Death Does Not Become Me

2016 has sucked the life, literally, out of our world. George Michael died. Carrie Fisher died. David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Garry Shandling, etc., etc., etc. I cannot handle this. I cannot handle all this death that is eating away at the people who were seminal influences in my life. My late husband would have been 56 in two days. But he has been dead for 12 years and I am still dealing with the trauma of that.

My mother’s brain is being slowly destroyed by a horrid disease that is taking away her identity. My father told me the other day she is now also wearing a monitor for her heart. The two organs that are most important to who is she – to herself and to me – are disappearing in front of my eyes and I don’t know what to do. She read me the “Night Before Christmas” on the 24th, as she has done every 46 years of my life. I told her when it comes time that she can no longer read it to me, I will read it to her. I cried for 20 minutes after the conversation ended. Because I knew it might be the last Christmas Eve I ever hear her read it to me.

The next day I opened the gift my parents sent me. Again, for the first time in my 46-year-old existence, this one was not wrapped by my mother. It did not have the usual card. Instead, it was my father’s best attempt to wrap the DVD they sent, and write a short, brief card on the extra wrapping paper he had used. My eyes welled with tears as I peeled back the wrapping.

I am on vacation for a week from work. One I looked forward to for so long – to get my head in order, to go someplace warmer with the man I love, and to try and figure out where my life is heading. Or if it’s even still worth being here at all. I watched “Love Actually”, where the song “Love is All Around” is an important thread throughout the film. But now all I can think is Death is All Around, and instead of taking people who are personifications of evil, or who do vicious things to others willingly, it is taking those who would stand up against those forces. Who would say “no” and be listened to. People unafraid of the consequences of using their voices and talents against the dark. It is taking our artists, our poets, our writers and songbirds, leaving the world tinged in grey.

I am terrified of 2017 for so many reasons. I fear what will happen to this country. I fear the violence I see escalating around our nation on a daily basis. The hate that has erupted like a long dormant volcano, and instead of trying to stop the lava and ashen rain from destroying all those below it, the privileged appear to make it seem that this is how the world should work. As if we are being thrust back into the Dark Ages again.

My mind cannot rest. The man I love has told me he has a deep anger toward my actions since he last saw me – that I drank to block out the world, my loneliness, my despair at what this life is like when I am alone in it. I know it is bad for me. I know it is wrong. I have been in mental wards and rehabs enough in this life to understand that. But when the light switch goes off in your head, and the car steering wheel turns into the convenience store for a can or two of beer, there is nothing – no thought, no person, no god (as if I believed in one) – that could change my desire to purchase the alcohol and let it slide down my throat for a night, or two, or three…

He is mad I was weak. He is mad I lied to him about it, until he arrived for the holidays and I could tell him, in person. I needed his strength and if I told him over the phone I was terrified he would not come. For the first 4 days we fought like two rabid raccoons, going after one another, around and around, until I was sure he would be on the next flight back to New York. And I would be alone again, naturally. Half the time I do not believe I am good for him, I am not worthy of his goodness, love and patience. Am I simply wasting both our time, because will I ever truly get better? Will I ever beat the alcohol part, even when the bipolar bears come out to pull me in that direction? I know I will have a tormented mind the rest of my life. At this stage of the game I have given up on any magic pill. I take what I take, and some days it works but mostly it is just a habit now – a placebo so I can put on my high functioning facade and go out into the world and hope I do not crack before I get back into the apartment I keep obsessively orderly and clean and as dark as a cave.

We went to the beach the other day. The Atlantic. The water was cold. But since so many of my idealizations have been about drowning lately, I strode into the biting waves to test my resolve. And I knew, if it came to it, I could do it. And that frightened me.

We have found a détente of sorts. We have gone on an adventure further south for more warmth and a change of scenery. This morning we spent hours on a beautiful beach surrounded by mangrove trees and only a few people. The sun warmed my frozen heart. I thought things were changing. And then we came back to the tiny house we are renting and I saw the news of Carrie Fisher, and it all came crashing back, like the waves I strode through. Life is now death. That is what the road ahead looks like. The world is at war with one another. Our country is at war with itself. My mind is at war with my reality.

And I am so tired of being told I do not know what reality is. That I make up my own.

© Sorrow & Kindness

 

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