Monday, January 28, 2013

Life lessons learnt in parting

I'm filled with pure emotion at the moment, and know my 'process' is to write and let myself think and talk via my fingers…   but also well aware that right now, there's an issue that I need to address and talk about, because it's so closely aligned with my own experience and issues of the past, and hiding this particular topic does us no favours...

Today I found out that an online weightloss buddy of mine died…  I've known him since basically the start of my weightloss transition five years ago. He was part of the online Club, and someone I used to chat to in the forums. He proved quite successful in his own weightloss transformation despite his arthritis and time constraints - but his cheeky humour was what caught and held my attention over the years. It wasn't unlike my own, and we bonded over kilos and bad humour!

Today I found out that he died in November.  The last time we "spoke", he wasn't dealing with life very well. We had that bond aswell - something that we used to talk about via emails. He'd worked hard to turn his life around for both himself and his young son, and over the years had undertaken study to find a new career, and done so well that he was easily sought after he'd graduated for work. I'd even designed his Resume, and when he'd scored a great job at the end, I was so happy for him! Things were really starting to change…  Last year, he'd bought himself a new car, and he and his son were building their own home. Something he'd never dreamed he'd be able to do - but his new career afforded him the privilege.  He was well respected in his role, helping those in need and those in underprivileged circumstance, change their lives too….

I found out today that he died the day after we spoke last.  He was in a really bad way.  He was upset and on edge, had felt he'd destroyed a relationship that had meant so much to him, and reached out to me to ask me how I had managed to overcome my issues and dark days. There's a certain level of speculation I make here, because I only found out via a friend, and it was only from posts on his Facebook wall that gave us the news...  I speculate that the timing wasn't coincidental, and therefore my reason to bring up the topic of suicide at all.

I try really hard to be positive and optimistic, but I'm plagued with a history of depression, anxiety and suicidal yuckiness too.  He knew that…  Maybe that's why he reached out to me?  Because I understood… because I wouldn't judge.  I understand more than most would…

We talked via SMS, but I guess I didn't read between the lines very well.  He was broken, and I think he was saying goodbye.  Re-reading the old text messages on my phone when I found out today, I'm just heartbroken. He told me I'm a beautiful girl, inside and out, and he'd known that from the first time he saw my photo (even at my biggest!) on the forums and read my posts.  He thanked me for being "the best friend I've never met" over the last five years… 

I reminded him that things would get better - that he and his boy had so many positives to look forward to, and to look to those for both comfort and pushing through - that life just hurts and tests us sometimes… but it's a conversation we've had before, and I guess the impact was lost on him this time…   Though he even went so far as to say we should catch up next time I'm in Sydney, and that he'd "hold me to that drink!" when I was able to get there sometime this year.  It pains me to read that and realise that won't ever happen now...

Well I guess that's the pitfall of befriending people on the internet - and it's one of my fears.  When I've spent half my life being a social recluse, it was far easier for me to befriend and communicate with likeminded people through my fingers (no surprise there… !).   My online friends are all across the world (distance means little on the web) and our backgrounds and lives are often very different… but there's always a bond I have with them, and a sincerity that comes with that kind of friendship where the distance is quite meaningless, but you know people will come and go.  Many of them I'll never meet, and I've always had a fear in the pit of my tummy that something would happen to someone I care about, and I'd possibly never find out.  It bites when a fear turns into reality...  even more so when it's so close to issues of my own.

I don't quite know what's hurting more right now…  The fact that he didn't have the strength to fight.  Or that I missed my opportunity to meet a friend of mine who played a role in helping reshape MY life.   Or that whatever has happened with him, has really reinforced the damage that my old negative thinking could have potentially done to MY network and people I care about (which still surfaces on occasion, when the hideous negatives and doubt come out).

I don't often talk about my suicidal past - because I don't feel I'm that person anymore.  I lost a decade of my life in "blackness" thinking I was worth more in a casket, but the person I am today is too far removed from letting that win.  I simply don't have the right to judge someone who struggles with these issues - because those who don't suffer like this, just don't understand.  It's easy to assume it's "selfish" or cruel to those you leave behind - but there's an intolerable, horrible cruelty that rages in your own heart and head that sometimes wins over.  Some of us can fight back more than others, and I guess there's those that simply don't have the energy anymore.

My heart is breaking right now for a friend who ran out of courage and energy to fight, and I'm so sad that my parting words weren't enough to help bring him through to keep on trying.  He knew…   

I posted this on my Facebook wall - "RIP M. Always thought you were a bit of a clown but you made me laugh, and I certainly considered you a friend. I don't really understand what's happened or how, but that we 'spoke' just the day before has left me hurting. Reading through the last text messages, I'm just heartbroken. Maybe I could have done more.... maybe not, I just don't know. But grant you this, when I meet you again (whenever, wherever, however), I'll be kicking your arse, and you bloody know it. 36 isn't anywhere near old enough mister... "

Despite my tears and heartbreak right now, there's a certain level of relief I have on his behalf too.  I don't agree with his actions (clearly I fight on, and I wish he'd have been able to do the same)… and I hurt for his little boy who needed his dad... but I can't help but offer him the compassion, and afford him the flexibility to let him take his 'calm' now. 

My parting words in our last SMS conversation read "Just breathe…".   Wish he'd had the strength to do just that.

I'll still kick his arse one day though….  but his lesson hasn't been lost on me.  I now see the side of this that I've never truly wanted to see….  and it pains me for all its reality.  I don't ever want to do this to someone else.  Lesson heard, felt and learnt.   Thankyou M.   xx

** If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal tendencies, PLEASE seek help. There are avenues for counseling via your Doctor - and people who DO care.  I regret suffering for a decade in silence - the damage of which still interferes with me when I'm struggling today.  The actions you take DO impact those who love you.  You are NOT alone.

My apologies for anyone I've upset with this post.  But it is a topic that needs to be spoken about...


  1. You are a brave girl to write about your feelings Amy, and a very special girl, It must have hurt so much to put into words the anguish you are feeling. But ever so important to encourage people to not hide their own hurt & to seek help.

  2. Beautifully written Amy. I've been in a stupor all day. I'm so sad.

  3. You may think your words are just whispers in the wind, but if they hold the attention of just one life for just one minute that may be all that is needed. Brave girl.

  4. Oh princess! What a horrible discovery for you! I am sure that you gave him exactly what he needed, exactly when he needed and his life was richer for knowing you! Hugs xoxo

  5. Oh dear, this is so sad. Thank you for sharing, please take care of you, Leisa Flanigan xx