For My Father
I wrote this blog post a little over a year ago. Somehow, I have finally found the courage, strength and awareness to share it with all of you.
It's raw, and my darkest secret. But before we dive into this post, I want to add a Trigger Warning to anyone who is suffering from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has 24/7, free & confidential support for people in distress, prevention, & crisis resources: 1-800-273-8255.
February 28, 2018
This week has been, exhausting. And my very first taste to a BUSY travel schedule. One that involved a mini road trip down to LA for the Create & Cultivate event. And literally, the moment I got back to the Bay Area, I was hoping in an Uber headed to SFO for my first time at CURVE-NYC, a lingerie tradeshow (blog post recap coming soon). Needless to say, there was a lot of preparation and packing going on beforehand.
It was the night before I planned on driving down to LA. Well, a few hours before... I kind of love doing that drive in the middle of the night when no one else is on the road. And I will do just about anything to avoid the SoCal traffic. Anyways. My ass was knee deep in laundry and a to-do list that was an arm's length long. But of course, I found myself procrastinating on Instagram, scrolling through everyone's pictures, trying to find the motivation to adhere to my own shit. I'll never forget, I stopped in my tracks after reading a from Lauryn, creator of The Skinny Confidential. The caption went along the lines of "most important post I'll ever write." Me, being the nosey bitch I am, had to see what it was all about. Was it more skincare secrets? Was it the diet we all needed to try? Whatever it was- I was going to see it.
So, I swiped up.
I read the post.
I read the post again.
Just to make sure I was reading things correctly, I went for a third time.
Mid-post, things were right. The room began to spin. My heart was pounding, my stomach was turning, and I could hardly move a muscle. Suddenly, what was meant to be a productive evening turned into a night spent on the bathroom floor. Because I just read a story that I know all too well. One that's filled with pain and devastation of losing a parent to suicide.
I cried for her. And for everyone else out there who also shares this story. It was the first time in my life where I truly understood there are other people with a similar experience. Most of my life, I went on believing I was the only one to lose a parent this way. Part of me wishes that were true because I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone else.
Pain that will creep up on you every single day and overwhelms you with anger, guilt, sadness, and even shame. A pain so deep your brain will literally do everything in its power to restrain specific memories from resurfacing.
Sometime June 1995: I was four years old.
Some of you may already know this, but my family is six generations deep in an ice business. Every now and then, there would be an ice convention that would require our attendance and for us to leave New York. That year we (aka me, my mom, her brother- his wife, and my cousin who is the same age as me) all gathered for a family ice adventure out to Las Vegas. I remember just about everything about this trip. We stayed at the MGM. Not even five minutes after checking-in, I managed to fall off the marble bench that's sitting by the elevator and banged my head pretty bad actually. My mom ran off to the vending machine thinking a can of soda would hold over as an icepack until we found some ice (the irony). Instead, I sat there sobbing drinking the Sunkist ignoring the growing lump on the side of my head. I remember that my mom and aunt wanted to go off gambling. Naturally, my cousin and I needed supervision while they went off on their own. So, they checked us into daycare. But we turned into those asshole kids who caused a big scene until they came back and got us. I remember walking down the strip to Treasure Island, where we watched the pirate show. Totally convinced the canons were real and the pirates were going to kidnap me (the drama started early). I want to think those are rather vivid memories to keep at such a young age. A few years back, my mom told me that I had actually spent time with my father on that trip. He and my Grandpa drove out from Los Angeles to hang out with me for the day. It should have been my last memory of him. But for the life of me, I cannot remember this.
The brain works in mysterious ways.
November 25, 1995 (still four years old) just five months after our trip west, my mom received the devastating news.
He was only 27.
A young man with his whole life ahead of him.
I sit here, wishing I could write more about him. I mainly have daydreams about memories we should have had. Like, teaching how to surf or how to drive a manual vehicle, or scaring away ex-boyfriends before they broke my heart. From the few stories shared, he was your typical "California dude"- he surfed, enjoyed Mexican food and lived for the adrenalin rush. He lived a "normal" life until going down a dark path of drugs and addiction, losing himself entirely to this secretive life he was living. Believing he had no other choice. As you can imagine, this is an overly sensitive topic amongst my family. The day I lost my father, people also lost their son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew and ex-partner — something I grasped and respected at a very young age.
For many reasons, I've kept this secret to myself for a long time — a list we can save for another blog pose. But today, I hope this post helps erase the stigma associated with Mental Health. Especially among men, who are three times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Not being a man, I obviously cannot speak to the societal pressures in place. But from an outsiders perspective (aka womansplain), the concept of emotional vulnerability is almost viewed as a weakness with phrases like: "don't be a pussy" or "man up." Emotions, in general, seem to freak out the male population more than a dirty bathroom. Being in tune with your wants, needs and mental health only makes you stronger. And when those thoughts become too unbearable, it's okay to ask for help.
Again, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has 24/7, free & confidential support for people in distress, prevention, & crisis resources: 1-800-273-8255.