I need to begin this letter to you by reiterating, yet again, that I’m not angry at you for taking your life as I know you didn’t do it TO me… you did it in spite of how much you loved me and I know you tried to hang in there longer because of me as well as the rest of our family. OK, that having been said… you need to know that what I AM angry at is the unsettling side effects your death has created in my life and within my relationships with others. Because of your death, which was a conscious choice to leave, a few things regularly happen that I need to tell you about.
One of those things is this– when I can’t reach someone after multiple attempts I often have panic attacks. I wasn’t hearing back from you after emailing you and texting you and leaving you voicemails over the course of a whole day and it turned out you didn’t reply to me because you were dead. It creates such an intense sense of panic in me now when I can’t reach those that I care about. My logical mind realizes that the likelihood of the same thing happening again is not exactly high; but the fear is there because there’s always that chance… it happened with you. I panic nearly every time that my phone rings and I see that it is Mom calling me. Each and every time since your death when I’ve looked down at the screen to see her name pop up as an incoming call, my heart stops and my stomach drops and I hold my breath– the tension remains until I actually hear her voice and am able to deduce from her tone whether the purpose of the call is a pleasant one or if it is another call to deliver devastating news to me like she did about 9:30pm on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010.
Secondly, it’s not just a fear of someone I love dying, but also an unfounded fear that they’ll just leave me… period. I now have this unsettling need to hold tightly to things and to people whom I do not want to lose– whether that loss is by death or by them simply choosing to leave for personal reasons. While very different situations, the underlying fear is the same. My love for you was not enough to help you overcome your desire to die. As a result I now have an irrational fear of people choosing to walk away because my love, or their love for me, is not enough to give them reason to stay. It now takes longer than it ever did before for me to settle in to a relationship (whether a with a new friend or with a romantic partner) as I’m afraid of allowing myself to get close to someone who has the potential to leave. And of course, they ALL have the potential to leave– after all, no relationship is ever a guarantee; it would be completely naïve to think otherwise. But the fear of experiencing that rejection again instills a hesitation within me that I do not appreciate nor is it fair to the person with whom I am hesitating to take that chance. When I begin to have a feeling that there is any potential threat to the relationship (regardless of whether or not that threat truly exists or was completely fabricated within my own imagination) I begin to tell myself if I wasn’t enough for even my own brother to stay, how could I ever possibly be enough for someone else? This fear that causes me to be so cautious is not fair to myself nor is it fair to those closest to me.
I am very aware that it is not the responsibility of anyone else to cater to my need to be reassured. I know that the reassurance I seek needs to originate from within me, not them– I need to work through these feelings on my own. But I’m not going to lie– a little reassurance from the outside is equally as important now and then. I realize that I am a work in progress! But I do also realize that I’m a kind, caring, loving and decent person who is worth the extra reassurance and TLC while I work through all this shit you left behind. Coversely, I am very aware that it absolutely needs to go both ways– and there are some pretty amazing people out there for whom I am willing to work extra hard to get through this stuff to get to the really good stuff… which is what life is really all about. I’m more self-aware than I’ve ever been (thanks to ongoing therapy) and I think that is crucial to making ANY relationship work– for each person to really know themselves, to know their own boundaries and limitations and to not be afraid to be vulnerable and ask for a little help now and then. You should know that I’ve found me one such kind and gentle soul whom I feel is very worthy of me taking that chance so… wish me luck. 🙂
It felt good getting that out. As always, thanks for letting me vent, dude.