Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

National Suicide Prevention Day was one week ago today. Suicide Prevention Week was the seven days leading up to September 10. This subject has a particular place in my heart because of my loss of a great friend years ago. I remember the moment I found out I lost my friend Rich like it was happening in real-time.

The sting of the news isn’t quite as sharp as it was a few years ago, but it still brings me to tears at times. There are still moments when I think about Rich or something reminds me about Rich and I’m beside myself with sadness. The loss of a truly great friend by his own hands is incomprehensible. It is an event that requires deep reflection and ultimately acceptance of what is so.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote a blog about pain. When I look back on the conclusions I came to at that time, I’m left with modifying what leads to my conclusion: The choice we make is whether we want to continue to pass along pain or not.

Pain ultimately stems from love. The love of someone/thing that has profound significance to you. Emotional and Physical pain are similar in many ways. Get hit by a bus, and you’re going to feel a lot more pain than a paper cut. Lose a close friend to suicide, and you’re going to feel a lot more pain getting dumped by a woman you barely knew even after one-and-a-half years of dating.

Not to diminish the pain felt in one moment over another. When you’re in the thick of it, the pain is much more real than when you reflect on it years later. That mostly holds true for losing someone to suicide, but there are still moments when the pain of Rich’s loss is just as real today as it was two-and-a-half years ago. I’ll always miss him and wish that we could have grown to be two crazy old folks together.

People always talk about soul mates in a romantic sense, but I honestly believe that soul mates have nothing to do with romance. Rich was a soul mate. I knew it the moment I met him and picked on him for his hairdo in Junior High. I loved him like a brother. I still love him to this day. And it still stings to have lost him. Suicide is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I hope that I never feel it with another person close to me.

If you know anyone who is truly depressed enough to take his/her own life, make sure they know how important they are to you. It’s amazing how much it can help make a difference. Just remember that sometimes, in spite of your efforts, they may still kill themselves. It isn’t a reflection upon you or your friendship. It is a personal choice that they have made, and unfortunately it is quite final.

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I heard it twice today, “I want a job that makes me happy.” You can replace job with anything, and it is probably one of the most common statements you’ll hear. I’ve certainly said that phrase many times before. I even think I’m so lame that I said “I just want a relationship that makes me happy.”

Call it age, losing my best friend to suicide, or supreme enlightenment, but I really don’t need or want something that makes me happy except for myself. That’s not to say that I don’t get happy when I ride my motorcycle or when I am dancing or when I’m hanging out with my family and friends. Those and so many other things make me happy. However, I am happy regardless. The work that I do is work that is exciting because I make it exciting. The hobbies that I pursue are exciting because I make them exciting. Because I am happy, what I have in my life becomes happy.

It’s not to say that I’m loony happy all the time. When I lost one of my best friends to suicide, I was not happy. When my girlfriend of 5.5 years said it was my fault and that I didn’t deserve the life I have, I was not happy. When my Ubuntu 9.04 upgrade hosed my computer and about $200 worth of music, I was not happy. When my Magento upgrade did not go as planned, I was pretty pissed off.

Aside from the minor tantrums that I throw here and there, I’m a really happy guy. I guess what makes me happy is me. “I just want a me that makes me happy.” And that’s what I have, so everything else is gravy 😀

At the beginning of February, one of my best friends of nearly 20 years committed suicide. This has been one of the most difficult events in my life to grow through. It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been so many people who have made such an incredible difference over the last couple of months.

One of the most influential parts of my life has always been dance. In January, I started taking a hip hop class taught by Wendi Baity at Moorpark College. Hip hop is certainly NOT a style of dance I am at all familiar with, but this class became my safe ground. Wendi has been an incredible teacher! And hip hop allowed me to find an escape from the torment in my brain over losing such a great friend.

One of the assignments for the class has been to write a journal. Over a few weeks, I started writing a rhyme that just kinda flowed from me into my computer. The following is my dealing with the loss of my friend and the pain of my girlfriend of more than 5 years blaming me for his suicide and leaving me.

What the fuck is this shit
How could you pull this shit Rich?
Best friend of 20 years and you give up on this bitch
This shit makes me sick
I sit in this pit
this ditch 6 feet under
So much younger we wonder
How we’d be when we’re old
so many stories to be told
Now you’re just growing cold
and I’m starting to unfold

I wonder where the fuck you went to
ain’t no one but you
sitting in your house
It’s all emptied out
6 months you planned it
I’ll never understand this
Your choice you made
you say
I thought this out
This is what I want without a doubt
Fuck it you say
I lost my dream
Now that’s all that you are

It hurts my brother
our love like no other
and now I sit with your mother
Tears, they cover
her face and her makeup runs down her chin
Why didn’t you just let someone in?

We talked about this shit years ago
Something you just can’t let go
Your dream you were chasing
You felt it slip by
while the world was racin
And now I just cry

You’re gone and that’s it
There ain’t no more Rich
No more smiles
or drunk dials
Just piles and piles
of shit left behind for your family and friends
Cuz you called it quits
and said it’s the end

And we gather together to sit and pretend
that we didn’t see our friend
wanna put a fucking gun to his head
Instead we said
I didn’t see it coming
Rich was so lively
He always made me smile

But if we step back for a minute and ask you about it
You’d tell us you’re drownin
But we’d all think you clowin
Cuz that’s the Rich you wanted to be
It’s alright to make your friends smile while you’re in fucking misery

You always counted on me brother
There really was no other
Why couldn’t you just lean on me one more time?
We supported our families, kept them out of crime
got our fucking mothers out of food stamp lines
and gave our brothers hope
Kept them off dope
no soap on a rope
Little shits going to college to study isotopes

We’d say “That’s my boy” with a tear in our eye
now nothing but tears that we cry
when you said goodbye
And I’m still just wondering why the fuck why!

It’s not time to act tough
but sometimes crying isn’t enough
Not going to suck it up
and try to forget this fucked up stuff

I gotta deal with the grieving
of my best friend leaving
girlfriend deceiving
confidence receding

Into the abyss
I sift through the gift
that you are
Wondering if you are now a shooting star
Wondering if you look back on us all
suffering to know it hurt to watch you fall

And the thought of you suffering keeps me true
I live my life for you and keep you alive
in my thoughts and heart, you’ll never die
Not because of burden but cuz I fucking love you

And right now, I need you bro
I got this ho
She’s saying J, I don’t know
I think it was your fault, so I gotta go
Forget the five years and all your support
You need me now, but I can’t resort
to showin you love when you need it the most
and here’s a toast
to your friend Rich who killed himself because of you

I wasn’t sure what hurt more
You taking your own life
or the words from that fucking whore
But I can’t dis you like that
Can’t compare a best friend who helped me grow up
to a bitch who makes me wanna throw up

I know I’ll forgive her
and if she gets that respect
I guess
I’ll have to disect
and reflect
why I still haven’t forgiven you
I love you bro
It just hurts to know
you were in so much pain and had to go
And couldn’t reach out
give me a shout
and let me spout
words of wisdom to help you pull through
God damn it Rich, I’m gonna miss you

No Memories

After my friend Rich killed himself in February, I started cycling through memories I had with him. To be honest, I had forgotten more memories with him than I could remember. We had done so much together when we were younger. I have so many fond memories of him. Yet, I have come to the conclusion that I would rather have no memories of him (to have never have even met him) and for him to have lived a long, happy life than for him to have killed himself.

The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.

Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.

To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.

Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.

Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well  on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.

I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process  of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?

Usually, my best thinking is done on the toilet. However, I realized something the other day while I was driving to a dance class. I’ve come to realize that often times (if not all the time), when I’m hurting emotionally, it is because someone else is/was hurting. Two recent poignant examples…

A good friend of almost 20 years committed suicide in early February. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I know that he was in a tremendous amount of pain. Losing someone close is one thing, but suicide is something else. The best way I can describe it for me is that is feels like I’m burning from the inside out. Rich was someone who used me as a personal reference when he joined the Air Force, applied to Cal Poly (which he graduated from), and applied for a job at Intel (which he got!). The influence we had on each other’s lives was profound. We rode motorcycles together, shared stories of skydiving together (although we never jumped together), shared everything about our love lives, went to clubs, talked about deep social and personal issues, encouraged each other, and inspired each other.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Rich’s suicide was knowing what a positive influence I had on his life. Had he just been a close friend who I talked to every day/week/month/whenever… But Rich was not just someone I was close with. Rich was someone I inspired, and he let me know I inspired him. He was also someone who inspired me, and I let him know. The pain of losing someone with so much mutual admiration is incredible.

A few days after Rich committed suicide something happened that I still can’t believe. My closest friend, someone that I spent countless hours with every week, someone I’ve go through hell and back for, someone I’ve stood for through insurmountable crap went on a tyraid and started slinging some of the most vicious insults I have ever heard in my entire life. I am still having difficulty wrapping my head around the words because I have never been attacked like that before.

Now, getting back to my theory… In the case of Rich, I know he was hurting tremendously inside. We had spoken about the burden he felt in his life many times over the years. In fact, his letter mentioned the amount of pain he felt. In the case of my other friend, I know there was a lot of pain there as well. What was said was coming from the pain that my friend was feeling. In both cases, my friends were hurting.

Pain is almost like something we pass along because we don’t know what to do with it. It’s like playing hot potato. You hold onto it with your bare hands, and you are going to get burned. So, instead, we toss the hot potato from one person to the next out of natural instinct. We don’t think, “Should I hold onto this potato?” No, we just toss it along. It’s a natural things.  Same thing with pain. We pass our pain to the next person because that’s the natural instinct.

Once I realized this, my own pain began to ruminate in the back of my mind. It was almost like another section of my grey matter was activated and started diligently working on this concept.

Then something else dawned on me: I don’t really know everything that is going on inside of me all of the time. We all have this, those moments when someone points out something to us about ourselves and we realize that we just weren’t aware of it. If you are thinking that there is nothing about yourself that you aren’t aware of then I rest my case 😉

So, if I don’t even know everything that is going on with me all the time, how could I possibly know everything that is going on with someone else?

Tying it all together, my brain came to the following conclusion:

Pain is transfered from one person to the next because we don’t realize that we are doing it in the moment and partly because we don’t really know how to deal with our own pain. Working through that pain looks different for everyone. Some write songs. Others paint paintings. Others turn into axe murders. Some start smoking, doing drugs, or drinking. Some take up some other form of addiction: gambling, adrenaline rushes, sex, etc. Some dance. Some write blogs. Some just shut off. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, if we knew in advance that what we were going to say or do was going to hurt someone, we wouldn’t do it. However, that still leaves us with the pain that we likely don’t know how to deal with. Some people will never deal with it and just keep passing it along, and it will always keep coming back to them amplified. Some people will never deal with it and internalize it to the point of no return.

Dealing with pain is a matter of understanding the root cause of the pain. Think of it like treating a fracture. You may feel the pain in the tendons or muscle, but you’ll never heal a fracture by giving yourself a massage. Same thing with emotional pain, but the origin is a bit tricky. The origin of the pain is not some deep seeded emotional baggage you have from childhood or some emotional scare from years gone by. The origin of the pain lies in the other person. While you may not be able to understand the other person, you can empathize with that person. After all, whatever pain you are feeling must be several times worse inside of them.

Of course, this all left me with one gigantic question: Aren’t I just making excuses for other people’s behavior? At first, I thought yes. Then I thought about it some more.This isn’t a justification of any choice or action that someone takes. This is an acknowledgement that someone has done/said something and there are consequences. The choice we make is whether we want to continue to pass along pain or not.

In short: Life Happens, deal with it.