Almost two weeks ago today, at 9pm PST I was dancing in the desert alone with my headphones on. I was looking up at the sky and experiencing (possibly) one of the most blissful moments of my entire life. Towards the end of the song a recording of someone’s voice came in, they were talking about death and about how this was the last moment on earth…. I felt very surprised by this, and immediately tried to reframe what this voice meant by “death”. I kept dancing but was a bit shocked at this recording in the song (it felt inherently ‘wrong’ in regards to what I was experiencing). I had not danced in months, and I still do not know what propelled me to do so on this night, at this moment, but it happened.
It came to my attention on Monday morning, that this blissful dance occurred just moments before my very recent ex-girlfriend, love and very good friend Heather Askeland decided to end her life and walked in front of a train.
I couldn’t possibly cover even 1/100th of everything that the suicide of one of the closest people in my life brings up. I have written many times in my previous blogs about ‘losing everything’ and hadn’t even considered something of this magnitude happening, I had certainly not lost everything…. Not even close.
As a disclaimer, this blog is not going to be about who Heather was, our relationship, how Lyme disease took her life, or the details and the why’s of what happened. I could write an entire book about the complex situation that lead up to her death, but that is not what I want to focus on. I think for now, it is enough to say that I love Heather more than I could ever express, and I continue to love her more everyday. For those of you who knew her, you might have gotten a taste of what a special person she was (which no earthly form of expression could possibly capture). I honestly am choosing not to write about ‘who she is/was’ because I feel it would be a dis-service to her and myself… there is NO WAY I could ever capture the incredible beauty and brilliance that she held, and I would never be satisfied with trying to express such a thing in words. All that is left of her is love, I feel NOTHING but love, all I remember is love, I don’t know that I have ever felt this kind of love for anything or anyone…. I am deeply saddened that it took ‘death’ for me to access this kind of love, but I am grateful, open, and willing to embrace and share this love.
News this shocking can not be digested in one sitting, or perhaps in even years of sittings. My body/mind is well aware that I would be swallowed up whole if I were to comprehend the gravity of this entirely, and therefore it reveals itself in sizable bits (that do push me beyond what I feel capable of holding, but so far I have not burst to the point beyond repair). These moments strike and shock to the bone like lightning. I am trusting my process in grieving, because I have to.. there is no other way of going about it, it is something of its own entity… and I will allow it to unfold as it does.
Today I want to touch on some of the faces of the perspectives making a home in me since I received the news of Heather’s death.
DISCLAIMER: Some of this is quite grim, and I hesitate to share some of these outlooks.. but so far my honesty has been received with nothing but gratitude, so here goes…
I am still going back and forth between the perspectives I am holding about my situation, and for some reason I feel the need to share the side of me that feels somewhat whiney, victim’ish and quite dark.. and you know what, I’m not going to apologize!
I dedicated the last four years of my life doing an intensive apprenticeship in a women’s empowerment/transformational recovery program, I understand the importance of coming from an empowered place… I understand the importance of positive thinking and creating your own reality… I understand the archetype of the victim and the patterns that underlie reasons why some people never get the support they want or need… but I also understand that sometimes, no matter what angle you are coming from, LIFE IS FUCKING HARD, and being chronically ill is one of the most difficult things I believe a human being can endure. I find it quite difficult to take advice or wisdom about manifestation, healing, and the power of love and positivity on illness from people who have never experienced what it is like to live with a chronic, debilitating, invisible illness. To me, this places blame on people who are unable to make a physical recovery, inferring that on an emotional/spiritual level they are not doing something right. Sometimes people are actually victims, and whatever role they played in that is for them to find out for themselves. Maybe it’s okay to be angry! Maybe we create reasons and make ourselves responsible for the shitty things that happen to us because it is too hard to comprehend that shitty things may happen to people for no apparent reason. And Maybe, just maybe (even though it doesn’t usually help) its okay to come from the place of the victim, because sometimes, things just happen, and sometimes lemons aren’t meant to be lemonade. (I don’t suggest staying in this state for a long time as it has not proved productive in the long run, but my god… we all deserve a little expression from time to time in saying ‘fuck this, why is this happening!?’)
From one angle:
Yes I am homeless, yes I am sick, yes I have to be physically separated from friends and family while I try and regain some fraction of health, while simultaneously grieving the loss of one of the closest people I have ever had, yes I have some whack ass sci-fi disease that is keeping me from living any semblance of a normal life (nor do I and everyone else with this illness get the recognition from any institution including most families that should be assisting and housing people who are too sick to work or take care of themselves), yes I am scared shitless about how I am going to afford to stay alive, let alone get any kind of decent medical treatment, yes I don’t feel safe or even relatively healthy anywhere, yes I have to sleep outside, yes I am scared to go inside anywhere and it makes me feel INSANE, yes it is sometimes hard for me to walk, my whole body hurts, I’m EXHAUSTED and at times I can literally feel something physically terrifying buzzing in my brain, yes I have had to let go of almost everything I once loved to do and I often wonder if I will ever be able to do those things again, AND YES, one of my soul-mates just walked in front of a fucking train because NO ONE could offer her enough love, money or reprieve.
TRUTH: I COULD NOT take care of or save her.. TRUTH: I tried and tried and tried to take away her sickness and terror until it made me physically sick and I had to say ‘I AM SO FUCKING SORRY HEATHER, I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE’, TRUTH: I had to choose saving my own life over getting sicker and being pulled into an abyss that I felt impossible to pull me or her out of, TRUTH: sometimes for brief moments when I am feeling so defeated and sick with no way out… I completely understand her choice, and I pray that my thoughts of CHOOSING to join her will vanish forever.
From another angle (which luckily is the perspective I hold more often than the one I just described):
How incredibly lucky am I to have found place after place with people offering me a spot to stay on their land, shower with their hoses, hang my clothes on their trees, pee in their yard, feed me dinner, and offer nothing but love and compassion for my situation and needs??? I have gotten the opportunity to travel across the country through the most beautiful lands and be with myself in a way that would have never been possible had I never left everything behind in pursuit of attaining wellness. Never would I have known the strength and capability I have to survive and walk through the darkest and most desperate states of my being, had I not been alone in this, with no option of being rescued. The re-emergence of my spirit that came right before I decided to take my own life was absolutely, no doubt, A MIRACLE that will propel me forward for the rest of my life.
I have been so incredibly blessed with support from all sorts of friends and family afar. The Lyme community, the Mold community, the MCS/CFS/Biotoxin/etc communites.. all of them are rallying around me in some internet/phone/ether/invisible but here dimension, like a team of cheerleaders… for ME!
YES, I will keep going, YES, I will keep going, Yes, I will keep going, and I will not stop (ever) pursuing more acceptance and peace within myself so that I may be able to live in whatever circumstances come my way.
I WILL NOT LET THIS DIS-EASE (or the ptsd caused by it) TAKE MY LIFE OR WILL TO LIVE AWAY FROM ME. I CAN NO LONGER LET SUICIDE BE LINGERING THERE AS AN OPTION FOR ME, AS IT HAS FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER…
I will not let Heather’s death be the catalyst of some domino effect of illness and destruction; Instead I will use the love I have for her to propel me forward, to create a ripple effect of support, wellness and strength throughout all the lives of the people whom she touched. I KNOW that Heather would never want anyone to ever give up hope of attaining some kind of internal peace….and for her and for myself I commit to doing whatever it takes to not only keep pursuing that for myself, but to help others on their journey in doing so.
I am most certain that Heather would want nothing but health, trust and perseverance for anyone and everyone who deals with these chronic illness’s.
It is becoming more and more clear that all I want in this life is to do what I love: Help others, express my creativity, continually be inspired, and also share and receive the abundant love that is all around, (and have the energy and wherewithal to support myself in doing these things…why this is so difficult to attain, I have no idea!? But onward I go)
So now, not only for myself… but in THE MOST LOVING memory of my dear friend, soul-mate and love, Heather Askeland, I promise to give EVERYTHING I HAVE to fulfill my purpose on this earth and to never give up no matter how desperate and hopeless life can seem (I hope that all of her loved ones will do the same).
I will love you and miss you till I am no longer. Your life has touched my life and so many countless lives in ways that I hope you now can see. You will be in my heart forever as I am sure you know this… I talk to you out loud all through the day, every day (one of the benefits of being out in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE) as if you are now some sort of God. I promise to use only the love that comes from your life and your death. My heart has been broken, wide open..and for you, my love…. I will dance.