So what’s it going to be?

Dear Funny Friend,

Am I coming to YOUR funeral next? I don’t know how to put this nicely, FF. I don’t know how to word it so that it will seem all warm and fuzzy and loving, even though you should know that it is LOVE that prods me to write it at all.

 You had it all. A beautiful girlfriend, a job, a way to recover in a great place close to your kids. And you hate yourself SO BAD that you would rather wallow in alcohol and self-pity, alone, almost homeless, just one drink from the cold streets. And what spurs this? WHAT?

 You watched Charming One’s family as they sobbed and cried because he took the coward’s way out and killed himself. You sat next to me in a stiff pew, in the mortuary chapel, and you cried. And then you excused yourself and snuck out for a drink.

Do you realize that Charming One’s family WILL NEVER BE NORMAL AGAIN? His sister, whose light has always shone so brightly, walks around in a dark daze. She can barely get through the day. She can’t laugh. LUMINOUS LIGHT CAN’T LAUGH. It’s unthinkable, but true.

His kids are fatherless. His father can’t go down in the basement of the house where CO hung himself. This was the house his father thought he would die in, because he has cancer. His time here is limited. He is holding on to every last second he is given. AND he LOVED THIS HOUSE. But he can’t go near the downstairs now. Every corner he turns holds another memory: memories that start out warm and fuzzy, and end with a stiff swinging, arctic cold body.

And me, I alternate between being so angry at CO, and feeling SO guilty because I think I could have done more. I grew up with CO. My childhood and early adulthood memories are filled with images of CO at his best, and at his worst. Shouldn’t I have seen this coming? Shouldn’t I have had some warning that someone needed me? Shouldn’t I have woken up this morning, and found $1 million dollars waiting for me in my bank account? Yeah, they are the same. I KNOW this, and yet I cannot veer my mind away from this path it seems determined to take, and then it goes to you. And what YOU are doing to you. And all the people that love you. Because no one goes through life in a solitary haze. NO ONE GETS THROUGH WITHOUT TOUCHING PEOPLE’S LIVES. It simply doesn’t work. We are human and we are social. We crave love, intimacy, friendship–the touch of another hand.

You know what’s funny? Every single person I talk to, EVERY ONE OF THEM, feels the same way. More people will miss CO and loved CO then he even knew, but he LET GUILT AND ALCOHOL destroy him. They took over his mind. He no longer cared about the people he was going to hurt, especially that little six-year-old girl who knows her FATHER HUNG HIMSELF. Somewhere, somehow, he convinced himself that he was doing more harm than good, and that THIS CHOICE, the choice to kill himself, was the only one. When people are screaming out for help, they take pills, or slit their wrists. There is still hope. Someone can find them. But when the decision is made to really leave, there is no stopping it.

It is the uttermost selfishness to do this to people you love. You’ve been there and done that before, and you know this. It’s your easy way out, but you never make it easy on yourself. This is your cross. You nail yourself to it like Jesus himself, and carry it around, because you think you need to suffer. You WANT to wallow in it. What the hell did you ever do that made you deserve this cross? You didn’t go on an LDS mission? You didn’t make a doomed marriage work? That surely doesn’t qualify you for a CROSS, FF. It just makes you human. Every single one of us has fucked up.

Do you wonder what people will say when you are gone? Are you really so shallow that you do not realize that we will all be devastated and distraught and BLAMING OURSELVES because we could not stop it? And I will never recover. Is that what you want?

I tell myself a million times a day, “Natalie, you have no control over what FF does. You can’t help him. You tried. His brain takes the money. Buys the booze. Drinks it. Lies to himself about how it’s just to stop the seizures. Or maybe it’s just until he gets past the bad parts.” But in the end, you really are just lying. Because the bad parts never end. Nearing 50 now, we know this. We’ve learned it. So you are nailing yourself to the cross because the pain somehow feels good, and lying to yourself and everyone around you about your own self worth. This is your cross and you will drag it to your death. Wherever you go, the cross is with you. But guess what, FF? You aren’t Jesus. Most likely, Jesus was a myth. He probably lived, but like the mythological stories from the ancient Greeks, people gave him attributes he didn’t really have. I won’t theologize further, because religion is personal, but the bottom line is, YOU ARE NOT JESUS. You do NOT need to crucify yourself.

Yet, you continue to do so.

And the demons win. Demons 4,845, FF 12. TWELVE. DO YOU SEE THAT? Yes, I made these numbers up, but there are at least twelve things that I know of right off the top of my head that make YOU special. Probably more. I don’t feel like citing them right now, because all I want to do is come kidnap you and lock you in a fucking padded room and push food under the door and let you be alone, naked, and SOBER for one year straight.

 Stuck in a room with yourself, and no one else. Forced to really spend time looking at yourself, but not through the haze of a liquid dream, like you were a tiny gnat floating around in someone’s cup. Hoping, maybe dreaming that you’ll get scooped out by some merciful soul, either because they don’t want to drink you, or they have some compassion. Of course, if you DO get saved, they probably don’t realize that you will just beeline it for the same damn liquid the minute you’ve recovered enough that your wings are dry and you can fly.

You don’t want to fly. You WANT to drown, and if you drink enough you think the rest of us want you to drown, too, and can’t seem to comprehend that what we want is THE REAL YOU. Not the one you create in the bottle full of lies and deceit.

 I won’t nail you to a cross, because you don’t deserve it. And I can’t save you. Your girlfriend couldn’t save you. Your children couldn’t save you.

 CO’s children couldn’t save him. It’s all he ever talked about. And he STILL did this to them. LL once said to me, “All he wanted was someone to love him unconditionally.” But that’s not true. Because the only true unconditional love comes from within. Every relationship has rules and conditions. Unconditional love is something only YOU can give yourself.

 You still have a choice. You can still choose to live up to your potential. Or you can put another nail in the cross.

So what’s it going to be?


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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One Response to So what’s it going to be?

  1. Laura York says:

    I am always astonished at how well you put my feelings to paper!! Thank you for posting this one. I will be referring a certain person to this. Maybe he will take it to heart!! Love your writing!!! Laura.


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