Silence like a cancer grows


It was 2am.  I was planning on actually getting some sleep tonight, for a change.  The spawn has been sick, and sleeping in bed with me, while Kazander slept on the couch, so he wouldn’t be woken up.  But she seemed to be feeling better, she’s actually in her own bed for a change, and I was planning on going to bed at a somewhat-respectable hour.

Particularly since I’m working off of a grand total of 8 hours of sleep over the last three nights.  Kazander and the spawn were both already asleep.  My bed was calling.

So 2am hit, and I started shutting everything down.  I glanced up and noticed that I had a new email in my inbox.  I saw who it was from and considered saving it until tomorrow.  With the spawn being sick and my brain basically giving me the middle finger, I’ve fallen so far behind on emails, and I needed to respond to two others before his.

But when I glanced at the subject line, I felt my heart plummet to my feet.  I was shaking as I opened the email.

It was short.  Just one paragraph.

We’ve never officially met, but I’ve heard a lot about you.  I’m —‘s wife, —.   I thought I should let you know that — killed himself two weeks ago.  He mentioned you in his note and asked me to let you know.  I know the two of you were close and you talked a lot.  But I guess you weren’t close enough to stop him from doing it.

I just stared at the screen, unable to move, unable to think.

So now there are five people I’m in love with.  And I never told him.

It wasn’t common, but not unheard of for him to go a few weeks without contacting me.  He traveled a lot for work.

God, putting that in the past tense is fucking brutal.

I knew that he’d been having a lot of trouble, that one thing after another after another just piled on him.  And I knew he didn’t have the strength to carry it on his own.

He was submissive, and his wife was vanilla, and he found this blog and reached out, and we’ve been talking ever since.  She knew about me, and I obviously knew about her, but we’d never spoken.

We’d.  We’d been talking ever since.  Past tense.

I fell in love with him within weeks.  And I never told him.

Then, all of a sudden, he sunk low, and felt like he couldn’t break free.

It really was a perfect storm.  Everything that could’ve gone wrong in his life went wrong.  And within a matter of months.  And quite a bit of it simply couldn’t be fixed.

Add untreated depression and PTSD to that, and I knew he needed more help than I could give.

I never pushed him to talk about the depression or the PTSD.  He would get defensive if I so much as mentioned it in passing, and say that some guy with a college degree couldn’t just open a book and point to a bunch of big fancy words and pretend to understand what he’d lived through.

And I get that.  I’m no stranger to PTSD.  I grew up in a military family.  I know what it looks like, and I can even understand the defensiveness.  When I was in my senior year of high school, when things were pretty dark, people started throwing those letters in that order around, and I’d get pissed.  I told them that a) I’m not some cliché rape victim, and b) I had relatives who had lived through way worse shit than I had.  I endured ending the life of my unborn child.  My dad and my uncles, and even my grandmother, had endured far worse, and the guilt I carried was nothing compared to theirs.

It was B (a veteran, himself) who finally got through to me, and told me that it’s not a competition.  The fact that others have endured worse didn’t make my pain any less real.  And he made me understand that denying it and lying to myself about it was pointless.  Getting defensive accomplished nothing.  He went with me to my therapist appointments, partly as emotional support, and partly to kick my ass if I tried to flake or didn’t cooperate.

The point is that I understood that defensiveness, and backed off.  I never urged him to get help.  Or at the very least talk to me about it.  I kept my mouth shut.

I watched him crumble under the weight of his burden, knowing that he couldn’t handle it on his own, and I didn’t say anything.  I kept silent.

And when he talked about feeling lonely, and that I was the only one he felt like he could talk to, and be honest with, I told him that I would always there for him, but I never told him I love him.  I kept silent.

Do I think I could have saved him?  I’m not arrogant enough to say yes, but I God-fucking-damn-sure should’ve tried.

I may not have been able to make a difference by pushing him, but I damn sure didn’t make a difference by staying silent.

We shared a love of Disturbed (David Draiman’s voice is the stuff of legends), and this cover is my favorite, because it showcases his range so incredibly (that lower register in the first and second stanza is the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard), and combines metal with a full classical orchestra so seamlessly.  As someone who dreams of undertaking a project combining opera with rock, that kind of thing appeals to me.

I talked to him about David Draiman, and Corey Taylor, and hobbies, and how our days had been.  But I never said what he needed to hear.

No one said what he needed to hear.

“And no one dared disturb the sound of silence.”  And he died alone.


15 thoughts on “Silence like a cancer grows

  1. cpmandara says:

    Life is horrible. Sometimes you can be best friends with someone and not know how close to the edge they are. You can’t blame yourself. All we can do is learn and move forward…

  2. Stuart says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Times like these always raise more questions than answers.

  3. dvjan21 says:

    Words can’t express the tragedy. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to convey the empathy I feel for you.

  4. Her comment about how “you weren’t close enough to stop him from doing it” irks me. To me it smacks of blame, perhaps of this lifestyle he wanted to live but never got to, and perhaps to a lesser extent, you personally. Maybe I am wrong.

    That said, my deepest condolences to you and his family.

    • Domina Jen says:

      Thank you. Yeah, that comment stung a bit. Especially knowing that I should’ve done more. Seeing it acknowledged by someone else hurt. But thank you for your kind words, it’s appreciated.

  5. I have reread this post so many times in the last hour. Part of me wants to fume over how the wife informed you of his passing. Though I’ll chalk up that spiteful comment to her own pain and loss at the moment and not being too able to accept she was unable to help her husband either.

    I am truly sorry you lost a person who was important to you. Loosing anyone is hard, more so when they take their own lives to end the pain they feel. Never blame yourself or guilt yourself. Easier said than done this I know from personal experience. People will always do what they must to end the pain they feel. Even if it means their own life. You were there for him when he needed an ear, a distraction from his problems he was being weighed down by. And in truth you probably helped him more than either of you realized. Sometimes friendship just isn’t enough to overcome a person’s inner demons. It’s a sad fact of life but true.

  6. slave tasha says:

    ((Jen)) i am so sorry for your loss. 💜

  7. thechastecyclist says:

    I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Thank you for sharing everything you do here. It makes a bit difference. This story was heartbreaking and listening to you share your living through it made it very alive. My condolences on this hard part.

    I’m trying to work my way to becoming a therapist for this exact reason: there are too many people where all sorts of things intersect – pile up, as you put it. I want to be someone with the tools to help. Sharing your friend’s story, and yours, reminds me why. Thank you.

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