Sleeping with Ghosts

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Turn off the light

2022-06-18 - 5:59 p.m.

So, I went to Bry's service today.... which wasn't really a service but just a sort of milling around and people chatting and gossiping and remembering things. At least Toni and John were there. We stayed for a while, but the longer I stayed, the sadder I felt. I didn't know any of these people or I'd only met them once 30 years ago. I wanted to share things about Bry since no one was doing that... but I just knew I couldn't without breaking down into molecules of mucous and hair.

Let me do that here.

Bry was incredibly smart. Everyone in her family read a lot. She was probably reading before most of us were learning how to wipe our own asses. Their houses were always lined with books, wall to wall... bookshelves overflowing and stacks heaped on any floor space between bookshelves. She achieved a 34 on her ACT, which was probably one of the highest scores in our class, but she hesitated and waffled on what to do with that.

When we became friends, we would write each other stories. Much the same way kids RP nowadays and write fanfics, we would tell each other stories with our own OCs and self-inserts. She had beautiful handwriting.

And she was extraordinarily talented when it came to drawing. Though she hated that others complimented this talent or envied it, it was there nonetheless. She was practiced but also a natural talent. It always broke my heart a little that she hated this form of self-expression and viewed it with such negativity. She drew from memory, she drew from observation, and she drew from her imagination like it was her second language.

She loved music. Seldom did she go anywhere without a walkman (cassettes, CD's, her phone). She did not sing unless everyone else was singing over very loud music.

She was amazingly capable of doing just about anything. She depended on public transport a lot since driving made her anxious, so she was accustomed with working things out on her own. At one point, in her early twenties, she talked about wanting to get a motorcycle, and even took the test. I'm not sure why that fell onto the back-burner. I could picture her driving around on a motorcycle or even a scooter. She was independent enough to plan and take a trip across the country by train all by herself. Not many people would do that on their own, but Bry was not just any person.

She had a deep love for animals. Always kept a cat. Sometimes rats. Sometimes ferrets. She wanted to pursue a career involving animals but was daunted by the bureaucracy or universities, of math classes, or red tape. We took a year of Japanese together at LCC and she continued on at UK for much, much more. Just because. And though she bitched about how hard it was, she always did well and was often praised for it. She tried going to NKU (if I remember right) and living on a campus there... But something happened and she returned home. She wouldn't talk about it with me. I always wondered what made her quit and withdraw so quickly.

When it came to her family, she held a lot of mixed feelings in her heart towards them. Though she loved her parents, her relationship with her mother was prickly due to some anger issues. I always got the feeling that there had been some sort of abuse, and to solve that problem, her mother had just withdrawn from being part of any disciplining. Her father let them parent themselves when it came to setting down rules or drawing lines. As a result, Bry felt burdened with the responsibility of looking out for her sister--reigning her back in when she went too far. It sparked resentment in Bry that she had to do this--that it made her seem like the hard-ass while her sister got to be wild and unbridled. I think, over the years, they came to an understanding as they became adults. She didn't have to *care* like she did when they were younger.

I earnestly wish that Bry and Bronwyn had moved out. Not necessarily together... though would that really have been so different than their situation as it was? Just out.

I lived at home a little too long myself. I can't speak for others, but I was unhappy with it. There's only so much independence you can truly feel while living under someone else's roof. The moment you can lie in your own bed and go to sleep knowing no one is going to wake you up intentionally or otherwise, that moment you make some horrible mistake and no one is looking and judging, that feeling you get when you have the whole house to yourself...? Those are so intoxicating. Did Bry ever get those moments while sharing the house with 3 other adults... one of whom didn't work outside the house and one of whom went through jobs in bursts of months at a time then nothing? I suspect not... But she never strove to change it other than that one time we had planned on moving out together.

Speaking of that... It almost feels like she sabotaged this venture. We'd gotten as far as going out and buying things like dishes and silverware. And then she wanted a dog. I told her I didn't want to get a dog straight-away as they are an enormous responsibility to train and care for, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to bring one into a new place when we'd never lived with each other before. I wasn't opposed to the idea once we had settled in and found our patterns and all that. But she was adamant. She even got a dog before we'd found a place. It didn't go as well as she had hoped. It was clingy and needed constant attention. I think she ended up giving it to a family member. I wish I could remember more from this time period, but a lot of those years are blighted by disassociative-amnesia.

But our friendship made it through this hiccup. Things didn't fall apart because of a dog. We drifted further apart as I was working full time and schooling full time. I became extremely selfish with my own time. Making plans with me was next to impossible because I was always working or studying or sleeping. Even after I'd finished school, I was still working full time and folding in on myself like a house of cards. A lot of things happened. None of which was Bry's fault.

Before her death, I hadn't spoken to her in a few years... Not directly. I think our last conversation was before the pandemic, and it wasn't even face to face. Beyond that, we communicated in tags on tumblr as we reblogged crap from each other. It was nice feeling like we were still in each other's orbit--that I could reach out and share a sentiment with her or laugh at something she found amusing. Tumblr is incredibly lonely without her and her sister. And I can't turn on my Playstation and see Bronwyn logged on anymore.

There's so much more to be said or written about Bry than I can ever convey. Her circumstance--living at home at 42 with her parents and 38 year old sister--could not have been the best environment. It would be easy to speculate this or that and what led up to the murders, but thinking about these things is only hurtful. It won't give Bry new life. It won't change her story.

All we have are memories. Time, ultimately, has no meaning. Never let yourself be fooled into thinking a friendship of ten years is more valuable than one of less. She was my friend since the early 90's. She will always be my friend since the early 90's. She will be my friend tomorrow.

And until my memory starts to fail me, I will know her and cry for her absence.

Time loses all meaning when your head is up your own ass

2022-06-13 - 1:06 p.m.

I can't stop thinking about you, Bry. It's nearly been 3 weeks since your murder... and despite 3 weeks of grieving, it still feels completely unreal and cruel. I suppose it always will. How could it not with the way it happened?

There are so many conversations I want to have with you.So many things left unsaid that I wish I had. I just want to hear your soft cackle again. I want to see that little eyebrow raise you did so well.

I'll be sitting in my car and remember some small thing, like how I had to grab your hand to keep you from getting swept up in a mosh pit at a concert, and tears will flood my eyes.

Toni mentioned getting tattoos for you. I'd already been thinking about it. That little kanji tattoo of kitsune that you had over your heart? Wasn't that your first tattoo? I think I want that. Not sure where, but I want it. My little black fox friend. I wonder what you'd think of that.

Where you are Do you know I think of you Where you are Do you know I hope you do

2022-06-02 - 9:26 p.m.

It is with a heavy heart I stumble into Diaryland. Bryonny, my beloved friend, is gone. Not gone. Taken.

Her father fatally shot her, her sister, and her mother last week. So, I'm writing into the void here. Just dealing with my pain.

Grief in a situation like this is a demanding creature. It pulls you and tears at you. It makes you feel and wonder the most horrible things. When someone dies naturally or expectedly or even suddenly but by accident... I'm not saying it's better. It's never better, but it hits differently than when someone you love is murdered.

I am sauntering through the stages of grief like a drunk trying to find a place to piss and have a nice lay-down in my own vomit.

Denial. Absolutely. This cannot be real. This cannot be how my friend died. And her family. And her father? He wouldn't do this. She cannot be gone.

Anger? I am so goddamn angry. I am raging that her father did this. I am angry that, if it was due to mental illness, that he didn't reach out sooner or express that he was having dark thoughts. Fucking horrible, dark thoughts. I'm angry that his doctor fucked up.

I'm also so angry at myself for letting my relationship slip to only online communication with her. For not talking to her more. For not moving in with her when we had planned on it but she wanted a dog and I didn't and that pretty much fucked it, eh? Would she still be here if she had moved in with me? Would Bry be alive if I had been okay with a dog? I mean, it turns out she wasn't a dog person because she did try it and it didn't work out.... more than once? FUCK. Why the fuck didn't you talk to Bry more, Fyx? You fucking asshole.

Does that roll into bargaining? I would 1000000% give anything for this to not be real. I keep driving backward in my own brain and trying to find ways that I could have prevented this. Fucking asshole.

Depression. Well, shit. Does crying uncontrollably whilst already depressed serve? Cuz I can't stop that shit. I am crying in the car, in the shower, in front of the computer throughout the evening.

And acceptance? Naw, I'm no where near that. I am never going to accept this. I might someday accept my grief. I might finally come to a day when I don't cry. But I will never accept this.

Tales of loss

2022-01-05 - 1:15 a.m.

Writing anything has been very difficult over the last couple years. It used to be my catharsis--my place to organize my thoughts or at least squeeze them out like the last farts of death.

Here's the last significant thing I wrote, which might help explain my mental constipation:

August 13, 2020

Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life.

And I didn’t know where to put these thoughts, so here I am. Shouting Whimpering into the void.

My mom got evicted from her apartment. That alone is a clusterfuck, but the steps leading down to it are steep and narrow and will break your neck if you lose your balance.

I have always had a strained relationship with my mother. In all ways but one, I never really had a mother. She wasn’t a parent or a nurturer or a teacher. She is deeply troubled with depression and ptsd... and extreme narcissism. I’ll sum up her series of offenses by writing that I suffer my own trauma as a result.

My brother is another story. He is also deeply troubled but in completely different ways. He is autistic and mentally challenged in ways that no one has quite labeled perfectly. Part of his troubles come from the symbiotic psychosis he developed with my mother simply by being born. Under her “care,” he was being bounced from medication to medication as early as three years old as doctors and specialists tried to diagnose him. Autism, ADD, Tourettes? All three? No one could pin it down. When he was twelve, he stabbed my mother with a screwdriver because he wanted to “fix” the air conditioner and she said no. From that moment on, he was in the state’s care. He was criminally maladjusted by being moved from hospital to hospital. At one point, his humerus was broken in a struggle with an orderly. Yes, that’s one of the strongest bones in your body and normally requires a significant amount of force to break. He was on some medication that made his bones brittle. Later, he was shipped a thousand miles away to Texas... and there, he actually died. Another medication had nearly destroyed his liver. He was resuscitated and managed to pull through--a story which my mother regurgitated and consumed with Munchausen by proxy-like delight.

Eventually, he did make it back to our home state, and after more care facilities, he landed in what I can only describe as halfway-homes. A few of them. Getting closer and closer to home. Through all those years, my mother would drive or fly to see him. “Her son.” That is how she referred to him in conversation. Not “your brother.” Always “Her son,” like he was some possession who had no relationship to me.

Anyway, a couple years ago, my mother lost her house--the family house which was paid for until she took out mortgages against it to support her spending habits. Did I mention she’s a hoarder? She’s a hoarder. And a shopaholic.

Suddenly, after over fifteen years, she thought my brother could live with her again. She was incapable of managing him in all that time in between... but then, when she couldn’t afford to live in a house/apartment up to her standards, looking after him and his sizable social security check didn’t seem so hard.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t seen my mother in several months. I knew something wasn’t right with her. I told my sister, but neither one of us quite knew how to deal with the situation. Nor did we want to. There isn’t an excuse for this: we both actively did not want to deal with our abuser.

We had to yesterday.

A short while ago, my twenty-nine year old brother with special needs destroyed some property at their apartment. He also broke into a completely different apartment and damaged it, too. He threatened their landlord with a shovel. He was arrested. As far as I know, he’s still being held but a case worker is trying to place him somewhere as he obviously belongs in a home like he had before he was swooped away.

With that and being behind on rent, my mother was evicted. She was behind on rent because her mind is slipping away. Her car was repossessed, all her bills were overdue, and she hadn’t been taking her medication (nor had my brother been taking his) for who knows how long.

So. My sister, her husband, my boyfriend, and I spent yesterday moving her out of the apartment. They loaded as much furniture as could fit into a storage unit. Everything else was left. Vultures were already circling before we were even done. I tried to find family photos or important documents. I tried to redirect my mother from each panic-attack-inducing realization that this was it--even if none of us knew what “it” was. Dealing with a hoarder and getting them to part with their stuff, even their garbage, is a bad time. Dealing with a hoarder with dementia is nightmare. With her losing her memory, we lost some of ours in piles and piles of abandoned stuff.

“It’s just stuff,” I tell myself, like I used to tell her. “It’s just stuff,” I told myself as I sorted into the trash books I remember touching and holding thirty-five years ago. “Just stuff,” as I collected a photograph here and there for the save box. “Stuff,” as I sat in the middle of the floor surrounded by heaps of boxes that had been shuffled and moved to several addresses in the last three years. If she didn’t cherish it, why should I?

I don’t know what was lost. If I really cared, I would have gone through it sooner, wouldn’t I have? No, that’s not how relationships with hoarders work. Especially extremely broken ones.

As of last night, my mom is in a psychiatric hospital. Not her first time in such a place. But this is the first time she doesn’t understand why. She is homeless. When it’s figured out what will happen to her, she’ll still be homeless. She lost her son, her cats, her food, her wardrobe, and her possessions. The storage unit containing all that we could fit will eventually have to be sold or donated... whenever this pandemic is managed.

My mom’s in a hospital during the fucking pandemic. Fuck you, world. Seriously.

My eyes look like two piss holes in the snow. I stole that from Angela’s Ashes. It’s the most accurate description I could think of.

I don’t think I’ve cried this much, uncontrollably, in my entire life. Every time my eyes dry up, I’ll think about how frail her skull felt as I ran my hands over her thin hair while trying to console her. She didn’t even look like herself, and I’m going to be haunted by that thought until my own mind starts to go. Maybe even after. I can still hear her whimpering. I see her beating her head against the garage door as she has a breakdown over a piece of furniture we couldn’t take. I hear one of her cats, Bluebell, crying as we drive him from her home to my dad’s house.

Have you ever cried so hard that your lips grow numb? When I tried to sleep last night, tears were pouring from my eyes before I’d even turned the light off. Soon, I could barely breathe. And then I started convulsing with deep but short gasps as I tried to get air. This went on for hours. I think I eventually passed out for a bit just from exhaustion.

2020 being 2020. I am spent.

____And the next day:

Small personal update

My mom’s not in a hospital yet. The night of the eviction,they tried to take her (as they had called beforehand and told it was okay), but since she wasn’t a danger to others or herself (despite raving about wanting to die all day and banging her head against things) they couldn’t admit her. My sister was told to take her to a different hospital, so they wound up in the ER running tests... ‘til 2am. Again, they wouldn’t admit her as nothing was physically wrong. Okay. So, she is at my sister’s house for the moment. Now my sister and her husband and a case worker are trying to find a placement for her, since she needs to be looked after (obviously). This being our first time having to deal with anything like this, none of us know what the fuck to do, so it’s a frustrating journey. Something something medicare something something social security something something.

____

So, since all that, I haven't really written. I haven't even written on paper all that news and how I'm dealing with it. Or not dealing with it. To this day, my mom is still living with my sister (who is still trying to get her homed). I don't visit. I don't engage.

For several years, my sister had all but cut ties with my mother. She'd had enough of her bullshit, and you should cut people like that out of your life, right? Little did she know, I became our mother's toxic waste dumping ground after that. I got all the guilt trips, the passive greeting cards with notes about what a bad mother she is and how the world would be better off without her, the fun family stories about why her life is so bad and why she's the victim. Stories like, "My Dad Beat My Mom with a Broom until the Broom Handle Broke, "My Dad Mopped Up Urine with My Hair," "Your Father Never Loved Me and Coerced Me into Marrying Him" w/ its rousing sequel "Your Father Took You Away from Me to Hurt Me." You know, all the greatest hits.

And all of this was neatly pinned under the weight of knowing that if I did what my sister did, if I cut her out of my life to be mentally free and happy as a cloud, there's a non-zero chance that my mother would have killed herself or close to it. I had to go on taking this mental abuse because I was afraid that if I did to her what my sister did, she would make good on the threats I had lived with as long as I have been able to remember.

How fitting is it, then, for her to wind up in my sister's care? My two abusers conveniently in one place. I go there for Christmas and avoid it like a plague the other 364 days.

So. Yeah. I feel like I need to write all this shit out for myself and self-reflect before I can move on and go back to scribbling down my thoughts on anything else. This is the mental constipation I can't unblock. I DO write little things while on breaks at work... but only because I am bored. I have been plotting out/writing a fiction just to keep my brain occupied (and because I want to).

The added spice on this dumpster fire that is my brain stew: I haven't had the capacity to properly cope with other things going on in a couple years. Pandemic bullshit. A friend passed away. Etc. I am doing my best. I am trying to be kinder to myself--that has been my mantra for the last year or so. It is harder than one would think.


Turn off the light - 2022-06-18
Time loses all meaning when your head is up your own ass - 2022-06-13
Where you are Do you know I think of you Where you are Do you know I hope you do - 2022-06-02
Tales of loss - 2022-01-05
Let's hope next year is better - 2020-12-01

lost - data