“Hold On”?

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I don’t believe that suicide is selfish. It may not be entirely rational. But selfish, no. I understand why people do it. Those who have left me behind… I’m not mad at them. They were in pain, they felt like they were a burden to the world, that everyone would be better off without them. I get that. They weren’t a burden, at least not in my life, but I never got to tell them that.

We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We don’t know when someone we love will leave this world, either through their own hands, those of others, or “natural” causes.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to someone sooner than we thought. Sometimes there’s no warning. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. But that’s the reality of being alive.

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Death Raises So Many Questions

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My grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. She’s been sick for many years and confined to a wheelchair, but no one ever heard her complain. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away about two years ago. He was a bastard. The things he used to do to his children and wife are horrific. Yet, she stayed with him until he died. They were catholic, so she didn’t believe in divorce. This is something that has frustrated and angered me for a long time. She lived in Portugal, so I didn’t get to see her very often. But she had a special place in my heart.

She was always smiling and laughing, even when she was in pain. She’d ask me tons of questions, and was always interested in my life and what I was saying. Her English wasn’t great, so communicating with her wasn’t easy. I didn’t always understand what she was asking or saying, but she was so patient and never got annoyed. My mom told me that when I was a kid, I was convinced my grandmother was an angel. I was shy around her and didn’t speak to her, but would stare at her in fascination.

Two of my uncles lived with her. She took care of them because they were unable to take care of themselves. One of my uncles was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and has a brain injury apparently caused by my mom’s father. The other is Autistic. They aren’t young anymore either. So I don’t know what’s going to happen to them now that she’s gone. I have another uncle in Portugal who can help them (he’s independent), but I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to take care of them the way they need. He’s also autistic, on the “high functioning” end apparently, but has a lot of his own struggles to deal with.

Since I got the news about my grandmother on Saturday, I’ve had a lot of questions running through my mind. About life. About death. One that I’m really curious about is how does someone who has been through so much and has hardly ever had a “break” from shit, make it to that age? What makes these people so strong and resilient? Was it that she became stronger through the years and bounced back over and over again, is it genetic, or is it (and this is what I suspect) that she had all those people to take care of, and that’s what kept her hanging on? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, or that I’ll ever really know.

I can’t see myself living for that long. Most days I feel like my days are already numbered and coming to an end soon. My mom feels the same way I do. Throughout the years she has mentioned how she feels she won’t be around much longer. Whenever she makes it to another birthday she’s genuinely surprised. This has caused a lot of distress in me when she’d talk this way, but on the other hand I also understand.

We’re still alive though, we made it through so far. We don’t get to know when our time will end. But we can continue putting one foot in front of the other and do what we can to make the most of the life we’ve got.

Of course, I’m sad that we lost my grandmother, one of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. But I’m mostly grateful that she’s no longer in pain. That she’s at peace. The angel can finally rest.

heartscape

To Exist

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This song touched me deeply. The music is beautiful, and when the words start coming it’s made even more powerful. It’s such an incredible message. Even though I’m feeling depressed, I can still appreciate this piece of art (which is exactly what it feels like to me).

For some reason I felt my grandmother’s presence with me while listening to this. As if this message is from her. I’m not sure I believe in an afterlife, but I know I also can’t be sure that it doesn’t exist. And maybe, just maybe, if it does… she’s with me.

“Saturn”

You taught me the courage of stars before you left.
How light carries on endlessly, even after death.
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite.
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist.

I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again.
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen.
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes.

I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again.
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen.
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes.

With shortness of breath, I’ll explain the infinite
How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.

A Year

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I don’t go onto Facebook often. A few hours ago, I did. Right at the top of my news feed I saw a post from my aunt, that knocked the breath right out of me. It felt as though someone had just stabbed me through the heart. The post was “Dearest brother, it’s been a year since you left us. We still miss you every day, and you’ll forever live on in our hearts.”

It’s been a year since one of my uncles ended his life. Right now it seems like just yesterday. I haven’t thought about him much since then, and the moments I did, I’d feel a sharp stab of pain that would only last a few minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grieve, but my mind didn’t want that. It would just shut down. Exactly one year later, it’s finally hit me in full force. I’ve been crying for what feels like hours. The pain is unbearable, but I have no choice but to bear it.

I didn’t even go to his funeral. It was in another city and I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. A part of me also didn’t want to go. But now I regret it. I wish I could have said goodbye.

A few years ago, he started drinking heavily. Every time he would phone me, he was so drunk I could barely make out what he was saying.

The last time I saw him, I didn’t even recognize him. He didn’t look at all like the uncle I had known. Where was the strong man who used to make me laugh with his silly antics? The man who always called me his “little monkey”. I was angry with him that day. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d ever see him.

A week before he succeeded, he had attempted suicide, but his ex-wife found him in time. After that, I just had this feeling in my gut that he would try again. And I was right. The evening before that day, he phoned me. But I didn’t answer. And I don’t even know why. What if he was reaching out, and answering that phone call would have made a difference? Instead, I just ignored him. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think about it much this past year. Guilt. Once again, I had let someone I loved, down. And once again, I failed at being there for someone I loved, in their last moments.

I wish I could go back in time. But I can’t. And no amount of wishing can change that.

So tonight I’m feeling what I haven’t allowed myself to feel.

I miss him, and wish he was still here.

The Breakdown And Recovery

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It happened.

As you know from my previous few posts, I’ve been in a very dark place. Thoughts of suicide overtaking everything, and coming to a head on Friday evening. Obsessive thoughts of death and dying. Over and over again. Pain so intense, memories so vivid. It felt as though I had hit rock bottom. Hearing voices inside my mind telling me to end it. That I don’t belong on this earth. I knew those voices were my own. Frightening visions of a dark figure was also present. Even though it only lasted a second each time, it was terrifying.

I had my plan all mapped out. I even wrote a note, which left me strangely happy in a way. Like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It was all going to be over soon. At the last-minute, my therapist’s face flashed in front of me. I fell to the floor and just cried. A mixture of pain, frustration, and a feeling of comfort and warmth from feeling our connection.

I read a book a few months ago, “Healing from Trauma” by Jasmin Lee Cori. After what happened, I remembered something I had read in that book. So I picked it up again and searched for the part I had in mind. Where she was talking about finding your rock. A person (or even a pet) that you feel connected to enough for them to be a powerful regulating resource. She says that it helps calm the nervous system. That was certainly the case that night. And I saw for myself just how powerful it is.

On Saturday and Sunday, I reverted back to my 20’s. A time in my life that I never want to relive. A time I had vowed to never repeat. But it happened, and I wasn’t aware that it was coming. I didn’t know the signs. I definitely know them now.

Earlier that day (Saturday) I thought about calling my therapist, but decided against it, as I didn’t want to bother her. If I knew then what I know now, I would have called her. Because once it hit, I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t regulate myself. I was so out of control, that all thoughts of calling my therapist disappeared. I didn’t think about anyone but myself. I was literally unable to bring anyone I know to mind. It was all about me and what was happening in that moment. I wasn’t aware of anything else.

I was reckless, self-destructive, and unintentionally putting other people’s lives in danger. (eg. speeding while drunk). I’m not going to go into detail about everything I did, as I’ve already told my therapist about it. But I will say this, I fucked up. Now that I know the warning signs, I will call my therapist this time, if there is a next time, which I’m going to try to prevent at all costs. Because this can’t happen again. I don’t want to end up destroying my life, or anyone else’s. I don’t want to live with the consequences of my behaviour. It only takes a second to ruin a life.

The difference between this time and my 20’s, was that I realized quickly (2 days instead of years) that I was running away from something. From extreme emotions, pain. Reality. Life. I didn’t have that insight back then. The way I lived my life those years, as well as this time, may have kept me alive, but this kind of behaviour doesn’t serve me, and it’s unhealthy and dangerous.

On Sunday evening, once I had “snapped out of it” I felt horrible. Ashamed. Dirty. Furious with myself. Shock was also mixed in. On Monday, those feelings carried over. I felt the effects in my body as well. I felt nauseous. My stomach was in knots and aching. My nervous system was protesting. It felt like I was in an alternate reality.

I usually have therapy sessions early on a Thursday morning, but I felt that I couldn’t wait that long. So I sent my therapist a text yesterday asking for an earlier session. We arranged it for a few hours later that day. At the beginning of the session I told her that I’m a bad person. She asked whether feeling that I’m a bad person, means that I am? Good point. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and does things they’re not proud of and regret. But that doesn’t make us bad people. Near the end of the session, she said that she’s glad we got together that day, and didn’t wait until Thursday. So was I. This is the second time that I needed a session more than any other time. It did me well. She told me that we could spend the session just talking, but it wouldn’t be effective in the long-term. So she went through an exercise with me, that was really helpful. And it will continue to be helpful. It was a very productive session, and she was very gentle and soft with me. Going into the session, I wanted her reassurance that she wasn’t going to leave me. But the way she spoke to me, made me feel very cared for, and I didn’t need to ask for that reassurance. Because I felt it.

I’m still feeling some of the after effects, but it’s not as intense as it was. I’m trying to practice self compassion.

This all proved to me just how important and vital deep and meaningful connection is for us as humans.

A Permanent Solution

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They say “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. A temporary problem? How about years of “temporary problems”? Being hit time and time again. It’s not just one problem that pushes most people off the edge. It’s the problems that we’re stuck in for weeks, months, years. It all adds up. What then if you’re the problem? Well, then you’re screwed.

There’s only so far that a person can be pushed before they break.

“I’m a temporary problem”. Let them put that on a pretty little picture for google.

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Why

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This is a letter I wrote a few years ago, for a friend of mine who ended his life when we were 19 years old. I’m hoping that sending this out into the universe will help me let go.

Dear M,

You were one of my closest friends that year.

Standing on the balcony, without looking at me, you told me that you were in love with me. I didn’t know what to say. I just didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I knew I didn’t want to lie to you either. I told you the truth, and I could see the disappointment and hurt all over your face. When you walked away, I wanted to come after you, but I didn’t.

You were in the house right across from me. Before I fell asleep that night, I thought of you. I didn’t know that it would be your last night. Why didn’t I come see you? I should have come to you.

But I never got a second chance.

Why couldn’t I tell how you were feeling? I’m usually good at seeing beyond masks. So then why couldn’t I see past yours?

I’m so angry with you. Why didn’t you talk to me and tell me what was wrong? Why did you leave me behind? It’s not fair.

I had just been dealing with my dad’s suicide attempts. And then you went and succeeded. How was I supposed to feel when I had just lost a few of the most important people in my life over a 2 year period before meeting you, and had to deal with my dad, and then you?

But how can I be mad at you when I have been wanting to take my own life since I was a little girl? That makes me a hypocrite. But I never followed through. I stayed when every part of me wanted to leave this life. Why couldn’t you? Why did you have to leave? Sometimes I hate you.

I couldn’t even look your parents in their eyes at your funeral. How could I tell them that I was the reason you were gone? Because that’s how I felt at the time. That maybe I was the reason you finally gave up. Sometimes I still feel like that. It seems like the only explanation. I couldn’t bear to look at your picture. I just sat there. Numb. Empty.

I was so angry the day after you left, when they told us all that God had called you home. I wanted to stand up and yell at them. How dare they say that! That was the beginning of the end of my journey of faith. I know you would probably be disappointed, but I just can’t believe in a god that allows so much injustice and suffering.

Everyone else seemed to be over it after a few days, and carried on as if it had never happened. But I just couldn’t. Nothing felt real, and everything was a blur for the next few months. Life seemed to go on around me, people talking and laughing, my best friend didn’t even know how much I was struggling. I couldn’t talk about you. I wasn’t interested in anything. The voices all around me, seemed like they were miles away.

My heart is broken today.
Never again will I see your warm smile.
Never again will I hear your contagious laughter.

You were only 19. Your whole life was ahead of you.
You’ll never get to see another sunrise or sunset.
You’ll never get to feel the cool breeze on your skin.
You’ll never get to see the beauty of a baby being born.
You’ll never get to see the random acts of kindness that warm the soul.
You’ll never get to experience the love you deserved.

I’m so sorry for letting you down.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

You’ll always have a space in my heart.

Love,
Rayne