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Friday, August 22, 2014

Depression and Suicide, and my thoughts on Robin Williams



When I was a teenager, I wanted to die.

To this day, I don’t really know why. I was lonely, and had fallen into a darkness I could never understand, filled with a depression that was overwhelming. I felt my sanity slipping away, and getting out of bed every day was a struggle. I wanted to die, more than I wanted anything. I cut myself -and I still bear the scars - in an attempt to bleed off some of the inexplicable pain that dragged me down like an anchor.

So when I say Robin Williams was a selfish coward to take his own life, I say it with empathy and understanding. But the fact is, his children, his family, his friends will never be the same. He hurt them, badly. And I understand that.

Henry Rollins posted this:

“I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves. How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don’t care how well adjusted your kid might be — choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don’t kill yourself.”

People on the internet are of course calling him out for being insensitive, for being an asshole. Clearly, they say, Mr. Henry Rollins has never experienced depression. But here’s the thing: he’s not wrong.

When I sat in my room as a teenager, digging into my arm with a stolen steak knife, one thing stopped me. One thought of clarity, even as my vision was blinded by tears: my mom would be destroyed. From there, I thought of all the people that would be hurt – my sister, my father, even the friends I had distanced myself from. No matter how full of self-pity, self-hate and depression I became, I could not lie to myself about that. I would hurt them more than I could bear.

Robin Williams killed himself anyways, and left behind a lot of hurting loved ones. And I understand that too. Because a day or a week or a month after the revelation about my mother, the knife was again poised against my bleeding arm. And I cursed myself for being weak, knowing my suffering was hurting my family, knowing that my death would hurt them more, but knowing I could not go on. And I eventually put away that knife again. For a day, or a week, or a month, before I did it again.

Depression is a horrible thing. To this day, it still affects me. I like to say that I have beaten it, and perhaps I have. But I would be lying if I said I never glanced at a rope or a knife and thought it would be easier. Like hitting reset in a video game, I tell myself, except we only get the one life. But I’m happy. I love my family, and I love my life. And still, that darkness is there, in the corners of my mind, waiting to pounce in a moment of weakness. I feel it when I let my guard down, when I’m feeling low or lost or tired or weak or sick of suffering. When life again feels like more than I can handle. And I understand that the darkness will stay with me, forever and always, a constant battle that will likely never have a winner.

Perhaps Robin Williams grew tired of that fight, and let his darkness win. Perhaps the fact that he was allegedly facing a debilitating disease was too much, and it pushed him over. Perhaps that is something I may face some day, and maybe I too will eventually lose this war that constantly pulls at my thoughts and emotions. He lost the fight. And as a man that suffered from this terrible disease, he deserves our pity and love and understanding. As a man that fought for so many years, he deserves out respect. As a man that hurt his family, he deserves our anger and criticisms.

Robin Williams knew what he was doing, and whom he was hurting. Just like I knew, sobbing as I sat on a kitchen counter clutching a knife in front of my mother, that I was killing her with the pain of my suffering. I deserved criticism for that.  Someone should have grabbed me by the shirt and shook some sense into me; someone should have screamed at me to look at what I was doing to my mother, at how selfish I was being. I deserved it. But to act as if I, as if Robin Williams, did no wrong is foolish. We should be allowed to say that Robin Williams was selfish, without being called hateful or uncompassionate. He was selfish, and he would have known it, and that would have made him feel even worse, in a horrible spiral of suffering. Ignoring what he did will not make it go away. We all have a right to our anger. 
Beyond the anger of what he did, he deserves our forgiveness, and understanding. He fought the good fight, and lost in the end. This is a disease with no reason, a killer that can creep into the minds of any of us, any of our loved ones.  Its victims need our love and understanding, our forgiveness and compassion.
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World Without Heroes

A quick bit from a story Im working on.




She shivered suddenly, her naked skin breaking out in goose pimples. It was if the temperature in the room had just dropped a dozen degrees. She rubbed at the ache she felt in her breasts, and tried to slow her suddenly racing heart. Vickie had to resist a sudden compulsion to rub lower. Inwardly fuming, she did her best to squash her feelings of the man. And then she made the connection, even as she noticed her breath mist before her; the drop in temperature, the warming feeling in her loins.

            Daemon.

            Too late, she reached for the amulet that she never took off; before her hand connected with the strange metal and stranger gem, something grabbed her wrist. A shock of pleasure ran through her, filling her with a fire that peaked between her legs. She gasped, and something turned her forcibly.

            “The sssssorcerer Lexxxxx” a voice whispered in her ear, and she felt her pulse quicken. She struggled against the feelings, desperately, but her body was rebelling and giving into the alien influence. Its voice was a horror, filled with sounds like broken glass, awful and terrible; yet she found herself drawn to it. She struggled against the grip on her wrist, weakly. Feebly.

            “Let me go,” she managed to whisper.

            The creature giggled. It opened its mouth, and Vickie could smell death wafting out. Needle like fangs dripped yellowish salvia as the thing smiled at her. Its face was a tall narrow oval, its features nearly human; the nose was too sharp, the brow too high, the cheek bones too severe. Its skin was scaly and black as tar, looking wet and reptilian. Its body was enveloped in cloak just as black, shrouding the tall slim form that towered over her by nearly two feet. The hand that gripped her like an iron cuff was cold and dry, the fingers ending in talons that would eviscerate a man with little effort.

            “Noooooo,” it answered her plea. Its dark eyes flashed with something resembling humor. “Neeeeever again.”





 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ethics: What I Believe Part 2

A little while ago, I went to the vending machine at work, looking for a bag of chips. Clearly, whomever had been there before me had a spell of bad luck; it was obvious they had paid, but their chips were still hanging there, taunting. Having experienced the same awful twist of fate myself, I knew how the poor bastard must feel.

When I put my change in the machine and selected the appropriate buttons, my chips fell to the dispenser with a satisfying crash; on their journey down they somehow reached out a hand towards their trapped cousin, and pulled that not quite forgotten bag of chips to freedom.

I proceeded to abuse the company email by emailing everyone in the office to let them know their lost snack food had been liberated. I wanted that poor lost soul to experience the small joy that they would get their morning snack after all.

A person I take break with, a person insistent in her catholic beliefs, was a bit shocked at my attempts to return the errant snack to its rightful owner. Her words, and I do paraphrase a bit as this was a while ago, where: "Considering your beliefs, I'm surprised you would go to the trouble to give those back."

Because yes, only Christians can be good people. Only Christians can be the least bit empathic, and actually consider how another person might feel. And yes, I am aware I am only talking about a bag of chips here, and not a lost wallet or car keys or something.

Being an atheist does not mean I get free reign in our world. It does not mean I can go through this world committing the most heinous crimes, like murder or chip theft, all willy nilly. It means I don't believe in a god, a supreme force that created everything, watches over us, and punishes us when we steal someone's chips. Murder was wrong long before the church said it was, sometime in the middle ages. Before that, people did not need the threat of an eternity of suffering to understand that, and neither do I.

To me, ethics come down to treating people the way I would want to be treated. And yes, that jesus guy got this right, son of god or not. I wouldn't want someone to steal my chips, so I won't steal theirs.

There has been enough evil done in the name of god in this world; I prefer to rescue chips in my own name, thank you very much.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

God and the Easter Bunny: What I Believe Part 1

When I was very young, something about Santa Claus just did not sit right with me. We didn't have a chimney, and my parent's explanations did not fit for me. Flying reindeer seemed silly. Delivering presents the world over, while under the cover of darkness provided by a single night -complicated by time zones - was impossible. So, I pretended to sleep one Christmas Eve, and snuck downstairs just far enough to watch my parents put the presents under the tree, playing Santa. Ah, I thought, now this makes sense!

Later, at my Catholic grade school, I remember learning about Greek and Roman mythology, and I remember thinking it made about as much sense as Christianity. I remember questioning the nuns at my Sunday school (and getting kicked out) about the things that just didn't seem to fit for me. Where are the dinosaurs? How about evolution? And how the hell to you explain all those animals fitting on a wooden boat, and how did they not eat each other? Reasonable questions, I still think.

Those were the kind of questions I had on my mind, when in grade 8, I went to talk to my priest. For those unaware, this was to be the year of my Confirmation. This was a big deal, a ritual where one essentially swears his or her faith in God, promising a lifetime of devotion and loyalty. I did not like the idea of one day breaking my word, so I told that priest I had doubts. For me, much like Santa and the Easter Bunny, something about this god just did not fit.

And the priest said to me: "Don't worry about it. Just say the words and you should come around some day."

And with those words of wisdom, my already shaky faith crashed down around me, starting me on a path of discovery that would take years to complete.



Love, for a time

Posting this again. I changed the ending a bit, for the better I think. Still struggling with the middle (the bit I put in bold this time).


Love, for a time

 

                She was standing against a short retaining wall, waiting for a bus. The suns light embraced her like a spotlight, her golden, freckled skin aglow. Time slowed as I drove past, and I watched her as one would watch the setting sun over mountains, or the ocean. Her auburn hair defied taming, framing her face with cascading curls. Her eyebrows were precision, her green eyes wide but bored, even as she listened to someone on her mp3 player. Her lips were painted red, the corners tugged up ever so slightly in a smile that never quite went away. She was chewing a piece of gum, blowing a big pink bubble, and playing with a curl of hair in a stereotypical way that on anyone else would appear ditsy, or maybe bubbly. On her, she was just cute; nothing could take away from the sharp wit in her eyes, the steely confidence she bore. She was dressed simply in a white blouse and black business skirt, a pair of short black heels next to her on the ground. Her bare feet were nestled in the short grass. I would imagine she enjoyed the feeling of the warm grass on her naked toes.

                At the sight, I felt my whole being suffused with warmth. As if I were tanning nude on the beach, the hot sand beneath me, the sun above.  From the tips of my toes to my eyebrows, it felt like I was blushing. I smiled, a lazy slow smile, a smile I felt all over. My heart thundered and shuddered, missing a beat here and there in its excitement. Was this love?

                I cannot recall if that was the first or last time I saw her.

                We kissed under the moon, a soft embrace that was gentle and loving, tranquil. The ocean crashed against the sand near us, providing a soundtrack for our passion. We made love in the sand, and the water swept up and around us. It was not a perfect moment, a clichéd scene from a movie; there was a bit of a chill to the air, and we laughed afterwards as we brushed the sand from each other's bodies. We both had to work in the morning, and knew that life would always intrude, eventually.  We huddled together for warmth as we watched the stars.

                On a chill night in February, we talked late into the night. She talked about indie bands, and I laughed and called her an artsy hipster. She asked if I had ever heard of one band after another, and played me samples over the phone. I hadn't. I knew the big bands, but I loved how passionate she was about this local band from Zurich or that band from Kitchener. I didn't really care about the music, but I loved it, because she did. She wanted to travel, and see them all live. I promised to take her.

                We went the movies, and I complained afterwards about how much the people around us had talked through the movie.  She had given me a knowing smile, and twirled her hair, and everything was right. I felt right. We both loved movies, the way she loved music and I loved travel. We watched classics and b-movies, block busters and character studies. It didn’t matter what we saw, as long as we saw it together.

                There was a moment where I realized I could not imagine being without her. I don’t recall what I was doing, but I am sure it involved her smile. And I knew that everything was perfect, that without her, something would be missing. Life would be less. And I think of that moment of her standing in the sun, playing with her hair, and I feel sad to know it is gone. That it never was. It will never be.

                I awaken, and she is gone. Even her name is lost as though it never was. I do not know who she was or might have been. It had been so real, we had spent a lifetime together. But now it's gone as if it had never been. All that remains to me is fleeting, images and feelings, a sense that something is now missing. I feel a little like weeping, knowing I will never see her again. Stubbornly, I hold on to that image of her by the retaining wall, her skin like honey in the sun, and refuse to let go. That was not my life, and she was never mine. She was just the girl of my dreams, is all.

I close my eyes and try to force myself back to sleep, so that I can find her again. But sleep won't come. She won't come. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut, concentrating on her face; the memories are seeping away, sand slipping from my fingers. My thoughts, against my will, turning to the day at hand. She slips away. I wonder if she is out there somewhere in the world, trying hard to remember me as she awakens. The thought soothes a bit. I rise, and face the day without her.

                It's gone now. The dream. Faded away. But her smile; that stays with me all day long. And I know that for a time, at least, it was love.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quick Post


I've said it before. More than once. I'm going to start updating this thing more than twice a year!

That being said, its amazing how little time I have for writing. At home, with two kids, and lots of work around the house, we struggle to find enough time to watch Game of Thrones. And of course my friends with older kids love to remind me it will only get worse!

At home, I am renovating my bathroom (I just finished stripping down the walls, and now the real work starts). I am also renovating the garage, and turning it into a functional wood shop. And THEN, assuming its not snowing again by then, I promised Kenny I'd build a castle for him in the back yard.

Kenny is doing great; his stories are almost as complex as mine, and I can't say it doesn't make me proud. He's in a pre-pre-school class once a week to get him ready for real school in September, and loving it. He starts soccer in two weeks.

Josie is making lots of new noises, but no words yet. She rolls around, but no crawling yet. She might skip crawling like Kenny did and go right to walking.

Writing. I'm working on a lot of stuff, when I can. Mostly a couple short stories, and whenever possible I work on World Without Heroes, my comic book that's not a comic book novel. Some adult stuff I am experimenting with that I will likely not share here :p I also keep trying to put my thoughts on atheism down on paper, in a way that is mind-opening (aka, not too offensive to turn off any religious readers -- looking at you, mom).

With that said, here is a little flash fiction I wrote that is very different than my usual stuff. It needs a bit of work in the middle, but I cannot quite put my finger on what. Enjoy.

Love, for a time
She was standing against a short retaining wall, waiting for a bus. The suns light
embraced her like a spotlight, her golden, freckled skin aglow. Time slowed as
I drove past, and I watched her as one would watch the setting sun over
mountains, or the ocean. Her auburn hair defied taming, framing her face with
cascading curls. Her eyebrows were precision, her green eyes wide but bored,
even as she listened to someone on her mp3 player. Her lips were painted red,
the corners tugged up ever so slightly in a smile that never quite went away. She
was chewing a piece of gum, blowing a big pink bubble, and playing with a curl
of hair in a stereotypical way that on anyone else would appear ditsy, or maybe
bubbly. On her, she was just cute; nothing could take away from the sharp wit
in her eyes, the steely confidence she bore. She was dressed simply in a white
blouse and black business skirt, a pair of short black heels next to her on the
ground. Her bare feet were nestled in the short grass. I would imagine she
enjoyed the feeling of the warm grass on her naked toes.
At the sight, I felt my whole being suffused with warmth. As if I were tanning nude on
the beach, the hot sand beneath me, the sun above.  From the tips of my toes to my eyebrows, it
felt like I was blushing. I smiled, a lazy slow smile, a smile I felt all over.
My heart thundered and shuddered, missing a beat here and there in its
excitement. Was this love?
cannot recall if that was the first or last time I saw her.

We kissed under the moon, a soft embrace that was gentle and loving, tranquil. The
ocean crashed against the sand near us, providing a soundtrack for our passion.
We made love in the sand, and the water swept up and around us. It was not a
perfect moment, a clichéd scene from a movie; there was a bit of a chill to the
air, and we laughed afterwards as we brushed the sand from each other's bodies.
We both had to work in the morning, and knew that life would always intrude,
eventually.  We huddled together for warmth as we watched the stars.
On a chill night in February, we talked late into the night. She talked about indie
bands, and I laughed and called her an artsy hipster. She asked if I had ever
heard of one band after another, and played me samples over the phone. I
hadn't. I knew the big bands, but I loved how passionate she was about this
local band from Zurich or that band from Kitchener. I didn't really care about
the music, but I loved it, because she did. She wanted to travel, and see them
all live. I promised to take her.
We went the movies, and I complained afterwards about how much the people around us had
talked through the movie.  She had given
me a knowing smile, and twirled her hair, and everything was right. I felt
right. We both loved movies, the way she loved music and I loved travel. We
watched classics and b-movies, block busters and character studies. It didn’t
matter what we saw, as long as we saw it together.
There was a moment where I realized I could not imagine being without her. I don’t
recall what I was doing, but I am sure it involved her smile. And I knew that
everything was perfect, that without her, something would be missing. Life
would be less. And I think of that moment of her standing in the sun, playing
with her hair, and I feel sad to know it is gone. That it never was. It will
never be.


awaken, and she is gone. Even her name is lost as my sub consciousness is 
pushed aside by wakefulness. I do not know who she was or might have been. It's
the nature of dreams; it had been so real, we had spent a lifetime together.
But now it's gone as if it had never been, and all that remains is fleeting,
images and feelings, a sense that something is now missing. I feel a little
like weeping, knowing I will never see her again. I hold on to that image of
her by the retaining wall, her skin like honey in the sun, I stubbornly refuse
to let go. That was not my life, and she was never mine. She was just the girl
of my dreams, is all. I close my eyes and try to force myself back to sleep, so
that I can find her again. But sleep won't come. She won't come. I squeeze my
eyes tightly shut, concentrating on her face; the memories are seeping away,
sand slipping from my fingers. My thoughts, against my will, turning to the day
at hand. She slips away. I wonder if she is out there somewhere in the world,
trying hard to remember me as she awakens. The thought soothes a bit. I rise,
and face the day without her.
It's gone now. The dream. Faded away. But her smile; that stays with me all day
long. And I know that for a time, at least, it was love.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change

Someone asked me why I never update my blog the other day, and I thought "Sure I do. It hasn't been that long." So I checked in, and realized its just about a year to the day since my last update. Wow. I'm a slacker.

So what's going on?

Well, in my personal life, a lot. On October 21 we lost Bear, and I was pretty devastated. I'm still a long way from moving past it. I loved that dog.

Kenny is finally nearly toilet trained, after a number of on again/off again attempts throughout the year. He's less than a year away from school, which is mind blowing. He still sleeps perfectly, and is a smart, polite well behaved boy most of the time.

The biggest news which I completely skipped on the blog, is that we now have a second child. Josephine Mae Dunkley was born on August 13, and is currently causing my sleep schedule much distress. Like her brother, she is about as cute as humanly possible, and she's at that stage where she's smiling a lot, and kind of playing as well. Kenny loves her dearly, and can't wait to show her how to play avengers and go on long walks.

My sister also brought another family member into the world, my nephew Declan. He's an awesomely cute little guy that is destined for football - already he's built like a linebacker. Because of a hectic life of late, I have not seen him nearly enough, but hope to remedy that in the near future.

As for writing, the main reason I suspect any of you come here, I'm sure you can guess progress has been limited. I have been puttering at some short stories, a bit of work here and there on Iron King and World Without Heroes, but mostly I have been rereading snippets of my work trying to get back into the "zone". I have not stopped writing, and never will. It's just been delayed a bit. I hope to have something more to share soon.

Lastly, on the topic of this blog itself. I can't promise to post more, butI want to, and will try. Along with bits about my life and writing, I am considering sharing some other thoughts, on the world around us. Things that have me thinking. Things that have me worried, or excited. I guess we will see what the future brings.

Thanks for sticking with me!

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