Letter to Brian: August 26, 2015

Dear Brian,

I woke up from the most bizarrely intense dream last night.  I dreamed that I was standing alone in a bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and holding what appeared to be a broom with the top end sharpened much like a pencil would be.  The bottom of the broom was firmly planted on the floor and I bent over the sharpened end until it had pierced through my left pectoral muscle and I continued pressing down as hard as I could until the point had poked its way to the other side and appeared through my back just below my left shoulder; I was left with a bleeding hole that went completely through my body.

It hurt so, so much and I immediately regretted that my self-injurous tendencies had escalated to such a violent level.  I began to not feel well and worried that internally I may have done some really significant damage and decided that I needed to seek medical treatment.  I didn’t want to die.  I went to Mom and sheepishly admitted what I had done to myself and asked if she would take me to the emergency room to be treated.  I also asked that she not tell anyone that I had done it to myself out of fear for what would happen to me at the hospital… such as being locked up in a facility.  I wanted her to back up my story that it was a “terrible accident.”  She didn’t seem the least bit alarmed but agreed to drive me to the doctor.  It was already dark as we headed out and as she drove I saw that we were about to pass the turn for the hospital.  I said, “Mom, we just passed the turn– that is the closest hospital.  Where are you going??”  She didn’t acknowledge the question and continued to drive and drive and drive… passing hospital after hospital until we finally came to a stop in front of an unfamiliar building.  She said, “Let’s go inside, we have to stop here first.”  I followed her into a room with outdated plaid couches and chairs and a folding table in the back with a large coffee pot and a selection of cookies and donuts and an array of 12-step pamphlets.  It dawned on me as I scanned the room that she had instead taken me to an AA meeting.  She said, “You need this more than you need the emergency room.”

Needless to say, I was reeling from that dream for a while and had difficulty getting back to sleep after that.  I decided to look up what that dream could have possibly meant and was blown away by what I was able to find… and suddenly the dream didn’t seem so random or mysterious after all.

Some of the things that came up in my dream interpretation search suggested:

  • Feeling wounded through someone else’s comments or complaints
  • A vulnerable character, a victim… prepared to be injured at all times
  • Feelings of intense inadequacy, betrayal and/or shock

At first I thought the dream was nothing more than my subconscious reflecting upon my years of cutting and self-injury.  But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me in other, more powerful ways.  Yesterday’s couple’s therapy session was pretty intense for me; it’s never comfortable to hear things replayed to you in such a way that you realize how your own personality and character flaws are seen and experienced by others close to you.  It’s been the most humbling experience of my life.  I guess my brain wasn’t done processing everything we talked about yesterday and continued to do some work as I slept and I woke up with more of an understanding of myself and how I am responsible for so much more in my environment and relationships than I’ve been willing to admit before.  Not to say that everything that goes wrong within our relationship is my fault… but instead to say that I’ve been looking at things through a painfully distorted lens.  It feels like I’m experiencing a huge shift in reality.

Therapy is such hard work… peeling back all of the layers and layers of disfunction, mislearned coping mechanisms and self-fulfilling prophecy behaviors.  Ha!!  I guess it’s kind of like opening up a really great piece tupperware you didn’t realize was still in the fridge after a whole year; something has been stinking the whole place up but until you clear other things out of the way to see what the real problem is, it isn’t ever going to go away.  And sometimes opening up that tupperware is a horrifying experience that you don’t want to deal with; but if you want to keep it (you know, instead of taking the easy way out and throwing it away,) you’re going to need to do some work to get it cleaned up, you know?  I’m sure I could have come up with a less-disgusting analogy but that’s truly the first thing that came to mind.  Most likely because I’m totally and unabashedly in love with food.

So my relationship is like that great tupperware– I don’t want to throw it out, it is totally worth keeping.  However, I need to take out all that stuff that has been stinking it up; we both do, really.  The key is to recognize the problem in the first place.  I could either choose to remain the same and keep expecting different results or I can begin the change from inside myself and bring about the change I desire.  I am choosing change.  Stay tuned…

Anyhoooo… missing you, dude.  Thanks for listening.



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I lost my brother Brian, my only sibling, to suicide on October 13, 2010. I write about dealing with the loss as well as my own life-long struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.