For my sister

4.2.10 050

My sister killed herself this year.

It was a planned meticulously carried out  almost peaceful suicide. Her very last written words were ” I hate my life. I’m leaving”

She suffered terribly, especially these last few years. It would be easy to  talk about her obvious mental health issues- the hammer she took to all her relationships-her purposeful isolation from family, her purposeful destruction of her  marriage, her purposeful pushing away of everyone- she smashed it all.

She set up an auto post on a blog she  started after  her divorce which published after her death –

A post called “Some things are cumulative… ” with links to multiple articles about  what happens to rape victims who never heal.

While all this  explains a lot of the whys none of it much matters to me. From this angle it reduces her to a sad statistic, another of the endless statements about the damage humans do to each other and themselves, blah, blah, blah.

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I’m not sure talking about who she was is useful either though it  matters to me . I sit and talk to her by this creek every day. I talk to the fearless tree climber. I watch her catch fish after fish, I listen to her giggle , tell stupid jokes, and remember how she sat down to a piano and pounded out Beethoven by ear.

None of it means anything in the end. She’s gone and I know she’s gone.

What does matter is that conversation about sexual violence is in the news now .

Victim blaming, victim shaming, nasty sickening mob feeding frenzy garbage seeking to normalize assault as “locker room banter” and paint women who speak up as political operatives.

Horseshit.

My sister was attacked at least four times. Four times some pig hurt her. (I say pig because real men don’t do things like that.) Four times some pig overpowered and harmed her- once with a gun.

She finally broke. She couldn’t do it anymore.

And we owe her, all of us, we owe her, we owe all women dignity and respect and real safety. Period.

Screw the games and bickering and blaming- we owe women dignity, respect and real safety.

Til then, we :

“…now, lifting him up, in his coffin, on our shoulders,

now at least we know how much he didn’t have,

that we did not help him in his life on earth.

Now it dawns on us we are taking on

all that we never gave him, and now it is late;

he weighs on us, and we cannot take his weight.

How many people does our dead one weight?

He weighs as much as this world does, and we go on

taking this dead one on our shoulders.”

from Pablo Neruda’s  To The Dead Poor Man

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Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm  Comments (5)  

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “None of it means anything in the end. She’s gone and I know she’s gone.”—WRONG!!

    NOTHING is a waste that adds to who you are! She added to you and YOU are still ‘here’, which means she is still ‘HERE”. She lives in so many things!! Now her energy has returned to the universe where hopefully we can build on it and move forward with some healing. She could not fight any more so now we have to take it up. She was strong, and had a big heart (I remember a sweet lady who helped people who needed it in a tough time, of great stories of cooking for larger groups in the middle of nowhere….a good woman). I cannot venture to guess how many of us could have held on as long as she did if we had had the same experiences.

    We DO owe her, and all those who have suffered!! Should we all have known that sooner, probably but she let us know we must now.

    I am so glad there is a conversation going on in this election cycle, maybe some good will come of the jerk who threw us into this conversation…I so hope so!!

    Many soft hugs to you and those who have suffered, known others who have suffered…let us fight to help these woman, and men, know they deserve love, respect, dignity and safety.

    • Thank you Vic. Your kindness means a great deal to me. Your friendship has so often served as a stout stick to steady myself on.
      I don’t think I said that as carefully as I hoped.
      It does matter TO ME- all of it. Who she was, what she became, all of it. It doesn’t matter to the larger question though.
      She did not get the support from the larger community that she needed and deserved.
      She battled for equilibrium, for solid ground under her feet – she worked hard on many levels to overcome the damage for a long time. When she hit the wall finally the damage was too deep. She couldn’t hear or see outside the prison her pain had become.
      She did her part- our society did not.
      The larger question, larger issue, lies in the willingness to accept losses like this unique and discreet human life and not see what else we lose by doing so. Or quickly turn away when we get some small glimpse…

  2. “…now at least we know how much he didn’t have,
    that we did not help him in his life on earth.
    Now it dawns on us we are taking on
    all that we never gave him, and now it is late;
    he weighs on us, and we cannot take his weight.”

    Pi, you know I have some experience in dealing with loved ones who are mentally ill. Depression and anxiety are serious forms of mental illness. Absolutely. But combative, raging fury against those who might help but are, instead, loudly, violently, pushed away with a sense of finality is another much different kind of mental illness. We who love them do the best we can with what we know to do, try to learn better ways, and continue to hope that eventually our loved one will find the path that leads them to a better quality life truly worth living. We can, and do, try different ways to help them, but in the end, they must accept help from others, or seek it out themselves. We are not allowed to force our ideas and solutions on other adults; only the police and the courts can take away their independence and force them to accept help from others. So we muddle along, we try different things, we look to others who can offer educated suggestions on how to ‘handle’ our family member or dear friend suffering so terribly, and we try to keep them alive until they can find their own difficult path to a life worth living. I think your sis thoroughly and purposefully closed up all her escape hatches by hammering away at all helpful people and suggestions. She chose a way out instead of a way forward. All the love in the world is futile when someone, so damaged, just can’t see or feel it. I have no doubt that you did what you knew to do. Others did for her what they knew to do. She just could not see any viable path forward, and so, she ended her own misery by taking herself out of the torment and pain that burdened her. She no longer suffers, but all who loved her and cared about her well-being continue to suffer. You probably ask yourself if there was anything else you, or others, could have done, any other suggestion you could have made, any other direction forward you could have broached, to reach her through her all-encompassing rage. I truly, deeply, think that she was so emotionally and mentally damaged refusing the help of others that she was past the point of accepting any help. Her mental processes were so damaged that no one was going to reach through them and pull back out that funny, talented, giggling, mischievous girl you knew so long ago. It’s like a dark cloud descended into her brain and took over her happy self and poisoned her brain to accepting any possibility of finding a promising future. My heart aches for you.

    I worry about my own loved one taking her life because of her dark mental issues, but I have to believe that I’ve done what I knew to do, going on intuition as much as anything else sometimes. I think we all listen with our hearts and try to direct ourselves accordingly, but we never really know if that is enough, other than she’s still alive when the sun comes up the next day. With life, there’s hope. Without life, there’s just the worst kind of despair, pain and loss.

    In your heart, I’m sure that you understand that we have little-to-no control over anyone who refuses to be helped. Reaching someone so damaged is out of our hands so much of the time. Your sis fought help; she denied it. And then she was gone. My heart aches for you and your family who suffer this terrible loss with no real conclusion. I believe that you are wise enough that if you could have found the magic way forward for her, she would have heard it, followed it, and not have lost all hope. Her suicidal despair made her pain unreachable by any one.

    I would love to see you write a post or an extensive article about the girl you knew before all the damage began. Her giggling, her strengths, her talents, her humor, her gifts… Let’s remember the sister you knew so well and whom you treasured for so many wonderful reasons. I’d love to celebrate her life with you for what she gave to your family and our world, before the rapes, abuse, assaults, and mental illness changed her forever. I don’t know if recording the girl you loved so much before her mental illness turned her away from the world will help you, but it would help me to know the sister you knew so well, beyond her last painful years.

    Like Vic says: I send you lots and lots of big, soft hugs today and every day. Much love, my friend.

    • This is a huge reminder of many of the whys your friendship is one of my largest riches.
      I do accept my sister was beyond reach- of mine or that of anyone else.
      I missed one cue along the way in the last year but I know it was highly unlikely I could have effected any shift in her warrior stance against the world .
      What matters to me is that we collectively root out all the things which contribute to the entitled attitude of those who take like she was taken from – that we actually bring all women to the table in dignity, respect, and safety.
      As long as we shrug when some jerk grabs and gropes women we are eons from actually making over half of us whole.

      • Of course, you are right about her warrior stance and all the rest.

        As much as I can’t tolerate the presidential candidate who is so damn blase’ about all the girls and women he lusts after, I find the groundswell against him really encouraging. We just might be on the cusp of a new women’s movement empowering us against the “locker room talk” and related misogyny. Perhaps in time it will grow as a tribute to all of us, but most importantly, to the memory of your sis.

        I truly hope so, my friend.


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