On February 16th my brother, my only brother, took his own life.
That seems like enough to say, and yet not enough at all.
The past few years have been so heavy with fear and loneliness, but this is next level. I can't even begin to describe the void in my soul. He was so broken and so beautiful.
The broken people are always the most beautiful, aren't they?
My brother was an addict. I am certain this is the first time I'm typing this here, but this is reality. Every dark, secret shame he had is now laid bare. Every dark secret I kept for him was worthless. Pointless. He was an addict. For many years I was so terrified he would overdose...that the drugs would take his life. The reality was worse. So much worse. I can't think too much about his last day on Earth. It takes my breath when I think about it. When I think about how lonely and sad and scared he must have been...I almost can't fathom it.
I don't know if it will ever not hurt.
I have tried, in the last 73 days, to be okay again. I have worked. I went to my workouts. I taught my Zumba classes (oh, hey, I'm a Zumba instructor now. By the way). I laughed with my kids. I did my laundry, I cleaned my toilets, I fed my dog, I bought my groceries.
I sat in my car and screamed until I was hoarse. I have cried so many tears I could fill up an ocean. I have a horse sitting on my chest twenty-four hours a day. I have sat in meetings and not heard a word that was being said. I have said the words "My brother took his own life" more times than should be necessary in one lifetime.
I have seen things I should have never had to see. There is something so horribly messed up about seeing your brother, lifeless in a cardboard box. My hand shook so hard when I signed his death certificate that I'm positive no one could read my signature. There have been moments that I stopped and reflected on the things I've done over the past few months and those moments have knocked the wind out of me. There are no words. Just sorrow. Just deep, unrelenting sorrow.
My brother was an addict. He suffered with bi-polar disorder. He took his own life.
My brother was beautiful. He was funny. He was kind. He made me laugh more than anyone else on this Earth. He was sweet. In the last few years especially he was the person I told all of my secrets to. He was the person I could trust more than anyone else. I told him things I've never told my sisters, never told our parents. He was my confidante and my friend and I loved him.
I knew he was an addict.
I knew he was broken.
I loved him.
That's what love is, I think. I saw the addiction. It scared me sometimes. I saw the mental illness. That scared me less, honestly, but sometimes that scared me too.
I understood it though. I understood him in ways I wish I didn't.
I understand depression. I understand it deeply. Intimately. It slowly, dangerously dances with me most every day of my life. I go to work and I go to my workouts and I teach my dance class and I laugh with my friends and I smile and I look totally normal and fine and meanwhile inside I feel like I am worthless and pathetic and an idiot and sad and that no one could ever possibly love me.
That's what depression looks like for me. It has been my constant companion as long as I can remember. I've tried to break up with that bitch for years, but she's still here so I've learned to live with her. I've learned to call her a liar and ignore her when I can, but she's always, always here. I have trouble believing I am worthy of love and respect. There is a constant inner monologue in my soul that tells me YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH AND YOU WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH.
Some days I believe it. Some days I don't. Either way, it's always there.
I get addiction too. People are sometimes surprised that a fully grown-ass woman does not drink alcohol, but I don't. I won't. Because I know if I did, I would be an alcoholic. That's just the truth and I'm not trying to be dramatic. I would be an alcoholic.
I know I was...I am, I guess, a food addict. One does not get to a place in their life where they need to lose 200 pounds without being a food addict. For me it was sugar and carbs. One hit and everything is okay again. I know how this sounds, but seriously. Something in my brain wanted that all. the. time. People think I'm extreme that I gave up sugar and stopped eating carbs, but I knew it was going to kill me. That's not hyperbole. I was afraid I would die young and not see my children grow up and that was that. I have an addict brain and I always have. I always will. I'm an addict without a drug of choice.
It's not the same, you might say, and you are right. It's not the same. It's why I stay away from things though, because I know how easy it would be to slip into that world and never come back.
I know I am broken. My brain is broken. I've known that for many years.
I know my brother was broken. I think he always was.
We were broken together. It was the two of us. After a while he couldn't hide his messiness anymore and I have (thus far) been able to keep mine under wraps pretty well, but it didn't matter. We understood each other. I knew who he was, or at least most of it. I loved him anyway. He saw my depression. I talked to him for a long time about my loneliness. I told him my fears. He understood. He understood more than I ever realized.
I feel like an orphan.
I feel like I don't belong in the world anymore.
I don't know what my place in my family is anymore.
It's all terrible. Honestly, it's all just so terrible.
I miss him. I miss him so, so much.
God, Steph, this gutted me... GUTTED me. I understand it so deeply, in my own F*ed up ways... Your description of your depression (that bitch) really resonated with me. And though I can drink and be ok, I seldom do. But drugs... Drugs. I have known since I was 17 that if anyone offered me something and I chose to take it, I would be a full-blown addict. I know that about myself and thankfully have thus far managed to avoid that journey.
I am so sorry for your loss. Its so brave and beautiful how transparently you've dealt with it, but damn it I hate that you have to...
<3 I am so sorry for your loss. My father took his own life 12 years ago and its still so heavy. To think about how much they were dealing with in their own minds and bodies, its just all so sad and will there ever be closure? Nope. They are just gone. Sending some love your way, we are still here and we have to choose to continue being here each day.
Oh honey I'm so, so sorry. what an awful burden to carry. You are so loved, and so worthy and so needed in this world. I admire your tenacity and your goodness.
I’m sorry you have to go through this everyday. Living this way is hard, no one understands what it takes for you to put both feet on the floor each morning. I hope 2023 brings more joy to you than hurt.
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