Life –

 

the letter

 

What are you doing with your dash?

If you know me, you assume I mean that completely inappropriately.

But this time I don’t. A good friend helped me see the side of this thought. Good friends are your heart. Your saving grace. Your life jacket.

Your dash is the point between the beginning and the end. It’s what you see on a gravestone. Birth to death.  The date you were born to the day you reached your end point. No one likes to talk about that end point.

Death. It’s so heavy. Somber. Scary. But it’s a fact of life. Sometimes it comes early. Other times it’s late, which is quite subjective based on what we want. It’s surprising, selfish, peaceful, chaotic, and so many more adjectives than we can express or come up with words for. It inspires grief, which is a monster in itself. Pain, hurt, closure, completion.

As someone who battles depression and is fairly open about it, death is a factor in thoughts that make you want to shake its hand. Is that selfish, completely. But it’s inexplicably and painfully something that crosses the lost person’s mind.

As someone who fights and conquers life’s darker moments, I’m ready to share something I’ve alluded to. Something I’ve touched on. A piece that has been the larger half of my puzzle.

When you need saving, you look to those who have either lost the battle, this time out of perspective or additionally you seek those who want you to be here.

I’m going to share a letter from someone who just couldn’t find those moments of peace. Those life jackets. Someone I loved deeply. Who was troubled and conflicted and made mistakes.

This letter hangs with me. It stops my own choices of selfishness. Whoever loves me going forward will have to accept this as a part of me. But this is a part of my dash. This supplements my story. It saves me.

The image included is an actual picture of what I’m about to share. It’s raw. It definitely happened. I’m sharing this because we’re all human. Very few loved ones of suicide victims get this. Very few. But I did. And I’m sharing it. Openly. Finally.

 

“Jessica,

I’m not really sure where to begin. I’ve been wondering what to say to someone who has not only given my life purpose, a family and meaning… As I write this, I go back to memories of us, of our first date, of the late night “conversations” and it’s good. It makes me smile, and more than a little sad that I won’t be there for you in the years to come. You deserve to be happy and have someone by your side, but it won’t be me. I’ve struggled to fix my life for the last two years, and have contemplated, many times, on “checking out.” I’ve done well to hide it from everyone, but you always seemed to pick it up, when I was in one of my more pensive moods. That said, you have been the one constant that has kept me from acting on it until now. You and the kids showed me what it was like to have a family and made it easier for me to forget the past for a time. I will always love you and those boys for giving me that. Both the memories and feelings of a true family. The reason I left, the reason I’m no longer here is because I can’t get past the past. With my ex, my job, losing everything. I’ve said to you I don’t feel as though I had a purpose, which was only partly true. I lost something after the divorce, after another leaving me. Hope. Trust. A reason for being. Respect for myself or others. To this day I feel listless. Lost and can’t truly imagine a future beyond tomorrow. I used to wake up every day and feel nothing but heartache and despair. It’s what made me drink, smoke too much, lie to you and everyone else I knew. I’ve come to realize I’m living just to live. I plan, scheme, and view everything with a singular thought, myself. It’s no way to live. You are the one bright, trustworthy and unselfish part of me that still exists, and I hope that despise all of my flaws, that I was a good influence in your life as well as the boys. I love you so much, love them so much, it makes me cry to know what you will go through. I want you to know, you were always enough. You were always there for me. Stood by me, by us and for that I am forever grateful. In the end I was just to broken to fix.

I love you, Jessica, forever and always. Maybe one day we’ll see each other again. Take care of yourself and those boys and damn it, woman, you better eat!

Also, I found that shirt you were looking for, the blue sweatshirt. I’m holding it now, and god help me, it smells like you. I’m going to miss seeing your smiling face in the morning. Hugging you, catching your scent as you walk by. I’m glad I have this shirt and photos of you to look at as I drift off. It brings me peace.

I want you to have my tablet and accessories. I know it’s not much, but it’s all I have left to give. I only wish I’d had more…

I love you, hun. Please forgive me.

Fred.”

 

And his dash ended there. It was a part of mine. It always will be. It shapes me. It saves me.  I’m sharing as much to honor the pain there, as much as to show how it can feel to be in that place. It happens to so many of us. I was his saving grace until I no longer could be. We find our purpose and either hang on to it or we let it pass us by.

We’re all human. Strange beings who are just trying to find the happiness.

We have to make the in between whatever we can, while we can.

 

Snippets…

Because by sharing pieces of my book, it’ll encourage me to keep going, here’s a snippet from my timeline entry style book that’s needed to take this long to write, but hopefully I’ll finish some day.

September 8, 2013

The call lasted for hours. The grape juice and vodkas I’d downed helped the process. But it was also because I was talking to someone I’d known forever for the first time. We were oxygen and fire. Feeding off each other. Ebbing and flowing. As is the way of the world; the digital playground of the internet had unearthed him. He was striking in looks. To me. His eyes. They held the world even in photos. Deeply. Dangerously I’d realize. His age a concern, but it seemed to be the path I took. Youth. At least when you were my age it seemed to be. Still in his 20s, even if nearly out.

I had no idea what I was looking for when conversation began over quick exchanges through the system’s limited abilities. Until we traded numbers and could converse on end. I was looking for something I’d lost. I’d left a marriage. I was one of those. No one plans for it. But as the world turns; and humanity evolves, we could be fickle or rather more in tune with changing together or apart.

I hated to be alone. Still. All these years later and I thrived on interaction. Touch. Caring.

We talked about work; made sarcastic jokes about whether we were each being catfished. And hours later, we realized we should probably hang up. We said goodbye and I floated for the rest of the night. There was electricity and something that was reaching me, whether preying on my vulnerability and lack of identity or simply meeting a longed for need.

We were going to meet. In three days. And it would all change forever. Indelibly.

A Love Story. Of Sorts.

She was coming off the death of a tainted love. She rebuilt and survived and made it out; barely at times. She had seen dark days and light dance in children’s eyes. She valued others while learning not to let it consume. She realized who she was and who she would be were entirely contingent on who she wanted to be.

She found her resolve, albeit as sound as a house of cards. But it was standing. She sought joy. Pride and happiness.

Often finding wounded birds can lead to a feeling of giving unless you discover you’ve nursed back a pterodactyl.

He was boyish charm. Humor and welcome simplicity. A kindness that dwelled beneath a jaded wit and sardonic undertones. He was a diamond in the rough to a halfway lost girl. A girl who sought to care and be cared for. Sailing along on hope and compassion.

She giddily confided in friends. She enjoyed the momentum and the devotion. She saw cracks in the veneer; but she realized everyone is human. She wanted the best. She wanted her moment.

He supported her during a difficult transition. He carried positive and negative in a teetering balance. He had unpolished kindness. He possessed a compartmentalized coping that seemed endearing. She could help. She’d be the solution.

She didn’t know where her darkness was creeping in from. Life had given her curveballs and lemons and she wasn’t on it enough to sort through them. She had compassion when she was weak. She could disregard the verbal blows. Truth be told; she had a lifelong skill of accepting the blame. Whether or not it was the correct direction. She saw weakness in herself and strength in the ones who could point out those flaws openly.

He had an entitlement that she wanted to understand. He accepted the bad and dwelled with it. His emotions were uncultivated and he struggled to navigate them. To filter them accordingly.

He had little verbal control of his projections.

She doubted herself. She worried. She saw eggshells and landmines and still kept going forward as carefully as possible. Apologies were the currency she was paid. But it wasn’t good to cash in anywhere. She wanted to help. To make him better. This was her place. This was her project that would give her meaning. She loved sometimes blindly.

He accepted her assistance begrudgingly while sometimes belittling her in an effort to stay the same pace. It was always peppered with love. A raw, rough-edged love that had purity at nature, but nurture had decimated. He saw no other way and his blinders made the corners tough to turn.

She saw an upswing in her life. Things were improving. But part of her was missing. It was a little piece. But she felt the wind blow threw her some days. She was chasing happiness and it was fluttering down the street like a piece of paper, barely within reach. As she’d get close; graze it with her fingertips, a gust of wind would come up again.

He was crumbling and his façade had tumbled down. He saw hurdles afoot and it was easier to blame for them being put in his way.

She was starting to wonder if she had limits. How much she was accepting and how much she should. She had so much to love to give; it was easy for it to get taken and tossed about like a water balloon. Was this what she was destined for? Would Atlas shrug at any point?

He rarely smiled. He easily lashed out with words. He felt weighed down by the world and it was easier to throw bits of it at another. He wanted to love and he had no idea how.

She started to realize how much of her was now missing. What energy her heart was spending on repair instead of growth. Her pain and sadness was outweighing her tolerance for it. She wanted to try, for she felt like a failure for not creating beauty with what she was given.

Her heart broke.

He left.

She started to rebuild. But she was rebuilding scars on scars. Bumbling along. Lost. Panicking about lost time.

He made promises.

She refused to listen.

He made more promises. Gestures of goodwill.

She started to hear. She wasn’t sure she was ready, but her heart swells usually drowned out the voice in her head.

She opened the door a crack.

He came back.

She was happy, albeit cautious. Hopeful, but jaded and skeptical. She didn’t want to be jaded. She wanted to be okay.

He started out with hope. He built with positivity. Making what should be important to survive what he actually focused on.

She had a second thought. She ignored it. Her rollercoaster was on a climb. She had gone through some dark tunnels; but she had found they did end at some point. She started to ignore the signs. There was no way this would happen again. Apologies and promises had been doled out. Words had been said.

Words. The antithesis to action.

He was slowly enveloped in a cloying darkness. An overwhelming tendency to watch things happen instead of participate. To give love weighed down by blades and sorrow. To reduce her to tears while hugging her at the same time.

Words were weapons and she’d accept the olive branch that followed while nursing her proverbial wounds. She had hope. She believed. Who would love her again? Can love be damaging in its intensity when not directed properly?

He questioned. He doubted. He ended her nights with discord and sorrow. He started her mornings with kindness and love. He was easily upset. His pain was overwhelming in his ignorance of its depths.

She believed all of it. She believed the remorse; but she believed he had the inability to see how much damage was being done by his choices. She absorbed his energy. The room could be cloying when his mind was in a dark place.

The roller coaster went up; she’d brace herself because it had to go down. Sometimes the hills were numerous and some had more coasting between.

He left.

Repeat the process. Repeat it again. Go up the hills, hurtle down at nearly a 90 degree angle. Get off the ride. Get right back on.

He questioned. He doubted. He spread frenetic bursts of insecurity and word-whipped someone already lying down.

The coaster was running on a rusty wheels. She agonized and continued buying tickets to ride and wondered if she’d ever be able to just sit on the bench and eat some cotton candy.

He made promises. He pleaded. And interspersed it with lashings and pain and love that he couldn’t process or apply. He pledged; he backslid; he apologized and then was quick to anger.

He left.

She realized she was gone, too. Missing. Somewhere along the ride, she wasn’t even sure who had been present. She wasn’t sure where the rest of her went. She wanted to believe there was good. That she hadn’t caused this. That she could make better choices. She was lonely. Lost. She doubted herself; wallowed.

Her house of cards had fallen long ago. She was still finding the rest of them that had floated away along with that same bit of happiness she’d never stop chasing.

 

I’ll Be Back

I wrote this piece this morning, almost posted and then hesitated. Second guessed my openness. It’s evident that I’m a writer who isn’t afraid to share what others fear. But my concern with this one, is simply and sadly, judgment. I’m exposing a flaw; a weakness here. And my overall point that, while I face these, I always know there is no choice but to move forward and plow through the harder days. Practice what I’ve learned works best for me in facing what I feel and getting through it. But simply put, the fact that I’m opening up about depression could threaten my job search.

Yeah, I know, discrimination like that is against the law. When law is created and carried out by a being that has innate complexities to it, they will be prone to injecting personal opinion and viewpoints that can subconsciously affect behavior and reaction. So, I can understand there might be some employers who see this and fear the instability of the person who has written it. Ironically, part of my emotions below stem from not having work. My brain needs a challenge and when it’s not getting that, it can crash to what I felt this morning and documented below. If I were getting paid for writing, that’s one thing. But I’m not. I write because I enjoy it and a few people enjoy reading it. I don’t want my overall point here to be unheard by even the one person it could help or make feel less alone.

My depiction and recovery below is only shared as a story of me and me alone.  I would never speak for another’s emotions, moments of personal weakness and fear of what feelings they’re experiencing. Nor can I speak for how any other person gets through it. Keep in mind, if you had come across me in person, you’d never have guessed what was below the surface at the moments I wrote this. I know how to put out a front of who I really am while struggling to bring that person fully to the surface again. So I’m going on an edge here, exposing what could be perceived as a chink in the armor, when in fact, it’s why my armor is typically impenetrable.

So here you go. The blog that almost wasn’t.


terminator-arm

I have crumbs in my bed.

In the movie Terminator 2 there’s a scene where Arnold’s character is going to slice open his arm to make visible the machinery underneath to show the owner of Skynet what has happened in the future. Now as the viewer, we all know he’s a machine who just looks human. Even still, watching that scene, knowing it should hurt, but it doesn’t, makes you cringe a bit as he slices open the arm. And what’s beneath is fascinating and bizarre and intriguing. You just have to look past the mild gore of the scene. If you haven’t seen the movie, just keep reading, it’ll make sense all the same.

The crumbs in my bed are bittersweet.

They’re there because the kids and I had a picnic in my bed last night. We hung out, ate dinner and ring pops, read and watched shows. My mind was distracted, running through thoughts. But I tried to enjoy those couple hours, because they did.

The crumbs are still there because I just don’t have it in me to clean them.

I’m always incredibly flattered and humbled when others remind me of my strength. Because maintaining that strength can be incredibly difficult on those days where I feel anything but. I’ve had depression since I was 15 or so, probably earlier, really. Already being someone who feels emotions to my core, even those of others, it’s incredibly trying at times. The difficulty of fighting certain emotions fluctuates depending on circumstances, atmosphere, my fucked up receptors, etc. Sadly it’s something many battle quietly. I’m going to face it today. I’m going to give you a look at the machinery below.

Depression is stifling. Everything that happens is extreme, seemingly all a snowball effect. There are crumbs in my bed, I just look at them and feel messy. Out of control. I drag myself out of bed to take the kids to school. Come home, and face what’s ahead of me. Uncertainty, fear, loneliness. On most days, I can balance those with positivity. I have possibilities open to me, a chance to make a difference and do something new and awesome. I have two amazing kids who love me. I have a beautifully varied support system, all f whom fit like puzzle pieces in my life as a whole. I have somewhere to live, something to drive and something to eat.

Some days, though, it just feels like everything that’s happened as well as present and future difficulties are dodgeballs. And I’m stuck in the gym with them and a bunch of bullies. I can’t go anywhere, all I can do is run and hope I only get hit by a few. It’s easier to just stand there and let them hit you. You can face them, and feel them. It’s difficult and it’s painful, but you run out of options and breath eventually.

Even kindness can create a type of pain during this self-doubt. It creates a feeling similar to when you inhale a gust of cold air. It surprises you, shocks you, sends a chill through you with a touch of a sting. But in this case it feels as though your heart has taken in that breath. The sting and the cold are there, specifically and concentrated. Kindness means acceptance. It means that others see something I don’t right now. The fear of losing that kindness is there though, because that means failure. I’ve done something wrong to drive it away. Scare others into slight head nods in passing as opposed to hugs filled with warmth.
Even the disjointed nature of this piece of writing is indicative of what the difficult days can be like. My mind races everywhere, focuses and then loses focus. Gets excited and immediately crushed. Over and over again. I intend to get out of bed. I just don’t know why. Or how. I set plans and miss them all simply because I’m so weighted down by feeling as though I’ve lost the way. I shame myself for feeling this way and not being able to pull right out of it, even facing it with as much logic and rational thought you can muster. I know I’d be silently judged right now, people wouldn’t understand, nor try to. They’d simply see me as being lazy, throwing a pity party like a child. Not knowing that as I face them my sad eyes and inability to present the full image I’m expected to; I’m underneath there. Beating the nameless wall of emotion to get out. I want to feel like myself just as much as they think I should be easily doing so.

At least the above is how I feel on one of those difficult days. I don’t want my readers to worry about me, I’m sharing this because it’s one of the ways I move through these moments. Sharing them, putting them out there helps me sort through them. I can’t stay stuck here. I’ve worked hard for a long time to come out on top of this on a regular basis. I allow these moments because if I let them happen, I face what’s beneath them. Once I’ve gone there, determine how I’m going to handle how they make me feel, I can make plan of conquering and winning the fight. I’m simplifying far too much, but the point is, I’ll pull through it. There are many out there who won’t right away and possibly never will. Ultimately, I recognize that the machinery is bound to break down for everyone at some point or another. Given the right resources, it can be fixed, if you can find the manual.

I’ll find mine soon enough and hopefully not sleep in crumbs tonight.