Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life, Death and Rebirth

As mentioned in my previous post, January marked the beginning of a less than stellar year. To be more specific, it was January, 24th.

I would actually like to start with the end of 2011. My brother, Michael, was always my closest friend; However, he was also the source of much worry and concern in both mine, my parents' and even some of his friends' lives.

He had been the victim of bullying for the majority of his school years. He did not cope well and truly did not move forward from it all. My brother developed depression but most notably severe anxiety. Michael spent much of his waking moments anxious, but a sudden change in routine or harsh words from peers could send him into a panic attack. His moods could switch quite quickly and you really didn't know what version of him you might get. He developed a drug problem over a short period of time. His drug of choice was alcohol, but unfortunately he would take anything that could numb his emotions even for a short time.

When his behavior was overwhelming for me in any number of ways, be it that he angered or hurt me, or that  I was simply worried, I would vent about it. The common consensus was to remove him from my life, but I never could do that. There were a couple occasions where I limited contact with him and once when I banned him from my home. I always decided to give him another chance. I wanted to help him, support him, but mostly I loved him and I missed him when he was gone.

My brother was lucky in many ways. He seemed to rarely, if ever, have any major consequences for the worst of his actions. However, in October, 2011, the beginning of three consequences occurred. He lost his mind and hit our father. Sadly, I can not say this was the first time he hit our father or the first time he had gone after any of us. My parents called the cops and he spent a week in jail. He was not pleased, of course, but I am not sure it really sunk in as my dad and myself co-conspired and got him bailed out prior to his court date.

In December of 2011, he got his first DUI. He blew a .363 at the scene and .294 at the station. He was still standing, though didn't make much sense from what I heard. He had also apparently hit a car and hadn't noticed. He never did remember doing it. Luckily for him... or perhaps not...  The police allowed my father to pick him up from the station rather than book him into jail.

My brother had decided he would quit drinking on January 1, 2012. He had asked me to stand by his side, sober.  I agreed. He came over to my house on New Years Eve and we had our last drinks.

He was doing really well, but was very nervous and very anxious over his impending court date on January 27th for the DUI and hit and run charges. It was his first DUI and I very much doubt he would have gone to jail, but he was scared.

I can remember January 24th like it was yesterday. I had woken up in a terrible mood. I drove my son to school, and after feeling wrought with guilt over taking my bad mood out on mostly him, I decided to bring the girls up there at noon to have lunch with him. I dropped my youngest off at her early childhood education classroom after lunch and went home.  I didn't do much, picked up around the house, read to my other daughter. I picked the kids up from school at 3:55.

I remember pulling into the driveway and looking at my phone (which is almost always set to silent). I had two missed calls and two voicemails. One from my mother, one from my father. I didn't really think. I just knew something had to be going on. I decided to listen to the voicemails in the car, rather than get the kids out and listen inside (which is something I would normally do). My mother sounded hysterical, my dad's voice an eerie false sense of calm to it. I told the kids we probably wouldn't be going inside, even though I still didn't know what was going on.

It took two tries to get someone on the phone.  I will never forget my dad saying "I am sorry... you're brother is probably dead"  Probably... Probably...  a word that gave an odd sense of hope to both my father and myself it seemed.

My dad had come home from work and noticed my brother hadn't brought the trash barrels in. He headed to my brothers room with the intent of yelling at him. From what he told me, he first though Michael wasn't home and had perhaps gone out with friends, but then he noticed his arm. My brother, was long dead. My dad called for my mother and then they both called 911 and me.

I lost my mind when my dad said Michael was gone. I remember yelling "I knew it" over and over. I was convinced he had overdosed. I called his two closest friends and then a friend of mine to watch my kids so I could race over there. When I got there, the coroner had just arrived, homicide detective and other police officers were also in the house. It was chaotic, yet efficient.

I remember counting the days until we got the cause of the death back. The police found pills bottles with my name on them in my brothers room. It was made clear to me that I ran the risk of being charged with manslaughter if it came back he had died of an overdose caused by meds he stole from me.

I felt like I had killed my brother.

Many people tried to comfort me, but I pushed many aside.  I felt like I could only talk to people who knew him for a very long time.

It seemed some wanted to take advantage of my state. I will say they didn't fully take advantage, as I allowed it. My behavior was truly abhorrent. I behaved in a manner I despised. I became everything I never wanted to be. I hurt people emotionally. I still harbor a lot of guilt and shame. I know I need to move forward and chalk it up to a lesson learned at this point, but it's so hard; I still kick myself in the ass every day. I wish I could go back in time and make different choices.

On March 13th (my birthday), we found out Michael did not die of an overdose at all. He died of a massive GI Hemorrhage. He was only 26, it still makes little sense. He could have been saved... I don't think I will ever understand it. I secretly wish I was in jail on manslaughter charges right now because at least I would have something to blame.

Over Memorial day weekend, my husband and I got into a fight of epic proportions. We had been growing a part for some time, but with the death of my brother, my husband working out of state and of course my recent behavior, stress levels had hit an all time high. We spent hours yelling and crying at points. At one point I grabbed his beard and pulled harder than I intended and he ended up hitting me in the cheek as a knee jerk reaction.  In nearly 8 years of marriage, at that point, he had never ever even came close to hitting me.  I truly believe it was not a purposeful movement on his part.  I ended up with a bruise. I foolishly vented about this in the group I was part of. One of the women (who I had met a couple times), called the police.

My husband was arrested nearly two days after the incident. I panicked. He was unemployed, but was receiving UE benefits. Obviously, when in jail you are not eligible to work, so he would not continue getting those checks. We were already in a financial hole due to lay offs in the past (he is a commercial electrician). I lost my mind. I straight up lost it. I was angry. I was sad. I was anxious.  I was so many emotions it was crazy. I couldn't sleep. I had to talk to the kids about seeing their dad arrested... why mommy was photographed by the police. I had no idea what to do. I was less than rational for a time. I was not angry at the woman who called the police.  I was not angry at those who told me it was a good thing he was arrested.  I was just stressed. My stress was viewed as something else, and I was alone.

Things were worked out. My husband plead guilty. It bars him from certain jobs, but it's not the end of the world for him as far as work goes.

My husband and I never got back to that place we were a couple years ago.  I have told him time and again I want a divorce.  I want an amicable divorce. We agreed to separate.

 I met a really amazing man who matches my personality closer than anyone I have ever met. I spent a lot of time with him much to my husbands displeasure (which I understand to an extent. Also I refer to him as husband as legally he still is). However, my family and most of my friends seem to think I am going through a phase. They believe this all has to do with my brother's death and I will "snap out of it". If we actually had the money to pay for a divorce, I would have filed the paper work. However, that money was needed for my kids food, and clothing. Divorce is far from cheap.

 I broke this man's heart because I told him I had to break it off, try to save my marriage. He loves me with all his heart. I love him with all of mine. Both are solidified by his willingness to wait for me. I don't agree he should. I don't feel worth it, but it is his choice to make. He will always have a place in my heart even if he chooses to move on tomorrow.

 I felt like I was moving forward through all this junk from the past 10 months. Now.....Now... I just feel like I am stagnant again at times. I feel like I am standing still... watching as life rushes by. I just don't know that this legal union can be saved. Do I go through the motions just to appease those around me, because it is viewed as the right thing to do?

I admit, I am scared to leave in ways. We have three children, a home we own, pets...etc.  Our home is more likely than not, going to be foreclosed on. So it leaves our children and pets.  I don't want to turn the kids lives upside down anymore than it has been by experiencing the death of an uncle they were close to... but at the same time, would my husband and I staying together really help them in the long run? They say it is better to come from a broken home than live in one. Can I survive as a single mom? (Do not get me wrong, their dad will absolutely provide for them. He will take care of them when he has time off work. I am sure of this) Sometimes I wonder. I am 30 years old and I have made choices this year that would be out of a 16 year olds playbook.

So, this has been my "outrageous" year. It hasn't ended yet. I am hoping to find balance, peace and happiness in the New Year. I am going to pull myself up, I will embrace the lessons that have come from my mess ups as well as those forced upon me. I will find my way. These footprints in my mind and on my heart will help me guide me. This will be my rebirth. Parts of me died when my brother did. I lost myself. I will live again. I will live better than I ever have.


  1. Sometimes words are best when trying to get everything out of our heads and into the world.

    What you have written here is for you more than anyone and that is a wonderful thing. My heart is and will forever be yours. I finally found someone who I believe is worth it all in you... That won't change any time soon.

    Even if in the end you decide neither path is the right one and move on to another I will be here in whatever capacity you will allow me to be. You are not just someone I love, you have truly become one of my closest friends and confidant. I have been happier than I can explain even with the amount of time we have been able to spend together. I have shared things with you that I shared with no one else in my life. That bond, that connection cannot be broken. In the end, no matter the outcome, you have changed me in ways I can't begin to explain.

    I can never thank you enough for taking a chance and loving me as you have and still do. I am worth it, finally, I truly believe that after so long. I can only hope that you may at some point know that I would do anything in this world to see you happy... even if it means watching you be happy without me by your side.

    I will leave you with this. I love you, in more ways and more deeply than I can express in words. Wherever this all leads, keep that love and know it is yours.

  2. That is a lot to go through, and you are still standing. You should be proud. Look how strong you are.

  3. Thank you, Anonymous. When I look back on my behavior I don't see a strong person. I was weak and not thinking. I am picking myself up now and I feel strong now. I know that all that happened were life lessons and they served me well in that I have grown as a person and will continue to do so. I will become a better version of myself and live my life in a way that will bring me happiness.