I am in a kind of whiny mood. So I am going to vent that shit to start with.
I did go to sleep eventually, after I unwound with a little “Good Place,” but I kept having terrible dreams, and waking up. My sinuses still feel haunted, same as they have been for over a month, and now I am afraid whatever it is has spread to my lungs. I can’t stop worrying about everything I have to worry about. Tomorrow is a birthday that just makes me sad, because we are not speaking, and recent events have given me some painful perspective about that relationship, what is has been, what I wish it was, what it likely will and will not be. It is one of the places I feel stuck between hanging on to hoping for what I want, and acknowledging what seems to actually be as what is.
I don’t know if venting it feels better, but I guess at least a little. Beats ruminating. Although if you were here listening, I would feel free to get into more detail, and you would give me the feedback of someone who knows everyone involved and the whole history there. That is one of those areas where it is harder for me to imagine what you would say. Kind of. Maybe because there are some truths there I don’t want to hear. Which I probably need to hear, but there is no one other than you I would listen to on the subject.
And I was also thinking about these letters, and about a lot what I have written of late, and part of where I feel it sucks is that I am being vague, to some degree because I am not ready to share, some because I feel morally obliged not to take the miniscule chance that people who did me massive harm might read it one day and have their feelings hurt. Even the extreme vagueness above, I worry might cause hurt. To someone who hurt me a great deal and seems unbothered about it. But I hate causing pain. And I don’t want to be a massive hypocrite, and pretend what someone else does justifies my behaving cruelly. And I am so lost at this point I don’t even know if that is me being principled, or me being way too concerned with how other people feel, and way too little concerned with how those people behave, how I feel, and the impact their actions have had on my body, my emotions, my life. I don’t know if the vague bit I have said here is too much or too unkind. Or not enough.
And that is the biggest reason, I think, I hesitate to share overall: doubt. Of all the things I have gotten into that are in the we-usually-don’t-share-these-things arena, it took me a while to name it, because it was a tone, not a topic itself. I am full of doubt right now, and it seems generally that people just don’t acknowledge uncertainty. Not just about the future, about anything. About the present. The past. Beliefs. Feelings.
In a non-public forum like this one, in face-to-face contexts, I have experienced people imagining I must feel a bond because I will matter-of-factly mention things many people keep secret. And I am comfortable acknowledging I don’t know everything, even if my tendency toward pessimism is, I know, a kind of defense mechanism against the reality of uncertainty. (One more weird thing about being people, that what we know and what we feel can be so far apart.) But right now my life feels like uncertainty in every direction. And the doubt I feel makes sharing anything feel difficult. What do you say, how can you speak honestly, when you question what you think, what you feel, everything?
I feel a lot of doubt. I am doubting myself – or, more accurately, I have allowed myself to internalize abusive people’s narratives deflecting blame for their actions and the outcomes of those actions solely onto me. The odd thing is, once I start thinking about it, doubt is far more indicative of being rational than certainty is. Certainty in a world of uncertainty is a form of delusion. The willingness to question, even yourself, even your thought processes and beliefs and actions, is, I think, actually pretty healthy. It is how we can begin to address those gulfs between knowing and feeling, or between what we know or feel and external reality that may be at odds with those.
I really wish I had started writing these letters sooner, and had written them more often. You are the person who I needed to talk to. Doing this lets me sort of return to the space we held for each other. And while I can’t deny I am cognizant of writing in the potential view of strangers and alienated acquaintances alike, still, the idea that it is you I am addressing makes saying what I need to say, and getting some perspective, a lot easier. Goddamn, I miss you. And talking to myself gets kind of boring. We would talk about your life, too. We would joke. We would reminisce. We would talk easily about all the things and people and bullshit that would be hard to talk about with most people, because we were both there for so much of it, and knew each other so well.
I hope you knew, and worry you didn’t, that I cared about you, your life, that was what was most important to me, not that you would die one day. The latter felt like a selfish focus to me – a focus on my own future loss. And of course I feared it happening. But I didn’t say or do things just based on the fear of you being gone soon. Everything I said, everything I did, came from wanting every minute of life you got to be as good as you deserved. Came from wanting you to have someone in your life who loved you and cared more about your health and happiness than whether you were pissed at me, who knew without a doubt that you deserved only good things.
You missed out on a lot in life, I think, because of the many people who focused on your future end, and not your present existence. The older I got, the less I understood that, because the fact is, anyone alive can die at any time, and if the way they treated you was based on the fact that you might die, then that is how they should have treated everyone, because we all die, and we don’t know when it will happen. Reaching old age is a matter of luck, not a given. We both watched other people whose lives were assumed would be long die younger than you did. Life is fucked, isn’t it?
I am tired, Kath. I am tired of fighting. I will, when that is the only path forward I can see, but jesus, I wish an easier road would appear. I will fight, but eventually, things are either going to get easier or I am going to collapse. If you are where you believed you would be, and you are still down with helping me, I could use some help. I could use some strength. I would like some luck. I would like to be pleasantly surprised. I would like some of the weight to be lifted, to be allowed to move forward from a place of greater tranquility.
And still, I am grateful to you, because this has once again helped me get a little farther down the road, so to speak. I think that sharing our doubt is a lot wiser than feigning certainty. I think if more people would give up the facade the world would generally be a better place. There is just so much heinous shit that people will say and do and create and inflict in service to the fears that drive their need to maintain a mask of certainty.
I will try to be okay, even, living in the doubt-space of loving people who have not been good to me, and wishing they would be, and not knowing, at this point, if that could ever be – even if they sincerely changed, tried, would I ever be able to believe, to trust? I don’t fucking know, and that is alright. Given reason to hope, I would probably be willing to try, to find out. I have no idea what will happen in the future, or how I might feel about what does happen. Which, given how I feel in this moment, is not the worst thing to acknowledge. It means that things could be better than they are right now. Uncertainty and change go hand in hand. Can’t really have one without the other. And change, for the better, is what I am hoping for, asking for, now.
I love you more than my own life. If I could be sure you knew that, I would be pretty happy. I always tried to treat you with love, to the best of my ability, in the circumstances I was in. And writing that is a reminder, again, that really, what I need is not so much from you, but myself. I need to forgive myself for being human, and imperfect. I really did the best I could. Truly. I gave all that I could and more to the people I loved through long years of traumas and losses and illnesses and all kinds of difficulties, gave long past the point where it was detrimental to me…and I know, really do know, that where I fell short, where I failed or fucked up or broke down, it was truly because I could not do otherwise. I never let myself off the hook. I never gave up. I pushed myself, or allowed myself to be pushed, past my far-out breaking point. We both would probably have had at least a slightly easier time in life if we let ourselves just take a fucking break and be a little more selfish sometimes. Wearing yourself out constantly is still a form of self-destruction, not just some praise-worthy form of martyr-y morality. I sometimes wonder if you had less stress and more support, if you had ever felt entitled to rest, to put yourself first when you were sick and in pain and fucking exhausted, you might still be here. That you might have gotten a little longer, at least. And then I wonder if I could have done more. If I contributed to your pain when I fell short. If I did enough to shield you from what stress I could. If keeping things from you that might add to your stress was the right call, or if that made you worry more than if you knew.
And you, of all people, of all of the people I love, you really loved me back. You actually saw me as a whole person, with flaws and fragility. I know you would forgive me for not being able to do what I could not. Of course you would. You were as hard on yourself, or harder, than I was. Am. And I never stopped telling you to cut yourself a break, to acknowledge how strong and amazing you were to do the things you did, and be the person you were, in the midst of everything you suffered. And you were a more forgiving, loving person than me. There is no way you would have been less understanding of me than I was of you. I just wish things had been better for both of us. And that you were here with me. I feel lost without you. You were in my life from the day I was born. I don’t know how I do this alone, Kath, and without you, I feel so much more alone than I have ever been. I have no idea how I do this. But I am trying. I will try.
I fucking miss you, though. I would give up anything, everything, just to get to talk to you again. To hug you one last time. There is part of my mind that just can’t accept that, after all the years you defied the odds, you are gone. But, man, we were so similar in so many fundamental ways, because you were not a person who pretended “won’t” and “can’t” were the same thing. You fought til you collapsed. You never gave up. That you are not here means you could not be, not you would not be. Help me, please, to hang on to that truth, Kath, and help me to be as strong as you, to leave it all out on the field, to pick myself up every time I get knocked down or fall down, every time, until I can’t any more. Not til I won’t, or don’t want to. Til I can’t. Help me to make the sort of life for myself I wished for you. Help me to make you proud. Help me to live as much and as well as I can for both of us, because for all you gave me, I owe you that and more. I am the half of our pair that still breathes. I get to live when you don’t. I will do my best to honor you in the way I live. Just never let me lose your voice, please. I have no idea how to live without it.
I feel like I am going to be crying over you forever. I am not complaining. It is a small price to pay for the enormous gift of having been the person you called your sister. I would go through worse than this to have been here with you, to have been there for you. It was a gift and an honor.
What would you tell me now? Well, for one, you would be crying with me. I don’t think either of us ever wasn’t set off when the other cried. And for some reason I just remembered running with you on my back in the freezing rain. Maybe it is my unconscious mind coughing up my own personal “Footprints in the Sand” – you carried me, too. You carry me still. You would let me cry. You would tell me it was alright. You would tell me to give myself time. You would tell me I deserve better. You would tell me if you could do it, you could survive, I can, too. You did tell me that. And you loved me, and you knew me well, so I will believe you. You understood and believed all the ugly truths virtually no one else was willing to hear, much less accept. You would reassure me just by hearing me and not questioning that what I experienced or felt was valid. You would send me a card and then laugh when I got surprise confettied. Because I would tell you about it so you could laugh about it, because I knew how happy it made you. And I would know I wasn’t alone, and I would be able to get through it all.
You are still the reason I have made it through this far.
I love you always,