Just spent however long in a conversation with a parent who recently lost their child unexpectedly to suicide, and I do mean unexpectedly. Every time I enter into those conversations I feel like I have control…because I want to be at a point where I can talk to people, and can make them understand what is going to happen. I realize everyone’s experience with loss is different, but the same emotional waves and triggers will be there for his family that exist for my family. I have chosen to put myself into a position where I have to talk to people who are experiencing the same things I am experiencing and then I get there and stagger about like I am drunk tripping on my own words.
I don’t know if these people have the same reaction when I talk to them that I have, but I care deeply for every one of them. I wish there were something that I could do other than sit there and hold back my own tears while listening to them release theirs. I have trained myself to mask the emotions as well as I can while I talk to someone, even though that comes with heavy breathing, and stressful sighs, and very awkward pauses. Then when I do get off of the phone the mask comes off, and I break down completely. It is not unhealthy for me. It is not hurting me more to try and help people, but I am a geek… of the computer type. I have been since the 1980s when I was just a little kid. Way back then I was hacking, phreaking and cracking my way into every computer I could find with a modem attached to it. There was nothing nefarious happening, hacking not “bad” all of the time. Like there is with anything there is good and there is bad. Being a hacker for me was more about learning and becoming the best I could be with what I loved. I eventually did a radio interview as a teenager and was told by one caller that I should be publicly maimed for my actions. Unfortunately, being a reclusive computer geek left me without some critical social skills that I need to have in order to effectively communicate verbally. From that, you can probably tell that I am definitely not the “social” type, so it is hard for me to put myself into the position of being able to control the emotion or direction of a conversation. I am a padawan in training when it comes to that I guess. I only explain that so you know the degree to which I grew up sitting in my bedroom on a computer attached to a phone line dialed into some system, almost never interacting with people unless it was through a computer, or I was at school. I had a high school algebra teacher once tell me that I was “socially retarded”.
Despite the fact that I ride a 2009 Harley Fat Boy, played in some pretty good bands when I was younger… I promise you I am a nerd. Here, have a look through my nerd gallery.
I still struggle with my own grief, but I have committed myself to trying to help people at risk of suicide, and people in the same position as us. I recently saw someone respond to a friend online. This friend lost a child to suicide. Someone that she knows came in with, “Oh I understand, I just lost my mother last year.” Let me put this into perspective for you that say you understand. Three years ago I did lose my mother. Five years before that I lost my father. He was only 57 when he died. That hurt me so deeply, I thought I would never get over the pain of them both being gone. Every time I came across photos of them I would completely break down. When Chaney left us, I found out really quickly how easy losing my parents was. As hard as losing them both so young was, it is something that does not come remotely close to losing a child. If you have not personally lost a child please don’t tell people you understand. I promise you that you don’t.
The learning curve for me to just talk to people is so steep it is ridiculous. Logically I can think through so much of what is going on, and logically make sense of it. It is conveying emotion when I am in a real-world conversation that is a problem. Not to mention, I am a male… and we just don’t do that. I have done my share of crying, in public where people could see me. I am not ashamed of it. However, when I am talking to someone because I want to help them, I want to fight that so badly and appear like I am a solid rock. I want them to believe that there is hope that they will one day be there themselves. The problem is, just because I choose to do this does not mean I am anything remotely close to stable. It takes very little to set me off. I came very close to breaking during this phone call tonight. I had to fight it so desperately that I really had doubt that I was going to get through it.
To the person I spoke to, you know who you are. I hope that you got something out of that conversation. As fresh as this trauma is for you, I am surprised you decided to reach out at all. I told you we did not really “talk” to anyone for 2 months about ours. Know that you have someone here that considers you a friend even though we don’t know squat about one another. Your wife is in the same position for me… I consider her a friend, and I have never seen or spoken to her. We are kindred spirits in a way that no two people want to be.
I know I rambled and posted silly images in this entire thing. I needed it. The conversation that I had broke me into tiny pieces after I hung up the phone. I just want that person and his family to know that they have friends here that care about them and what they are going through… and if they need we are here to talk, or just listen. That goes for all of you.