Oh what comes to mind when this word is uttered. Some may snicker, some may feel shame, still others might hear this word with a sickening echo within their own minds after it smashes into their ears like a car alarm in the late night.
As unfortunate as it may be to be impotent in the, ahem, more commonly used sense of the word, what might it feel like to be impotent when you’re facing down the ultimate choice, a decision between life and death?
Well. Let me tell you something. It feels like pure shit. You make a sharp turn towards the futile, barreling down the road with no brakes, ending up in a wreck of ineptitude and fury.
The building was so appealing. Brick walls towered twenty or so feet, bleeding into a ceiling of exposed wooden beams, remnants of the days where the building saw calloused hands working tirelessly to create beautiful textiles. The old wood was warm and inviting and contrasted well with the cold metal of the also exposed piping running overhead the lengths of each room, evoking thoughts of a more industrial time. You might gaze up at the unfinished and unsanded wood of the beams and think of a sweaty, busy factory floor. Or you might wonder, “Can they take my weight”?
The rope came from Home Depot. The 12AWG speaker wire came from some website. See, having choices when you are making the last choice seems fitting, right? Finding instructions on how to tie a noose was so easy with the internet, to the point of being quite chilling. The thought, “How many other people have looked this up before…” fleetingly runs through my mind. Like a cowboy, I lassoed the rough, itchy rope over the wooden beam, a few times for good measure and I watched the dust float down around me. I noted the similarity in color between the wood and the rope, thinking that the rope looked pretty damn good dangling there. Maybe add a nice chandelier to it and you got yourself a nice home lighting piece. Ha.
Nooses are pretty easy to tie, I would find out. What wasn’t easy was tolerating that fucking rope against my skin. On your way off this planet, should that even fucking matter? Does it really have any bearing on what the next, I don’t know, thirty minutes were supposed to hold? And should I care that the rope smelled like a dumpster? Time for plan B.
The smooth coolness of the speaker wire felt, well, nice. It allowed for a more snug fit and it felt tighter against my skin. Funny to think of it like this, almost as if I was trying on clothes in a dressing room. I pulled the chair back over, positioning it roughly below the brown beam. Splinters fell onto my head as I wrapped and tightened the wire a few times around the wood above me. I felt more sloppy with tying up and off the wire, the noose wasn’t a neat and tight work of art and looked more like those colorful bracelets children used to make and wear in the 90s, Gimp. No concern, I wasn’t interested in how it appeared; I wanted it to work.
Without much thought, the wire found its way around my neck. Just before I kicked away the chair underneath me, like I’d seen in countless movies and TV shows, a few odd thoughts ran through my mind. Despite feeling almost like I was in a stupor or daze, I wondered if I would wonder about this all being a mistake and with that, would I think what others often thought before they attempted to kill themselves (I knew that survivors often reported an ever-so-brief moment of “OH SHIT I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS” in that space of time between making whatever action they chose to do to take their lives and the action being completed – think the few seconds of conscious thought a person might have as soon as they jumped off a bridge). Rather than having that thought, I simply wondered if I would wonder about it. Additionally, I had this video-like image playing in my head, a depersonalized and dissociated view of myself desperately grasping at my neck, thrashing around like a shark, in a painful frenzy as the video recorded the final moments of my life. Finally, I thought if I would twitch as the last breath left me and my brain functioning permanently shut down.
None of these things happened though. As my feet left the chair, I simply hung there for what seemed like forever (cliche, right?). Doing nothing, until I fell to the floor. Instead of feeling relief, I felt an explosive frustration and sense of pointlessness. Here lies the impotence: I couldn’t even end my own life. The frustration coupled with an anticlimactic dearth of the finality that I craved left me exhausted and with an ending sure to displease anyone hoping for a dramatic ending full of revelation and pseudo-spiritual experience, I crawled into bed, defeated. Impotent.
My neck drew curious stares and awkward interactions for the next two weeks. Red lines wrapped around the front of my neck and throat. Was I a choking victim? Was I strangled? Was I an aficionado of auto erotic asphyxiation? The world would never know.