Tanya said she saw him stumbling around the city last night. Could have sworn she saw him hanging out with a bunch of unhoused kids downtown last week. I haven’t heard from him since he was in the hospital. Not since Corey and I sat by his bed for days. Got him transferred to inpatient care. Made sure he was set up with resources when he got out. He hasn’t called since then.
I’m learning not to blame myself for it. Not to say I could have done more. Not to make up stories about all the different people I could have been. Ones that would make him want to get back on his feet, make him want to stay clean. Learning to tell myself I did all I could. That we did more than anyone else was willing to.
It’s a lot like forgiveness that way. The ability to realize I can’t blame myself for the things in my life that don’t work out. That it’s not my fault Derek seems to be falling back through the cracks. Not my fault my marriage ended in divorce. Not my fault I’m depressed. None of this is my fault. It’s all about what I can make myself do with it.
It’s a lot like acceptance that way. The ability to realize there is no great flaw in me that makes me incapable of saving these things. The ability to finally look around and see that all the people who really know me still love me completely. The ones who have crawled through the dirt with me. The ones who have watched me fall back down over and over. They never quit. They never give up on me. And those are the ones who matter. The ones who stay.
So I hold up my end of the bargain for them. I keep asking for help when I need it. I keep my appointments with psychiatrists and therapists and medical doctors. I find ways got get involved in my own life again. Ways that make me feel like I have something good to accomplish.
I stay on track. I stay. And I thank those who stay with me. Who help me every day. And to the ones who believed enough in my ability to keep going they were willing and able to help me out monetarily: Amara, Andrew, Julie, Julia, Tara, John, Alexis, Veronica, Feiya, Mason, Bobby, and Pat, I thank you. For showing me I’m a cause worth believing in. I will not disappoint. I will stay.
Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.
They crawl out of the woodwork. People with baked goods and checks in the mail. Text messages to remind me I’m loved and phone calls from old friends. I’m surrounded. Held.
I imagine them at my funeral. Lined up listening to a collection of songs someone decided represent me. Watching some cheesy slideshow that covers the various lives I’ve led. Each person in the crowd failing to recognize at least one of them.
But then again maybe not. Maybe the turnout is better when you stick around. Easy to send some money, a message, make a phone call. Harder to take a day off work and a long drive south.
Doesn’t really matter.
At some point in the last week I decided to live. Had to decide to continue forward despite the dull ache of existence. That’s what people ask when you are committed. “Where did this come from? What happened? This seems so sudden.” But it’s a slow chipping. An erosion of everything I think should make me want to keep on living.
No. That’s not it, either. It is not so simple as saying everything hurts all the time and it’s always been this way. That simply isn’t true.
There are joyous moments. When I lay in bed with my partner. When I see my sister and best friend’s bellies swelling with children. When I share a simple phone call with my father. When my mom hugs me. When I make my brother laugh. When the whole family (yes, Chuck, you, too) sits down to dinner. When Vinnie and I take a smoke break. Long walks in the rain. New rap songs on headphones. Old rap songs of crackling car speakers. A new friend teaching me origami. My coworkers all talking about how much we love our job. Board games. Pizza. Rummy. My roommate asking me to a kill a spider for her. Simple things. Little ones. Depression makes it easy to not notice them. Makes it hard to start noticing again.
They’re right when they call is an emptiness. But it’s really like a slow leak. A dribble. And one day you notice you’re all out of fuel again. When that happens you don’t just stop, though. You get out and you start walking to the next station.
Photo courtesy of Paulia Jadeszko.
November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I’ve never participated. Mostly because the weight of the autumn is enough to try to trudge through without the added pressures of writing. But during my recent stay in the psych ward I was asked the question, “When did you feel most balanced?” And I didn’t even have to think about it.
November of 2013.
That’s when I was participating in National Novel Writing Month. That’s when I was getting up at the same time every day and immediately going for a run. I was regimented, I was in control. I felt centered, balanced, whole.
I’m not a long-form writer, so writing a book in a month was rather ridiculous for me. I’d never done it before and haven’t done it since. But blog posts, that’s a thing I can get behind. So join me for the month of November, when I’ll be posting new material every day.
Photo courtesy of Green Chameleon.