January 2012

I Hate Bullies

by Lori Dwyer on January 31, 2012 · 21 comments

I hate bullies.

I hate people who take advantage of their own confidence, their own lack of empathy; and force, with words or action, or the unspoken threat of words or action, their will on others.

But that’s far too clinical, saying it that way. I hate people who throw their weight around. I hate people who pick up on the fear of others, or desperation of others, and use it to support their believes, or their wants, or their opinions. It never seems to matter, to someone with that domineering streak, whether a person’s loyalty or opinion as it’s stated is an honest reflection of the other person’s feelings. It doesn’t matter– it’s the verbal agreement, the social and physical submission– that’s where that ugly, mean power comes from.

I was bullied at school, can you tell? I was unpopular little geek in the final years of primary school; in high school I was downgraded to total nerd worthy of having her schoolbag spat on and put in a garbage can, and teased mercilessly when I begun my period. (Tanya and Emma. Hi.)

Moving schools didn’t help much. My second year of high school meant starting somewhere new where no one knew me. Bullies, they found me anyway. I don’t think it was as psychical the second time around– it was more of that soul crushing ostracism that only teenage girls are capable of. It was rumors and names and something less tangible– again, that push and shove, that abuse of power that bullies thrive on.

When I was about fourteen years old I was so insecure I remember feeling as if I was curved in the middle, like a banana or the letter C– something I’d done to myself. Because if I curled up into myself then no one would notice me and that constant gangly ugliness wouldn’t be so magnified. I remember a boy in my year, for no other reason than to be just… nasty, asking our entire music class if “anyone actually liked Lori?” and no one– not even those who I did consider friends– speaking up to say they did.

As is said… I hate bullies.

One particular chick who bullied me in my middle–ish years of high school– hi, again- what is it with Emma’s?– has turned out to be, sadly, in the percentage of people that never grow out of being bullies, that for some reason still need the satisfaction of making other people feel small to make themselves feel normal. I ran into her about eighteen months ago– in the final few months of the Purple Before– and she went out of her way to draw attention to and make snarky comment about the brand of jeans I was wearing.

I found myself staring at her, wide eyed, head cocked to one side, in silence, for just a beat too long– enough to break the rhythm of the conversation, to make a few people uncomfortable as they witnessed a standoff of sorts.

Fifteen years ago, in high school, I would have dropped my gaze, my face burning, willing my eyes not to fill with tears, that sick heavy shame of just being me sitting in my guts.

Fuck that. I’m not in high school anymore. And I don’t do bullies, not anymore. I still get scared– there is one person in my life who is a blatant, compassionate–less intimidator who literally makes my insides turn to a shaking, unstable liquid. I am scared of her, and she knows it, and she takes full advantage of it.

I try not to let her. Especially now, in the After. I have simply faced too much, to be afraid of her, afraid of that.

I don’t know what it is about me– but I attract bullies, as if there’s some scent that comes off me, some indicator of weakness. Maybe there is– I’m naturally passive, I don’t like confrontation, I’m a ’yes’ person and a pleaser. It makes me an easy target and sometimes I can feel that painted all over my face.

Sometimes I wonder why, if someone had to be blamed… blame the weakest. There’s nothing noble or pleasant about that. But when it comes right own to it, people are just animals, and it’s an evolutionary given– survival of the fittest.

It’s one of those unfair truths of life that some people just never grow out of having that oppressive personality streak. I recognize it more in women than men, but that’s probably just the world colored with how things have been in the past. I hate that some people are just like that. I hate that it still makes me feel vulnerable and unworthy and fourteen years old all over again.

As I said, some people, they never grow out of it. But I’m too old for that shit now, and I know myself too well.

Finally, at thirty years of age… I don’t do bullies anymore.

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Better Off Without You

by Lori Dwyer on January 30, 2012 · 81 comments

Every now and then I get an email from, or talk to, a bloke who tells me they empathise with my husband, that they’ve been in the state of mind he was in when everything went wrong. A lot of them have read the post I wrote about men and suicide.

Some of them say thank you, just reading that helped me. Others of them say that had they read my blog, the living, grieving aftermath of a suicide, they may have felt differently when they were considering it themselves. And there are those who say that reading my blog wouldn’t have made one iota of difference to how they felt or how they acted.

All valid reactions, and thank you, gentlemen, for your honesty and candor. I love feedback. I love correspondence. I love to know if and how this blog is effecting people. It helps…. death always has to has to have some kind of purpose. Meaning making- the human skill of giving death a deeper meaning than the stopping of the heart, the slow decomposition of cells- it’s what allows to move on, psychologically, from grief.

But I digress. I was getting to the part where I say that there is, I’ve noticed, a common theme amongst the men who write to me, those who have considered- or attempted- tot take their own lives before. Women say it too, but not as frequently as men… never as often as men.

“I really, honestly, thought my family and the people I knew would be better off without me.”

It scares the shit out of me, how often I’ve heard this. How deep the conviction behind it. How solid, and irrefutable and logical people tell me it is. Not just a misguided belief that no would miss them much at all… but a deep core belief that the rest of the world- their loved ones in particular- would really, truly be better off without them.

And I know, first hand and in terrifying technicolor, just how very wrong that notion is. Just over twelve months after my husband took his own life, and I see the spiraling, spider-webbing consequences of it every day.

And if you don’t believe me, I can prove it. The consequences stack up day after day after day… it’s written in the life stories of myself and my children and so many people I know and love.

I can tell you about it, show you the proof.

A mother, broken, waiting to die. A sister who has lost the only man she could ever depend on, so devastated by her loss she just can’t control her pain and lashes out at others cruelly and indiscriminately. A teenage girl who’s lost her anchor, her rock, her hero.

A woman, not even thirty, who’s had everything taken from her, who’s crippled with grief and pain and anxiety. A little girl who knows Santa better than Daddy. Who will never, ever know her father, who called her his princess. A little boy who, at four years old, understands more about death than any child should, and sometimes still curls up on the floor, with his father’s pillow, listening to his dad’s favorite CD, and he talks to me about how tall Daddy was, how high he could jump. He tells me, when I cry, that it’s OK, Daddy is watching me from Heaven and I can still talk to him.

And did reading that last paragraph break your heart? Good. Because that was my intention. If you ever think anyone would be better off without you, I want you to remember that image. And there’s more. You think that’s where it stops, with the people closest to you, those immediately involved with you? You are wrong.

I can show you a man who was already grieving, who’s lost the only bloke who understood him, the only other male he could talk to. I can show you a woman who has had her faith in God badly shaken, her belief in happiness undermined. I can show you a couple, together for twenty years, now divorcing- the result of compounded events, part of which was the poison that invaded their lives when mine fell apart.

I can show you a child who should have a godfather, two grooms who were missing their best man. I can show you an ambulance officer who will never look at things the same again. I can show you a psychologist who had all her perceptions realigned. I can show you a man who had to live through his own father’s suicide all over again.

I can show you two small children who miss going to daycare with their best mate, who don’t understand why he left to move far away. I can show you a boy who became a man in the week he painted the Purple from my life. I can show a woman who is haunted by CPR. I can show you men, a few of them, who seem to have lost their balls when they lost their friend.

I could go on, I could write this list forever… but it hurts, and I don’t need to. I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. You really, truly think that anyone in your life would be better of without you, after reading the list of pain my husband’s suicide has left behind? Can you see how far it reaches, how it didn’t just effect us, or his family, or even just his friends? It left a pattern, a long, long path of destruction, and after twelve months, it still has not stopped.

No one will be better off without you. You can even think to yourself “It will hurt now, but eventually, in a few months, they’ll be better off”. And I can tell you- you are wrong. No one will be better off without you, not now, not in the future, not ever.

Suicide, taking your own life, however it’s done or however minimal you think the harm may be- you are wrong.

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The House, Part Two.

by Lori Dwyer on January 27, 2012 · 21 comments

Continued from yesterday. Come on in… this place is eerie.

Enter the house and it’s almost enough to jarr your brain. One room is newspapers, stacks and stacks of them piled neatly and orderly– or once, they were, before the weather and the rats and time itself took to them.

Weather, and rats, and time. There is no graffiti on the walls, no fires set, no coke cans and chip packets to give squatters away. It feels as if no one has breathed the air of this house in, quite literally, years.

The newspapers go back for years. I find one dated 1940.

In the front hall is a drift of unopened mail– five hundred letters, maybe more. I open one and the date is 1971 and I feel like an intruder for the first time, a thief of memories and a breaker of sealed tombs.

This house is unsettling, strange and quite crew and so fascinating. The light is fading, but that is not the source of my frustration– I wish my eyes were bigger, to take more in.

The kitchens still holds a refrigerator, a stove, pots and pans and cooking utensils on the walls. There are jars with labels still attached, and I want one to take home with me but the roof has fallen in across the entry to the kitchen, long splintered wooden boards creating a huge diagonal gate across the doorway.

Another room is art supplies. There are shelves all around the walls, stacked with canvases and paint and brushes and palettes and easels. The floor is knee deep in paper– journals and diaries and notebooks with nothing special in them I can see, just names and dates and the occasional phone number. There is paperwork here of all kinds– loan statements with tiny paper stubs filled in by hand when a payment was made, letters to and from various organizations, dockets and shopping lists. A calendar on the wall has been frozen still in the 1960′s. The only thing I don’t see is artwork.

*Ahem* Obviously, the yellow is added by me.

In fact, the only artwork in the house I miss entirely the first time I am there– is it too dark to see the room, once, I think, a living room, that he stands in.

It’s when I come back a second time I discover him, and then only by the flash of my camera, the day is so overcast. He stands in the lounge room, along with a piano that was literally terrifying when I tried it, the sound of untuned keys that hadn’t been touched in years echoing in this strange house.

This house– that standing statue man in particular– are all kinds of weird and, to be honest, so fucking strange.

Clothes seem out of date with utensils, which seem out of date with all that paperwork, which is out of date to the letters in the hallway. It’s as if some massive, silent clock has stopped ticking… But in different rooms, at different times.

Yesterdays orb, close up… quite possibly a raindrop. And not nearly as impressive as the last orb.

I went back only once, to take photos, and felt unsafe without my dog. In fact, I felt damn unwelcome… call me all the crazy you want, but that house has a very stale, very bad vibe.

And I know where I’m not wanted. I try not to tempt fate, when it’s already bitten me once.

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