There are times when I am given the opportunity to share my experience with others. And there are times when I have the chance to allow my past experiences to help someone undergoing the current moments in their life. More importantly, there are times when I am able to pay for the destruction of my past or better yet, there are times when I am given the chance to resolve my old tensions and pay back for some of the pieces of my life, in which I owe or feel as if I need to amend.
There were times when the unsettled memories of my life would interfere with my future. Hence, this is the reason why I decided to make changes. More than simply being me and more than being better as a person, I needed to find a new way to better translate information so that A) I could understand and process life’s unfair terms in an easier manner and B) that I could learn a better way to function as opposed to being held to my own state of self-destruction and confusion.
There are memories of me being violent or very enraged. There are sins of mine that I have committed against unknown or faceless people. Then of course, there are sins of mine which took place in my home. And there were times when my Mother would ask me, “Where did I go wrong?” or “What did I do?”
There were times when my Mother blamed herself for the way I was. She would ask me, “What could I have done differently?” There are stains of mine, which I recall as days when my life was purely out of control and the way I responded or behaved was freakish or downright insane. There were times when my Father’s frustration was so great that he and I would hardly speak. The frustration on his end was different from the frustration on mine. Yet, at the core, frustration was something we could both relate to.
The failure to communicate or be understood, heard or acknowledged is a frustration that reaches back to our most helpless times of infancy. After all, this is why babies cry; it’s not only because the baby isn’t getting it’s way. No, the baby cries because it has no way to get its point across. Therefore as it is since birth, our frustrations with not being heard, valued, acknowledged or understood is the center of frustration.
The Old Man never asked me if he could have done anything differently. Then again, The Old Man and my Mother handled things quite oppositely. The Old Man was never very successful in expressing his feelings to me. Mom blamed herself. And I’m sure The Old Man did as well. The core of their feelings was the same. However, we all deal with our core in different ways.
I never blamed anyone for the way I was as much as I thought there was something wrong with me. I believed that I was so painfully different, or someone with “special needs”. I saw myself the same as someone with developmental delays and when people cheered for me it was the same as someone cheering for a child because the child used the potty instead of going in its pants. I speak about this and I will continue to do so with purpose.
Take last night for example. There are times when I have the chance to sit with parents or loved ones that lost someone in their life as a result of mental health challenges or some kind of disorder. Last night was a group that handled the sad topic of untimely deaths due to overdoses.
First, I would like the record to reflect that I do not believe that I or anyone can miraculously say something and suddenly all of the pain from a mournful loss would simply go away. I have learned over the years that there are no magic words and there is no right thing to say. Untimely loss is an untimely loss. Life is unfair and so is death for that matter. None of this is fair. And there is no reason to pretend otherwise.
I see no reason to lie about feelings or thoughts. In fact, since depression and depressive thinking is already oppressive to the soul, not admitting to ourselves or out loud about the truth in our hearts is and will become progressively more degenerative. There is nothing wrong with being honest about the way we feel. In fact, there is no more right or wrong. This is not grade school anymore and we do not have to bring home a report card for anyone else to sign or be approved by.
When discussing suicidal ideation or expressing the truthfulness about being so desperate or in pain; the last thing we need is to be trapped in a lie or held prisoner behind a facade of false representation of who we are. In fact, suicidal ideation can be so thick and heavy and put simply, you just want to jump out of this. You want to get away from yourself. You just want a moment to breathe. You want everything to stop, at least for a second, but the momentum of life is ceaseless.
The thought of life as it is becomes more than simply being joyless; the idea that the heaviness and the weight of the world as well as its unrelenting momentum can be so devastating that we choose ways to alleviate the pain. The unthinkable becomes the thinkable.
I have survived a lot. Then again, we all have. I have survived the blame, shame, guilt and regret of my past. I have survived self-inflicted tragedies. I have survived suicide attempts. I survived the drug spots and the guns or the shots fired. I survived the unfairness of my past and yet, there are parents of children and friends of mine that have asked me to my face, “Why you?”
I have been asked, “How come you were able to get away and not me?” My friend Tommy asked me this. My friend Brian asked me this as well. “Why did you get away and I get stuck.” Brian died a few days after reaching out to me for help. Tommy died after his third overdose within a month’s time. And the list goes on. The truth is I do not know why or how. I don’t know why some people live or get away. I don’t know why some are destined to pass away at a young age. I don’t know why the numbers of deaths by suicide or overdose increase and yet, we know why, but the numbers still go up.
Last night was one of those nights that I had the chance to offer a new way of considering the way we live as well as the language we use. This is always hard for me. But that’s okay. I want this to be hard. In fact, I don’t ever want this to be easy. I don’t ever want to be comfortable here. More to the point, I want my pain to show. I want my words to be raw and truthful. I want my words to resonate.
I hear the Moms talking about the loss of their child and I am reminded about the way I was. I am reminded of the helplessness in my Mother’s face when say, I was handcuffed in a courtroom and she wailed out loud in pain as the bailiff escorted me away. I relived the pain of my name in the newspapers because a helicopter chased me through my town. I relived the shame which this brought to my family.
There is an understanding that I had, which I think many others have as well. I had something I call “blood-smell” which means I knew how to do it. I knew how to die, and I’m not sure why it never happened. I’m not sure why I lived but as sure as I am alive, I am sure there is a reason and that my reason is part of my purpose.
I wept last night. In fact, I am weeping now as I type this. I am weeping because I could see my Mother in the tearful expression of the women in the group. Perhaps this is my way of saying, “I’m sorry Mom.” Or maybe this is my way of processing the remnants of my damaged past. Or maybe this is my way to be human and share with others that although there is tragedy, rebirth and recovery is always possible.
This is me saying, “I’m sorry Pop.”
Oh, and hey Pop,
I offered a piece of us and our story last night. I can’t say what this means to anyone else but I can say that I will offer this to as many people as I can so that maybe someone can find peace within themselves (somehow).
I try to channel you when I do this. I try to channel your charisma and your storytelling abilities. I try to be myself and you at the same time because although we had a troubled past, you are and always will be my very first hero.
I love you