Letter to Brian: February 10, 2016

Dear Brian,

You would have turned 41 years old today.  I plan on celebrating your day by watching your favorite movie, Gladiator, and pizza and by lighting the candle Leashya made me a few years ago.  These little ceremonial things are really important to me– I don’t ever want to stop recognizing this day.

I’ve had a rough go of it, lately.  I had a full-on meltdown on Wednesday evening last week.  I watched Mom’s memorial video 4 times in a row and just cried and cried and cried until I fell asleep.  I’d had an alright day so I’m not completely sure what prompted the breakdown; although my theory is that since I didn’t drink any alcohol at all that night I wasn’t completely numbed-out like I usually am.  Yes, I’m aware that this is not an acceptable coping mechanism for the long-term but for now it certainly does help.

Unfortunately, so does cutting.  After all these years, it still helps.  I know that’s the last thing that those who care about me want to hear and believe me, it’s the last thing that I want to tell them.  I injured on the 25th of January… a pretty substantial one, as always.  And, unfortunately, after a rather shitty experience late this past Friday evening I broke down and cut yet again.  That makes 3 times since Mom died in November.  It’s far beyond humiliating to admit to that but I’ve always been upfront with you in these letters and I want others who suffer from this to know that having a setback now and then is OK as long as they’re getting the help that they need… which I absolutely am.

I was back home in Minnesota this past weekend to celebrate at Auntie Barb’s 60th surprise birthday party.  It was a short trip but so worth it to be there for her special day; she was so surprised and so happy to see me.  I wish you and Mom could have been there, too.  It felt so strange to be back there this time.  The last two visits were for the funeral and to clean out her house, so pretty much just business and sorrow.  This was different… I was going strictly for a social visit this time.  Mom’s absence was even more pronounced this time and I felt completely “orphaned.”  I had a dozen offers of places to stay when I was there. I’m deeply blessed to have so many people who care for me; it’s comforting to know that I am welcome to stay with all of them.  But… none of them feel like home.  I felt, for the very first time ever, a complete visitor in my hometown.  Mom wasn’t there to pick me up at airport or to bring me back there.  I really missed that.  I always looked forward to standing outside watching the traffic go by and watching for her white Subaru wagon to come into view.  I’d get in the car, we’d hug and she’d say with delight, “Hullooo, my honey, how are you??”

Physically I haven’t been doing so great, either.  I’m now on blood pressure medicine… my elevated blood pressure started right after Mom died.  I can’t stop eating so I’m gaining weight pretty quickly.  I’m tired and achy nearly all of the time.  And today I found out I have a shingles outbreak and I want to scratch my flesh off of the bone.  I was told it was likely brought on by stress– it started this weekend.  After the night I had on Friday, I have to tell you that I’m not at all surprised.  Stress has a lovely way of manifesting itself in glorious ways.  I’m kind of over it!  I’d say it’s far more fascinating when it’s happening to other people, though.

That book I contributed to is available for sale now.  I don’t make any money off of it but I don’t mind at all… that wasn’t the point of joining the project.  The point was to help others grieving a suicide loss.  And honestly, it’s just a thrill to see pieces of my own writing in a real, live book that people can pull off of a shelf and buy.  They’re running another series and this next time I’m participating in a book about living with self-harm.  I was asked to be a co-author and to help construct the questions for the participants to answer… it was pretty easy to rattle a whole bunch of them off because the subject matter hits so close to home.  It’s shockingly easy to write about things that you know so much about.  I’m really looking forward to this project and I hope that it will help a few people, too.

Well I guess I should go order myself that pizza to get your one-person birthday celebration started.

Cheers, dude.  I love you.




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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.

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