I haven’t written to you for a few days now. It’s been hard to write and hard to process the last few days of events. I was in the middle of sending a letter to my mother when the news came in about my roommate John.
I don’t understand why life happens the way it does. I can’t make sense of anything anymore. I haven’t uttered or written my father’s name in more than a decade now.
I have not said my mother’s name in half as long nor do I speak with anyone in my family, such as my aunts, uncles, my half-siblings, and especially not the half-siblings I never knew about until I was an adult.
I don’t know why things happen. I don’t know why we meet people at certain times in our life and I don’t know if I believe in fate or if I have faith that there is a reason for everything.
I don’t know if I believe in God or if I pray just to talk out loud, as if I’m really just talking to myself, and hoping that someone else is listening. Sometimes, I swear, I believe everything about me is plastic and fake. I just can’t seem to make the connection. As hard as I try to reach what I want in life, I always feel like it’s just beyond my touch. I can feel what I want though. I just can’t reach it is all.
I have always felt so completely transparent which is why I’ve spent decades trying to perfect my addiction to keep me from seeing the gruesomeness of a world less-desired. I assume this is how I’ve protected myself. Over the last two weeks, I’ve admitted to things that I never thought I would tell or say to another human being.
I went to the chapel a few times to sit quietly and help me make sense of the nonsense in my head. And if I wasn’t here and if I wasn’t away right now, my usual go-to method would be the same old thing, which is what brought me here in the first place.
I have listened in groups to others explain why they did what they did. I have listened to others talk about what they thought or how they felt.
In many cases though, and I get why, but most that talk about themselves will usually do so from a glorified standpoint. This is true even when people put themselves down. This is ego blending in the memories to defend the hard-fact truth that we reacted out of emotion, to which I say, bless us.
I say bless us all. Bless us our painful souls. Bless us our painful regrets. Bless us our past which we cannot seem to rectify or get away from. Again, had I not been where I am, I might not have been able to process this journey, which I repeat, this is why I say bless us our lives. Bless our painful, sad, pathetic little lives, which I previously chose to euthanize with a “Pin-prick” mindset, to head towards a life lived under the influence, and to live painlessly in a state of a continuous anesthesia.
Had I not been here at Mountainside, I’d have addressed my feelings in a secular, subjective way. I’d have turned off the lights, so to speak, and shut the shades in my mind for a while to euthanize me with half-shut eyes, drunken and high, and so close to death that I could feel the warm cloak of my sought afterlife.
I remember nodding off and visualizing angels falling down from heaven, backwards, and dying like the sentiment of the cells in my brain.
I kept myself this way for so long that the thought of me being any way else is still highly doubtful. Yet, at the same time, I don’t want that life anymore. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to feel trapped or as if my life is hinged upon this one thing that kills me on one end but completes me on the other. I don’t want this but yet I can’t conceive a life lived any way else.
I don’t know what life is or what it isn’t. I don’t know why good things happen to other people. And whether they deserve good things or not is an entirely separate issue.
I am not so sure when it was that I began to feel so undeserving or unfit that I chose to take matters into my own hands. Nor am I sure if I could place a finger on when the major shift in my life began. At one point, I said to hell with it all.
It has been suggested to me, however, that all of this stems from my childhood messages. And that might be true.
They teach a lot about the cognitive mind and tell us that our thoughts can be lies. They say the same thing about our feelings too. The truth is I don’t know what’s true in my head anymore. I just know that from what I’ve seen, I’ve seen enough that I don’t ever want to see another place like this one again.
John left a note for me that I apparently overlooked. I didn’t notice the slip of paper beneath his little lamp atop the nightstand next to John’s bed. All I saw for the last few days were his things that went untouched and unchanged.
However, when John was found, they had staff come up to the room to retrieve his things. I am told they will find me a new room here, which I get, but part of me wants to stay in this room and part of me just wants to go home. Part of me wants to ask John why and part of me understands.
John was found in the woods about a mile and a half up the mountain by hikers that walked along the blue trail. He was dying for sure. All I recall was the last thing John said to me about his illness, which he never openly defined. I just knew he was dying from something that affected his brain. He told me that he wanted the freedom to dictate his own death and not have to subject him to treatment or dying alone in a hospital somewhere.
They found John, blue-skinned and white-eyed, propped against a huge oak tree with a needle in his arm. No one knows how John came up with the needle. And it wasn’t loaded with anything either, —least of all; the needle wasn’t loaded with heroin or anything like that. John shoved air into his vein, which I am told is a painful way to go, but nevertheless, John achieved his goal..
The note John left for me under the small lamp on top of the nightstand was read to me by my counselors Jake and Helene. They read it to me in Helene’s office. I sat there as still and as quiet as a child losing his one and only grandfather. I was hurt, yes, but more, I was numb as could be, in shock, and unable to process the way life works. He was a good man. But John was sick. He was dying and he didn’t want to go helplessly. Rather than face the cruelties of the hospice, which was promised to him; John chose to dignify himself by dying on his own terms.
“This is not suicide,” John wrote in the letter. “This is me just spinning the wheels a little faster along nature’s course.”
John apologized for a series of events that I knew nothing about. He apologized that I was the one to room with him during his last days on Earth and that Brian went too young to die. But Brian’s path was not the same as John’s. Brian had the chance to live. As John saw it; his choice to live was coming to an end.
“Stay how you are,” John said to me in his letter. “Finish what you started,” John wrote. “You have so much to live for,” John mentioned. “Trust me,” he said. “It took me finding out that I was going to die to know how important it is to live.”
“So live,” he told me
In all my life, I have never learned something as tragic and true, painful, and uplifting.
I just want to finish this place. I want to get out of here and get on with my life. I swear if I wasn’t here, I know what I would have done. But the contradiction is this; as of now, I have no urge or desire to use or drink. I just want to cry. I want to weep and let this all out. I feel like there is a poison flowing through me and I just want to clean my bloodstream so that my thinking won’t be infected anymore.
Billy sent me a letter. I opened and read it because I needed a break from the tension. He said he was doing well. He told me he found a new place to live on the Eastside of Manhattan. He got himself on his feet and went back to his old publishing company. His wife still lives in their home on Long Island and for now, they live separately with hopes to reunite once again.
Billy even told me that he’d like to take a look at the notes I’ve been writing to myself about Mountainside. He was the only one that knew.
Then I assumed he laughed while writing the letter as he mentioned, “Names would have to be changed to protect the less-than innocent.”
I took a minute to enjoy the thought of me as a writer with a published book. Up until now, I only journaled because I always felt alone, as if I had no one else to talk to, and that my only true voice was my pen and this paper.
Then I thought about the words written by a little girl in the Diary of Anne frank. She wrote how she doubted anyone would be interested in the outpourings of a little girl.
But she was wrong.
And me, I doubt that anyone would be interested in the outpourings of a man like me, away in rehab, and detailing the lives and times of junkies and drunks. Then again, I might be wrong too. For now though, I will just keep this here between us.
“You never know,” Billy said in his letter about my journals.
“We just might be able to come up with something.”
I hope so bill because the truth be told, my excitement is incredible.