Someone I once loved killed himself. On the 5th anniversary of our break-up, on the dark days between Christmas and the New Year, he shot himself in the head in a motel room a few miles from where I currently live with my partner and step-kids. I have no idea whether or not the date of our break-up was in his awareness. He was remarried at the time, acting as househusband to a radiologist and her two teenage daughters, and living in a big house in the west hills. She had given him some money, asked him to leave, to go ‘figure things out.’ He got a gun. He gave it to his brother for safekeeping. One day, he showed up on his brother’s doorstep and wrestled it back.
Nothing had been announced or reported. I learned all this from a serendipitous meeting with his best friend, whom I met up with after my ex had been dead for almost three years.
The anniversary had been significant to me. I found the following excerpts from my journal, written within days of his death.
It’s a big anniversary: 5 years since the breakup and breakdown. 5 years since the time I wanted to die. People who loved me agreed that something in me needed to die. I insisted it was all of me.
With hindsight I understand that the suicidal phase after the break-up marked the beginning of the death of part of me. The mostly self-focused, angst-ridden, constantly dissatisfied, never enough Me. The driven by ambition fueled by self-loathing Self. Sadly—she’s not gone entirely. She’s still around in whispers. In cloudy grey traces of wondering, comparing and doubt.
And now this. Today. This happiness. This embedded life. Belonging in a family. Mother to a dog.
I knew that he was jealous. That he begrudged me my success, my education, my friends, my family, even my spiritual beliefs. Three months into the relationship, after loaning him a large sum of money, he told me I wasn’t generous. “If the situation were reversed, I’d have no problem supporting you. You’re stingy.” He told me I wasn’t a real artist. He used those words. He said, “Jan, you aren’t really an artist—you just like to think you are.” He tore down my self-esteem and then he shamed me for having low self-esteem. “How can you help other people when you are so fucked up yourself? You are a fraud.”
The events and dreams around any New Year have always been important to me, even more so since this nearly fatal breakup over seven years ago. At the dawn of 2015, I dreamed that I was in an Emergency Room, and in order to save a patient’s life, I had to stab him in the heart. Upon waking, it was instantly clear: the thing that is absolutely urgent, the emergency, the absolute unequivocal necessity, and that which is emergent, is to put an immediate and surgical end to self-hate.
Hindsight may be 20/20 for some, but for me it’s in the future. It looks like I’m on the verge of getting some new eyes. The ones I’ve been living with are extremely myopic. Now that cataracts cloud them as well, it’s time for special-order, high tech, 20/20 lens implants. It’s more than likely that soon, for the first time in my life, or since before I can remember, I will be able to see.
I’m starting to imagine, waking up from dreaming and seeing in a whole new way.
What are you starting to wake up to?