Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loving and Letting Go

So, last summer my best friend, who happened to be a former boyfriend that I loved with all my heart, committed suicide. He had been in a sad place for a while, though, like most of us living through our own trials, what he saw as the things standing in his way, those things weighing on his spirit, were not as great as they felt to him. When he failed to achieve a goal he set out to do, the failure tore at him. He became a failure rather than having simply not had the resources, at the time, to do what he had set out to do. In the end, he could no longer see what everyone else could see: he was a beautiful and brilliant man that loved others and lifted others up in a way that I am not sure I am even capable of approximating. When Chris loved you, you knew what it was to have someone believe in you, totally, without compromise. He laughed at the silly and stupid masks we put on and, despite how good we thought we were at applying masks and cover up, he saw right on through it and loved what was underneath selflessly and absolutely. How could you not feel beautiful when someone loved you that way? With Chris loving me, slowly, I began to see past the face in the mirror...that distorted image of childhood trauma and low that face that Chris saw. I caught glimpses of another Brandon...and when I couldn't see him...or believe in him...Chris believed enough for the both of us.

I know, though, that when I am in a place where it is hard to keep moving forward because everything feels heavy and hard, until I am able to find a vantage point that will truly let me put what I'm going through into perspective, all the love in the world isn't going to do it for me. What love does is give me strength to draw on to maybe take one more step. There were times when Chris was the love that got me through. Chris gave me the gift of allowing me to love him through hard times in the past. But last Summer, one night in July, my love wasn't enough. The last time I talked to him, the night before he died, he called me, and when I answered, he started crying and said, before hanging up the phone, that it was too hard for him to hear my voice. I know now that it wasn't Chris that called me that night. He may have dialed the number, but when I answered the phone, it was his mask that answered. It was the voice of what he perceived as his failures that shut down my beautiful Chris and plugged up his ears.

I didn't know that would be our last conversation. If I'd had even the tiniest moment of precognition, I would have kept him on the phone. I would have called him back, and if he didn't answer, I would have filled up his voicemail box with messages of love. And when the mailbox filled up, I would have texted him. I would have sent him silly pictures and inappropriate comments. I would have reminded him of all the awesome, stupid, happy, sad memories I have of our friendship. I would have filled up his inbox with anything and everything to try and shout down and crowd out those voices whispering ugly and hateful words into his spirit. And, if necessary, I would have called anyone within a 100 mile radius and had them drive to his house and held him until I could get to him myself. I would have rode Mimzy to Virginia if that is the only way that I'd had to get down there.

But, I didn't know that it was our last conversation, and less than twelve hours later, he was gone. When his boyfriend, who was staying with us that weekend, called to tell me, I didn't believe him at first. I actually thought that his boyfriend, also named Chris, must have misunderstood whatever message he'd gotten, but since he was obviously upset, I went into business mode, told him I would be back to the apartment shortly, and then hung up the phone. When I got back to the apartment, I sat, quietly, without saying much. I am not going at crying in front of other people, and Chris was in crisis, and if anything I am fucking amazing in crisis (so much so that I don't understand how to live outside of crisis mode...a fucked up way of being that keeps me in a cycle of always run back to what feels comfortable no matter how stupid it may be to do so). Though I may have had a calm face on the outside, in the inside, the whole time that I was trying to be present for Chris the Boyfriend, I was screaming inside. In fact, it got so bad that when tears started to come, I clamped down on them with a tremendous mental force because I knew that if I let the tears start that the screaming wouldn't just be inside, it would have be real. If I'd started screaming out what I was feeling, I am not sure when I would have been able to stop it. I was so sad and so angry. I wanted to go to Virginia and kick Chris' body until I could lift my leg anymore. I wanted to punch him in the face for being so fucking dumb and selfish. I wanted to take off of my belt and beat him until my arm cramped up for thinking that it was easier to pick up a gun than the phone. And once I had exhausted myself and rested, I wanted to find his parents and beat the shit out of them as well for not seeing how badly he was hurting and put his ass in a mental ward if that's what it would have taken. I wanted to find anyone that had ever hurt Chris and made him believe that those voices inside of him were telling the goddamn truth. Then I wanted to find God and kick the shit out of him too.

So, instead of doing all of that drama...I did what I do best. I stuffed all of my emotions deep deep deep down, labeled the box I put them in, and then tucked them into the deep freezer. Nothing like unresolved emotional issues ;-).

Fast forward to recently. Chris and I met in rehab. We both (him past tense struggled, me present tense struggle) with addiction. So, when I started going back to the fellowship of which we were both members, I spent most of my first meeting not thinking about my own shit...but remembering Chris. I remembered all of the love and encouragement he gave me when we were both starting out on this path together. And then came the survivor's guilt....but mostly...I just remembered him and let the memories run one into the other, which, would have been awesome, except one of my visions of Hell is breaking down crying, seemingly spontaneously, in front of 200 some odd folks in one room. I have a hard enough time crying by myself, at home, in the middle of the night, with the shades pulled and the lights off. Though the feelings aren't as overwhelming now, every time I walk into one of those rooms and sit down, Chris is right there and all of the sadness and love for him is right there too.

Today, when I was having coffee with Mark, with whom I usually attend meetings, I told him about Chris and who Chris had been, how he'd died, and what he meant to me. I told him about Honey Bun and how amazing she is and that she is thinking about going to Heaven soon. He listened. He heard me. I kept from completely crying, but a few tears leaked out, but Mark gave me permission to cry, which is a gift that I appreciate though I sure as Hell wasn't about to break down in the middle of Chelsea on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon with half the gays in the city rolling through to get a non-fat skim milk light mocha coconut banana dark roast espresso latte americano frappe-gay-cino.

But it did help me realize that I still had some things I needed to let myself work through where Chris is related. It helped me admit and own that I have grief that I need to let go so that it doesn't continue to be something I use any means necessary to escape from...and I realized that if I told him that Honey Bun maybe leaving soon, if I asked for support now, that maybe when it's her time...I can let myself feel what I need to feel and then let those feelings go so that they do not become another excuse to self-medicate and numb myself. Especially since once that old bird is dead and has the ability to pop in whenever the Hell she feels like it, I am afraid that she would show up, switch in hand, and whoop my ass if I self-medicated to deal with her passing. I can hear her now, "Dumb ass know better...and since you want to act simple...I am going to simply whoop your little black butt until the dumb is all beaten off of it."

Aright, I have half a dozen or more friends coming over in three hours for Easter dinner, and I have a mess of greens sitting by the sink that aren't going to cook themselves, so I better have at it. It's Easter, and Easter is about family, so I thought I had to make sure that Chris, my family, was remembered today. Love you.


  1. Oh, Brandon.

    I know I say it a lot (and I try to make it a point) but PLEASE know that I really do love you so much.

    I read this and (with no small thanks to your abilities as a writer) I can feel what you are going through. And I am sorry.

    Thanks for this, Brandon. I exorcised a few Linda Blairs with it myself.

  2. The guy I co-founded my first company with, Chris Schefler, killed himself a few years back... I think about him all the time; he would have been so excited by what's been happening in the Middle East, he saw, way ahead of everyone else, the ability of the Internet to create connections between people and bypass the mainstream media and other mechanisms the power elite use to spin, censor and otherwise exercise control over the flow of information. All I can think of is, "Dude, look what you're missing... damn, I so wish you were here to see your visions realized!"


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!