What do you see?


11 days.

I seem to have begun a countdown to that tragic day, a year ago, when that really bad thing happened.

I’m not sure why I’m doing it but part of me wishes I wouldn’t torture myself with it. Yet…here I am, being some sort of masochist – reliving every moment.

I asked him, once: What did he see when he looked at me?

This was during his time in the PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) and all he could think about was “Her” – the woman who crushed his heart, the one from whom the only escape from pain, he believed, was death.

He looked at me completely dumbfounded and stuttered, shaking his head as he stared in disbelief at my question.

I wanted to know just what I meant to him at that point because here I was giving 1000% of myself to someone who was still lost in another relationship from his past. The woman in question was ignoring him and really didn’t want anything to do with him. Had she, I suspect I may have been tossed aside, but I can’t confirm that for sure.

I was feeling like quite the third wheel, yet I was also very much in love and trying with all my might to save this man’s life. I wasn’t about to abandon him and I swore to him that I’d never leave him during what would be the worst time in his life.

I kept that promise.

He could never tell me what he saw when he looked at me and I’m convinced he never really saw me for who I was or realized just what I had to offer. I think on the last day he may have had an idea but it wasn’t enough to keep him here.

I’m not complaining because I understand he was coming from a place of complete darkness and depression. His headspace wasn’t like anything a normal person would understand. His perception of the world was so skewed that I’m not even sure he was functioning to full capacity even though he put on an amazingly brave facade.

He was lost, and for him, there was no way out of the labyrinth he’d built for himself. There was simply no escape and seeing her – yet again, was a sign for him that his pain was never going to end unless he ENDED it.

So, he did.

I’m not angry at him for not seeing me as he was seeing everything through eyes that were not seeing the world as it truly was.

Mental illness is so very misunderstood. It is so often unnoticed and swept under the carpet. There are those that live and function with it for years without anyone knowing any better. This is what he did. He kept it all on the down-low; nobody really knew. Even when it became very evident something was very, very wrong, it was only the two of us that he let in on his little secret.

So…what do you see when you look at someone? Are you really seeing them for who they are, their struggles and pain?

Look again. Look more closely. You may find they’re living in a dark jungle of half truths and terrible secrets. They do this because society is harsh. They are judged, ridiculed and not taken seriously.

It’s time we really looked at ourselves and the ones we love, a little more clearly.

It’s time we were aware that too many suffer alone.

Eye in the Jungle

This Day, Last Year.


One year ago to the day, Tara and I sat with Brian at the VGH Emergency check in for about 7-8 hours to have him committed to the PAU (Psychiatric Assessment Unit). For five days he was locked in there. It was a Saturday. The Friday night, before, he’d set up everything to end his life. He’d had a last meal; his fav…bacon & eggs and chocolate cake. He’d left a note on the door, had changed his will and left a note for Tara. Everything was in order.

At the last minute, due to the constant texting and calling of Tara and I – he called her and said through tears: “Guess what I’m doing?”

This was his rock bottom for the second time in less than half a year. This was his spiral downward to the bottomless pit of doom that he’s created for himself. So, we checked him in. They took hours and hours but finally committed him, took all of his treasures away (clothes, iPhone, wallet, money, keys…) and gave it to us to look after.

I can’t even begin to imagine his embarrassment and humiliation but we stood by him and took shifts in visiting him; Tara by day, me by evening.

It kept him alive for an extra two weeks as he struggled to cope and did his best to recover.

We brought him fresh things to wear under the prison-like PJ’s (he jokingly called them his crazy clothes), food, coke, things to read and I even brought his little chess set and we played a bit when I was there. I still have that chess set of his.

Half way through, he was moved out and up to another ward which meant they felt he was doing better. He even chatted up a few others there and made some unlikely short-term friends. Well…sort of.

He didn’t like the food, much, so we made sure he had plenty of the things he loved; juice, coke, chocolate, I bought him dinner several nights in a row. I remember he was bored out of his skull because they didn’t allow his cell phone, there, so he went through several books.

I’ll never forget it. The weather was summer-like. Parking there wasn’t as bad as I’d thought and it was very close to where he’d lived. There have been times when I’ve had to drive by the area and felt such anxiety over the memories. I try and avoid VGH if I can.

I was helpless. Nothing I did really made much difference, at least…I don’t think it did. All I could do was love him, keep the Beacon of Hope lit, be there for him, spend time with him, bring him whatever he wanted and was allowed to have in there.

He was on a few anxiety drugs and anti-depressants. They didn’t do him any good at all. They made him jittery and he was as fearful as ever.

I don’t think I ever loved him so much. I was so proud that he fought so hard to keep it together. I can’t imagine what he went through. I don’t think I’d have done half as well had it been me. His struggle sucked up so much of his energy and when I saw him he looked like a little boy; fragile and wide-eyed, timid yet sweet and soft spoken.

He was so scared; so were we.

This past month has been one big lead up to the day he took his life and my emotions are so raw. I can recall so much of those 5 days but the next 6 months after May 11th is a complete blur. I do recall going to Australia for two weeks but that’s about it.

At the end of all of this, we still have to go on. We still look to thrive and must find some light at the end of our own dark tunnel.

I imagine what it’s like on the other side. I imagine it being so filled with beauty and light.

My newness to digital art makes my fractal creations somewhat primitive compared to those that actually know what they’re doing. I manipulate them and blend them in Photoshop to resemble things I can relate to as best I can. I ‘think’ I’m getting better and hope that I am.

I imagine I’d like to have a tree of light, over there; one where he and I could sit and talk and work things out. There’s so much I long to understand. Even just to tell him, in person, how much I miss him…

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Advice on Grief


I’ve blogged about the loss of my late boyfriend, Brian, a lot. But, I haven’t really addressed what it’s like, personally, going through something this life changing in a lot of detail.

Or, if I did, I don’t remember being as this specific about how it affects someone on a daily basis.

This whole suicide grief thing is new to me. I’ve never been through anything like this in my entire life.

Thank GOD for that. I don’t think I could handle it more than once. I don’t know how anyone could, yet people do.

Let me just start by saying it’s a thing you have to deal with, every day, and sometimes many times a day. At first, it’s a constant wave of horror, guilt, unimaginable sadness, disbelief and shock. Then, as time somehow moves along (for us it stands still) the waves start coming at different and varied intervals.

It’s going on 11 months and no…it definitely doesn’t end, here. Most people think you should be over it by now. I mean…haven’t I moved on with my love life? Yes, I have. It doesn’t matter. The pain is still there. The questions, hurt, guilt and every other emotion that is associated with this tragedy is STILL THERE.

It doesn’t go away like magic but, it does fade a little bit. 11 months isn’t really that much time and I’ll tell you that there are moments when it seems like it all happened, yesterday. It’s just that raw and fresh in my head and heart.

I hear and have read that it’s pretty much this way with everyone that has the unfortunate task of wading through this life event. It’s complex grief and often you have such a mix of emotions that it threatens to tear apart the very fabric of your sanity.

I get angry, often, with him. Then, I feel guilty. After that, there is extreme sadness. Sometimes, it’s all around the confusion of the whole mess he was in and I pick apart every minute detail of whatever I can remember during the time when he first saw his ex-girlfriend while going for an innocent walk around Granville Island… and right up until the time I last said good-bye to his very dead self, lying on his bedroom floor with a breathing tube still taped to his mouth and rope burns around his neck.

I comb through all of his texts and emails looking for answers. There are none. I try and see how it could have gotten so bad so quickly but there was no way of predicting he’d really do it after he came out of the hospital and was seemingly doing well.

Not a day goes by that I don’t tear up, my throat constricting in some awful manner making it painful to swallow and breathe. It’s usually while I’m driving to and from work. I think these are my ‘alone’ times so I allow myself to grieve.

There are few precious days where I DON’T cry. Those were busy days and it’s usually when I’m not by myself. I think we push the overflow of emotions away until we feel safe to face them.

Do you stop loving a lover because they’re dead?

The answer is no. It’s also a complicated ‘no’ because I think I’ll always be a little ‘in love’ with him and I’m okay with that. It’s the possibilities that I’ll never see, the future I’ll never realize, that I’m in love with. It’s all of the wonder in a new and budding romance that was cut very short in a violent way. All of these dreams are still with me and I play them like a short movie in my head, stopping now and then to examine every frame of: what might have been.

The -I love you’s- he will never say, the adventures we’ll never go on, the creative endeavors that we started but will never be completed…these are the things I still covet in my heart. This is our story that will never play out. This is why my tears are so many.

For everyone who has lost someone we know and loved/cared about, to suicide, we play it back in our heads over and over and over. We don’t ‘get on with life’ in the same way. We can’t. It’s simply impossible.

We learn to live with the pain and the questions. We deal with the guilt and the lost years with them we will never see in this life. All of us will suffer through it until it is our time to leave this world.

In years to come, I hope that Brian isn’t on my mind all day long, every day. And if he is, I hope that it’s in a very different way. I hope to heal from this.

When do we heal? That’s an individual thing and there simply is no time limit. It will happen if and when it does. It’s as simple as that.

If I mention Brian’s name to family, it’s in passing and very infrequent. I can tell they’re tired of hearing about it. It’s only my very good friends and those who were involved and knew him that I still talk about ‘stuff’, with.

Those that are deep in suicide grief often deal with this; people simply don’t understand and the fact that this is soooooo taboo doesn’t help us. No one wants to talk about it. The worst is when they say hurtful things. This doesn’t help us and in fact, calling someone who completed suicide ‘selfish’, is not only callus but incredibly insensitive.

If you know someone who is going through any kind of grief – give them as much time as they require. It may take a lifetime so be prepared for that. Be kind and gentle. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything; listen instead. Most times that’s all we’re looking for.

Talk to your loved ones about depression, mental health and what suicide is. It’s the misunderstandings and fear around it that make it worse. Educate yourself and then educate others. Talk to your children about death. They will be dealing with it in some form or fashion at some point and being prepared always helps.

Understand that it’s more real than you think and it takes only seconds to change your life, forever.

Understand that those left behind are struggling and are 10 x more susceptible to suicide, themselves.

As with all people suffering in grief, little things set us off. For me, it’s songs that I liked when I was with him, songs that I associated with that time and that remind me of him.

With others it may be smells, places, certain times of the year of anniversaries (birthdays) and such. I will tell you that when we’re hurting, we often live in our own little private hell that we simply can’t share with others. It’s just the way it is.

Be respectful. We don’t want to hear your empty platitudes; they are meaningless to us. We don’t want religion shoved down our throats if we’re not religious and suicide is NOT a sin. It is a choice some people choose and it doesn’t matter if you think it’s right or wrong or somewhere in-between. We don’t care about your beliefs, we only care that someone we loved died and it’s killing us a little, each day, to be without them.

It happens. It’s real and it’s devastating.

This is grief. Our hearts are broken and mending them will take one hell of a lot of love, understanding and patience.

 

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Today’s Lesson Was Brought To You By the Letter A


“A” for Anxiety.

It’s been a hellish workday. It’s not over by a long shot but I’ve been reminded by the Universe that despite all the shit that went down and could still go down…

Nothing.

Nothing can compare to May 11th 2015 when Brian decided to take his life.

Nothing will EVER be or could ever be as bad as that. So, thank you Universe for putting life back into perspective for  me.

You may now return to your regular scheduled programming.

Tomorrow Is


Another day to remember him; an opportunity to meet more souls that loved him.

Grief

Peeling back the layers of truth and unwinding all of the tightly coiled springs of instant grief is humbling. Every now and then I have a reality check; I remind myself that I was blessed to even know him for the short time that I did because I suspect there was a large possibility this was always going to happen.

I believe we make choices on what we want to experience in each lifetime before we get here. I guess he and I agreed to experience this, together, should he decide to use this exit strategy; clearly that’s what he did. He would have had to agree to experience this with every other soul in his life so…in essence and on a higher soul level, we already knew this was going to be a strong possibility.

So. What do we take from that? What have we learned?

I’m still processing that.

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For those of us moving through this journey, we’ve coloured our paths with him differently, so each journey is unique. Thus, each of us is learning about this terrible pain and sorrow in our own way.

It’s like learning how to swim in and ultimately escape quicksand. It’s hellishly difficult but not impossible if you know what you’re doing. Evidently…slow and careful movements are called for.

We’ll get through this, all of us, but there will be scars.

People are confused, broken, cracked open and are having great difficulty really processing exactly just what the hell happened and why it did. Personally, for me, I’ve been thrown off of the life tracks I was on and I’m currently trying to pick myself up and find my footing while getting constantly caught up in-between the rails.

In truth, my heart thinks it’s been shredded. I’m running around trying to find all of the tiny pieces so that I can somehow shove it all back inside my chest. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men are having great difficulty putting Carrie back together, again.

It happened; it’s real. He’s gone and he ain’t comin’ back in the same form that he was in.

He left us in body but he’s still around for us, of this, I’m certain. Talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Speak his name out loud and understand that the veil between earth and the afterlife is incredibly thin and close.

As for the why’s…we’ll never really know and understand that but we can and will find an explanation that we can live with. That’s all we can do as this was his path and pain, not ours to understand.

All I Wanted

Some days it feels like I’m standing at the bottom of the ocean with the incredible pressure of the sea holding me hostage. Other days it’s as if the big picture reality of everything sinks in and I ‘get it’. I get that this is temporary and so very short in the big scheme of things. I get that we’ll all be together with our loved ones, soon. We’ll all leave this place – just when that is, is the unknown.

I asked the question of why we don’t know this; why aren’t we able to know the time of our impending bodily death? The answer I got was that our choices and experiences would not be as wonderful and enlightening if we did. Instead of living life, we’d be sitting around waiting for ‘that’ to happen so we could return home and probably not pursuing adventures that wouldn’t turn out so well. It defeats the purpose of why we chose to come here, in the first place!

We are here to experience this physical plane in the fullest, most wonderful and amazing way possible. This means every part of life – the good, the bad, the bliss and the pain.

That.

Is why…we are here.

Tomorrow is…another day. Another day to remember why I fell in love with him and be thankful for every single moment that we shared. I’ll be with him, again. When? That’s not for me to know and in the meantime, I need to remember that I have to go out there and love/live…life.

Today’s lesson is brought to you by the letter “R”.


I’m speaking of Religion.

Ohhhhhh, now I’ve instantly pissed off a bunch of people!

Funny, that. It’s even funnier that I really don’t care.

Let me quantify this with my expressed option (and it’s just that – MY opinion) as well as offer up a disclaimer.

Firstly, I am not religious. That means, I do not belong to any one organized belief system about God. My belief system is base more upon metaphysics. Now, let me define exactly what that means, because, I think a lot of folks don’t understand it.

met·a·phys·ics

ˌmedəˈfiziks/

noun

noun: metaphysics

  1. the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.

There, copied and pasted from the Internet.

Are you still with me?

I like to refer to myself as a cosmic girl. I have many beliefs and theories that resonate with me and there are some aspects of religions that gel with me, too. What I don’t practice – is one, specifically. I also spend an exorbitant amount of time researching and attempting to understand all aspects of life and after life. Seriously, I could send you about a dozen links to what I’m investigating.

Therefore, you could not call me a Christian. Nor could you call me an Atheist.

I do, however, believe in GOD – or the One Source. Or any other name you wish to call it. I also believe we, as souls, are all part of GOD. We are all connected. Each and every one of us, along with every other life form on this little blue-green planet.

We’re all in this together. We are all one – and yes, we’re individual, but all part of THE ONE.

At any rate…again, MY opinion.

I will point out that if your beliefs differ, that’s totally cool with me. I respect that and you. You can believe in whatever you like and if the Hindi faith rocks your boat, go for it! It’s your belief, your path, your heart and life. Not mine.

I don’t judge.

I do, however, resent those that do.

Oh! She’s got a point to all of this…!

Yes, yes, I do.

Something really terrible happened to me (and many others that shared his brief life) just over two months ago. The man I loved and adored left the world in a terrible, terrible way. He chose to take his life.

While the complexity of this situation is steep and almost insurmountable at this stage, it’s a simple fact. He’s gone. He’s gone and those that love him are left here to deal with how we feel. Well, I think I can speak for all of us. It’s complete devastation x about a billion. Scratch that – x about a billion to the 10th power.

Yes, it’s really, REALLY… THAT bad.

Moving on…

Those that know me and those that I’ve decided to let into my life during the past 49 years (there aren’t very many, I’m choosy) know how I feel about religion. To start preaching to me, YOUR views, especially at a time like this, is seriously disrespectful. It will make me mad.

So, now I’m mad.

I’ve decided it’s not in my best and highest good to have these people in my life. Now, more than ever, I’m standing up for what people believe in and the right to do so. And, oddly enough, this would include YOU!

I’m talking about a lot of things: sexual orientation, personal rights and personal belief structures – I could go on. If there is one thing my mother taught me, well, it’s to: live and let live.

“Each to his own!” she’s always saying.

I like that. It works for me.

As long as you’re not harming anyone else, do whatever the fuck you want.

I don’t judge.

You shouldn’t either.

It’s not up to you. It doesn’t matter if Brian was an Atheist or a Communist. He was neither, by the way, but raised Catholic. It doesn’t matter what YOU believe in. What matters…is that those that loved him are in a shitload of PAIN so intense that if you’ve never experienced it, you should get down on your knees right this moment and pray to whatever God you worship that you never, ever, ever have to go through it.

We don’t need to be told where to find the Lord/Lady. We already know where SHE/HE is and she’s/he’s NOT lost. We don’t need religious Hymns sent to us and to have you jump onto your soap box and start preaching the WORD.

WE – are not interested in YOUR beliefs.

We do, however respect them so – please respect ours.

If you don’t, you will find yourself not included in our lives from this point on. You will find we won’t communicate with you further and you will find that you no longer have us as your friend.

Yes, I’m breaking up with you. Deal with it.

thor

Another Monday


7 weeks.

I really wish I’d stop counting.

Yet, here I am, doing it again.

I have a one-way written dialogue going with you and it seems to have spilled over onto my blog. My shrink told me that some people count because they have a specific date in mind, a goal, to which their grief will end and everything will return to normal.

Only, it never does, does it?

We change, we vacillate between being ‘okay’ and totally NOT being okay.

You never met my younger sister. She thinks I should be better by now. She doesn’t get it. She can’t understand how the mere mention of your name constricts my throat and sends a 10′ wall of saline to come flooding out of my eyes like some swollen spring river. She doesn’t understand that I can’t talk about you, unless ‘I’ bring it up and I’m ready to discuss things without falling to pieces.

She means well. She only wants to help take the sorrow away. This is like wanting to cure cancer with a thought. Good luck with that, baby sis.

I’m sleeping like shit but I think I dream of you. Only…I can’t be sure…they’re foggy and filled with undertones of shifting colour and surreal conversations.

It’s been damn hot, here. You’d have needed a fan in your little apartment. Although…it was evident by your camping slippers you shuffled around in, early mornings, and the bathrobe + jammies you’d slip on after sleeping in the nude…that you enjoyed being warm. 🙂

I found that cute, those massive slippers with your pajama pants pooling around the high topped fabric and draw string (because we wouldn’t want any heat to escape…) like a little boy wearing his big brother’s clothes.

“I like to have my feet warm,” you’d state matter-of-fact.

Then, you’d smile your smile, a combination of subtle shyness and a challenging: ‘Go ahead; I dare you to make fun of them’ – look. I’m not sure just how you accomplished such a thing.

You were always sporting opposites like it was normal to do so. Like, being this athletic cycling-dude whilst completely being addicted to Coca-Cola and candy. You actually ‘shopped’ for candy; as in…you had specific places where they sold just the right kind. I thought this both a little odd…and extremely funny. I think you were always a little boy, at heart.

I wonder when I’ll stop ticking off Mondays as: ‘that day when that really bad and horrible thing happened’ ?

Maybe, next week?

I doubt it. I suspect this will carry on for quite some time.

Thinking (far too much) of you, cute boy…. xo

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