Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Choosing Life

Something inside you changes when a loved one commits suicide. Until that point, life is just something that you do, a simple, unavoidable, unchangeable fact. But when someone embraces death as an alternative, everything changes--even more so when that person is a relative, someone close to you.

After that, you begin to doubt yourself, and your own ability not to make the same choice; after all, you think, if my friend, my husband, my brother, my parent has chosen to die, what is stopping me from doing the same? Am I strong enough to continue facing the confusion, frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression that comes along with everyday life? And if that person is a relative, you start to wonder whether suicide is in your genes, if you have inherited genetic material that will cause you to come with stressful situations in the same way. Not a day goes by when suicide is not in your mind--your loved one's suicide, and its implications for your own desire to live.

As time goes by, the direction of these thoughts shift ever so slightly, yet significantly. In the beginning, when the pain of losing your loved one in such a violent and destructive manner is still terribly raw, you don't know how you will possibly manage to continue on, living each day with such pain for years, even decades. In your anguish, you wonder about the pain your loved one must have felt in order to make such a desperate choice, and you question how you, in your despair, will possibly find the strength to avoid descending into the same irrationality. But then, as the months pass, your thought processes shift. Slowly but surely, you begin to realize that your loved one's choice is not the only one that you can make. There is another choice to be made: to live.

From that point on, each day you make the conscious decision to live, a choice of empowerment, rather than helplessness. And this choice means that you are no longer a victim of your loved one's suicide; you are now a survivor.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Today is my parents' thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. My mother says that it passed "in the blink of an eye," and when I think that I was alive for twenty-nine of those years, I'd tend to agree. So much has changed, and so quickly--at least, in retrospect....

Whenever I have dreams of "home," it's always in my house, the home of my childhood. This past January, I bought this house from my parents, who moved into my great-aunt's house in 2007. But when I dream of this house, it's usually with the family of my childhood: my parents, brother, even former pets. To me, this signals that I have yet to reconcile my old life with the new; I have not yet recognized this house, and the act of buying it, as a sign of my new, adult life.

Instead, I work to build new memories while surrounded by old ones, to incorporate my new family with my old one. And I don't know yet what the end result will be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Silence is golden, or so the cliché says. But to someone with depression, silence becomes something to be avoided. Silence becomes an opportunity for those frighteningly dangerous thoughts, with which you have become so familiar, to seep into your consciousness, for your inner monologue to race into directions that you cannot control. And so, silence itself becomes scary. As such, it becomes difficult to begin to trust silences again.

As a teacher, prolongued silences in the classroom taunt you, make you feel as though your students are neither engaged nor interested. Once again, these silences seem to become gaps to be filled, and you have to fight this natural inclination, allowing the students the time to process information and develop necessary critical thinking skills.

With my husband, I have not yet become accustomed to our companionable silences. My natural inclination is to make small-talk; his is the opposite. Instead of being bothered by this, I need to embrace the kind of closeness that that being in the same room, or even in the same house, in silence can bring. I know that some of the most meaningful conversations can be held without words; now I must remember viscerally, as well as intellectually, that these conversations can be, and are, valuable to a relationship.

Silence truly can be golden.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Okay, I'll admit it: I have trust issues. Not with other people, but with myself. For years--decades now--I've had difficulty trusting in myself, believing myself to be worthy of good things in life.

And now, as the one-year anniversary of my brother's suicide approaches, I find myself losing faith in happiness. I wish that I found it easier to enjoy just being happy, rather than waiting for the other shoe to drop. Intellectually, I know that the sum of a person's worth (and the value of a person's life) is the entirety of that person's character and life choices, rather than individual traits or events. But knowing this and making myself believe it are often two different things.

Instead, I seem to dwell on the bad things while forgetting the good. I view the good things in my life as being the result of luck, while in my mind, the bad things are the direct result of mistakes I must have made. I'm such a perfectionist, but since I know that I'm bound to make mistakes, I feel that I'm bound to suffer for these errors of judgement. And so I feel as though I sit, waiting for karma to catch up with me, waiting for the next loss.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cat Escapades

As some of you know, my cat, until recently, has put up something of a protest to my husband's continued presence in the house by peeing on the rugs in the dining room and the spare bedroom. After four GALLONS of Nature's Miracle, the dining room appears to be odor-free, but my husband and I have wanted to keep the cat out of the spare bedroom until we can say the same for that room.

Because the door doesn't stay closed on its own, Fran has rigged an intricate system, whereby he has wrapped a piece of string around three doorknobs and the railing. Well, I was in the spare room going through some clothes while Fran was hooking up our new TV in the living room, and I left the string unhooked, in case he wanted to store anything in the room.

When I came back in the hallway, the cat was chewing on the string. He went to take off downstairs with it before I could take it away from him, but of course, the other end was still attached to the doorknob. Next thing I know, his back feet went flying out from under him as he kept his jaw firmly clamped around that infernal string, and stayed that way until I unhooked it from his teeth.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron James

According to the news, today is "Decision Day," the day we find which basketball team LeBron James chooses to sign with. Personally, I couldn't care less, whether he joins the Knicks, the Nets, or any other team. I'm tired of seeing this story on the news every day for over a month. People need to get their priorities straight. There are too many other important things happening, that will affect our lives so much more significantly than professional sports ever could.

Why not show this kind of concern for the Crisis in the Gulf, where millions of gallons of oil still are destroying local wildlife AND livelihoods? How could an entertainer (for that's what a sports player is) possibly hope to compare in importance to this?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


When I was younger, going out to eat at a restaurant, even a local diner, was exciting because it was "different," something out of the ordinary. Now, what makes "eating out," or even "take-out" special is the fact that I'm not the one cooking it. Now, I find myself assessing beforehand what's "quick" or "easy" to make; supermarket trips revolve around planning meals with little preparation and cooking time. Clean-up is another obstacle; wouldn't it be nice to actually enjoy the meal I've just spent time cooking, rather than dwelling on the mess I've left behind? And I'm actually pretty good, in the sense that I try to keep things as neat as possible while I'm cooking, and will clean up as much as I can as I go along.

All I know is, it's easier now that I'm on vacation, and time isn't so pressing. Trying to schedule the day's household chores around my work schedule is enough to drive someone to drink.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Family Dinner

Dinner at my parents' has been a good way of helping me to merge my old life with the new; first, regular family dinners helped me adjust to moving into my own house, and now, it has been essential to integrating Fran into my Staten Island family. Because our courtship and marriage happened so quickly, Fran and I did not have the benefit of the time most couples do, to get to know each other's families slowly over time. So these dinners, in my mind, help to make what could be an awkward situation more comfortable, by giving my parents and him the opportunity twice a week to spend time becoming acquainted.

And for my part, it's nice to see such good will on both of their parts.

Thoughts About Blogging

Writing about my feelings has always been difficult for me. Writing gives me the opportunity to edit myself, to rethink what I wish to say, so that I express less recklessly; at the same time, however, I've always felt that, by putting my thoughts down "on paper," so to speak, I make everything so much more quantifiable, making myself so much more vulnerable in the process.

For me, Facebook and Twitter have been baby steps in my foray into blogging. Now, it's time for me to begin reflecting on the many changes in my life in greater detail. I hope that any readers enjoy what I write, and that I don't offend anybody, but ultimately, what I write here is for myself, to bring about my own catharses....