Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Christmas Wish

Someday, my Christmas toasts will once again end in smiles rather than sobs.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Tears Overcome

Every year, on my birthday, I write an e-mail to myself and set it up to be delivered on my birthday the following year. I tell my future self about my present self, ask about what my future self is up to, and give my future self advice and words of encouragement. I have absolutely no memory of the e-mail that I wrote shortly following my family's death (or of much of anything in those subsequent months; I was in one hell of a state of shock). So the following year, when the e-mail arrived, it came to me as a preternatural, almost celestial voice. The words were foreign to me. And there was one little paragraph in it that profoundly affected me:

Listen to me, listen to the me of your past: your life will be wonderful, truly, truly wonderful! I say this and I know I'm right because I'm in more pain than you are right now. I am still salty with the tears that have not stopped since January 14th. You have cried more than me. But I am crying those tears you have already overcome. Do you understand that? Is that sinking in? You have overcome what I am going through. You have made it through so many of me's, and now you are you.

I love that idea, and it has been a great help to me. When I fall back into the depths of grief, I feel like I've gone back to day one and my healing has been completely negated. But a more accurate description is that the grief I experience now is accessible to me because I've already grieved and overcome precursory sorrow. And in that frame of mind, I truly do feel farther down a path of healing.

For the first time, over this past week, I've been re-reading my journal entries since the day my family died. Some of the words that I have read scare me to my very core. It hurts me that I was, at any point, that pained and hopeless.

But it's powerfully inspiring to see just how far I've come and how much I've healed, and it is such a comfort to know that my very worst grief attacks today are so much more hopeful than they have ever been.

Journal Entry from Aug 5, 2009

        I used to take all of my self hardships out on everyone else.
        On all of the people who loved me.
        I have all of these vast and incredible conflicts in my mind and heart - ones in which me being me is the greatest barrier to overcome. And all of those struggles I had with myself I took out on those surrounding me as some sort of rebellious catharsis.
        And now those seem to be the only memories that are flooding me.

        I hope so, so, so much that they've forgiven me. I forgive them for everything, everything. I just really hope they forgive me.

        Otherwise, how else can I go on?

Journal Entry from Aug 9, 2009

        I'm not a woman.
        I don't even think that's the direction I'm headed.
        I'm going backwards. I'm more of a child each day. I'm always seeking approval. I'm afraid to be left alone. I don't know how to handle my emotions. People think they see something in me, but it's not there. Not anymore. I'm losing it.
        How the fuck can I be a child with no mother?
        All of my friends who have lost's always the father. M*******, P**, M*****... All of these people I surrounded myself with to feel understood, they still have that great maternal comfort in their lives. All I have are all of these women feeling like they'd like to take over that role in my life somehow, and I truly resent it. They were never there before. I don't need them now. And whatever they have to offer, they can never compare to my wonderful mother.
        I think I need to cry. I haven't in so long.

Journal Entry from Sep 12, 2009

        I'm at that point where there seems to be no up. I keep spiraling downwards and my efforts to reverse it only make it worse. I think this is a part of what Daddy felt. Complete hopelessness. It's at that point when you just can't keep trying.

        I need someone to listen to me, and not be afraid of what I tell them. I think that was what was so comforting about A*** and C********. They never treated me with fear. They never tried to rush my words so they could escape from the discomfort.

        And they made eye contact.
        That's one of the worst: when I bring out a very vulnerable part of myself and people drop their gaze. It makes me feel so rejected. Like when R**** rejected me and avoided eye contact for months. I feel that now with everyone.

Journal Entry from Apr 13, 2010

        Remember that time that I dreamt Daddy left us? I told Mommy about it for some reason, probably because the rest of the dream was interesting, or because it was a nightmare of sorts. In any case the fact that Daddy left us in the dream wasn't of any importance to me.
        Yet, the next thing I know is that my mom is consulting with my father and he's coming to me to ASSURE me that he'd never leave.

        You lied to me, you bastard.
        You bastard.
        You DID leave.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nature's Preference

"...she wished she could have gone before [her father], though she knew in her heart that nature has a preference for a particular order: parents die, then children die. But it was a harsh design, offering little relief from pain, for being in accord with it means that the fortunate find themselves orphaned."

- Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Big Brother

When I talk about who I've lost, I often say things like 'when my parents died,' or I refer to myself as an 'orphan' - terms that, by their nature, tend to disregard the fact that I've lost a brother as well. A couple of months ago I was talking to a friend who has lost three family members to suicide. She mentioned that while she's been able to come to terms with the loss of two of them, the loss of the third is something that she just cannot face.

I'm honestly not sure if I had had this explicit thought process before I heard those words from her, but I told her that it was easier for me to face the fact that my mother and father are dead than my brother. It is absolutely more painful to me to have lost my parents than my brother (I love you, but I have to be honest), but it is absolutely more unreal that my brother is dead than my parents. I knew that at some point in my life my parents would die, and as they had children late in their lives I even knew that it would probably be earlier in my life than for most of my peers.

But my brother died at 23. That's my surviving brother's age, now. It'll be my age in just over a year. My parents had stories; they had lifetimes. They, unlike certain unnamed teen stars, had plenty from which to write autobiographies. But my big brother? He had nothing but the future. His story was cut off before he had written anything more than his introduction. The significance and consequences of that I am not ready to face.

So I grieve my parents.

I said to my friend about my brother:

That's the nice thing: he's dead. His story has ended. Nothing more will be added on. So whether I manage to begin mourning him tomorrow or in ten years, I won't have missed anything. He's frozen in time, waiting for me to gather the strength to face his death.

I will, eventually. For the time being, though, I do ignore him. Because I have to - the instances in which I do try to face his absence sting far, far too much still. But one day, oniichan, I promise I will mourn you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dead or Alive

It's rare that I dream about my parents or my brother. They used to feature prominently in my dreams, but now that they're dead it seems to translate into the dream world as well.

When I do dream of them, it's typically my parents and almost always in the form of a very particular type of dream. In it, one or both of my parents are dead (if it's one, it's my mother) but they remain, visibly and tangibly, a part of my life. I can see them, talk to them, touch them - but the grief of knowing they're gone is nevertheless present.

In these dreams, the primary thing that occupies my mind is the thought that nobody will believe me when I tell them they're dead. That all of the people I've told - the people who've supported me, helped me, sympathized with me - will think I lied to them and took advantage of a situation that did not exist.

Isn't that funny? In dreams where I get everything that I wish for - to talk to and touch them one last time - I'm absolutely preoccupied with what other people think.

I suppose there's some sort of subconscious, omnipresent guilt about my inability to be emotionally self-sufficient that manifests in these dreams. Or maybe the dreams are representations of my current social network's inability to provide me with the emotional support that I need, requiring me to bring in the 'big guns' to compensate - some form of my parents. (Because, in every one of these dreams, the primary thing my parents are there for is to help me in grieving them.) Whatever the case, they're certainly not the comforting 'I'm happy and at peace now' dreams that everyone I know seems to have about their lost ones.

There's a second little horror that exists upon waking. In the process of waking up, when dream and reality merge completely and I wouldn't be able to distinguish the two, there's a confusion about whether or not my parents really are alive. Either their presence was the dream or the idea that they were dead was the dream, and the instant before I'm awake I always believe that the more probable truth is that they're actually completely alive.

And then I wake up, and they're completely gone.

And if nothing else, there's a little satisfaction that yeah, you bastards, like I told you, they really are dead.