The Heaviness of You

I am feeling very empty today. Empty of emotion, empty of cares, empty of desire, empty of motivation. And yet I feel too much, I am over emotional, I am overwrought. I want to cry but I have nothing to give. I want to go to bed but I am not tired. I don’t have a desire to go to bed, and yet I don’t want to stay awake.
I am restless. I am empty of feeling and yet feeling too much, so much that I don’t even know where to begin. I cannot put a physical spoken word to the anxiety, the storm, the calmness, the swell inside me.

It has been six years. I have lived with Your trauma, spliced with my own, for six long and short years. My own trauma rests at the feet of Yours and I sometimes don’t know where one ends and one begins.
I think back to before I knew our pain and it seems a lifetime ago. I think, too, though, that my pain sometimes feels so fresh and new. As if it had only just been mixed in a fragile beaker two weeks ago, ready to implode. Some days it feels like I’ve never known anything else. That it’s like an old scar I’ve learned to ignore but still pains me. Like that time I cut myself sharpening knives. It’s just become a part of me, tender but not fresh. It’s as if I’ve never lived without this pain and trauma, as if it’s as old as I am.
And rarely, I live without You. There are glorious days where I do not fear, where I do not feel, where I just simply exist. They never last. I am always brought to my emotional knees and left gasping for air.
Always, though, I think of You. You are never far from my thoughts. It’s as if You leapt from that ledge and landed in my psyche instead of on the pavement below. You take up space in my head that I didn’t advertise for. You are not a welcome resident and yet, You are not unwelcome.
You exist. Your last few moments on this earth exist because I remember You. I remember the moment You walked in and I remember Your last moment. I was Your witness. You chose that place because it was convenient and easy, You knew You could get the job done, but You had to know as You walked by me, when I acknowledged You, that I would be there, to see it, to see You. To watch as Your soul shattered into a thousand pieces and left me to watch them scatter.

I saw You. And it’s as vivid today as it was then. The sounds, the smells, the deafening silence as I stood up, unable to compute what my eyes and body and soul knew but refused, screamed for me not to believe. Screamed for it to not be real. Screamed for it to be some vivid and horrible dream.
I could not have witnessed Your death, and yet I did. It was unbelievable, traumatic, loud, and it happened. I saw You. I watched You die. I watched You walk before me, 11 minutes, and then I watched You leave and you took a piece of me with You.

And in the weeks afterwards, my mind played games with me. I would dream of standing in nothing, in a black existence, as if on a stage, lit under a spotlight. I was lit, but there was nothing around me. No floor, no ceiling, no walls. I just existed. My mind, protecting me, knew that I could not dream. My mind while awake was torture enough. I did not need to see these images in my sleep and my subconscious knew that. And then when the dreaming started, when my mind could no longer protect me, I dreamt over and over about Your death and I could not protect You. Always, I continued to try and stop You and I never could. I was always too late. And yet still, my mind protected me from the visuals. From the sounds. From the quiet that followed. Instead, it was just the emotional horror of trying to get to You, and never reaching you. My dreams became a Hitchcock movie on a constant loop. Suspenseful thriller, over and over.

***

For the past couple of weeks I have been having panic attacks at night. I have been struggling with questions, thoughts, curiosities that have been too big for me to hold in my mind, too large for my heart and soul to manage, and they cause panic attacks. It feels like I am falling into a rabbit hole that is too deep for me to be able to continue to breathe. It feels as if it’s an ocean of confusing despair and I’m sinking. I try desperately hard to claw my way back out, fearful that each time I won’t make it. That each time may be my last and I’ll drown into a constant state of panic. I am fearful of what that means. But it is January, and so I accept that these are my mind’s slow way of leading up to today’s date. That the heaviness of You is the reason.

I must learn to live around the pain of You but I don’t know how. You are heavy, like a constant, unwanted burden I carry around, and I don’t know how to drop that weight. I don’t know how to let You go and yet I must. I need to leave Your pain at the side of the road. Your baggage has become too much for me.

Death is a heavy burden and one we all struggle not to carry with us. Sometimes we can’t help it. Sometimes we are burdened with things, people, objects that we don’t want. You have become an inheritance. A piece of crystal that has been passed down to me but I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know where to put You and so You just exist with me, within me. I try to coexist with Your pain and my trauma, intermingled. It is forever etched into my soul.

I am bereft.

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2 comments

  1. Dear Lindsay,

    I went to college with “Sophie,” lived in the same dorm and sang in some choirs with her. I learned about her death a few years ago. Our school had a reputation for attracting bright, intense thinkers, many of whom faced personal struggles and obstacles in a very competitive environment. A tragic and too-familiar by-product was suicide.

    As someone who’s dealt with depression for a long time, I sometimes think “casually” (if there is such a thing) about the topic of suicide, what the effect would be on others if I disappeared, etc. And of course I Google the names of people I’ve known who have made that choice, searching for reasons, wondering how people I often view as so much smarter and more successful than me could be driven to such an end. It was through this that I came across your blog.

    Lindsay, I am so, very sorry. Your posts about a life-altering event you never chose, of which the effects are still rippling outward, are beautifully written, raw and honest. You provide a glimpse into a facet of the tragedy of suicide that so often remains unseen or ignored.

    You ask yourself why this happened to you and are understandably angry and frustrated that there’s not a clear answer. But I want you to know that, through sharing your turmoil and pain, you have helped me. I don’t mean to minimize, trivialize or try to justify your experience, and I apologize if that’s how it sounds. But I just sort of wanted to let you know that you’ve provided me, and undoubtedly others, with valuable insight on how our lives interconnect, often in ways and degrees we could never imagine.

    Thank you for sharing and helping me understand better the meaning our lives give one another, even when the cloud of darkness is so thick we think no one can see us. I hope your burden lightens with each minute of each day. You are amazingly strong!

    1. Dear Chris,

      You have no idea how your words have touched me. Or possibly you knew they might. Regardless, I can’t thank you enough.

      For a couple of years I wondered, “Why me?” and then it changed with a friendship to, “I’m glad it was me” because I knew I could handle the pain. What if it had been her family who’d found her? Or a friend? Or a lover? It was me and my shoulders have been able to bear the weight of her loss, of her trauma, of all of our trauma due to her sudden and tragic loss. Due to the sudden and tragic loss of so many. Because, as you are well aware, when we repeatedly lose loved ones to suicide, we feel the deaths of all those lost to suicide. They are a collective and the pain from their loss becomes a little thicker and heavier with each suicide we struggle with. I don’t know if saying I was destined to be the one to be her Witness is crass or odd, but I sort of feel that it holds some sort of merit. I do believe it was meant to be me, for so many reasons that I probably shouldn’t mention them.

      I’ve always wondered how it is that I could do good work in honour of her, her pain, my pain, all of the pain we have from her loss, and it seems I already have without even realizing it.
      I read your note and cried in a bathroom stall. It was a good cry, I promise! A cry that sort of allows me to be okay with the burden I carry. That I am not actually alone in this is perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of all that has happened. While someone such as yourself may not be in my shoes exactly, knowing that you are there, reading, and I am here, typing, that I have touched you and helped you … there are no words for that. I can only offer you my broken heart and thank you for the little repair job your words have done.

      We all tell our friends and family, even strangers, that if you need a friend, to reach out. “I’ll be there for you.” You and I both know that when someone is suffering from depression, when they are in the deepest and darkest moments, the likelihood of that person reaching out is very low.

      This will sound kooky and that’s ok. I was sitting at work a few hours ago and kept smelling a smell from the night that she died and it was really bothering me. Where was it coming from? Why was I smelling it? Why was I the only one smelling it? I wiped the desk down, sprayed myself with a bamboo perfume, blew my nose, but it wouldn’t go away. And then you commented and the smell is gone. Kooky? Most definitely.

      Thank you. From the bottom of my mangled heart, thank you. I don’t know you, obviously, but truly, you would be greatly missed. More than you realize, I think. And so, if ever you are having The Wonders again, those moments where you wonder if you would be missed, or what it would feel like to actually die (because let’s face it – that’s also part of the depression), please come here. Please email me. Message me on Facebook or Instagram. Send a carrier pigeon. Smoke signals. I don’t care how you contact me, but do it. I would miss you.

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