Fight Song

“The ones who notice the storms in your eyes, the silence in your voice and the heaviness in your heart, are the ones you need to let in.”

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It’s been three months since my last post here on Prince’s Palace. I’ve got no real reason in particular for my silence, other than it just being silence itself. I needed to switch my writing head off for a bit and focus on me for a while.

But, you see, the thing with passing time is those events transpire and you find yourself staring at the calendar trying to see where time flew off to. As Ellis Grey famously in Grey’s Anatomy: The carousel never stops turning.

Nonetheless, I’m back. Dusting off the furniture in my palace. Opening the windows, letting a weep of fresh air fill the dusty rooms.

To update you guys on what I’ve been up to and where I’ve been hiding out:

As you all might or might not know, 2015 was a huge journey for me. I had a lot to tackle and find myself standing at the doorstep of navigating what it meant to be a “widower”. 

After R’s suicide, I was stuck dealing with the grief and pain that came along with his decision. I was dealing with a new issue every week, standing host to a lot of his ghosts and kept him in the back of my mind constantly to try and make sure I don’t lose sight of the war I was waging. Little known to me: I was poising myself with his toxic life and decisions. Holding onto him was making me sick – I was dealing with a stomach ulcer and the onslaught of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and some other mental health issues. Instead of battling this I opted for extreme denial.

In some major award-winning performance, I made everyone around me understand that I was fine. That I was over everything that happened – the loss of someone close to me, his betrayal in the form of his cheating and me being left to clean up a few messes. And between that, I was boarding myself up behind walls higher than the tallest mountain on Earth. It was really not doing me any good – it was just making me sicker.

Also: by robbing myself of the love and light of those who were trying to help me, I pushed away, hurt and upset some great, fantastic and amazing people. Some damages I’ll never be able to repair, while other’s I’ll be able to repair with time and love.

So, these past few months, I have been seeing a fantastic therapist. This happened shortly after I lost someone dearly to these selfish and weak actions and I finally awoke to the fact that I needed help.

I have come to face a lot of negative people after I’ve started seeing a shrink:

“Wow – you’re an actual crazy then?”

“You seeing a shrink? It must be amazing to just lie on a couch for an hour and talk shit?

“Oh, a shrink… That sounds like fun.”

People seemingly don’t have the balls to admit mental illnesses exist and that seeing someone to help you is an extremely stupid thing and silly thing to do. And it takes a lot of effort to make them understand that it’s a brave thing to do and seeking out professional help makes you a stronger person… Trust me. Try arguing with an ignorant idiot. You’ll soon realise it’s the worst mental illness around.

But, I digress.

Having chosen to start seeing my therapist, was simply put the best decision I could’ve made in a difficult time in my life. My journey with her has so far been one of immense self-discovery, learning to rewire my neurosis, channel my anxiety and stress, unload my baggage and break down the walls and let the right people in.

As I’m typing this post, I think back to my first session and my last session I had. In the way I’ve begun feeling a burn in bones again, has shown me that I’m starting to become a little more me again.

In a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy (spoilers ahead), Meredith meets with the hospital shrink to discuss her latest trauma. At the end of the episode, she stares at the shrink with a huge smile, saying: “I came in here, and I felt great. And now I don’t know who I am or what I want.” It basically sums up my whole experience before I chose to seek help as well. Just like Meredith, I’m now asking: Who am I? What do I want?

In a way, I’ve also been standing at the crossroad. Who am I? What do I want?

I’m not the grieving partner anymore, nor am I sad, alone, broken or confused. I’m finally able to be me, with me and explore myself.

That’s just the thing: many people who lose a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or partner these days never reach this point of clarity. We’re left to our own good or bad – we need to puzzle this road out and we need to pave the way for our healing. And seldom, we as the “Widow and Widowers Club” are left in just that role, to never become something great or something more.

Somehow, I want to raise my voice a little louder today to let everyone who’s lost someone they love know, life moves on. As sad as it is, don’t ever stand back and let life walk past you. You’re robbing yourself from the greatest opportunity to become something amazing and something more than just a widow/er.

Life may have felt the need to kick you square in the stomach and rob you from something, but life’s also created a platform for you to stand up and be the warrior you were meant to be. This is just a chapter in your book – not the entire book.

Just a few thoughts I want you to ponder on:

  • If you’re reading this and feeling like a little light has gone up in your head, you should put your boxing gloves on and start fighting for yourself again. It’s your time and that time is now.
  • Open up those walls you’ve been hiding behind and start letting the right people in – let the light seep through the cracks and allow yourself to be someone who can look at life now, a little bit wiser.
  • Dealing with grief and all his friends is a mental illness on its own – and we as the victims of a loved one or someone close’s death is the one thing that can break you or build you. Allow it to rather build you than break you.

Create your own manifesto, your own fight song, and don’t allow yourself to give up on that important person: you.

And keep those people who are trying to nudge past the walls close – let them in and allow them to love you. Love is the one cure that makes a warrior’s spirit tougher for the battles ahead.

 

 

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Resurgence

“And I won’t wait any longer
When you left me down, I got stronger
If you want to wait for lightning
I’m on the horizon
Well, I’m coming back with the thunder
Well, I’m coming back with the thunder
Well, I’m coming back with the thunder…”

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The most mesmerizing thing about a caterpillar is that it lives with a potential inside of it. This potential is ridiculed and laughed off – how can a worm become something more. It’s not until they become a cocoon that these laughs are silenced and it’s not until they morph into a beautiful butterfly that the non-believers cover their mouths and start wishing they could do the same.

But, as you all might gather… I’m not talking about a butterfly here. And at the least am I talking about a physical transformation that leaves people stunned.

You see, I’m talking here about a metamorphosis on a spiritual, emotional and mental level that brings out a light in one that can only but inspire people.

So, here goes my 01:00 mind boggling and word changing musings:

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I’m scared

You see, my fellow bloggers, the thing is that from since what I can remember, I’ve always been afraid of myself. If this statement raises your brow, please calm down. This is not a case of me fearing a split personality wanting to kill of people.

I’ve always been afraid of really being me.

I think this is a true curse that comes from being different. In this case my difference is my sexuality – but let’s face it, society has dictated that it’s a difference and not me. I think this has from an early age crippled me beyond a point where I spent so many years of my adolescence trying to be someone who I am not. Disassociating with the different feelings was maybe some form of survival, just as a butterfly needs to be a cocoon or caterpillar to survive. If it was not the bullies, it was from the haters out there who wanted to break me and make me conform.

Let me tell you, for a young gay child, the worst is being told to one thing when deep inside you, you die a little each day not being who you really want to be. This is a torture and hardship not many people won’t ever understand. On it’s own, this fear is mostly out of someone realising who you really are and breaking you down again or the people who love you rejecting that what you truly are.

Even after R’s suicide, I was robbed of a lot of who I was at that stage. He left, taking a huge part of me and who I was with him. This on its own has created a fear within me. I lost a lot of who I was in one untimely demise… Years of trying to become a person who can stand in the light and not be afraid…

After this, I had/have had a huge battle with trying to overcome that fear. I didn’t want to build up myself again, to just have it all be robbed from me in an unguarded moment.

Fear crippled me. I was stuck in my cocoon. I didn’t want to come out.

The tiring fight

It was not until recently that I stopped fighting the fear, everyone, society and life. 

Inside me, I became so tired of trying to walk down a road that was becoming more self destructive to what was left of me. I had not yet really stepped up to the game after R’s passing and I was still afraid of life. This was clearly evident and I think a lot of people dealing with me saw this. I don’t apologise for this at all and I’m actually thankful for this limbo I was stuck in. It gave me the appropriate time to heal and become stronger – more importantly it served as a wake up call as to the pending questions that were really left in my life: Who am I? What are my plans/goals? Where to now?

I think it was during this period of reflection that I grew tired of the cocoon. I had wings and I wanted to test them out – I was too tired of being afraid and I was too tired to really care what others think.

Life lesson: At the end of the day it is what you think of yourself that really makes the difference. You can’t expect the world to hang on every word you say if you don’t even love yourself or remotely believe in yourself.

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Resurgence 

So, here goes. I’m done with the cocoon. Even though I’m scared shitless, have a million questions and emotions rushing through my head and I don’t have a clear plan in mind as to how and where to go forward from here, I do know that I’m ready to throw open my wings and do what I know I can do best. Fly.

I’ve done enough hiding, surviving and barely breathing to get sick of just barely living life. The bumps, bruises and aches are all a part of life. Will I get hurt again? Yes. But this time I’ll be able to fight back and do something I now know I’m well equipped to do with everything inside me.

The main goal in life shouldn’t be to just survive. It should be to fight back, stand tall and be an unstoppable force. Me being classified different by society is whats exactly going to make me, me and the world throwing punches my way with loss, grief and heartache is tests to see if I’m still the brave fighter I’ve always been.

Life. As scary as it is, it’s a beauty on its own and deserves to be lived.

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Ruin

As a young boy I loved delving into our bookshelves at home. My parents didn’t love me rummaging through our prized set of encyclopedias, but I didn’t care for much of it.

I remember how one particular day, a typical Cape Town-storm brewing outside, I was hunched in a nest of blankets and pillows in my room pouring over the pyramids of Egypt. For hours I stared at the pictures, trying to imagine how these behemoth structures were erected and ’till this day stand tall, peering over Egypt’s deserts and cloaking the tourists in their shadows or bathing them in sunlight.

One piece from the caption an illustration still stays with me today: “These ruins stand preserved as beautiful structures, being one of the most enigmatic, yet breathtaking modern wonders of this world.”

So, my fellow bloggers, ruin… How can ruin be beautiful?

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The realisation

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You’ll remember a few posts ago how I was telling you about the new person I met. The person who was able to restore my broken heart after the superstorm of R who took his own life and left me to deal with the aftermath of it all.

J… The one to put a flicker in my dying heart.

As the story goes, J and I both had a huge falling out and things just continued to spiral out of control. It was something ugly – tearing our hearts apart. Neither one of us meant it, but neither one of us really knew how to really deal with this.

So, this past weekend, J came to Cape Town again. After I pleaded one last time for him to fight for me, he hopped onto a plane to come fight for me.

Seeing him again, felt good. It felt like I was back home, in a safe space. Like I was where I needed to be. Where I was meant to be.

This all didn’t last.

As later the evening, during a Halloween party, I got a little bit drunk and saw him talking to someone else. A jealous rage swept over me like a red mist and before my tongue could stop itself, I was lashing out towards him. Blaming him for the mistakes of R’s infidelity (a story I will get to another time). It was irrational. He saw it, sat me down and tried to break through the walls I had built around myself these past months. After telling me how hard it was being around me when I was closed off, shutting people out and hurting people by being a stone wall slowly crumbling under the pressure of everyone’s troubles on my shoulders and more importantly my own troubles that I reflect inwards… I realised how bad it really was.

It wasn’t ’till he told me how R’s cloud had followed us from Day 1 and that he couldn’t compete with a dead man anymore, that I lost it. A little something inside me died and I got up. Luckily, my two friends Ancomien and Mienke, were at hand to intervene. Mienke stayed behind to talk to J and Ancomien swept a frantic, panicked me away.

Guys, I don’t remember much. All I know is that I had what could best be described as a meltdown. Soon, my friends also started telling me how they were tired of me not relying on them and slowly fading away in front of their eyes… I on the other hand, kept crying hysterically, feeling every emotion in me slipping away.

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The next 24 hours was spent with loved ones intervening.

On Sunday evening, J and I made a mutual decision to not force anything now, and that it would be best if I went to heal myself and that I stay away from him, to stop hurting him on the jagged edges of my heart. This on its own hurt me beyond words and broke the last broken pieces of my heart into dust.

Ultimately, as I laid in bed that evening, I realised that I was never okay. I was not over everything. I had never accepted what had happened to me. And I was losing a lot more than my life… My friends were ready to call quits on me (even though they love me too much to say that me).


And now?

I’ve been on pretty strong tranquilizers since Sunday.

The emotions are all gone from me for now. I think they symbolically left with my tears and washed away. I really do feel empty, for the first time in a while, I really am scared of how empty I feel.

It was one huge mistake. Me, taking everything that happened, the unresolved issues, emotions, pain, hurt, sorrow and plastering them up behind the walls in my head. The biggest lie I have told myself to thus far hasn’t been that R might still be alive, but it was that I was okay with everything and over it all. I was so desperate to be okay again, to be someone who I once remember in passing or even remotely a version of something that I could be okay with. In plastering all those stuff up behind a wall in my head, I did the greatest injustice to myself.

After my friends and people who love me walked in with sledgehammers, looking for that one wall where everything was hidden behind, I’m literally left in ruin now. I needed to be saved from myself. Guys, the worst thing is having being saved from yourself by friends.

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Ruin

Hi everyone, I’m David. And my life is in ruin.

The first step to me getting better and healing is for me to admit this.

Right now, like those pyramids in Egypt, I’m in ruin, but still standing. I’m a beautiful mess. And the great thing about a beautiful mess is that you can either choose to gather your mistakes and carry on forward and be who you are now or you can wipe the entire slate clean and start a new.

As I mentioned, my blog is going to go onto a new course. And I still stick to that promise. From here on out, no more bars hold. I’m opening the doors of my life wide – it’s time for a major spring cleaning and I’d like to invite all of you to walk with me.

For the one thing that ties all of us together is that we all feel pain. We’ve all been through hardships, broken hearts, loss and grief. And we’ve all stood up from ruin to either rebuild our lives.

Let this serve as a reminder to us all – never, EVER, convince yourself you’re okay and then try to bury non-resolved feelings and emotions. Face your demons, fight them and move on to the next battle.

And this time – I won’t lie to anyone again. I refuse to be the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I’m not okay and I’m okay with that. Because I know I have amazing people in my life and supportive readers who will see me through this hardship.

Upwards and onward.

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The Beating of a (new) Heart

We were dancing in the club. It was a normal night out for me and my three dearest friend. Laughs were exchanged, smiles wide on our faces. Fun was the order of the night and for once I was offering to be designated driver. I didn’t mind – the company was excellent enough for me to have a good time without a drink.

Later the evening Mienke (my best friend and nothing short of a sibling to me), and I were dancing on the dance floor. It wasn’t particularly packed, but the drunk youngsters around me were in their own universes. In our universe, Mienke and I were dancing and letting go after a stressful week.

It was as if we both combusted into a thousand stars when one of our favourite, and probably meaningful songs came on.

This song, Pumping Blood, was originally done by NoNoNo and was covered by Lea Michele in Glee. [Side note: I prefer the Glee-version]. Mienke and I stumbled across this song during a time last year where R had just passed away and I was looking for some form of hope. We both agreed that this song would play again one day when I was okay and every lyric would make perfect sense.

Music is an important element to my life. When the creative side of me is taking over a great span of my head, music calms me, quiets me, or silences me for a few minutes. When I need help, or a pick-me-up, music has always been the magical cure.

So, when this song came on, we danced like there was no end to the world.

In one part of this song, the lyrics go something like:

“‘Cause it’s your heart,
it’s alive, it’s pumping blood,
And the whole wide world is whistling.”

For some time now, these lyrics has signified the new chapter I’ve begun writing on in my life. After a depressing, troublesome and heartbreaking year, I’ve now come back to a point of familiarity. From here, I’ve now realised that my broken heart has been mended and that I’m standing taller than ever.

My blog over the past year has contained many entries about my struggle and continuous feelings regarding R’s suicide and how it’s hurt me in many ways. It’s been a journey that took me to where I am now and I’ve always tried to share the lighter side of every struggle with you all. I really hope I have.

Today, I want to tell you, that even in the darkest times, believe. In it’s purest form, belief keeps your broken heartstrings and pieces alive. When you heal and glue your heart back together and one day find yourself at the dawn of a new day, then you will pat yourself on the back for believing in yourself – even in the darkest of times.

There is nothing more rewarding than standing tall with your new beating heart after a punch that life threw your way. It’s satisfying and oddly cocky to stare at life and let it know you made it up that steep mountain.

I still remember putting my hand on my chest on 27 May 2014 and not feeling my heart beat. It was devastating and soul crushing at the least. But as I was dancing away in the club with Mienke, I felt my new heart beating faster than a speeding train.

The beating of my (new) heart has confirmed what I have suspected for some time now: I’m a survivor of Life’s dark side. And with that being said, I’m ready to start venturing into this new chapter of my life and share it with all of my fellow bloggers.

A huge thanks to each and every person who has commented on a post with kind words and encouraging messages. You all made me stronger and made me realise my full worth and potential.

Now.

Upwards, onwards and onto a new journey.

[My friend Mienke and I – It takes 23 years of friendship for someone to tell you: “I’m glad you’re finally smiling like the rays of the sun, my love.” ]

*365 days later*

Denial. Bargaining. Anger. Depression.

The four friends I have come to known in the span of year’s time. Sucking the life out of me at times, infuriating me beyond compare, driving me beyond the edge of sanity and letting me dwell in the darkness…

It was the four friends I have now come to say goodbye to. I no longer need their company. They have become strangers – isolated from my life.

These “friends” are also four of the five stages of Grief.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross created a model for grief years ago. We all know the story – she was surrounded by patients in a hospice who were terminally ill and she noticed how everyone had these four “friends” by their side. These stages were also noted in people touched by death.

Now, a few hours shy of the anniversary or my former boyfriend’s suicide, I have come to terms with four of the five stages of grief. After a troublesome, tumultuous and sorrow ridden year, I am now at a space in time where calamity seems to be surrounding me more and more.

If you ask me if I knew this day would arrive… I will blankly stare at you and say: Nope. I gave up on that hope the day I stood beside his casket.

Life has since passed and time has not stood still for me. Time seems to be the only constant that has moved on with me for now – other things are still to come. Change is on the horizon. Peace is knocking at my door. A new me is dawning and acceptance seems to be introducing himself to me.

Confession: I have been afraid of this day for some time now.

Would I be ready? Would I be equipped to face acceptance and feel strong enough to pursue it? Was it worth all the tears, pain and broken pieces of my heart to come to this point and not leave this chapter of my life satisfied?

Well. Guess what. Not ready. Far from ready.

I still hate him with a fiery passion. People seldom try to understand it all, but they rarely understand why I am so quick to hate him while all his other loved ones still scrape together love for him.

I hate him for calling quits on his life, friends, future, loved ones, family, soul mate and…me. No one ever expected anything from him, but only to live and share his sorrow with other’s. He never did. He kept it hidden, like many other secret lives he led. The secrets upon secrets that tore him apart has tore me apart. And not just me… Everyone else who gave a damn about him.

I’ve fallen out of love with him and this hatred has grown to become an overpowering emotion to help me through each day.

Where I thought it wouldn’t be possible to even remotely survive, hatred has powered me through a day with the constant reminded that I can’t give up hope or call it quits, even if I wanted to. I wanted to prove to him that it’s possible to go above and beyond pain, without giving up.

You might stop me in my tracks and reprimand me that I’m far from acceptance. Right so. I won’t fight you on that.

I am however going to challenge you on the points that I am ready to step into the dawn of a new light.

As this sullen day passes, I’m no more the boy who’s boyfriend killed himself. I’m no more the widow. I’m no more the grieving son, the friend with a bag of sorrow on his shoulders. I am a new person to take on the world by storm. A new dawn is waiting for me and as far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to embrace that.

I might not have come to terms with most of R’s death, but I have come to terms that we are not longer an “us”. It’s only me now.

Me.

Only I can move on now and make my world a fantastic place to live in. In this lies the acceptance I speak of. I have accepted the pieces of my broken heart, the lies that tore me apart, the hole and huge gap left in my life with R’s passing and the sadness that has taught me how to live closer to my own fractured pieces of my heart.

Acceptance. It comes in different forms and as grief has different stages, I’m ready to close this chapter in my life.

Stepping into the light of this new dawn, I’m ready to say goodbye to him and hopefully, soon enough, drop the hatred and keep him in a special place within my heart.

Actually came out decent

Most importantly, just find yourself

As I was sitting in the room, I stared over at the couples who were leaning in to on another, whispering sweet nothings and cradling their hands in each other’s. Like many times before me, I felt the familiar feeling in my gut: You are missing out big time on this feeling. A feeling called love.

Later, as the party was in full swing, I saw a couple outside the ballroom fighting. The passion in their eyes alight like the fire of a thousands suns. Words being flung around carelessly. Anger making way for what use to be love. As I was staring at this fight, I realised how there is always that one person who will be left with nothing. Have it be after the fight has subdued or if the fight leads to a breakup. One person is always left with nothing.

It’s sad.

In these modern times, I have found too many friends running to me with the same crisis after a breakup. They suddenly disembowel the entire relationship and breakup to try and find why they are an empty shell now. A full autopsy is performed to see where the core of their being as a person went lost and how they can try and revive it. It’s almost an impossible task at times, while others sometimes have to start from scratch, having lost everything they were.

I’m more than happy to help them. Not because they are my friends, but because I was once/ am now where they are and it’s easier to have someone plot a course and trajectory for you than having yourself stumbling around in the dark, blindly.

About 11 months ago, when my boyfriend passed away after a battle with depression, I was the one who was disemboweling the relationship, trying to find the point where it all went wrong. It’s more excruciating than it sounds. Trust me – relieving every moment in your head, trying to put the broken puzzle pieces together, is not for the faint of heart.

At one point, I remember waking up one morning. It was a normal morning, with me having slept nothing at all that night. I had been up, tossing and turning, trying to make sense of it all. Questions still remaining without any answers. As I was slouching to the bathroom, I looked at myself in the mirror. Something like this, is a normal action for many each morning. No second guessing it. Automated. But this morning, I caught a glimpse of my eyes. What followed terrified me.

They were dead. My eyes were lifeless and hollow. I could see it shine through. Like that couple who were fighting, passion shining through their eyes like burning suns, the lifelessness shone through mine. Like a fist to my chest, it hit the wind out of me. I can say, it’s safe to assume it was then that I knew I had lost me.

Like the person I am, a full postmortem followed after this. Soon, it was becoming clearer to me, that I was the one who had to be left with nothing. Being the nothing, rather.

I think most people’s sadness after a breakup these days, are because of this reason. That they become the nothing when their something is ripped away. I resent that this even has to be something you have to go through, upon losing the one you had/have loved. No one deserves this at the least.

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Now, I want to appeal to you: You can find yourself again.

Even at the point of losing your everything, your core, your being, the thing that makes you, you… At that point you can start finding yourself again.

It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

When all is lost, you have so much to use again to build yourself up from scratch. Go out, explore life, yourself and do something unexpected and new. Life, cry, laugh, smile and disappoint yourself ’till you reach a point where you have found yourself again.

Knowing who we are in life, is one of our greatest strengths. When challenges and potholes come our way, this is what we use and fall back on to get to the point of ultimate conquest or strength.

If you are reading this right now, thinking that I am speaking about you or to you, then you should probably sit down and start thinking about things. Just know, you are not the only one going through this.

Will you ever find yourself completely? No. You do however discover yourself across your life. Many facets reveal themselves and equip you even more in dealing with things.

Just for now, be proud of yourself for conquering that mishap, heartbreak or tear in your life and still being able to stand.

But most importantly: just find yourself.

Travel.

Put yourself in his shoes…

It was a week since I was back in South Africa, from my rather life changing trip to Namibia. My head was still reeling and I was in desperate need of finding some

familiar ground to just feel like I was back home. But my mind was in another place and it was not the best situation for me and hectic work situation.

Tracing the culprit as to my mind being on his own wondrous path, I realised it all started with me opening Pandora’s Box in Namibia. In this case, it was all the feelings on R I had closed the lid on to cope with his passing. A good idea at the time I did it, but whilst spending vast amounts of time on the wide stretches of the African Savannah, re-opening these feelings, I knew it was a bad idea. Rushing in, causing havoc and making a ruckus, my mind almost exploded and I knew that this would have to be dealt with. ‘Cause you never get to put a lid back on Pandora’s Box… Or so the myth goes.

For the first day or two, I just sat and let every small and possible feeling rush over me. Have it be a flicker of hope that he might still be alive, a inch of courage that I might finally be okay, sadness for the fact that he is not here anymore or depression for the timely death he chose to do unto himself… These feelings became my new best friends as I continued along the stretches of road ahead of me. As I discovered Namibia, I discovered new facets to my grief.

After the dust settled, I started dissecting everything. Okay… Maybe over-analyzing it. But I faced the cold hard fact that these emotions needed to be dealt with.

Some emotions lead to realisations of his death. Things, that at the time of his death, I was not able to see clearly. It hit me square in the gut, to be honest.
While thinking I could not be shocked even more by the situation surrounding his suicide, it hit hard to realise that he for instance dropped more than just once that he was thinking of suicide and that he was getting to a point where he was making sure we were looked after and equipped to remotely deal with him not being around anymore. I would say this worsened my guilt about him dying and I had to stop at the side of the road and get out at some point to breathe.

As I stood by the side of the road, I stared over the mountains and the sky. Trying to calm myself. It was a stretch of gravel roads between farms, in the middle of nowhere and I just stood soaking up the silence. Whilst standing like that, a wild fox came out the bushes on the side of the road and sniffed around. When he saw me panting at the car, he stood still. I stood still. We stood still. I caught his eyes and he caught mine. For a good minute we stared at each other. One stressing over the sight of a predator and survival, the other craving survival over a wave of grief.

What happened next might sound crazy. At the risk of sounding crazy, please don’t judge me.

It was as if the dark, storm clouds in my head disappeared and made space for one single thought. Stop wasting energy on trivial matters and put yourself in his shoes…

The thought reverberated through my head. Hard. I saw the fox still staring at me. Maybe it was some act of God or gods? Maybe it was just a force of nature. But I had a silent guide to show me what to do with these feelings and emotions. The fox, after a while, just swept his head to the side again and went on with his merry way.

As I got back into the car, I felt a lot more collected and calm. I started to think on all the energy I had wasted the past months fretting over the people and factors leading to his death, all the negatives that came out after he passed and the bad that was around while he was still alive. How I was clinging onto that and making sure I never forget that, was astounding to me…

It wasn’t till I got back to South Africa, that I was reminded about putting myself in his shoes. Driving home one afternoon, listening to one of R’s all time favourite artists, Tracy Chapman, a song of her came onto my Ipod. Fast Car. In that moment, I felt a lot of R through her lyrics and suddenly found me putting myself in his shoes.

Thinking how the depression must have crept onto him and how it must have remotely felt to start thinking suicide would hurt less than living on this earth.

What it might mean to lose sight of who you are, what you are doing on Earth and the ridiculous standards people hold you to at certain times.

When making a small mistake snowballs into one huge escalated spiral of mishaps and wrongdoings, and when you have a moment of sanity and clarity you realise what you were doing and the guilt wracks you.

Then deciding that rather cutting out your heart metaphorically would be better, rather to be tortured every waking moment with feelings you can’t deal with.

I suddenly understood him a bit better. The questions I still had, seemed to be irrelevant now. The anger and hatred for him, slipping through cracks of light. More understanding and compassion making its way into the dusky room.

So, 11 months down the path of grief, I have somehow come to a point where I can sit down at a poker table with death, depression, loss, understanding as well as the almighty zen and face the three of them all at once, knowing I have enough strength to do this. If you asked me 11 months ago if I EVER saw myself at this point, a teary eyed shell of a man would have said the chance of dying of a broken heart would’ve been more of a reality than this. Yet, here I am.

At some point, unloading baggage from your shoulders to clear space is not such a bad thing. It should be a time in a moment where you can reflect on life for a tiny bit, and grow from what it is trying to teach you.

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