2.46. The Wounded Soul – My Proudest Failure

This post is not about the many known names who have died over the course of this year from apparent suicide. Their deaths are sad and a loss to the world but there is nothing that can be done for them.  Their chances have ended. It’s sad but what can you do about it now? This is not about the unknowns who are gone from this world. Their story is no different. This is about the ones we can save. 

When I was 26, after my son was born, I suffered from postpartum depression while simultaneously suffering from an infection, which caused me to lose part of my right breast. The fake glue that was holding my doomed marriage together melted away. My world crumbled very quickly. I recall sitting in a bathroom and penning a letter to my child in which I apologized for failing him, for not being strong enough to have the desire to continue. I remember calling a crisis hotline while sitting on the curb of a dark street and telling some stranger I was a horrible piece of shit because I had a child but I wanted to die. I remember going to a hospital and asking for an evaluation. I sat in a cold, bare room, and waited for someone to tell me I was insane. After talking with Tom, he informed me I was suffering from PTSD, from events earlier in my life,  and Postpartum. When I said I wanted to die, he explained, I was simply asking to sleep…for rest…escape from pain I could not seem to get away from. I was released and attempted to pull myself out of that darkness. 

When I was eighteen, after being caught in the act, I admitted to battling Bulimia. It was a slow way out but I often hoped I would just become extremely frail and collapse and that same sleep would come. My mother told me to get over it. 

When I was 13, my father found me in our trailer in Clintondale, New York. I’d swallowed a ton of his painkillers and anything else I could find in the medicine cabinet. I was ashamed of my life. I was scared of being a nothing. I wanted to quit. 

When I was 11, I was admitted to a mental health ward, against my will (and my parents) for a mere 16 hours (a lifetime to an 11 year old btw). I’d gone in after a referral from a childhood therapist. Because I wouldn’t discuss things that were happening but implicated myself in several acts of self-harm, I was held for evaluation. I can still remember the screams and belligerent rants of those held in rooms next to me. After those 16 hours, I conned my way out of that hospital, claiming it was all an act and absolutely nothing was wrong with my home life. I learned how to lie on that day. 

When I was 5, a sibling found me on the ledge of our apartment window. When asked why I was up there, I said I wanted to die. My mother beat the ever-living piss out of me and sent me to bed. 

I have tried to die, thought of dying, hoped for dying…TOO MANY times in my life. I’ve purposefully put myself in dangerous situations, in the hopes that I would find release. Through those years and failed attempts…I never found it. 

I’m not telling you this because I want pity. Because I want you to think I’m epic and strong for “surviving.” I don’t know why I wanted to die from such a young age. I don’t know why I wasn’t “built” to better deal with the hardships of life. I don’t know why the unknown seemed so much better. 

What I do know are two things. 

  1. I was already dead. My body didn’t have to perish. TRULY, I believe I was a walking tomb. My son gave me my soul. I still struggle. I still panic. I’m still a hot mess. But I have never hoped for another breath the way I do now…as I have my son in my life. 
  2. Someday, I will die. I will not try. It will be against my will. And I will not want it to happen. I will feel pain as it all slips away because I will not see the tomorrows of my child, his children, the life I will miss. Someday, I will not have a choice. 

All of that being said…

I AM NOT AN EXPERT but I know the helplessness. I know the desperation. I know that feelings of sad hope that the damn phone will ring and someone…ANYONE will pull me back from the ledge and say, “I care about you. Please don’t go.” We all want to know that someone wants us to stay. That someone NEEDS us to stay. That our fire lights another persons world. We all need a reason to have no desire to step on that ledge. It’s ALL about love. 

The trauma that happened in my life, very early on, stunted my growth in MANY ways (so the doctors say). There are many times that I am stuck back in that mind frame of a child and I am terrified. I am frail. I am lost. It’s a fight to not go back there. To train my brain that I’m not reliving those traumas. That things are not repeating themselves. That I am capable of dealing with it IF they are. 

I am telling you all of this because we all know someone who struggles. Who is fighting. Who may be too quiet. May say the wrong things. May lash out at the smallest occurrence. May come off so angry. May push people away. May be an emotional punching bag. May live a lifestyle that is reckless. May be unaware that they are begging for help. May be pleading for rescue in their eyes but not their words. 

If you are that person…tell someone. ANYONE. Talk until your blue in the face. But keep talking. If you’re talking…you aren’t dead. AND THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. If you know someone like that…listen. Listen and really hear. You don’t need to fix it all. Just listen. Sometimes, that is all a wounded soul needs. 

Dear Suicide – I am proud to have failed you. 

Sincerely not yours…this girl. 

2.36. Rain

She will skim the surface

With blades of grass

To deliver the aqueous formula

Slow like honey

Heavy in hue

Trickling,

Drizzling,

Glistening,

Steady,

Pouring,

Clotting into hail

Her wrists are open

As cumulus clouds deliver surrender

A torrent of life

Laid to rest on the tiles of a bathroom floor.

1.88 – No More Casualties

Dear Hunter,

I knew, when I carried you in my belly, that this life would be a hard one for you to live. It’s becoming harder and harder for people much younger and younger. Today, mommy read something about a young girl who ended her life because people were mean to her and she felt alone. Which is why I’m writing this letter to you, one of the hundreds I will write over the years.

That young lady took her life, in mommy’s opinion, for many reasons. People were not nice to her. She felt alone. Her parents missed the mark. I know I will mess up as a mother. I will fail you and in turn, you will make mistakes I should have prepared you better for. But I’m going to try my hardest to make those failures as few and far in between as humanly possible.

Baloo Bear, you’re not always going to like me. I’m not going to play the part of one of your “buddies.” It is my honor, duty and privilege to be your mother, your soldier, your advocate, your confidant. After all of that, I am your friend. But never before and never in its place. I cannot and will not give you everything you want.

I will do my best to teach you how to defend yourself with your words and physically, because sometimes, you might have to defend yourself against the ugliness of peoples hearts. I will do my best to teach you to be kind to others, to base your reactions on actions versus assumptions. I will do my best to teach you that you are loved no matter if you are straight, gay, artistic, non-artistic, soft spoken or loud as all hell. I will do my best to give you what is lacking in this world right now.

I will push you to be your best. I will be nosy. I will ask you where you are going and with whom. I will probably drive by to check. I will not let you have a computer in your room. You will not have a cell phone unless you can foot the bill. You will buy your first car which will probably be a piece of shit. And you will value it that much more because you will have earned it. I will remove your door if need be. I will not get you the newest whatever when you already have things JUST BECAUSE your friends got the new junk. I will encourage you to be yourself despite the crowd. I will nurture your passions to the best of my ability.

I will remember that I was a kid once. That I was self-conscious of my apparent poverty, of my looks, my thoughts, my feelings. I will remember that I wanted my independence but I also wanted to know my parents cared. I will remember that I thought I knew it all at a very early age. I was wrong about a lot. But I still believed. And it took lessons learned to show me otherwise.

I will live my life and let you live yours, under my guidance and helping hand. I will let you stand alone to be the best damn man you can possibly be.

I will emphasize education, articulation, respect for yourself, for women, for elders, for animals, for this earth, for children. I will teach you that respect 9 times out of 10 MUST be earned. I will emphasize that you only get ONE life.

I love you, Hunter Daniel, to no end. I will fight the good fight for you, beside you. You will resent me, hate me, call me mean and evil. I hope, someday, you know – I will do what I can to give you something better. I don’t need you to think I’m cool. I need you to respect me. To appreciate the message I hope to spread.

I will lay down my life for you, if thats what it takes.

I will not, and I repeat, will not bury you.

Love, Mommy.

This letter is for my son. This letter is for every child I have never met. It takes a village to raise a child. Our village, this country, is failing as our children become bullies and victims. We fight terrorism around the world. Our neglect as parents is the true terrorism. I fight for the end of the casualties. 

1.71 – Dysfunction > Dedication

Daniel Craig, the James Bond dude, recently made a comment about the Kardashians being “f**king idiots.” Damn, Bond really knows how to hit the nail on the head.

The Kardashians, along with far too many others, live a life of fame and fortune for…nothing. Scratch that. They live a life of fame and fortune for scandal, appearances and everything else outside of talent. But isn’t that what our media is made up of? People who are famous for nothing. The Jersey Shore cast, The Real Housewives of (Insert location here), Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton (haven’t heard anything about that one in awhile), etc etc.

  • The Real Housewives should be called The Typical Housewives. Milking their fifteen minutes of fame for all it’s worth, they encourage the cameras to role through divorce, petty drama, shopping sprees, business ventures and spousal suicides. Perfect time to release a book! Cha-ching.
  • The Jersey Shore cast gets paid to be drunken, walking sexual disease transmitters. Perfect time to release a book. Cha-Ching!
  • Lohan goes to jail, gets out, does more drugs, goes to jail, gets out, drinks some more, spreads eagle in Playboy, will probably go to jail soon. Bet she’ll be putting out a book soon. Cha-Ching. Why would people pay to see her crotch in Playboy? Just wait for her next drug binge and see the crotch shots for free via TMZ.
  • Marriage for 72 days and yet KK is talking about having a baby on her show. How did you go from baby talk to divorce? That was hella quick.

Craig couldn’t have said it any better although he could have said it sooner. But at the end of the day, I’m going to say what Craig didn’t. We’re all f**king idiots. These fame whores wouldn’t be famous if we didn’t watch. If we didn’t talk about it. If we weren’t so quick to buy in to the poor display of money hungry vultures that has become our Hollywood.

It baffles me how these people are considered famous and yet you see struggling artists, musicians, writers, dancers, actors…but you don’t see them. Because they haven’t attached scandal to their skill. It’s quite discouraging. Why bother? Our world relishes garbage and refuses art. I can only hope for the day when the dialogue will flourish over artistic dedication instead of human dysfunction. Passion instead of payrolls. Skill instead of scum. I’ll keep waiting.

1.66 – A Lifelong Battle

I tried jumping out of a window when I was five. Ask me why. I don’t know. I was probably sad or angry or just curious what it would be like to fly. I cant answer why that little girl wanted to jump, but she did.

Soon after getting my ass beat by my mother, I was sent to a therapist. I went regularly through the following years. Instead of opening up about the things that made me drawn to a dark place at such a young age, I learned how to lie. How to put up a show…how to wear the mask. You see, before every session, my mother would tell my sister and I that we could talk to the therapist but we couldn’t divulge anything that happened in our home. It makes no sense. I know.

I was obsessed with keeping journals from a really young age. It was the only place I could be honest and even then, I sugar coated things in case anyone read my words. I wrote in codes, using Anne Franks symbols and other forms I’d made up in my little head.

When I was eleven, my therapist asked me to bring in my journal. For several sessions, I read her the pages of my tweety bird adorned secret keeper. She just let me read. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make assumptions. But I was reading all of the surface stuff. And then, out of nowhere,  she asked me to read one of the pages I’d skipped. I was hesitant, but I felt like I could finally trust her.

I read the darkest pages of my journal. The pages that told of my hatred for my skin, my body, my face. My fears of not being smart enough, not being perfect, not making my mother happy. My wonders of why my father left despite the fact that I had a loving step-father. My confusion about my race since my mother made it abundantly clear she hates blacks, puerto ricans, whites, mexicans…everyone really. My curiosity over why I had no family. Why my mother drank so much. Why she abused my father. Why my body was not my own. I shared a lot and even then, I kept certain skeletons at bay. I read about how much I wanted to die. How I wanted to join my uncle in the grave so I could see if people would care when I was gone. The true testament whether I was loved. Would anyone cry at my funeral?

The therapist recommended I go away to this place, this magical place for the summer. A place upstate with other kids like me. A camp, where I could explore the outdoors, express myself and feel free. Yeah, it was probably a nut house. But at the time, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to be free of the games, the pain and the confusion. I wanted to run from the darkness in my home, in my heart. I wanted a chance.

My father was supportive. But he was only my step-father and so he couldn’t sign for me to go. My mother had to do the honors. We talked the whole way back to the apartment. I asked my father if he thought I was crazy. If I was a bad seed. He said no. I just needed help. To love myself. And if it meant me going away, he would support that.

I had the paper in hand, ready to have my mother sign and pack my bags. This was my chance. This was going to set me free. I wouldn’t have to deal with my mothers voodoo practices, the secrets, the pressure,  or questioning myself anymore. I would be free to be a young girl.

I handed my mother the paper in her bedroom while my nephew received physical therapy in the living room. The door was closed to the bedroom so no one could hear what I was preparing to tell her. I begged to go. I listed all of the reasons this would be good for me. I waited in silence while my mother eyed the paper. She stood up and that face sent my heart in full fledged race mode. She pulled her arm back and came at me full force. I asked my mother to help me. She punched me in the face. Period. The conversation was over just like that.

Sending me away was not an option. Because then people would know there was something wrong with me. Instead, I was pulled from my sessions with that therapist and told to shut my mouth. The feelings would go away.

I’m 27. They haven’t. I question my worth every day. I don’t know what will ever make me feel whole. Maybe I was born with something missing. I used to be ashamed for my depression. For this cloud that has chased me. I used to. I battle the darkness. I fight to believe that I am worthy of good things. I struggle with my reflection, my thoughts, my emotions.

I sat on a ledge when I was five. I don’t know why. But I hold that little girl every night and try to convince her that she made it for a reason. That she has a purpose. My mother wanted appearances to be kept. But I didn’t want to fake being happy. I don’t want to fake it now. I want to be happy in my skin. In my thoughts. In my emotions.

I cannot put it on my son to make me happy in these ways. That is a burden he should not and will not carry. I struggle with the darkness every day. I can’t say whether I will win or not. But I will try.

1.63 – The Games We Played

I miss the days of childhood imagination. When everything was something else. When my friends and I could be whoever we wanted to be. Do whatever we wanted to do. When we left behind the dirt and grime of our city streets and turned hallways into modeling studios and staircases into lofts. When red pavement was a fiery pit and a handle bar was a balance beam. I was always the one to imagine the story, to set the scene and direct the flow of things. I miss those days of childhood games.

Journey – Creating obstacles in our courtyard. Climbing mountains and passing sharks and volcanoes based on our speed.

Suicide – Throwing a ball high up against a wall and catching the ball or making it to the wall before someone pegged us in the ass. Get hit three times? Bend over and take an allotted number of pegs to your back, lol.

Cat and Mouse – Jumping in and out of a double dutch rope while someone repeats your jumps and tries to get you before you jump back in.

Models Inc – Standing in the oversized windows of our building, posing for an imaginary camera, pretending we had glamour, money and love.

Escape – Hiding and running anywhere in a ten block radius of our neighborhood. Sometimes, this spread all the way to Oval Park.

Rollerblading all the way to Bainbridge, up to Jerome Ave and back down the long winding streets of Gun Hill Road.

Watching the boys play football in the street between speeding cars.

Standing beside the prettiest car on the block, pretending it was ours, that it could take us anywhere.

No one will understand the specifics of this except the people who grew up on Gun Hill Road with me. But we all have that imaginary flare that kept our childhood somewhat interesting. The games we played and the minds that blossomed despite the chaos that lived in our homes…in our hearts. Washed away were the drug dealers on the corner, the crack addicts swarming the streets after the sun went down, the sounds of gun shots or angry screams. Washed away was the reality of our circumstance. Because for that short while, we had freedom. We had everything we ever wanted. And things we didn’t know we needed. We had choice. We had power. We had the world.

I think it’s funny…ironic…that the three main games we played as kids took on such names…

Suicide. Escape. Journey.

Weren’t we crying out for what we wanted all along? To get away. By any means necessary. For some – we made it. For others – circumstance got the best of us. My thoughts go out to the recipients of both conclusions. Out of sight is not out of mind. I don’t know if I’ll teach my son any of these games. But if I do…I’ll be sure to change the names.