye, or severely overweight. We took it upon ourselves. Now we don't have time to pick up the phone. Or to invite someone who didn't want to come anyways.

I had this issue come up in a very intelligent comment on my last post: when we approach our partners about renegotiating relationship agreements, do we search for harmony, or desires? I find it curious that this separation has been made, (NOW) some trivial line in the sand where we either get to feed our cravings or love our spouses. This is the same line perpetually drawn when a person "acts out". There is a child blaring music that screams "hug in your room, swaying, hoping only that you'll see. All by myself, I'm alone in such poor company. The deeper I think, the deeper I seem to sink. I can't stop the insects that are feeding. Pull the needles from beneath my skin". Attention. There is a mother covered in spit up and smelling of sweet home-grown milk, crying at the burning pain of her cesarean scar (one we are congratulating, by the way). Attention. My own arms were covered in crusty crimson lines and they were certainly not kept as hidden as was comfortable for many. (NOW) Attention. My symptoms were not there to be convenient to you. I was certainly told I just wanted attention. Every part of my disease begging to be discovered, healed, drugged, drank, licked, kissed, fucked away. It was attention that I wanted- attention that I craved. Why would such a simple, pure need be used against me? If your disease creates headaches, is that not a symptom we look to heal? How about obsessions? Episodes of mania (you should read my writing in these, like my english professor was made to endure- her only feedback being "this was all over the place")? Seizures? Blood pressure spikes? Blood sugar drops? Attention. Attention. Attention. Attention. Attention. Attention.

Baby, don't ever apologize for wanting attention. (NOW) In fact, learn to recognize it and to put it into words that are easy to respond to: "I don't mind when you go out for drinks but I really want your attention. Can you give it to me before you go?". Imagine if we taught our children when we are having a dinner party and they are acting out of control to say "mommy, I know my friends are here but I am needing your attention". What a beautiful little blessing it would be to learn that language, the language of requesting casual attention.

Intimate attention is a different animal all together. The few moments in life where we are entitled and permitted undivided attention... I have found it necessary for success at times. While acting on a stage, while singing... but the most intimate attention request I have ever heard of was my grandmother passing. (NOW) After waking up much better than she had been, she sat to watch television in tandem seats with her son. His attention drifted, he relaxed into his chair. She called to him: "Davey!". He watched her smile and say "hi!" with beautiful joy, responded "Hi, mom". In that smile, her breath left her body. It was as if she was saying look what I can do. Not unlike the emotion of being in labor, working to create a canal to give birth. You don't want touch, you don't want words of encouragement. You just want someone to bear witness of your work. Attention.

Is it not curious that in these moments of complete solitude and independence- the only moments we can never actually have company through, we still crave attention? Drowning in the engineering dreams of suicide plans? Or in a bottle while stumbling down the street? (NOW) And I don't know of a more simple request to fulfill.


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