Dear Kath, (9)

Dear Kath,

Back again, with my stomach churned from anxiety, trying to pep talk myself and finding it not at all helpful. Considered the whole “think of all the things you have survived” strategy, but thinking of those things is pretty much just scary, not empowering. Which makes sense, as courage is not fearlessness, courage is acting in spite of feeling fear. And fear is what I feel right now. Whether or not I have survived equally bad or worse does not make this any easier. It makes it terrifying. I know how bad things can be. Have been. Are. I don’t want any more. I want to be through this already. I am choking, sister, and there is fuck all I can do in this moment, but I also don’t have the capacity to forget about it and relax. If you are watching out for me, please, send the dog with a backpack full of cash, or similar. I need a fucking break. I am past my capacity to function in dire circumstances. I need a fucking break. Please. I want to know what it is like to live a life that is tranquil. That is lucky. That is something that doesn’t give me nightmares and rob me of the escape of sleep. I want to know what it is like to have some peace. I want to know what it is like to live a life that doesn’t feel like an escalating series of punishments. I want to know what it is like to feel real relief, to know everything is okay, now, and will be okay. This is pretty much straight word-vomit, but I needed to blurt somewhere. I needed to get the panic out of my head and anywhere else. I need you. Where did you go? That is the question that haunts us after death, isn’t it? You were right here, you were here, and now you aren’t. Why aren’t you here? Where did you go? Dammit, I need you to be here. I need to pick up the phone and be able to hear your voice. I need to hear the voice that…gave me some solid ground. I feel like I have lost every single bit of stability, every inch of foundation, one piece after another. Relentlessly. For years. And years. And years. I can’t take any more, Kath. I lived past losing you, and it just keeps getting worse. Please, please, help me right now. Help me, please.

I love you. I miss you. I feel lost without you.

And I considered just leaving this in the drafts or deleting it, but ultimately, truthfully, it made me feel better. One of the worst habits born of fucked up experiences, I think, is learning to try to suppress what we feel, to deny it, to bury, not to express it. And sometimes what we really need to do is just let ourselves have a good, mindless, freaked-out blurt. Word-vomit, indeed. One of those instances of better out than in. Suppression is one of those things that I think is the root of, and amplifiers of, anxiety.

I have not solved my problems. I am still waiting for the backpack dog. But I feel at least like now I can put some shit aside for a while and let my mind be distracted and hope that allows me to sleep peacefully after. Not everything helpful is pretty. Not everything that is helpful is a cure-all. But it is still worth doing.

I put my very brief panicked word-barf out there for anyone who is keeping it all inside. Maybe try word-vomiting that shit out, onto a page, into a hotline staffers’ ear, to a trusted loved one who has the capacity in the moment to hold some space for your pain, whatever you have, wherever it feels safe, let it rip. You might not make a lot of sense, you might not say what you logically mean, you might say things that are exagerrated or nonsensical – and you might find that venting your feelings (in a non-abusive way, if you are venting to another person, I am not advocating for yelling or throwing shit or any of that biz) provides you with relief from the very feelings you want to be relieved of.

Letting your freak-out flag fly might help. It helped me. I am going to watch some Netflix and hopefully hit sleepytown.

Seriously, Kath, this whole exercise is turning into a weird fucking journey into basic emotional coping and self-care skills. Beats the hell out of sitting around feeling terrified without end. What the fuck would I have ever done without you? Thank you for being someone who loved me so truly that you left me with a little piece of the space you held for me. It is like I still have your permission to say how I am, and that is enough to allow me to do it. I don’t think you will ever stop saving my ass. Goddamn, I miss you, bitch.

I love you so much. You are still the heart of my heart. Always will be.

Lisa

Dear Kath, (8)

Dear Kath,

It has been a weird day. I guess most of my days are weird, by some standards, but today was weird by mine. I am back here for the second time today, because, of course, it is you I want to talk to. And at this point, I just want to allow myself to do this whenever I want to talk to you.

Because it helps me.

Because it helps me keep feeling connected to you, and that is something I really don’t know how to live without. Until two years ago, I had never lived a day of my life without you as some part of it. And man, that still feels so fucking unreal. I would probably be better able to accept finding out that you pulled a massively cruel prank than that you really aren’t here any more. Two years. And they have SUCKED. And for so many reasons. Like losing the closest human being in my life was not a world of suck enough. It is one of those wishfully human things, that we want there to be some order, some rules, some restraint, that only one massively shitty thing could happen at a time. No such fucking thing, of course, but when there is a pileup of awful experiences, I think it does add to our sense of disconnect, of this-cannot-be-happening.

Because I need to start allowing myself to do things more often just because I want to, to allow that to be enough reason, even though there are so many things that feel so pressing to do. If I don’t, I am going to burn out completely, long before I get anywhere near the life I want to have. The life I want to have, for a start, is one built around having and doing the things I want. Maybe thinking about you and your seasonal bucket lists put me in this mindframe. That it is important to try to stuff some little bits of pleasantness into all unpleasant days, so that we don’t fall into despair, or get paralyzed by anxiety, or cease to see the point in living because we cease to feel anything good.

Because I know that part of what I want to do is this, or some version of this: write, hopefully in a way that reaches people on a level that is helpful to them in their own lives. Ideally in a way that is entertaining. I have known a lot of times of difficulty, and many of them with some degree of loneliness and isolation, and the work other strangers shared was a part of how I got through those times. Get through those times. There can be value in the indirect human connection we experience by engaging with what someone else has made, has communicated.

And because I think the only way I get to where I am doing that successfully requires that I just keep writing and publishing as often as I can, and finding my way to the work I want to be doing by doing the work that I feel able to do right now. It is so easy, I think, for all of us to get stuck, to keep waiting, instead of trying. This is not ground-breaking material, and it lacks my voice, the voice I still feel I am recovering in the aftermath of multiple new traumatic experiences. I have no particular reason to think it will be read by many people. And that isn’t really the point. I have no control over that. I have control over whether I take the time to string words together into sentences, and whether I put those words where they can be seen by people who might be inclined to read some random bit of writing by a stranger. Entertaining or not, you never know whether what you need to say might be words someone else needs to read. I have found wisdom in many unexpected places over the years. Maybe for some other person, the letters I write to you will have some unexpected value. I hope so. I would prefer not to suffer, but if I am going to suffer, I would like it to serve some purpose, to create some meaning out of it.

Because in some part of my mind, I know this will be one more of those things that lead me to somewhere closer to where I want to be, that I will be able to look back on this, and even if at that point I think it is trite garbage, I will know it took me somewhere I wouldn’t have gotten if I sat and waited for the Muse to strike or circumstances to improve or for the perfect idea, perfectly executed.

On the bright side, right now, I do feel more like I am really addressing you. Which is some indirect connection I am grateful to have.

Although I admit I am past the point in babbling to you where I would want to be interrupted. I want to be asking you how you are, and what your plans are, and how you are feeling. I want you to tell me what you think about where I am, about what has happened, about what I am doing, about what you think I should do. I am doing the best I can by asking myself what I think you would say, but it isn’t the same. I miss your voice. If I am being honest about it, maybe my lost voice didn’t go missing with the recent round of nesting-doll-style traumas. I lost you in pieces, and I think when I was where I didn’t know how to talk to you, where we were not communicating well at all, that I had also lost my voice in pieces. A little at a time, so I didn’t really notice that it was gone.

I guess that is one more reason to do this – we really do need to express what is in our heads outside of ourselves, maybe ideally to someone else, because we are social animals, and we rely on seeing ourselves reflected back in each other. I got too isolated with someone who was funhouse mirroring me. I needed more perspective than I had, and I got lost. I think maybe you got lost, too. I wish we had gotten more time, because I know we would have helped each other get found. But you are gone now. And I don’t want to stay lost. So I am keeping you alive in my mind as much as I can. Your perspective is the one I need most right now, I think. One that helped me come this point, that we need to be careful of who we choose to see ourselves reflected back by.

I probably haven’t blown anyone’s mind with this, Kath, certainly not my own. But I feel a little better than I did earlier today. And somewhere in the half-assed rambles there are a couple of things I imagine will be useful to be reminded of, sooner or later. And I got to spend a little time with you, so to speak. Worth it.

I love you.

Lisa

p.s. All the “voice” talk belatedly brought me to what should have been most obvious – that I am choosing to write to you, because if there was anyone I could be myself with, anyone I felt seen by, understood by, it was you. What better way to rediscover my voice than by talking to the one person I knew really heard it?

 

Dear Kath, (5)

Dear Kath,

I feel worn out, and I wish I was in a place where I could write something, make something, do something that feels meaningful. But I am just so fucking tired.

And herein lies the point of writing to you (well, one of the points) – because it took calling up your voice to get to the point of “If you’re tired, take a break.” Same thing I would tell you, you would tell me, and if I tried to brush it off, you could point out I was being a hypocrite.

I love you and miss you. Thank you for giving me a voice that loves me to recall when I need one.

Love,

Lisa

Dear Kath, (4)

Dear Kath,

If you were here to talk to, that is what I would be doing right now, so that is what I am doing, anyway.

It has been a long fucking week, girl. And, given that I am dealing with the asshole-riddled medical bureacracy you had to deal with far longer and in worse circumstances, I feel a deepened empathy for all of the unnecessary bullshit you had to deal with just to live. And I know you would be helpful as fuck right now, if I could blurt it all out to you, and pick your brain.

Every fucking day is a new opportunity to be grateful to have had you in my life, and a new opportunity to miss you like hell.

This is pretty unlikely to develop into anything deep or profound. I am frustrated as hell. I am not in a good head space to make anything. All my energy is being eaten by bullshit. But I have to keep wasting it on the bullshit, lest it swallow me like a turdy whale.

That was my awesomely half-assed scatological biblical metaphor.

Yeah. That is my level of creativity right now. I can’t even make a shit-joke funny.

Wah, and other whiny sounds.

But fuck it, bitch, I am still making my incredibly lame attempts, because better that than nothing. One day, my turd-aphors will be laughable. In the positive sense of laughable. Humorous, not pathetic.

Hashtag LifeGoals and whatnot.

Goddamn, I miss you. You would have made me laugh at my own shitty joke. Pun definitely intended.

I love you and miss you, bitch. If you are guardian-angeling today, well, whatever you can see from your better vantage point will be most rapidly helpful, please.

Love,

Lisa

p.s. I can’t place when or where, but I can so clearly picture you laughing so hard you were tearing up. Which is the kind of memory “bittersweet” was invented to describe. I am so glad I can remember you laughing that hard. And that you had those moments. And I so wish I could make you laugh like that, and laugh with you, because your laughter was as irresistably contagious to me as your tears, again.

 

Dear Kath, (2)

Dear Kath,

I was thinking about picking this up again, then thought “I am fucking tired,” then thought about what you would tell me, which is what I always told you when you were exhausted and not letting yourself get rest: go to bed. Getting rest is important. Your health is important. Take care of yourself.

You got it, bitch.

This really is endlessly helpful. You are really endlessly helpful. All I have to do is think of your response, and tah-dah! Better choices. Everyone should be so fucking lucky to have someone in their life really love them. Thank you. Every fucking day from my first to my last, thank you.

So for now I am going to embrace the wisdom of “fuck it,” and put this aside, and get some rest.

I love you, you brat. I hope you got the afterlife you wanted, and it is full of awesome naps.

Love,

Lisa

p.s. Goodnight. I love you.

 

Dear Kath,

Dear Kath,

I keep trying to write this and just derailing into…meh.

I miss you, bitch. So much.

Without you to talk to, writing to you seems like the therapeutically standard way of communicating where the person you want to talk to is beyond reach. Same reason I keep wanting to write to the people who are still alive but gone AWOL from my life, directly or indirectly leaving me here in so-fucked-ton. In their case, though, I am haunted by the (probably vain) hope that they will actually read my words, that I can have them in my life again sans the whole me-loving-them-and-them-claiming-to-love-me-while-making-abundantly-clear-that-isn’t-and-never-was-true thing.

With you, I am left with a wish without hope. I wish you were here. But you are gone.

And writing is part of how I find my way through the things that feel un-get-through-able.

And writing seems like a way to get past the fact that I feel like I have lost my voice. I am probably not going to rediscover it in silence.

And writing in public seems like a way to get past stupid vanity hang-ups of wanting to only be seen in the best light, or imagining having control, and perfection being possible (the kind of fucked-up beliefs that seem to be among the chief ruiners of human lives).

And sharing from a down place seems like a way to potentially indirectly help people in their own down places. I have certainly been helped by indirect human connection and communication (isn’t that what all of the arts are?) in times where I would have preferred to have the up-close kind of connection but lacked it.

Times like now.

If nothing else, even if I fail at everything else, I think if I keep writing to you I will feel a little less alone, a little less sad, because imagining talking with you brings your perspective more clearly to mind. You loved me. The reality that you are gone is painful as hell, but at the same time, I was lucky enough to have someone in my life from birth who loved me, who understood, who saw me, who gave a fuck, really, how I was, about my life. That is a rare gift. One I think some people never have. I hate that I lost it, and I hope it is something I will experience again, but I am grateful to have had it. And when I think of talking with you, I consider the perspective of someone who loves me in how to look at myself, my present, and my future.

I need that now.

And if I can’t find a way to make this entertaining or wise or whatever the fuck else, I can at least maybe provide a moment of lesser isolation to other people in their own shit, in the simple fact of seeing someone else say the things we don’t tend to say in the present tense, if at all.

I feel scared. I feel lonely. I feel hurt and confused. I want everything to be miraculously better right now. I want the people I love and miss to come back into my life without all of the shit that makes it for the best that they are not in my life. I want money to rain down on me like magic. I want miracles. I want positive reversals. I want easy answers. I want safety. I want to be important enough to the people I love that they will help me when I need it even if it is inconvenient or difficult for them, the way I have for them. I want to be important enough to the people I love that they will do the hard work of dealing with their own shit where it hurts other people – where it hurts me. I want my life from now on to be the emotional, social, professional, and financial opposite of where I am now, without delay. I want to wake up and find out that everything awful was just a bad dream.

We all tend to talk about those things in the past tense or not at all.

Maybe seeing the present tense will be a grounding experience for someone going through some pain and feeling like everyone else is always doing better than they are because of the stupid social contract “How are you?/I’m fine, how are you?/I’m fine.” cycle of endlessly meaningless communication.

Maybe seeing the treated-as-unspeakable in the present tense will help someone else find the courage or strength or whatever they need to acknowledge the same, maybe if they are lucky, to someone they know and love and trust.

Or maybe writing these will just be a way I fill the time instead of just feeling mired in the hurt.

I promised I would hang in and fight to stay alive, to try to find a better life, to keep loving, to try to find happiness, because you wanted to and can’t. And I don’t know how the fuck I am going to do any of that right now, but since I promised not to give up, trying and quite possibly failing and then trying again and trying differently and quite possibly failing and hopefully meeting more than a little luck and, more honestly, hopefully meeting an absolute fuckton of luck, it is.

I have lived two years and one day in a world without you in it. I have survived. It has sucked, and I have lost so much more besides you since then, and I have survived, and it has sucked, and the last thing I want is even a little more pain or misfortune, but next to everything I have lost, why am I even engaging in this back-and-forth with myself about publishing what is neither polished nor even necessarily coherent? No time like the present for a little fatalistic optimism.

I can’t go back to when you were still here. And I can’t make the people I love who are still alive and not loving me do any different (and I can’t stop hoping they will because I would fucking love to be pleasantly surprised on an emotionally-significant scale). Where I am now sucks pretty hard. And doing nothing seems unlikely to bring me to a more pleasant existence. So this is the random effort I am making now. I hope the next second brings better things. I will keep trying til it does. Maybe I will edit this later, maybe I will leave this as is, but lest I get frozen, I am just hitting “publish” now.

Love,

Lisa