Tag Archives: writing is therapy

What do we do when the ones who save us leave?

*trigger warning: depression and general fucked-upness follows*

Join me in a bit of time travel. Let’s go back about seventeen years. I was eighteen years old (Jesus, why does that make me sound old?). I was mentally in the darkest place I had been in up to that point. I don’t usually speak of this time, so for some, this may be news. But, that ends tonight.

I hadn’t quite figured out how to live with the loss of my grandmother. I was bullied, relentlessly, every day in school. I was called every name in the book except nice white girl, which I very much was. Due to this, I was quiet. Not shy, just never felt worthy of talking. I had very few friends with whom I could enjoy life and be myself without much worry about judgment, but if I am being honest, I assumed they were judging me also. I knew I liked boys, but I also knew that I had liked girls, too, and I wasn’t sure what to do with that one. I had crushes on people I ought not to have crushes on, and unrequited was the only relationship status box I could punch.

If I would have had seven stitches of self-confidence back then, I would have had the strength to ask for help – to cry out that I knew I was fucked up inside, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know that I could say a word because back then, mental illness wasn’t a thing we were aware of. Boys would be boys. Girls were bitches. Everyone else was weak. No one could win. I acted like I was fine when inside, I was a mess. An absolute mess. It was awful. I felt hopeless, truly helpless, and worthless.  I was a wreck.

So, I did what kids did back then. I sat in my bedroom and wrote incredibly shitty poetry while listening to music as loudly as I could while imagining various ways I could end my life. And that was how I saved my own life. I’m here because music was there. Writing is something I have always been good at, and I am here because I was doing it then. As I wrote and listened, life seemed more worth it. I got stronger because those words – those artists – gave me the strength to live. I couldn’t do it on my own and didn’t know how to ask for help, so I did what I hoped would work…

In 2000, a good friend of mine gave me a copy of Hybrid Theory by a band I had not heard of until then, Linkin Park. I heard this guy named Chester Bennington tell me that it was okay to be fucked up in the head, that I could still be alive and feel the way I was feeling, that I wasn’t a freak – I was fine in being not fine. There was something inside of me that pulled beneath the surface, like he said he had, and he had also felt insecure. But, he was clearly a successful musician, reaching out to millions, and if he could pull his shit together long enough to live and keep going, then man, I could, too. Something in his voice made me know that even though he had pain, he was going to be fine. And I would be fine. His voice was unlike anything I had ever heard, or will ever hear again. His words gave me the strength to know that I, also, could live and find a place for my head. I would also find somewhere I belonged.

I saw Linkin Park live a few times. Their sound was pure addiction – energy, smart, driving, light with dark edges. Their stage show was remarkable. I am pretty sure I had more than one of their t-shirts and a hoodie, though their whereabouts are long gone. I bought their CDs, and I still have them to this day. Hell, I still follow them on Instagram and Twitter! I was just looking through his Instagram a few weeks ago, commenting on how silly he could be sometimes. I mean, so full of life. So silly.

So, when the news came in that he had died by suicide this morning, I was completely knocked sideways. I fell into tears. I remembered his voice telling me that he was one step closer to the edge and he was about to break, but he didn’t…until he did.

We may never know why today happened the way it did, and we don’t need to. It’s none of our business. We only need to know that it happened, that he fought and fought and fought so hard and was weary, tired of the fighting. And the only way out of the fight was a permanent one. And it’s not our place to judge, just to remember that we never know what is going on behind someone’s smile, someone’s laugh, even someone’s tears.

When the people we turn to when we need a little saving end up leaving us, what can we do? We fucking live, that’s what we do. In spite of the challenges we face in our own lives, we fucking live. We live large because that is what those people would want for us. They would not want us to face the same dark hallway that they have walked – they would want us to fucking live. Suicide is not a sign of weakness, so we must not let it make us weak, either.

So, that’s what we do. We cry. We laugh. We mourn. We celebrate. But, we never forget that we get to fucking live. And that, my friends, that is the gift. It’s hard. It’s SO hard sometimes, but we honor those people and their gifts and we live for them. I still have dark moments – I don’t think anyone is ever bright all the time, anyway – so in those dark moments, I remember to try to live a little louder that day. I must. So many depend on it. I depend on it.

Life is energy, and when one life ends, their energy is dispersed into the Universe. Their light does not go out, it goes on. So, we have to carry the light for Chester Bennington, and those others we have lost for whatever reason.

I remember feeling completely helpless. Hopeless. Broken. And it was Chester who told me it was okay to not be okay. I have to remember to be that voice for others as well, as often and as loud as I can be (and I can get quite boisterous). So, my friends, it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be a little fucked up in the head. Show me one person who isn’t.

So, for you, Chester, and for others we have lost along the way who we have turned to at one point or another for a little bit of saving, I give you my promise to live every single moment like it’s the most precious fucking thing I have ever touched. I will live. Promise.

 

Until we meet again, Chester. I’ll keep on living.
Find my cousin Kevin, please. He’s been gone four years today…

chester

But, I can’t lie, this one fucking hurts.
Just ….

There’s a reason why I’m here…

But when I was sixteen and lost my grandmother, I did not believe that. I didn’t think I had to be here. The pain was soul-crushing. And it almost was too much for me to bear.

When I was sixteen, my grandmother came to live out her final days with my family. She was diagnosed with cancer *again* and this time, she was terminal. There would be no going home for her. There would be no fucking around this time. She was dying. Period. This all came suddenly for me; she was in pain but was blown off for about a year as being arthritic. This had to be the worst case of arthritis anyone had ever seen because it wasn’t. It was cancer and had eaten the bones out of her spinal cord leading to her neck. If you can’t even fathom that, you’re not alone. I can’t either and I watched it. She had to get a halo screwed into her head (hey imagery). This was probably the most disturbing thing for me to bear, really. I could handle her sick. I could deal with her dying a rapid, painful death in my house. But the cage? That was too much…

We watched as she slipped away from us. She would forget things; dates were written on mirrors to remind her. She would forget who we were. Who was I anyway? She was losing all sense of space, time, and reality. She wanted her purse. She carried it around always like Queen Elizabeth and was not letting this cage get in her way. Or the fact that she could not get anywhere without assistance. Lipstick. Oh the red lipstick. It was everywhere. On her teeth. That was her specialty. I feel bad now thinking of that, but you have to take some of the bad with the good, and the funny with the serious. She was breaking down. Slowly. But not. It was fast. Damn white gardenia lotion would fill the house when my mom would bathe her. That smell I still can’t get out of my nose. I can’t handle it. I would see her smile when I walked into the room. She would say hello to me. And then look again; she had to be sure she said hello to the right person. Every day seemed to be different; no day was better than the previous. As time progressed, she digressed and her end became evident and inevitable. The hospital bed in my brother’s room was the final place she would truly rest. My mom knew she was dying, and she sent us kids out to an Indians’ game with my dad. And I was so angry. I remember going through the drive thru at Wendy’s on the way up to the game and being so filled with anger. Why did we have to leave? Why couldn’t we say goodbye? I was old enough. I wanted to be there. My hero and favorite person on the whole planet was being taken away from me, and I was being pulled away from her…

So I pulled away from everyone. Depression set in like a calming blanket, and I never wanted to let it go. I got worse. I presented a good front. I would talk to my friends, but no one understood. So I stopped talking. I started planning. The end. I wanted to be with her again so badly; childlike I was in my insistence. The pain… the pain is still with me as I write this. I do not believe it ever goes away; it’s been over 14 years now. There was no unlearning this feeling. There was nothing anyone could say.

My mother barely cried, and this was her mother. She cried, I am sure, but not that we could see. I could never figure out why she wanted to be strong for us, when I was dying inside. I don’t blame her; I don’t believe she had any clue. But the end was near. I was planning it. It wasn’t even a well thought out plan. But it was something. If anything, it would get people’s attention. I was so afraid of telling someone how I felt, so afraid of putting it into words. I thought maybe putting it into action would do it. When you’re sixteen, you don’t think of others and I was damn sure no one would give two shits if I were here or not. I didn’t care about them; I only felt. I was emoting like a fountain and had no choice. I was going to end it. It had to be done. So selfish I was in hindsight, but we all know what is said about hindsight. Selfish it was; selfish only takes and never gives without concern.

The night I wanted to get it over with, I sat in my sea foam green bedroom and cried. I tried to just do it. I tried to forget and stop feeling forever. I didn’t have the guts to do it. But I didn’t know what else to do. There would be no going back if I ended it. There would be no tomorrow. I needed so desperately to explain myself and how I felt. The words eluded my lips at every turn, but they could not elude my pen. Grabbing a notebook, I sat on my twin bed with the peach and sea foam comforter, and I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And I cried. The tears stained my words, but they didn’t slow my pace. I was a maniacal wordsmith writing for hours. And I fell asleep. With the pen in my hand. And you know what? There was a tomorrow…

Know that when I say that writing saved my life, I mean every word of it. I write to live. I don’t live to write. I don’t do it often enough to satisfy myself, but it is always here when I need it. I write to reflect, to deal, to emote, and to illustrate. I write to let go, to go back, to remember and forget. I write for everything. When I say writing is for life, I mean it.

I didn’t end it. It didn’t end me. And I am so thankful that I was able to get myself out of that without therapy (though I probably could have used some) and did it on my own. What in the world would have happened to my family if I wasn’t here? Look at ALL of this beautiful life I would be missing. I can’t imagine if tomorrow would not have ever come for me. And it’s all thanks to a pen and some paper. Who would listen without judgment.

My truth was on that paper.

And I am grateful to God for this gift everyday.

And I tell everyone else to do the same.

You never know who will take you up on it

And find an endless world of tomorrows.