Losing someone special

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Saturday the 17th of January 2015 I was getting ready as usual.  In the bath, I became a little bemused why all of a sudden I had an urge to sing.  It was not too unusual as sometimes I will have a little sing in the bath and sometimes I will not.  I was singing a song by David Grey, which surprised me slightly, as it was not a song I would usually sing, although I had sang it from time to time and did like the song.  I do remember wondering, why that song?  I was just singing over and over ‘see you on the other side’.

As I was getting dressed, I got this weird feeling that someone was behind me, I even turned around to look.  I had a strange feeling and could not shake it, feeling real concern at this point, for my friend who had been going through a really tough time.  I quickly got dressed and rang him but got no answer.  I tried the landline to his business, where I knew he would be, working as he did every Saturday, again no answer.  I searched the phone directory for his parents number and rang them.  

I received some news which I can only say, changed me.  I feel slightly robotic writing this right now, with blurred eyes due to brimming tears.

My friends Father had to inform me that my friend had sadly took his life the day before. My heart aches at how difficult that must of been for his Dad.  I was in complete shock.

I am not sure what to write at this point.  I am not sure if words can capture the chilling, freeze that typing this creates.  The emotion swelling behind the tears.  The pauses I am taking to actually say to myself, ‘he really is not here any more’?  It can feel like he is still here, I feel his presence daily, but he has gone?  He has gone.  I get an anxious, panic type of feeling when I realise I will never see him again.

His death hit me hard.  I think that people in my life struggled to understand why it hit me as hard as it has.  I have changed.  I have been lost in grief for over a year.  I am starting to find myself again, but I am different and always will be.  My biggest hope and dream has become a wish that when my time comes to pass on, that he will come and meet me.

So why has it hit me as hard as it has?

I understand exactly, trying to explain that to others may not be as easy.

We met in a club called 5th Avenue back in 1998.  He stood at the front of a group of lads, with a look of confidence and real connection to the music.  I could not take my eyes off his presence.  I made sure I caught his attention and we got chatting and really hit it off instantly.  I was thrilled when he asked me to meet him the following week, to go and see Quadrophenia.  That was the start of two music loving ‘trendies’ forming a relationship.  He was not the type of man I would normally go for, he was so loving and thoughtful and caring.

After some time I was tormented due to the fact that I had everything I wanted, but for some reason, the urge to fight it and push the love away was overwhelming me.  I knew there was something wrong with me and I could not stand seeing how I was hurting this good man.  I knew I had to figure out what was wrong with me.  I needed space to do that.  He offered me that space, but wanted to stay with me, but I was so scared of continuing to hurt him, my instinct was to just completely break away.  He did not give up easily and I had to really hurt him to break away.

The guilt of hurting him has always been with me.

The kind of man he was and his love stayed with me after we broke up and still does.  His love has become like a lantern for me, giving me direction to something I know exists, because I seen it in him, I felt it from him, I felt it for him, but I had no idea how to manage those feelings.  I did go and work on myself to find out why I could not love.  I read a book called ‘Women who love too much’ by Robin Norwood.  That explained how we can be unavailable for love, even if that is all we really crave.  It made a lot of sense to me and turning that around, learning to love and be loved and healing has been the main focus in my life ever since.

I see my friend as the person who led me to this path.  I see his love as the only thing that ever managed to get through my hard, tough shell and my steel like defences.  I was broken and very damaged, but hid it well until his love got through.

As time passed, I was opening up more and more and healing, moving in an opposite direction.  I began training to become a counsellor, so I could help others.

We kept a friendship and neither of us could ever let go completely but we would always struggle to be close as friends.  Regardless of that, we did maintain contact all these years.  We could go for a year or two with no contact, but then would always have a catch up.  He always remained special to me, that has remained constant and always will.

I would love to hear stories about his Barber shop, his pride and joy.  He was so committed and worked so hard.  He would have BBC 6 music playing in his shop and pictures of some of the greatest musicians on the walls.  He always would introduce me to new music.  He was well known for his amazing taste and knowledge in music.  He would tell me about different concepts from books he had read.  His latest travels.  He travelled all over the world and did bike rides for charities,  went to festivals abroad he had such a zest for life. Often he would have strum nights with friends, as he loved to play drums and Sunday’s he would go off on long bike rides all over, riding with friends for hours.

He had an accident once and rang me from the hospital when he was high on morphine for pain relief, due to his injuries.  He was being quite loving again telling me I was the first person he thought about, which took me by surprise?  Our friendship always had a hint of distance, which i understood and accepted, due to the past and the hurt.  I found myself hoping that maybe we might have a chance of a reconciliation, but that was not to be.  The more I let my guards down and the more I allowed my sensitivity to come through, the more guarded he was seeming to become.  Like most of us, he was learning that life could be harsh at times.  Whenever he spoke of children, the old ‘him’ would shine, he loved children and had such a bond with them, children made him chuckle a lot and children loved him.

We had not been in touch for a couple of years when we last got in touch.  It felt difficult at times, because I knew I had feelings for him and I was getting to a point of being ready to really open up emotionally, but he seemed to be remaining guarded, which I understood.

When I rang him to get in touch the last time, it was so good to hear how glad he was to hear from me, but then it became clear that he was in a very vulnerable place with a lot of problems he was facing.  He kept saying over and over ‘I can’t believe you have just rang me now, I was going to ring you, of all the people I knew you would understand’.

It was a bitter sweet few weeks, our last times together.  Being vulnerable he dropped his defences and we enjoyed a very close friendship.  For me it was difficult to keep my feelings for him buried, because his lack of defences reminded me of the man he was when he broke through my defences in the 90’s.  He was different this time but very vulnerable.  We spent every day on the phone for hours.  If he felt stressed, he would ring and we would chat.  It felt a mixture of special but worrying.  I had two jobs at the time and decided to give one up, so I had more time for things that are important, family and friends.  I wanted so much to be there for him, to make up for hurting him in the past.  It was hard, because I was battling a desire to love and be with him, at a point where he was vulnerable and that was the last thing he could deal with, so I had to hold back.  I tried so hard to help him with the fear and anxiety he was experiencing.  In my opinion he was badly let down by mental health services, he never got an assessment and the situation was a real crisis.

My friend battled on through Christmas, New Year with a lot of love and support from his family and friends.  He sent me a picture on Christmas day, to reassure me he was ok enjoying the day with his family.

He did need professional help, and that had been noted back in December, but he never got that help.

We went for a walk after New year and it is a special memory I will treasure for ever.  We really opened up to each other, me about my past and him about his.  He understood why I was so unable to love him in the past.  He loved and trusted me enough that day with some of his deep secrets, of regrets and guilt.  I can never express to anyone what his gift of trust meant to me that day.  We both found some real strength in admitting our vulnerabilities to each other.

Sadly two weeks later he had gone.

I have still not ‘got over’ his death.  I still think of him every day. I enjoy memories of his smirk when he would say things to try and make me jealous, even if I was slightly jealous at times, his desire to want me to be jealous just left me feeling amused.  When my daughter was born, he bought her a t shirt that had a picture of an elephant on the front and when she grew out of it I framed it.  I miss the way he would grin when asking if I still had it, I think he liked the idea of it being so special to me, because he had bought it.  I miss missing him, then the joy of getting in touch and catching up.  I miss his tales of the characters he knew.  I miss how he would speak of his friends and family that he loved.  I miss his direct honesty, I miss his defensive shell, that hid the kindest most loving heart I have ever known.  He taught me how to open jars, how to fold up my jeans and how to just be me.

Before he died he told me to download music by First Aid Kit, Warpaint and some other musicians.  It wasn’t until after he died that I turned to the music he had recommended.  I remember one day feeling a sense of frustration, unsure if he was still around somehow, or if I was deluding myself from grief, thinking I was receiving signs.  So I called out to the sky ‘Ok, if you really are there, send me a sign of a silver lining’.  I finished getting ready with a slight smug grin, thinking to myself ‘ah, that will test him if he is around’.  I was worried I may get lost in some grief stricken world, losing touch with reality, in search for someone that had gone.

I went downstairs and decided to listen to some of the music he had recommended.  My jaw dropped when the first song I came to was ‘silver lining’ by First Aid Kit.  I tell myself that I had probably subconsciously seen that song and that was why I had thought of challenging him with a silver lining sign?  I listen to that song and feel him with me.  It is like he was letting me know he had to go.  Here are the lyrics:

 

My Silver Lining

I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers

Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter

I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow

Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go

There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on

And you’ve just gotta keep on keeping on

Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road

Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road

I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong

I try to keep on keeping on

Yeah I just keep on keeping on

 

I hear a voice calling

Calling out for me

These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free

Be it for reason, be it for love

I won’t take the easy road

 

I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon

Having no idea who or what or where I am

Something good comes with the bad

A song’s never just sad

There’s hope, there’s a silver lining

Show me my silver lining

Show me my silver lining

 

I hear a voice calling

Calling out for me

These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free

Be it for reason, be it for love

I won’t take the easy road

 

I won’t take the easy road

The easy road, the easy road

 

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjmVW_cJt7w

Meeting my friend back in the 90’s led to me learning that there was something wrong with me, that there was a coldness and detachment in my being.  I was unable to love and be loved.

I hope to blog soon about why some people struggle to love and why they can feel detached from feelings.  I also would like to write about the struggle I have had since my friends death.  How being at rock bottom can feel, how the true colours in others can show when you are most vulnerable.  I have had a crazy year of cutting out people from my life, due to concerns of them being ‘toxic’, uncaring, critical, manipulative.  I can not allow my hard shell to come back, around toxic people I could easily become toxic myself.  I can not let him die in vain, I want to remain sensitive, and safe in that sensitivity.

When I am working as a counsellor, really connecting with people and helping them, it is his love that helped my own energy and love begin to shine through.  No one is taking that away again.  Luckily I have amazing work colleagues at Shardale and working there has helped me get through this, it is such a genuine and healing place.  Also my few good genuine friends.  Not forgetting my little Lily, what a tonic she is.  Some family have tried helping, but I have changed a lot, so there may need to be some adapting there, as i have changed for good.  I have standards and carry them proudly.  My grieving turned from lack of tolerance, to standards.  I grin with pride as I type that and know my friend is part of it.  He turned my life around when I met him and taught me to love and turned my life around when he left us and has taught me how to keep hold of that love.

How can I ever thank him?  He would want me to be a good Mum and a good person, with a happy life.

Shine on.  I will see you on the other side x

 

 

‘I hold no grudges, only forgiveness, only love only love even if it’s not enough’

First Aid Kit,

A Long Time Ago

 

Shattered & Hollow

I am in love and I am lost

But I’d rather be

Broken than empty

Oh, I’d rather be

Shattered than hollow

Oh, I’d rather be

By your side

First Aid Kit

WorkingImage

 

Ange Neild

http://northmanchestercounselling.com/

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