What are you wearing?

Warning: This post contains material about suicide. Please do not read it if you think you don’t want to. If you’re not sure, don’t read it now. Wait. It will still be here. If you need to, don’t read all of it…

I wrote a long post today and erased it. Today marks four years since one of my closest friends died from suicide. I’m not even sure the best wording. Died by suicide? Killed themselves? Committed suicide? I don’t know. I personally don’t like saying, “passed away” or “passed on” when someone dies from anything because for me, she hasn’t gone anywhere. She is dead.

There is so much written about this topic, suicide. I know I’ve written dozens of posts that I have erased or not published because it felt like it’s all been said before.

I wrote 2 long posts about the show, 13 Reasons Why, and then erased them too. I liked the show for many reasons, and I started out not even wanting to hear people talk about the show. There are obvious reasons I “suddenly” decided to watch the show in the past two weeks and have now seen the whole thing. I’m glad the show is out there; I liked the writing and the acting and all the questions raised by it. I’m glad they’re working on a 2nd Season. I was a little disappointed in feeling how flawed all the characters were and wishing to see their best qualities maybe it’s because I’m reminded of my own flaws, or because when someone kills themselves, suddenly everyone who is alive around it seems guilty, including oneself and you only think of the wrong bad things that happened but shouldn’t have happened.

There are interesting moments in the show, where there are these 13 tapes of reasons, and some character who has listened to the whole thing, still says that she made a choice and that nobody really killed her. Aren’t the other survivors in the show in great pain and making a choice to stay? Of course as a therapist, I suppose I maybe supposed to have one opinion or another, but I watched it only as a person affected by suicide more than once but especially four years ago. I can’t see the show from the point of view of a therapist except to know that a teenager or child suicide is very different from an adult suicide.

I obviously don’t have a neutral opinion of the show. It was partly a fantasy for me, and mostly a “Be Careful What You Wish For?” I don’t think you could find anybody who wouldn’t want even one tape of the person(s) in their life who committed suicide, talking about anything. In some ways I was jealous of the people in the show, but also saw how these tapes can really hurt people or make things even more confusing and painful. I would still choose the tapes. In real life, most people don’t get them.

It’s a portrait of a hunt. That’s what I call it. My friend loved wild animals. I felt like I was hunting for explanations after her death; I spent a long time hunting. And longer hurting. Now those feelings have faded. Once in a while I wonder if I’ve given up the hunt or is watching this show still me hunting? Yes, we never stop hunting for reasons why.

I posted this picture on her Facebook Memorial Page. I wanted to find a photo I posted somewhere of the two of us but I couldn’t find it and saw this photo of a wood sign I saw in Barnes and Nobel. For sure she would say, Yes, keep creating yourself, don’t stop for too long. Stay alive both on the outside and the inside. Stop trying to “find” reasons or “find out” anything, especially about yourself.

I could talk about my memories of her but I haven’t figured out how to write about them. I will write about them at some point and figure that out, but my memories are not the ones I want. I’m supposed to remember positive happy memories which I do have but they are random. Just as I feel I was somehow cheated out of having some concrete thing of hers,  I feel cheated out of not having the memories I wish I had. I am not someone who remembers things well. I hear others remember whole conversations and I have a little something here or there but nothing so detailed and concrete. How are you supposed to write about someone if your memories of them aren’t the ones you’re supposed to have and wish you had?

I have her clock, which she left in my old studio when she was using it for a brief time to see patients. I’ve drawn and painted the clock and written about it. It wasn’t a gift. It was something I meant to give back to her or that she would use again. Now I look at it and I’m amused. This tiny old fashioned alarm clock that is like the ones in cartoons and has that ring on it, I forget to put the battery in it. Once in a while I use it and it makes loud ticking sounds. Recently the battery ran out and it’s constantly 4:30; one time a patient got annoyed at how loud it was and I put it in a drawer. Then a while later I had it on my desk ticking away and the same person did not notice it. I can make this clock say all kinds of things, it ticks with or without batteries…

I have some of her secrets, the things you don’t write about because they were shared as something that you keep from anyone else.

She called me “Bitsi” starting when we were at Harvard together and a mutual friend started calling me Bitsi because I wore Betsey Johnson clothing all the time. She used to talk to me on the phone by starting with “Hi Bitsi, what are you wearing?” I would describe my outfit and ask her what she was wearing. It was an innocent exchange at the same time as a joke on what people usually say when asking that question. Today’s outfit was not picked out for any deep reasons. I wear skulls a lot. It’s just an irrelevant outfit but it is what I happen to be wearing…

K. I am wearing a grey t-shirt with a skull on it and lace at the top, olive green cargo pants with zippers and black and white Missoni converse sneakers, and of course, Betsey Johnson: a pink sugar skull watch and black skull earrings…

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