Dear Kath, (10)

Dear Kath,

Today is one of those days when I just feel sad, which I tell myself at first is for seemingly no reason, even though if I allow myself to think about it, there are many reasons. I just don’t want to think about them. I don’t want to feel sad. Which I know, intellectually, is counterproductive, I know if I just let it out, it would probably pass, and in trying to avoid what I already feel, I am just prolonging it. And I probably never would have articulated this outside of writing to you.

I really, really, really wish you were here. I wish I could spend Christmas with you. I wish you could help me. I wish someone who is still alive who I miss would surprise the hell out of me by putting aside their selfish fears and giving a damn about healing the pain they cause. I wish a lot of things, and feel sadder thinking about them, because imagining the people I miss actually acting to help me and not hurt me feels unlikelier than you returning from the dead.

I don’t know whether that I miss them is a reflection of self-loathing or, you know, “the voices of my better angels.” I tend to err on the side of the latter, because I think one of the worst things we allow to arise from people behaving unkindly is choosing to kill off our own kindness.

I do know I would give anything to be pleasantly surprised by them. By one of them, even. I would love to live to see someone I love, who has done me harm, put down their armor and just say “I’m sorry. I was scared. I fucked up. I am working to do better. And I am holding myself to my word.” I hope I get to live that experience one day. I want them to believe that is worth doing. I want them to believe they themselves are worth the path that feels more difficult in the short-term. I want them to believe they can be forgiven. I want them to believe honesty can actually bring a good outcome. I want to believe the same for myself.

I want to go home, Kath, and everything that meant is gone. Including you. God, I want to go home. If I could have you back, that is what I would choose above all. Hell, if bringing you back meant taking your place without getting to see you again, I would still choose your return. I would give anything for you to get to live the long life you wanted and deserved.

I don’t know, Kath. I don’t know if this is helping today, except that missing you is one of the reasons for my sadness, and allowing myself to think about you might help in that regard. I am pretty sure it is a dream that the ones I love and miss will ever read this, much less give a fuck about it, at least beyond where it might make them feel good to know they are loved and missed, to where it would make a difference for me. I wish they would, but knowing they almost certainly won’t, I need to say it, anyway. Because it is how I feel. It is the pain I am suspended in, and probably will be until the hope slowly dissolves the more time passes, leaving something else in its place.

I miss you with everything I am, Kathleen. Thank you for allowing me the space to grieve.

Love,

Lisa

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, andyone 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, (7)

Dear Kath,

I am anxious, still, and I am tired, still, and I am frustrated that both are prohibitive of getting stuff done. I want to feel better, to be in a physical and mental state that is happy and productive, I want the damage done to my life to be left in the past, to be living a life that I want to be living. I want the mail I am waiting on to arrive so I can get through one more series of things I don’t want to do.

And all of this makes me feel closer to you, in a dismal way, because you lived with so many inescapable pains for so long. And gives me perspective, because however bad I feel, I am still much physically healthier than you got to be. And as ever, makes me miss you.

I don’t know what I am getting at here, I just felt like I should try. I don’t know what else to write. I don’t know what else to do in this moment. I don’t want to wait or ruminate. So here I am. Typing and trying to focus at least on the idea that it is you I am writing to. Except I am not really succeeding there. I think right now I feel your absence too much not to feel like I am just writing to myself. Maybe that is why this feels so stilted and aimless.

What would make this different? How would it be different if I were talking to you? Well, I probably wouldn’t be so vague, for a start, but I still feel like I should be at least somewhat vague, as I don’t want to turn what is meant to be helpful into something potentially hurtful to someone else.

But still, I am being pretty pointlessly vague. And not even fully honest. Because what I want has nothing to do with the things that seem necessary or plausible right now. I don’t want to deal with all of the shit I have been left to deal with. At all. I don’t want to get through it; I want it to disappear.

I want someone, for once, to be sorry for taking my life apart. I want to get some meaningful amends from someone who has shown so much cruelty and remorselessness that I should admit that in all reality, I probably never knew who they truly are, and they absolutely, provably, never loved me at all. I want to be done with feeling suspended between how I felt about who I imagined them to be, and how I know I should feel about who they have revealed themself to be. Whether by my hope unlikely actualizing or more likely my hope dying, I want to be released from the in-between. No, that is dishonest, too. I want the unlikely positive. I am fucking sick of the realistically ugly. If I really wanted the release above all, I would just convince myself to accept the awful as the unassailable truth. Maybe I don’t because doing that is not going to de-wreak havoc in my life.

Actually, I don’t want to feel that caring about someone, about trying to be kinder to them than they have been toward me, that believing people can choose to change, that holding space for hope is a bad thing. I don’t want to feel badly about loving, even where I am not loved in return. I don’t want to lose everything inside of me that I value because of anyone else’s actions, however devastating the consequences of those actions. I fought long and hard to keep myself from becoming someone lost to hate or indifference. I don’t want to give up now. I certainly don’t want to lose what I fought so hard to keep just to give myself the hollow comfort of pretend certainty. I know what happened, I know how I feel, but I have no idea what is going on inside of another person’s mind, and I have no idea what the future holds. Uncertainty is uncomfortable, but it is also reality. I want to stand in the truth, even when the truth is “I don’t know.”

I want my life to be put back together as suddenly, surprisingly, completely as it was torn apart. I want to be happy, I want my dreams to be pleasant, I want waking up to provoke positive anticipation, not dread. I have no idea when or how or if I can get there. And I am afraid the harm done is just going to keep following me, is going to fuck up my future as well as my present, that I am going to be in the hell of endlessly having to fight the consequences of someone else’s actions and lies instead of being able to move on. Consequences that feel relentless and overwhelming and inescapable for me, consequences that for them were so seemingly easily evaded by redirecting them onto me. I don’t want to spend my entire life fighting, I don’t want my life to be so utterly vulnerable to others’ cruelties, but it is, and I am afraid I will be fighting forever, or eventually be too exhausted to fight any more, and simply be ruined.

And all the pain and uncertainty would be more tolerable if you were here. I would be talking to you now, instead of typing to myself. I just can’t find that feeling of connection here right now.

I guess I am carrying on with this anyway because I know that a lot of progress and healing and change and just plain survival is flailing around in often-random attempts to repair things, to move forward, to change circumstances. And that momentum is so easy to lose when things are difficult, especially when they are prolongedly difficult, especially when we can’t see an end and fear there may not be one, especially when we feel alone. Sometimes, even though there is no obvious value to our efforts, they are still worth the attempt, if only to keep us moving, to keep us from giving up, to keep us hopeful. Even if the hope is so small in comparison with whatever our struggles are, we don’t really feel it as hope – but it is there, because we are hanging on, and trying. If we had no hope at all, we would just lie down and stay down. I am not pretending I haven’t felt the need to lie down quite a bit, nor that I wouldn’t give just about anything to be able to rest well, but I keep struggling up every day. I am trying. I would dearly love to be able to nap – hell, to sleep for several weeks straight, with nothing to lose by taking a fortnight nap. But I am trying.

I guess that is part of the value of this, too – that I need to get out of my head, even just onto the page, to get some emotional perspective. This has been hard as hell. For a while now. For a longer while now than I tend to be focused on of late. Of course I am tired. Of course I feel scared. I am doing the best I can in really limiting circumstances. Even if I can’t feel the connection with you I wish to, still, putting my rambly thoughts in the context of you helps me to be a little more forgiving of myself. That all said, I could use an absolute shitload of help, sister. And I hope that if I continue to do this, even when it feels kind of forced and pointless, I will feel that connection with you again. I don’t want to deny myself the chance by giving up on this. I don’t want to deny myself a happier life by giving up on myself. Sometimes, I just need my big sister to remind me of all the things I tend to forget when I hurt.

You were the greatest gift and the greatest loss of my life. I don’t have any real follow up to that statement, it is just the truth.

For you, I keep trying. I will keep trying. Just…I need some wisdom and some help. Some strength, or better still, some luck, so the strength is unnecessary. Please. Thank you.

I love you.

Lisa

 

Dear Kath, (6)

Dear Kath,

I have to start with: every time I question the point of doing this, just thinking about it starts to shift my perspective.

I was in the space of feeling torn, because what I really want is to have a conversation with you, and doing this is what I am left with. But as soon as I thought about it in the “What is the point, anyway? If she was here, and I could talk with her, what would I say? What would she have to say that would be helpful?” way, before I even started typing, I had a couple of answers.

I would want to tell you I am in the blank emotional space of a relentless grind of pain and anxiety with no end I can see. And that I need something else to focus on, anything else, because without some freedom from anxiety, I am getting more and more locked up, frozen, feeling paralyzed. And I don’t want to end up in even worse circumstances because I feel unable to act. And immediately I knew you would tell me to do what you did, to make a list of things you wanted to do for the joy of the experience. Which admittedly feels difficult to me, because you did that to make actual plans, and I don’t want to imagine, I want to have, and having also feels impossible in this emotionally endless void. And I knew you would tell me to write what I am grateful for. Which also feels difficult, but can be done. As much as I feel resistant to both, I can still see the value – because at least while I am writing those things, my mind will be on something other than what is eating away at me.

And I would want to tell you that I am also feeling stuck in the pull between loving and missing people, and knowing they are people who I am almost certainly better off without. I don’t know exactly what you would tell me about that. I know you would tell me you love me, and that you would be there for me. I know you would understand, because you had so many people in your life who you loved who hurt and disappointed you. And I know you wouldn’t judge me; I think generally, you were wiser, kinder, more forgiving than me, and you would not see me as in the wrong for caring about people in spite of their behavior, in spite of the harm they did. And do. And I would feel better, because I wouldn’t feel alone.

You were unparalleled in your ability to love, Kath. I find more comfort in your memory than I do in any of the people left in my life. I will never stop needing you. I will never stop missing you. And I will never cease to be grateful to have had you in my life. I love you, sister, so much more than I fear you ever knew. I owe you everything. I would never have survived as long as I did without you, and I wouldn’t be surviving now if I had never known you.

I will do my best to follow the advice that is what I believe you would tell me. Starting with saying, again, thank you. This is nowhere near as good as having your voice, but it is worlds better than suffering in solitude. I hope I never lose my memories of you, of who you were. I would be lost without them. Everything is not all better, but I still feel better now than when I started writing. And I paused before finishing this so I didn’t fail to follow your advice. And of course it helped. (This is where I would allow you to go ahead and gloat.)

What the fuck would I do without you? Even without you, you are with me.

Love,

Lisa

p.s. Seriously, girl, I should do this at least once a day. The more I have you in my days, the better my life is. I am in a much better frame of mind than I have been for days.

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.