Freeing the voices in my head

Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Grief Isn’t A Journey…

Grief is a stagnant void where nothing feels right and no one can help pull you out of it.  Grief isn’t a series of “five stages” or “steps” back to normal life.  Normal life included my daughter, alive and available, able to be visited or talked to, helped and hugged.  Normal is no longer possible.  Time doesn’t heal shit; the wound is open and stays that way.

 

So, wow, okay…couple of things I’ve noticed these past few weeks; not that I’ve noticed much of anything, but anyway…

When someone you know loses a loved one, you want to help, you want to send comfort, support and love.  But, since humans fear Death so  much, you have no idea what to say or do for that person, so you do what comforts and supports YOU.  That’s fine, just realize that the mourner won’t react in a manner you wanted.  Most of the time, I don’t react at all; I’m still rather numb regarding the outside world and society.  Since we are (most of us) raised to be polite in public, you won’t hear the truth, so let me help you out a bit.  Please remember, this is my experience, maybe it’s different for others.  Also, I AM grateful for all the support and love; I’m just not good at reacting to it.

 

Food: Sure, go ahead and cook something, bring it on over – in a disposable dish, please!  Cooking is comforting for you and I’m grateful I won’t have to think about feeding my family (or the dogs) for a day or two.  But don’t expect me to eat; my body is rejecting anything that pertains to Life right now.   And don’t expect your dish back; it will rot in the fridge, or sit in a congealed mess on the counter or get broken because I have no idea who it belongs to or how to take care of it for you (and I’m too clumsy right now to handle anything breakable – I’m surprised the laptop’s still working!).

Do come over.  Don’t expect me to come to you or call you.  Driving is dangerous, especially when alone in the car – the tears are always right there and it’s too easy to let them flow.  All I want to do is curl into a fetal position under the blankets and scream until I die, too.  Leave me in my bed after patting my shaking shoulder and go clean my house, thanks, but don’t expect me to talk or interact much with you while you’re visiting.

Phrases that help you, but aren’t really helpful for me:  “God needed an angel.”   Fuck that!  God has enough angels.  I hate God right now and am really angry at Him/Her/It.  Do not talk religion or God-talk to me.  “We’re praying.”  Pray for my baby to be back, alive and well, pray to turn back Time; otherwise, go pray somewhere else.

“You have your memories.”  Yeah, and every memory, good or bad, hurts like acid on a raw wound right now, thanks anyway.  Pay for a lobotomy for me so I have nothing in my brain that can hurt me.  Punch me in the head so I get amnesia and have no memories at all and no more pain.  Best of all: kill me so I can go beat the shit outta God and Death for stealing my baby from me.

“What can we do?”  and “How can we help?”  Whoa, don’t ask me to make any decisions!  I’m having a good day if I managed to get out of bed long enough to drink some water and pee.  Seriously, do not ask me to decide shit or function in an acceptable manner.  I can’t.  My first trip out of the house was spent crying in the car, the bank, the grocery store, trying to read my list of errands so I could at least get one chore done.   Didn’t work.  I went home and there I stayed for another week or two or five.  So, take my list, pay my bills, and do my chores, run my life for a month or two, thanks.

Helpful words:  “We’re so sorry for your loss.”  Perfect, leave it at that and hug me.  Be ready to hold me up because my knees are gonna buckle.  Sorry about your soaking wet shoulder, but, yep, I needed to just cry on you, just needed to be hugged, because it let me feel something other than the agony inside me.

There.  Don’t feel guilty if you smiled a little or chuckled; I’m glad you did.  This rant was a release for me and I can still be humorous even when I’m so sad, angry or in pain.  Morbid humor, I guess, or maybe I’m re-reading this wrong and seeing humor where there isn’t any.  I don’t know anymore, my perceptions are way off – I watch violent TV shows and cheer when people die, but a cartoon about a lost dog has me sobbing….

Anyway, thanks for “listening,” don’t know when I’ll be back, but this rant helped a little.  Hug each other!  Now, dammit!

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Honor Guard

In 1943, 1944, 1945, the world was struggling through a Second World War.  My dad enlisted and at some point before he was sent to the Pacific Arena, he was honored with his first award.  He was one of the Top Ten Marksmen in the nation.  Cool, huh?  He was a Marine and reached the rank of Sergeant.  But he really wanted to be a pilot and fly a jet.  He couldn’t because he didn’t have 20/20 vision.  Ah, the irony – good enough to shoot anything on the ground, but not good enough to fly.

He was sent to a tiny island in the Pacific.  The trip over there involved being on a troop carrier.  Hundreds of Marines – the toughest bad asses ever – crammed together with Navy sailors.  Grunts and grounders, rookies really, with no idea what was about to hit them.  The sailors knew; they’d been out there, they had survived a few hits.

During the passage, the ship came under fire.  Being a troop carrier, they didn’t have the option of fighting back.  They had to run the gauntlet, let the better armed and fortified ships do battle.  Imagine the bowels of that ship, hundreds of young men (my dad barely out of his teens) crammed into crew quarters built for a handful; many of them had never been near the ocean and most of them were seasick.  There weren’t enough life jackets for all of them, and the Marines were under orders to keep their gear with them.

My dad asked a sailor what they should do if the ship got hit and started to sink.  He had to look up to ask  – that sailor was over six feet tall, built like a battleship, and seasoned; he had cold seawater for blood.  The guy shrugged and glanced at the heavy pack my dad was clutching.  “Ship sinks, you’ll sink.  Better ‘n burning.”

Ouch.  But I’ve lived with a Merchant Marine for 30 years, I know that tone my father heard in that sailor’s voice, I know what he meant – the ocean is a bitch, but she’ll kill you faster and less painfully than any human.  But for my dad, first time on the ocean, far away from home, that was a wake up call: Death’s right here, boy, stay alert!

They survived without taking any hits or damage and made it to the island.  It wasn’t a combat post, really, just a supply base with a few jets and jeeps, Quonset huts, those few hundred men – carved out in the middle of that island with a dirt road – trail, really – leading to a tiny village near the shoreline.  My dad had made a few friends.  His best friend was a pilot.  The day Mike took him up in a jet for a flyover…ah, my dad’s face lit up at a memory he cherished so that he couldn’t find words to describe it.

Dad often got the job of taking a jeep to the village to check for supplies dropped on the beach or to pick up fresh fish and local produce – the Marines couldn’t befriend the islanders, but they didn’t want to alienate them entirely.  One day, he was on his way back to base, fighting to keep the jeep straight on that muddy rutted track, when something  he didn’t remember what  ran across the road.  He jerked the wheel, the jeep hit something and went flying.  Dad remembers it flipped and he woke up beside it in the ditch.

As his blurred vision cleared, he saw something that made his blood freeze and his heart stutter.  He was surrounded by six Japanese soldiers, all of them staring silently at the unarmed Marine lying on the ground.  Dad slowly got to his feet, fighting off the vertigo, urging his body to stand tall and proud, stoic in the face of Death.

And then, something miraculous happened.  All six soldiers politely dropped their weapons at his feet, raised their hands, and surrendered to my dad.  No one spoke – why bother?  He didn’t speak Japanese and they didn’t speak English.  Dad picked up their weapons and glanced at his overturned jeep.  As one, the soldiers went to it and heaved it upright.  They stood in the road and waited while Dad got in and prayed the vehicle would start.  When it did (thank god for good old fashioned solid manufacturing!), he drove up onto the road to his waiting prisoners.  They marched back to base – six men ahead of the barely mobile jeep and its barely conscious driver.

Dad thought they surrendered because they were tired and hungry and scared.  Maybe they were deserters.  They were in ragged mismatched uniforms, muddy, far too thin, and young, so heartbreaking young.  He never found out what happened to them.  The MPs and his CO took over the second sentries spotted his little parade.  By the time Dad was out of the medic’s hands, the Japanese boys were gone.

These are the only war stories my dad ever told us.  I don’t know if he ever saw real combat; maybe I was deemed too young to hear the other stories – the ones that weren’t funny or weird.  I wonder about that because there was a hint of something, a brief sentence overheard…

“He stepped off the ramp and just sank.  We couldn’t help him; we were dying.”  What ramp?  Where?  My immediate thought brings heartrending images:  men in those boats, trying to hit the beach at Normandy and some of them drowning before they make it ashore because of their heavy gear, and others being shot in the water while struggling to swim…My dad barely able to watch that beach sequence in “Saving Private Ryan,” the tears running silently down his cheeks…Where WAS my dad?  What else did he see and do?  He never said.

Ask any WWII vet and they say, “It was the worst time of my life…and the best.”

I salute you all and thank you.  May we always remember and honor you, our guardians of freedom.  Semper fi!

 

The Muck Inside

First, my apologies.  This will not be a funny or happy blog, and if you are a depressive with suicidal tendencies, be aware that this may be a trigger post for you.

I get so angry at people who judge suicides.  “Oh, how cowardly!”  “Damn, how selfish!”  “How could he do that?  What the hell was he thinking?”

Whoa, wait.  I’m a depressive with suicidal tendencies.  Fortunately, I’m also a dysfunctional depressive – when in an episode, I have no energy to get out of bed, so I have no energy to carry out my suicide plan.  So, I’m here and safe.  And yes, I have a suicide plan.  It’s been worked on and honed to perfection from the age of fourteen.  That’s clue one:  If a depressed person actually has thought out a suicide plan, get them help immediately.

“Oh, but she’s just looking for attention.”  Nope, clue number two:  If a depressive is talking the “I hate my life, I want to die” talk, don’t ignore it, brush them off, or storm about being angry with them.  Get them help immediately.

You ignore us or get angry with us because you are afraid.  You don’t know how to stop us or help, and, the biggie, you are afraid of any talk of Death, so, you react.  Don’t.  Just do your best to get us some help.

Because, you see, we aren’t being selfish or cowardly.  Inside the mind of a depressive, we really do believe you would be better off without us, that we are worthless and therefore, shouldn’t be alive.  Getting angry at us just proves to us that you want us gone.  Since Life is already too horrible, we seek Death.  In our minds, it’s the only way to escape the horror and remove our disgusting presence from your life.  We really are thinking of how our death will benefit you.

That how twisted and crazed we are inside.

In here, the voices of horror are quite often loud and they never shut up.  They tell us how terrible we are all the time and we can’t hear you over those voices.  Every outer influence from bullying to denting your car to breaking a glass is more proof of our uselessness and the voices scream louder.

The expectations of you and the rest of society are too much for us.  We try , try, and fail, again and again.  We’ll never be good enough and you’ll be better off without us.  So, down go the pills, or the knife, or, POP, off goes the gun.

It isn’t easy to put a knife to your arm and start slicing it open.  It fucking hurts.  A lot.  A depressive has to be really done with the mental pain to withstand that physical pain.  Doesn’t sound like a coward to me.

Selfish?  No, to us, you already hate us every time you criticize us or get angry with us.  There are no lines of “I’m just telling you for your own good; I still love you.”  We aren’t hearing that.  We can’t.  The voices are screaming too loud.  So, since we hurt you so much, we’ll just go away.

I’ll always regret not being more aware for my loved one.  He didn’t reach out, didn’t speak of it, he just spiraled down, and I didn’t even catch the signs.  He drank too much, fought too much, argued all the time, decided we hated him…  If only I had visited his home more often, sat down and really talked to him, told him I knew where his mind was…  If only.

So, don’t blame yourself.  There’s really not much you can do, except try to see the signs.  I saw them and didn’t act on them because I was too deep in my own murk.  If another depressive missed all that, then you can’t be expected to see it.  If you’re lucky, your loved one will toss out a hint or two.  Don’t ignore those clues.  Go get help.

It will be five years tomorrow; I love you, C, and still miss you.

Thank you for reading.  Now, go, hug each other, but most of all:  Listen, listen to each other without reacting.  You might be surprised by what you actually hear when you really listen.

Under The Bridge

When I wander into Memory Town, I usually get stuck at the bridge.   I used to have a bit of a phobia about bridges – I hated driving across them.  My too vivid imagination could see me steering the car through those inadequate guardrails to plunge down into the water below.  There are a number of phrases about bridges.

“Don’t burn your bridges.”  Huh, does that mean I can go back over the bridge if I don’t like what I find on the other side?  Okay, I know it means watch what you say (or do) because you can’t take it back and the other person might shut you out of their life.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”  Put off the bad until we’re ready for it or can’t avoid it any longer?  I’d like to cross it now and get the agony over with, thanks.

“It’s water under the bridge.”  Meaning let the Past go, move on, etc.  Ah, but this one, this is the one that gets me stuck.  I climb down and have to look under the bridge.

In real and memory terms, the water under a bridge is always dark, murky, full of debris and dangerous currents.  Ugly things live under there, lurking, waiting, ready to snatch at the unwary observer.  Stuff that should be dead and gone get caught in whirlpools swirling around the pylons of the bridge.    Garbage that sank to the bottom reaches twisted limbs up to grab a swimmer’s ankles and pull the victim down into the mud.  An undertow can pull you to the center and suck you down, trapped in the dark shadows beneath the bridge.  You can drown under the bridge, fighting to scramble back to the bright and clear waters on each side where you can see everyone else enjoying the sun sparkling on the river.

I’d like to join them, I try to stay with them, but the dark mess under the bridge still needs clearing out.  I keep hoping if I push the crap around, the murk will flow away and I’ll be free.  It’s a big job and no one out there in the sunshine wants to help me.  They don’t want to hear about what’s hidden under the bridge; they believe I should just leave it alone and walk away.  A few friends have tried to help, but I don’t want them trapped under there with me, so I gently push them away.  Somehow, I think my beloved will be strong enough to help without getting caught, but he won’t go anywhere near the bridge.  They all want me to forget, move on, walk away, and never, ever speak of what’s under there.

But I can’t because the water under the bridge is flowing through me every day.  I live there every moment, unable to break free.  How can I escape when no one wants to hear my shout for help?  When no one will listen as I try to clear the mess out?  They have tried, for about five minutes, just as I’m starting to reveal the darkest debris.  They wave it off, send up a platitude or two, and scurry back out into the sunshine, leaving me to drown.

I thought Love would be the thrown life preserver…but that’s no life saver, that was just another trap…  Someday, I’ll write my way clear, someday, when it’s all on paper, in print, they might read it.  Someday…I’ll just swim away.