Crippled CEO Blog #046:
I made sure the seatbelt to my wheelchair was buckled, firmly holding me in, and I was poised on the edge of my kidney shaped pool.
I had just, very carefully, pushed the smaller front two tires of my chair up over the lip of the brick colored tile coping, toward the edge, and paused.
I imagined pushing hard on the joystick, zooming forward, smashing into the water… and sinking.
This was the plan.
I was in constant, terrible, unrelenting chronic pain.
One of my closest “friends“ had convinced me that I was socially awkward, annoying, clingy, a chore to be around, completely unlovable, and physically disgusting.
I knew I was going to be alone for the rest of my life.
A girl who I had a small crush on, who had come over to hang out with me, was locked in my roommate’s bedroom. I was pretty sure they were having sex.
I inhaled deeply through my nose and pushed my chair slowly forward. The edge of my pool curved in, and my front left tire was barely on the edge of the coping.
I was running my company. I was the boss. But I knew that people only pretended to respect me. I was a fraud. I was really just a loser who had inherited daddy’s business. And it was only a matter of time before I screwed it all up. I knew that I was going to ruin the company. I was eventually going to put us out of business. I didn’t know what I was doing. Everyone was going to lose their job, I was going to thrust my parents into poverty for the last chapter of their lives, my dad was going to hate me, and I was going to live in a nursing home.
I pushed slightly forward on the joystick. My chair rolled forward. The front left tire hung in the air, nothing beneath it besides the water in the pool. The other front tire was right on the edge of the coping. I wondered if I would flip over forward or if I could go fast enough that I remained sort of upright as I sank.
My wallet was in a pouch on the side of my chair. It suddenly occurred to me that there was cash in there and it would be a waste if it went in with me. I reach down and eventually pulled it out, dropping it onto the pool deck. It didn’t make sense that I was worried about the $227 in my wallet, but not destroying the $10,000 wheelchair that I was preparing to plunge into the pool. But very little of my thinking was making sense at the moment.
There was an open Word document on my computer that contained my two sentence note. I wanted the people who thought this might be because of them to feel guilty about it. I wanted to allow them to believe that. But I didn’t want to be a jerk and point them out directly. It was better if they wondered. But there was one person who I knew would blame himself, and I wanted to absolve him.
The words that filled my giant computer monitor read:
“I’m sorry, Dad. This wasn’t your fault.”
I knew things were going to get so much better without me. All of the lives I burdened by needing help with all of the trivial crap I need help with would be improved. I would never have to wake somebody up to put me in bed again, or need help going to the bathroom at 3 AM.
They would sell my house, split up what little money I had, and that would be more beneficial than me sticking around.
Someone competent and qualified would take over running Life Saver. Free of my incompetence, it would flourish.
And I had to do it now, because as bad as things were, I knew this was as good as it was going to get. Things were only going to get worse. I had to go now before everything I knew came true and it all fell apart.
I put my hand on my joystick, closed my eyes, and took another deep breath.
The sound of the door to the backyard unsticking and being forced open startled me. I yanked my hand back from the chair joystick, my legs spasming violently.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,“ my roommate said. Maybe he knew? Was he checking on me? Maybe he cared enough to notice?
“I’m going to bed. Do you want me to let you back in the house?”
Nope. He didn’t.
“… yeah. Sure.”
I carefully backed up. My left tire got caught a bit on the coping as I reversed, and I gave it a bit more juice to get it back onto solid ground.
I drove quickly past him to my computer. I’m sure he said good night or something and wandered back into his room. Shaking, I closed the two sentence suicide note in size 36 font on my screen. I clicked “Don’t Save”.
Objectively, my life wasn’t that much worse then than it is right now. And my life is phenomenal right now. It was pretty great then as well. The difference was I let other people define who I was, what was wrong with me, and what my future was. The story I told myself was hopeless.
The only real things different between then, when I almost killed myself by driving into my pool with my seatbelt on, and now, were the people I chose to allow into my life and care about, and the narrative loop inside my head. I was telling myself the wrong story about myself. And the reason it was so difficult and so effective, was that the words I was telling myself were true because I was thinking them. I was not lying to myself. It was all 100% accurate.
But when I changed my thinking, my reality changed with it. My belief that my life is incredible and only getting better is now just as accurate and just as true. I’m still in a wheelchair. I’m still running the same business. But now I’m happy, hopeful, and excited. This took a long time. It wasn’t easy. But it happened.
If I can do it, you can, too. At least you can (probably) wipe yourself and cut up your own chicken — you’ve got a huge head start.
I’ve never told this story before. I’m rather nervous to post it, but maybe it helps someone. And what’s the worst that could happen (see Blog #31)?
(If you know someone that could use this, please, please share with them. And if you would like to make sure that you never miss a post, send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848. I will send you a link to the latest blog post every Sunday, as soon as it’s out.)