“Becoming one with the soil and the earth” photo by Victoria Timmons

Coping with The S Word

Often times this word makes its way into conversation when there is a darkness. When there is a vast empty void. When there is a deep ache. Other times this word is not muttered, but implied by the combination KMS that gets tacked onto the end of a stress induced tweet. The S word is suicide.

I was with a good friend yesterday who brought up someone from my past. Someone I hadn’t really spoken about except for those who were close to him. I’d like to keep his name private, let’s go with T. When my friend brought T up I felt that ache again. I felt that void. I felt that empty hole in my heart grow a little larger.

A mutual friend through trauma.

My friend looked over at me as he was cleaning the dishes from dinner and says “T was always so vibrant and loud, so lively. I was really shocked when I found out he shot himself in the head.”

He shot himself in the head. Something in me broke. That combination of words sent shivers down my spine. My mouth went dry and I could feel my eyes starting to well. I don’t know if it was because he said it with such ease or because I haven’t heard anyone say how he did it since it happened out loud, but between clenched teeth I let out an opinion I had never considered,

“T had a darkness. A void. I don’t know what it’s like to look in the mirror every day reminded that my twin brother killed himself. I’d probably shoot myself too.”

I can’t believe I just fucking said that.

That sudden shift in perspective rocked my world. For the first time I had an understanding. I knew exactly why T said what he said to me the last night I saw him. It all clicked. In some weird fucked up way I made peace with his death. In that moment, in that outburst of words.

Speaking with my friend about T came naturally which was peculiar. It was word vomit. Once I started I almost couldn’t stop and when I did I sat there in disbelief. There were some things that I never told anyone. I wrote them down and moved on. Thinking it was healed. Thinking I had coped.

I haven’t been drinking, or smoking for that matter, since the beginning of November(minus the champagne toast at midnight and the two white claws I had at a bonfire.) Sobriety has allowed for emotions, feelings, thoughts, and moments in time to resurface. I hadn’t realized that drinking was an anchor to these things, weighing them into the depths. Being drunk and talking about your feelings is different than being sober and talking about your feelings. Your inhibitions allow for words to flow without a filter. Great right?

No.

I’ve learned that in order to heal, you must grieve with a clear mind. You must be conscious of the things you are saying. When you’re conscious you’re able to feel. Everything. Every emotion, every thought, every wave. As Albus Dumbledore once said “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” I think he’s right.

So when I pulled into my drive way to an empty house, I thought about everything. With a clear head I felt release. All of that pent up anger and sorrow came pouring out. Once the tears started I couldn’t get them to stop. I cried. I sobbed. I sat on the hardwood floor of my bedroom and weeped until my eyes were burning and my stomach was tight. I punched my pillow and I yelled my frustrations to the air. There’s a certain type of feeling that occurs when you really cry, when you let go.

Once I calmed down I scrolled through the notes on my phone to find that entry from December 5th 2017. Seven days after it all happened.

Suicide is something you can’t prepare for. It sneaks up on you, a meticulous plan that hides behind smiles and soft hums. A manipulator if you will. My heart aches with this empty notion that I could’ve made you want to stay. I could’ve said something or done something differently, made you laugh a little harder or hugged you tighter that last night I saw you. When I walked in that night you scooped me up into a bear hug, you were about to drive drunk. You thought you could sneak past me with that dashing smile of yours, but I got mad at you. I took your keys and in the commotion you snagged them from my grip. Told me I was overreacting, everything was fine. You took the keys from me with whiskey on your breath and told me “what does it matter anyway.” I wish I would have told you I cared, but instead I yelled at you. I called you an idiot. Fifteen minutes later you strolled through your front door staggering and looked at me with those glazed eyes, “see Tor I’m fine. You can have the keys.” You threw them at me and tackled me on the couch laughing. I was upset. I walked out to the patio and as I had a cigarette pressed to my lips the glass door slid open. “Can I get one tori puuuhhlleeeease??” I gave you one. We sat there talking about how angry I was. How you were so stupid for driving. How you could’ve hurt yourself. We sat there for a moment and you broke the silence with “I can’t look at myself in the mirror anymore.” In my drunken state I didn’t understand the vastness of that comment. That when you looked at your reflection you were seeing Davids too. I didn’t see the darkness. I was still on the topic of you driving drunk. I replied with “pshhh whys that? you look great. Let’s go back inside, I’m sweating.” I didn’t know that would be the last time I saw you. I didn’t realize you had this party to say goodbye. I shouldn’t have been so hard on you. I shouldn’t have been so drunk. I shouldn’t have cracked a joke. You were reaching out. I should have seen it then. I should have been paying attention. The signs were there, but I didn’t fucking see them. Why didn’t I see them? I guess I am blaming myself.

I don’t blame myself anymore.

There was a long period of time where I was chasing empty bottles of Jim Beam searching for answers. J and I were acting like our destructive behavior was okay. We encouraged each other to polish off handles and chain smoke packs of cigs because it’s what we used to do with T. That self sabotage was dangerous. Another cue I never picked up on. I never noticed.

I wrote myself a new morning mantra and learned to forgive myself. Learned to find acceptance in how I tried to stop him from drinking and driving that night instead of being mad at myself for being mad. I was mad because I cared. I was mad because he mattered to me. That was enough. I was enough.

I stopped thinking I could have stopped him. I stopped thinking that it was on me. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a sibling, let alone a twin brother. I don’t know what that kind of loss feels like so I could never sympathize. T was going to do whatever he wanted anyway. It was in his nature to do so. He was a very head strong, bold kind of guy. Always taking no shit, but constantly giving it. A king of having his cake and eating it too. He made me laugh til my sides hurt and he was always claiming how he “discovered” this artist first. He was a silly guy with a broken heart and I’ll never truly know how he was feeling. I think that’s the part that still haunts me. Not ever knowing.

It’s been two years, and somehow I still find T woven into the lives of people I meet. It’s strange how the friend I have now never met me back then. Of all the fuckery T, J and I used to get into I’m surprised he never crossed my path. Now, when I am making healthy choices and focusing on being a better version of myself I find this out. This mutual trauma.

The world works in strange ways; healing us from within.

P.S. If you are reading this and you are having dark thoughts please reach out to someone. Tell them what you are feeling. Tell them about what darkness is residing in your heart. Tell them you need them. I can promise you that this life is beautiful. That there are people out there that would be devastated if one day you no longer walked this earth. Suicide is not a joke. It is not something to be taken lightly.

You are enough and you always will be.

let’s give this digital realm of writing a go