Monday, March 30, 2009

How do you get that lonely?

For Musical Monday, I have added Karen Carpenter's version of "Solitaire" to my juke box, in memory of my brother-in-law, Corey.

Five years ago tomorrow, March 31, Corey committed suicide. There were many things that led up to and played a part in it. Depression. Alcoholism. Love lost. Delinquent taxes. Low self-esteem. But why, why take that final, solitary step as an end to all his problems?

He was a complicated person, often made even more complicated by his personal quirks and his alcoholism. But as long as I knew him - for 30 years - he was a person severly lacking in self esteem, and he was always looking for something better, for something missing, for something to help him fit in, for something something something.

On one occasion when he was visiting us here in Georgia, I happened upon him in the middle of the night as I was on my way to the bathroom. He was sitting in the living room, drinking, and drew me into conversation. When he was drinking, he would talk on and on and on, and this night was no different. But what it all boiled down to, on this night, was that he was jealous of what we had (married, home, etc.), that he couldn't figure out why , despite his best efforts, he couldn't find what he was looking for, that something that would make him happy or make him stop drinking or make him complete. He complained that if his mother hadn't had a nervous breakdown when he was a baby (which he actually thought that he had 'caused'), if he hadn't gotten burned on his arm and upper torso as a kid, if his parents hadn't divorced, if he hadn't had a fire in the hole when he was in the Navy on a sub, he wouldn't be the way he was now, so screwed up and so lost.

On the plus side, he was a very sweet person. He would do anything in the world for you if you asked, and sometimes when you didn't! He was active in Habitat for Humanity. He loved the great outdoors, and went camping or traveling every chance he got. He would build the most beautiful wood pieces, a talent inherited from his dad. He was a step-dad who really stepped up to the plate to help raise a boy who came with a lot of baggage himself. And most importantly, he was a proud dad to a son found late in life, a son he didn't know was his until the boy was a teenager, but who he embraced with all his heart and who brought him great joy. Why were these things not enough to silence his demons? And why did he think he couldn't find the help and comfort he needed from a family that loved him dearly, quirks and problems and all?

Well, as is the case with most suicides, our questions will never be answered. His pain was obviously more than he could bear on this earth, and his family and friends were left to deal with their pain over not knowing that he was so desperate that he would leave the house early one morning with a gun, sit on a log by a beautiful lake, and shoot himself in the head. We've come to accept it and to some extent understand it, but still ...

As a side note or p.s. to our story, the fact is that we are friends with a family that has had two suicides. Ben was the older brother in a lovely family of five siblings, and children of his own, and though he had his problems (a wife that was killed in an auto accident, drug/alcohol/money problems), to all outside appearances he seemed a happy person. He even came to Corey's funeral and said the usual "Who'd have thought?", "Don't know how someone could do that." So why did he shoot himself just a year or two after Corey - and also having a family to turn to for help? And then, to add to this sad family saga, this last year a nephew of Ben's, his sister's son Brian, committed suicide, and he, too, had alcohol/money problems.

It just boggles the mind and breaks the heart. Of course, most all suicides have a foundation of some type of mental illness - depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, post traumatic stress. It's the why of the final act that is so hard to put a finger on for each individual. What was the final straw that led to their decision?

A couple of years ago, Blaine Larsen co-penned and sang a song about a teen suicide, and the refrain that just kept grabbing my brain and heart was this: "How do you get that lonely? How do you hurt that bad? To make you make the call that havin' no life at all is better than the life that you had? How do you feel so empty, you want to let it all go? How do you get that lonely... and nobody knows?"

If you would like to watch a youtube version of "How do you get so lonely", click on the link below ... and shed a tear or two for the many families that have been left behind with sadness and forever unanswered questions, for those lost souls who chose to leave us, and for the thousands of people who have yet to encounter the despair that will lead them to this ultimate act of escape.


Anonymous said...

Shed A TEAR OR TWO????

Alice said...

My God, Linda. You hit it right on the head, and so does Blaine Larsen. I have struggled for the past 4 years (I think it's been 4, not 5) trying to make sense of what Corey did -- that he could feel so much pain and hopelessness that not living was preferable. I wish I could just take him in my arms and hold him and rock him, and tell him how much I love him -- as crazy-making as he was. My heart hurts and my eyes hurt from wanting to cry for him. Love, Alice

Alice said...

Sorry, it has been 5 years. That's what I originally had in my daytimer and then somebody else thought it had only been 4 years. I cannot believe it's been 5 years, but with all the stuff with mom going on, I guess time went faster than when I was in the middle of it. My bad. Love Alice

Wander to the Wayside said...

I can only imagine how you and David felt and continue to feel about Corey and what he did. I think the reason I actually even brought it up is because I seem to remember anniversaries on years five and ten as opposed to every year. And with all the suicides in the news lately, it just seems to have brought up latent thoughts, memories, and feelings that I have myself about Corey. Alice, I remember so clearly that night that you called! We had always expected a call that he'd been hurt or killed in a car accident -but when "he killed himself" came out of your mouth and thru the phone ... it was probably as surreal for you to say it as it was for us to hear it. And just think how many families have gone through the same thing. So sad. I was hoping that no one would be offended by such a gloomy post ... I guess I was just trying to wrap my brain around it yet again. Thank goodness these moments are few and far between!

Malinda said...

My heart goes out to those souls that are so tortured. From experience I know how falling lower and lower can lead to just falling even farther (depression)-and being there, so low, gives a false sense of what the truth is. Hopelessness is something you can fall into and believe with all of your heart - now throw in something like alcohol and what you believe is even further distorted - and it is more than a belief, it is a feeling and a filter put over your eyes so that everything you see is surely hopeless. It takes the miracle of self -realization and faith from your personal connection to something, anything (and a brain clear from alcohol and drugs) to start the climb back up into the wonderful world that is really here. It does have to come from within the person suffering before the filters can come off - no one on the outside can change or heal a person from hopelessness. Lots of love and support and information - knowledge- and patience can, however, plant the seeds for healing! I am so sorry for the loss of Corey and the hurt that comes from not knowing.

Teresa said...

Linda, I thought about Corey on the 31st myself (sorry I'm just now getting around to reading this post late). Your post really does express how I've felt about him as well... so sad and unbelievable that he was in such despair that he felt that was the only option... Love, Teri