The older I get, the more and more I realize how complex feelings can be. When we are children, everything seems so simple. We are happy or sad or angry. We feel confused or determined or apathetic. As we get older, all of these feelings seem to interweave amongst themselves, and it becomes more difficult to just say we feel one emotion or another.
Maybe I’m not meeting or spending time with the right people, or maybe it’s because people want to simplify things in an attempt to avoid a genuine understanding, but I’m having that feeling again that no one understands what I am trying to say.
I had a friend over for dinner tonight who I just became reacquainted with over the last few months. My mom was spending the night at the hospital with my dad, for what will be his ninth and hopefully last night there before getting discharged, so I had the house to myself for once. I was expressing to him what an arduous endeavor it’s been being back and my constant feeling of emotional and physical exhaustion, and I said that it’s even harder without my brother around. He asked where he was.
That’s when it hit me that I never told him about what happened to Ed.
I told him the condensed version, and of course, he was shocked and had a pained look on his face as I described the situation. I expressed anger and frustration with my family, and he expressed empathy towards them and their lack of understanding of mental illness.
I don’t know why, but while empathy is always something I value greatly, an empathy towards this always seems to infuriate me.
It’s not as simple as a blame game, or feeling like if they understood or tried harder to understand that maybe Ed would be here today. It’s also about taking responsibility and realizing that someone needs help, and we need to give it. It’s about understanding the vulnerability of a human being to criticism and pain. It’s about realizing it’s not always about ourselves and how an action or state of being will reflect on us and acknowledging it’s about the person next to you.
Every time I tell the short or long version of “where is Ed now,” I feel pain all over my body. I don’t like talking about it, but I want to be open about it to increase awareness of the types of pain and suffering that human beings go through and that these are not isolated experiences. I want to make sure Ed is not forgotten and that he is constantly acknowledged and part of my life. I get irritated when people say, “You don’t have to tell me what happened – it’s okay,” even though they are saying it partly half because they don’t want to cause me more pain, and of course, half because they may not want to really know. I hate being afraid of the truth, so I want others to know the truth.