Not Just Another F%$##! Statistic
This is taken from my daily blog (http://julialeebarclay.blogspot.com):
OK, so now someone I know has died of this disease of alcoholism and in a particularly horrific way. She was about my age and leaves behind children. She was in fact probably the age of my friend Vickie who died of breast cancer, and so this is the weird thing: they are both dead, they both leave behind teenage boys, and the similarity ends there.
One person was surrounded by loved ones and as sad and unfair as it was, she was prepared and so was everyone else as much as that is possible. She was able to be fully present and accounted for up until she died.
In this other case, this poor woman was not able to be present to herself or anyone else and in the end was killed by the disease that kicked her ass and everyone's around her. I am just devastated by this. In part purely out of sympathy for her and those around her and partially because I'm staring at a path I was allowed the grace not to follow, but which could easily have been mine.
Why me and not her?
That is the question that haunts me always. Always. It never makes any sense. Why some people are allowed off the auto-destruction freeway and others are not. It makes about as much sense as a cyclone or a tsunami. I would yammer on about being protected by forces greater than me but then what does that imply about the people who do not survive?
Words fail. Logic fails.
It all just fucking shuts down.
It's devastating. Devastating like Hurricane Katrina was devastating - there is the natural devastation, horrendous and then the fucked up, dysfunctional way of responding to it. The whole package: physical, mental, spiritual. A total breakdown inside, outside and everywhere in between.
I just hope to hell that I remain as grateful as I should be for the gift of my life and never, ever forget how luck I am. I do of course like all the time. All the Time...but I shouldn't.
What happened to this person could easily have happened to me at any time when I was actively out there trying to wipe myself out - or was that what I was doing? Wipe myself out or as Jung said was it a low-grade spiritual search? Is active alcoholism/addiction the attempt to let go of what can be referred to as the 'bondage of self' - not my actual self...but because the disease is so fucked up, the metaphor gets lost and the desire becomes death itself - not directly necessarily but ultimately that is the course.
The complete obliteration of the self by any means necessary. The utter shame of being alive, the inability to live in one's skin the sheer utter self-hatred...and many times this comes about because of action perpetrated on people when they were children - actions that dare not speak their name for fear of more shame, abuse, violence, or simply the horror of not being believed (see in re: Sandusky, Penn State). 70+ percent of alcoholics are victims of child sexual abuse. That's huge. Some people become alcoholics just 'cause, but many have pain inflicted early on plus the genetic predisposition and many other factors besides.
Alcoholism is like conception - we know stuff about it but in the end no one Really knows what causes it, not really. But like conception, you know it when it's happened. The parallel ends there of course but still...
I hope this woman now lifted off the earth in horrendous fashion finds peace in whatever form she now manifests. I hope those souls left on this earth to walk through the wake of her storm can find ways to do that that ultimately lead to serenity and love. I know first hand how much fucking easier said than done That is and if I could fast forward the switch for any of them, God/dess knows I would and fast. But I can't.
Anymore than I can do that for myself and my own grieving right now, which while real and sad seems quite small compared to this cyclonic event. For the simple reason that I am alive and, as far as I know, healthy and as Raymond Carver once said about a similar state of grace "all the rest is gravy."
In terms of that, though, just want to acknowledge that my husband sent back a loving letter in response to mine and while we are saying goodbye for now it is without rancour or drama but with love and sadness. It sucks but it is not any worse than it has to be and for that I am grateful. Resentment makes things stick and cling and when I am lucky enough to be in a circumstance where I do not have to be filled with it, I am glad. Anger to my mind is the not the same as resentment. Anger is a feeling. Resentment is that feeling stuck, with hooks tearing at my flesh, demanding to be taken out by someone other than me while I keep screwing them in deeper. It's ugly. Anger is energizing, at times even pure, if vented and released quite healthy. I'm not particularly good at that, I should add, but when I can do it, it's always a relief.
And love - where is that? Still figuring that out, sometimes feel it, know it when I feel it and act on it - but real love - rare. Real love is selfless and unconditional. Hard. Intimacy? I say I want it but if I've spent so much time with someone I believed was not capable of it to the degree I thought I wanted, then what did/do I really want? These are the questions I need to ask myself quite clearly without flinching. But with compassion lest I fall into a swamp of self-hatred that does absolutely zero people any good.
But for now: a prayer for S. and those she has left behind. A prayer of gratitude for this beautiful day. and for all of you who are alive here now to share it.
Be grateful for this day. Notice it. Find some beauty somewhere no matter what. Cry your eyes out if you need to and feel the sense of emptiness and lightness that comes after that can then be filled by something else. Love something, someone, yourself...love anything, anyone, your cat...
Don't give up. Just don't fucking give up. Not today.
Julia Lee Barclay, PhD