Archives for posts with tag: Death

I watched the end of Jacob’s Ladder and the end of The Accidental Tourist.

Both films, at their heart, are about fathers and sons.  Death, coming to terms with death.  Letting go.  Dying.  Returning to the empty house.  Taking the taxi through Paris.  Allowing ones self to love again after being ‘shut down’.

Unconditional love.

It’s been a fucking tough two years.   The Big Dog, The Cancer, The Penguin.

Not necessarily in that order.

I think about her everyday, her tangled bloody body.  Waiting for her to die after the lethal injection.  Carrying her home to the grave we dug for her in the garden.   Now she is just skin and bones under the rock, hidden so the coyote couldn’t dig her up and eat her.  Laying there with her collar on, wrapped in my shirt, laying by my shoes.

Waiting patiently for us to join her.

I just couldn’t stop crying.  Apologizing.  She was innocent!

As I write the Little Dog is dreaming.  Yelping in his sleep.

It’s been tough to concentrate, to make anything happen, to imagine any sort of future.   I need all my wits about me to make things happen.  I don’t have the energy.

If by chance I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize the man staring back at me.

Who cares?

I don’t really know who I am.  Drifting inconsolably since she was killed.  Inconsolable when I saw the truth about him.  Me reflected in him.  The grueling hospital.  Private desire that it would kill me.

That the doctor would say, “Mr. Roy, you have six months to live.”  He didn’t.

I let myself believe that it was all over and frankly, I was furious that all my body wanted to do was teach me a lesson.

Then I got involved with him.  He was nothing.  A sick, lost man.  I thought I could help.  He was nothing.  He wasn’t the one.  Like crumpled paper.  Like chewed gum.  A crude, inelegant parasite come to suck my blood.

Then I got involved with him.  I was nothing.  A sick, lost man.  He thought he could help.  I was nothing.  He wasn’t the one.

I was never going to be good enough for him.  For anyone.  Let’s face it.

Letting life and its dangerous current drag me across this angry ocean.  Untethered.

It feels like I am finally waking up from the past two years.  Waking up, yet desiring, desperately to sleep.  I don’t want to wake up.  Why in hells name is there any reason to be awake?

There is no child waiting to deliver me from madness.  There is no innocent boy to take my hand and lead me to a better place.   There is no Big Dog because I was a bad owner.  There is no lover because I am a bad lover.

I did not leave the house today.  I filled another can with weeds.  Compulsively weeding the garden.  I close my eyes and all I can see are weeds.  Panicking that there is one last weed to pull…and I may have missed it.

No, I don’t want to kill myself.

There have been times recently when I have seriously thought about suicide but life always delivers so much more than death ever could.    Why would I want an endless night when I have the glorious day?

This too will pass.  A tiny rule that reminds me daily that life is worth living.  That love, lust, hate and anger all have a certain shelf life and it’s only a matter of time before relief is found or misery returns.

U.S. Suicide Statistics

1.3% of all deaths are from suicide.

On average, one suicide occurs every 16 minutes.

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all Americans.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24 year olds.
(1st = accidents, 2nd = homicide)

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 25-34 year olds.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.

More males die from suicide than females.
(4 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide.)

More people die from suicide than from homicide.
(Suicide ranks as the 11th leading cause of death; Homicide ranks 13th.)

There were over 800,000 suicide attempts in 2010

Sobering statistics.

When I was a kid things were so confusing, so traumatic I made two attempts at taking my own life.  Once with a knife and secondly with pills.  I failed to complete my mission on both occasions.  Thankfully.

When I had my breakdown during my mid twenties I met young people, at the Henderson Hospital, who seemed determined that life was not worth living and had made far more serious attempts at ending things than I had.

Sarah’s story, particularly, sticks in my mind. I may have written about her before but let me refresh your memory.

Sarah was a young, pretty blond girl who had been serially abused (sexually and physically) by both her parents, foster parents and finally by her adopted father.

By the time I met her she was a husk of what she should have been.

She trusted no one.  Why would she?

Every day at the hospital we would congregate for an obligatory house meeting.   Sarah was missing.  I was sent (by the nursing staff) to her room to find her. When I opened the door I was met with a blood bath.

There was blood everywhere, on the sheets, the floor, sprayed on the ceiling and the walls.

Sarah saw me and said sweetly, “I’ll be down in a minute.”  She was pathetically dabbing with a blood sodden rag at the mess on the walls.  “I just want to clear this up.”  She smiled at me.  Softly.  She had severed an artery in her wrist and as fast as she mopped up the blood more spurted out.

I grabbed her wrist and called out for help.  Screamed for help.  Eventually someone arrived.  We were hustled (still holding her as a human tourniquet) into a car and to the local ER.

By the time we got to the hospital I was welded onto her and had to be surgically removed from the congealed, bloody wound.

I have no idea what happened to Sarah.  Perhaps she succeeded and did indeed kill herself.  I have no idea.  She didn’t come back from the emergency room.

I don’t remember ever asking about her.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Those who threaten suicide are frightening people.  A disregard for their own life could very easily become a disregard for yours.  A suicide is a murder.  A murderer may kill you too.

During the past decade of sobriety I have met many men and women (mostly men) who managed to kill themselves.  It always amazed me that even sobriety could not save them.

Death seems so alluring to some people.   There is nothing alluring about death: a premature death is just absurd to me.   We are dead all too soon and for those of us who do not believe in heaven we may as well find heaven on earth.

Anyway, I am too much of a coward to kill myself.  Too much of a coward to drink or take drugs.  Too much of a coward to be successful.  Too much of a coward to say no…to open letters…to say goodbye.

I have learned to live with depression (without drugs) mental illness (without therapy) inertia (without fear) and love (without conclusion).  Some people cannot face the power of life itself.  The beauty, the grandeur, the mystery seem so threatening to them and end up dead by their own hand.

Perhaps they cannot/will not respect this extraordinary world, this abundant place.

Recently, as documented here, I have felt vulnerable and sad.  I felt (falsely) as if life could only be lived in a certain way…with a lover at my side.  On those occasions I am blinded to what I have and drawn to those things I do not have.

These past weeks since the great ‘closure’ my eyes are open, I am bathed in light.  The night is no longer a terrible and foreign place.   The day begins without yearning nor ends with tears.

God damn it…

This too will pass.

Not sad about Sebastian.  Not sad about anything.

Loads of messages from friends re. Sebastian.

I had long chat with PH this morning about the trip home and how amazing it is that we have survived at all.

I have been miserable about turning 50 in three weeks but better to be turning 50 than turning in my grave.

It was such a tonic chatting with my darling PH, she has always been there for me.  Always.  Anyway, that’s just the way I need to start my day with a bit of loving validation.  Suddenly I feel like I can cope with ANYTHING.

Held here in sunny aspic LA.   Suspended in solid jelly, I can see out and they can see in but I am waiting for the jelly to melt around me.

Last night’s dinner with friends was delicious.  We played a few games of backgammon after.  When John realized he wasn’t going to beat me he ran off leaving his wife to try her luck.  Nope, she didn’t win.

My diet means that I can wear clothes I have not worn for a few years.  Last night I wore a pair of crisply pressed silk Prada pants and my Comme cardi.  Lovely.

From the 26th floor of Soho House I stared out over LA as dusk fell.  The car lights on Sunset Blvd snaking for miles East, white and red.   A huge black cloud from the west hastening the night.

Really making an effort to get out of the house.   I am not sitting indoors for 12 days.   Interminably long days.  Perhaps I should just take the car and drive across the USA?   Actually, that isn’t such a bad idea.

I could stop off in Nashville and see Joan!  How about it Joan?

Very exciting European prospects ahead.  I am particularly looking forward to seeing my friends and walking the streets.  July is always such a glorious month in London.

Did I tell you that I ran into Orlando Bloom at breakfast the other day?  Now, he is a sweetheart.  Sat next to Alanis Morrisette at Cholada on PCH.  That’s the extent of my starry life here in LA.

I am so happy she called.  So happy.

 

I needed to stay in home alone tonight.  I feel sad.  Sad about Kristian, sad about my friends who died this year and sad that once again I am on my own:  the vacuum left behind after a wonderful weekend with a great friend.

I have always had and certainly will continue to have a serious problem with goodbye.  Saying goodbye permanently or even temporarily brings up huge feelings of loss, vulnerability and then the anger-the anger overwhelms me.

The genesis of these feelings: I was ripped from my mother’s breast and put up for adoption.  These are primal fears of life and death.   The most profoundly affecting goodbye after my mother’s abandonment was the death of my Darling Big Dog.

When my dog was violently killed the resulting anguish unleashed a torrent of sadness, a great wave of misery that may have resulted from not ever having said goodbye-ever to anyone I loved.  I did not go to my grandfather’s funeral nor my grandmother’s.   I have rigorously avoided any ritual goodbye and for that I am a lesser man.

Whenever I leave a party I just slip away as if saying goodbye will somehow humiliate me.

The same feelings overcome me now after the deaths of three friends in as many months.  Yet the very act of writing about them lends me immediate solace.

The end of relationships causes me unrelenting heartache.

Stoically accepting the end of a relationship?  No, not for me.  Nearly all of the relationships I have had have ended badly.  I never, it seems, get to write that scene in the movie of my life where two people say a dignified goodbye.

The end of my relationship with Joe ended thus:  I knew that I was going to leave but it took me 2 years to end it and when I finally did I tried to do it with tenderness and compassion but he was so angry that he made my life miserable for a full year after I left him-ending up in court fighting over property.

In my mad head I forget that I have choices, the choice to remember that the past no longer runs the show, choices to say goodbye without the reenactment of traumatic and ruinous scenarios.

Today I waved goodbye to a new friend who has come to mean a great deal to me.  Whether there is any romantic future between us is really not up to me-unless I behave in such a way that he would never want to see me again.   This morning I began to get angry, angry that he was leaving but knew that it was for the best.

Even though I was only momentarily angry-until I could identify what was going on in my mad head and break the cycle of abandonment and despair by telling him that I would miss him, that I was feeling sad, that I had no mechanism for making those feelings go away…and by telling him the truth I was freed from behaviors that would alienate him from me forever.

I will say goodbye to Kristian this week, say my heartfelt adieu.   His death has brought up all sorts of STUFF.   I sorted out pictures of us today and will post them as soon as I can.

IMG_1988 IMG_1964 IMG_1963

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Donny, my friend, killed himself last night.  He had struggled with sobriety, struggled to stay clean, struggled to stay out of trouble.  Handsome, sweet, kind-hearted Donny just couldn’t stay alive.  During the past 13 years I have lost many, many friends to the disease of addiction.   It is always tough to reconcile but their loss keeps the rest of us alive.   The truth is I always knew that one day this call would come and so remained aloof.  I learned early on not to totally give myself to those wedded to the idea of death.  The other men we know, who knew him, his friends my friends a community of sober men-are devastated.  I can be there for them.   I am there for you because you choose to live, to wake up every morning and face life on life’s terms.

I learned this shocking news at dinner last night.  Dinner with Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Lady Rizo, Rob Roth, Cooper and Benoit’s boyfriend Nick at Soho House.  We ate a $44 chicken.    Earlier in the day I had lunch with Pierre the general manager of Soho House New York and very old friend.  Recently in love he looks very happy and ten years younger.  We ate delicious cauliflower soup.

The recession touches all of our lives in some way or other and no more so in the home where I am staying.   My friend has been made redundant and after years of getting up and going into an office now finds himself carving an ersatz routine out of a long, jobless day.    It is particularly hard to watch as I feel utterly powerless and wish that I could do something to make it better.  A remarkably placid, gentleman my friend owned up to feeling very rageful in some situations when asked some sorts of questions about his predicament.

Benoit’s book event at the Gay and Lesbian Center on 13th Street was very enjoyable.  His new book American Voyeur is well worth reading.  He is a great essayist.  I particularly liked the experience of going into the Gay and Lesbian Center.  A warm hive of gay activity.  Benoit’s event, a dating workshop, some sort of dance workshop, a twelve step meeting, men and women hanging around reading on the stair.  It had a feeling of community, which is so sadly lacking in my gay experience.

Roque came to visit and it was lovely to finally meet him.

I still have not gotten around to having my haircut.  It looks very shaggy.

Ended Tuesday on the roof of the Standard Hotel overlooking the frozen river.  We were eating fascinating deserts in the Boom Boom Room.  It was a lyrical end to a tragic day.

Cooper and I shared a cab home.

Eric and the Little Dog

When I gave up taking cocaine and drinking I remember that friends would call at 3 in the morning on my house phone. I’d say, “Why the hell are you calling so late?” They’d mumble back that they were ‘drunk’. At 9 the following morning I would return their call. They’d say, “What the hell you calling so early?” I’d reply, “I’m sober.”

These people were my ‘lower companions’ and my house was always full of them. They were a tough crowd to convince that I was going to stay sober. Slowly but surely they all vanished, off to different parties or on some occasions dying alone in their rooms, needles in their arms. Lower companions are neither your social or intellectual or financial equals. They are people you only indulge within the context of your addiction.

The halcyon days of early sobriety. Clean sheets and brushed teeth. I got sober October 1st 1996. How I loved that first autumn and winter of my sobriety in London. Flying around town in that cute little green Porsche those other men said I drove like a handbag, living in that glorious house in Kensington and wearing wonderful clothes. Within two years that would all be gone. Those were the tough lessons of early sobriety.

Lesson one: Whatever I have right now is ENOUGH and enough is all I need.

My last but one blog before I pack up my twitter bag and change my blog direction.

Sex Rehab finale airs on Sunday and not a day too soon. Oh you ungrateful gay! How can you be so ungrateful? Nobody knew who you were before Sex Rehab! Now people know who you are. The stinking wind of semi-fame, fame for no good reason, fame for fame’s sake blows over me at night and wakes me gasping for air. Duncan the obscure. Could you have sunk much lower than reality TV!

Oh yes I could. I have. Much lower-but on who’s scale? People seem to think that those of my ‘co-stars’ who made pornography are pretty low on the unfathomable scale. Nah, they are just performers, wandering minstrels who offer vagina rather than lute. Their acting skills have kept me calm when the demons are upon me.

According to some, when one agrees to appear in reality TV, one surrenders any claim one might have had to integrity or dignity. Is that true? Even an obvious aesthete like me? I am a fucking dilatant! I am on life’s grand tour sampling what culture a country has to offer and this is America’s cultural phenomenon. Reality TV! How could I NOT have been a part of it? I commissioned a great portrait of myself by the artist VH1.

Back to today’s theme: Lower Companions.

I tried yesterday and the day before to reach out to Jennie but she ignored my calls and emails. I wanted to avoid the scorched earth policy I usually enact in these situations. I did not/do not want to lose my temper; I did not want to disguise my pain with anger. I did not want to hurt myself. So, I wrote a blog.

Joe

Yesterday’s blog caused my usual commentators some consternation. ‘I will never read another word you ever write!’ One woman scrawled. ‘Poor Jennie! Poor Eric.’ They bawled. Let me tell you something blog readers/commentators. I enjoyed deleting those pathetic comments.

That’s how far I sank. Hankering to be let into the Jenny and Eric club? Are you fucking kidding? Their shrill laughter and bad skin. Over lit kitchens and badly cooked food. That’s how far I sank. Swimming in the sewer with Jenny and Eric. Come on pornsters-bring it on!

I turned and said to Anthony Rendlesham, “Get behind me, Henry Higgins! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

So that was the state of my scrambled mind yesterday. That and dog issues to deal with and lawyers late at night and the reckoning-which is Polish for cheque please!

Can you remember a time when all your closest friend began to die all at once?

I had breakfast with John and whilst we were eating Benoit emailed me and I was flush with pride. Then, in the afternoon, after a long walk on Runyon with Isaiah who wore tight brown boots and a pompadour Joe stopped by. Beautiful, sweet adorable, bright-eyed Joe.

Joe asks me the most exacting questions. He was asking me what I was like when I was his age. I told him that by the age of 24 I had become a nihilist. That in 1984 we were four years into an AIDS epidemic that would go on to kill millions and millions of people but at that time just seemed to be killing my friends.

Nihilism is sometimes used to explain the general mood of despair at the perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realizing there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.

I realized what had happened when I first met Joe and his gang of friendly friends. The revulsion I felt. These beautiful young men gathered around me talking and having fun and I felt nauseous. I called my therapist Jill and she said, “How old did you feel?” And I said, “Not like I was a child..more like in my early twenties.” And I saw that I had never ever talked about being left behind by my tribe who had all died and I had not. That there were so many funerals and tearful farewells with boys just like Joe. With friends who one felt abandoned by-even though they had died and I had not!

HIV

One day you faint when the gardener cuts his finger the next you’re wrapping the dead, emaciated body of a young man in a turning cloth because nobody else will do it.

Do you remember Danny and Evan? Do you remember how much they loved each other? How they couldn’t bear to be apart? How kind Evan was and how beautiful it was to hear Danny tell Even how much he loved him. Evan looked just like Joe and was just as full of hope. They both lay screaming in separate hospital beds surrounded by nurses dressed in body suits. Danny was screaming because he didn’t want to die. He was too young. ‘I’m too young.’

I asked Joe to imagine a world where he watched all his young friends die of AIDS. Every beautiful man he knew and loved dying in the most harrowing, ugly way. Regardless of income. Plagued by shame.

I don’t want to hear ONE criticism of me or my life. I lived through a fucking plague that killed all my friends and I survived! I survived. Survive to be excluded by people like Jenny and Eric? Fuck that.

And I never talk about it because I can’t. It’s not my tragedy-it’s ours.

Black people write to me and tell me that I will never know what it is like to be black. We all hold onto to our own experience and in moments of peril hold it out in front of us like a shield. And I whisper to myself that the blows may stop falling if I say: I am a black man, a gay man, a woman, an abused child, that I saw my friends, a generation of fine young men die of the most disgusting disease.

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