Less than two weeks before leaving on the Spring tour I sat down with my morning cup of tea to do some work at the computer. I was celebrating eight years of continuous sobriety that day and reflecting a little bit on that when the phone rang.
I had known for a long time that this phone call was going to happen. Sadly, it was never a matter of “if” only a matter of “when”.
Well “when” was March 19th 2015 at about 11am.
I got the news that he had blown his brains out the night before.
How ironic? The person I was in a relationship with that was so chaotic, abusive and exhausting it was a catalyst for my sobriety, had shot himself eight years to the day of my last drink.
Thats four times the length of our relationship.
I hadn’t talked to him in years. I didn’t really want anything to do with him (unfortunately). I knew that talking to him would cause both of us harm. So I just didn’t. The best way for me to express my deep and unending love for him was to not have anything to do with him.
I got all of the information about what happened and spent a couple days just drifting. Everything had come to a grinding halt. I couldn’t really do anything but be with a couple close friends who I knew wouldn’t require anything of me, who wouldn’t ask me to talk about it, who would just let me be, feed me scones chocolate and tea and just let me be. Let me burst into tears or lay spread eagle on the floor feeling like a useless lump.
A couple days was good for me and I got back on the tour-prep train and was very busy. Good busy. A happy and fulfilled busy.
Tour progressed well for a couple-ish weeks with shows four to five nights a week. Then we hit a small break and took to some ocean camping for a couple days to rest and celebrate the tour manager’s third birthday.
Well the ocean has a way my friends. The ocean has a way.
I can only hold out so long before the ocean takes it from me. I don’t have a choice in the matter.
The first evening there I started to feel a release. I put my feet in the water, collected rocks to send to my mom and relaxed, gladly breathing in the crisp, salty air.
The next day I went for a walk along the bluffs in Montaña de Oro State Park. There are rocks that you can walk out onto and have the waves crashing around you. It’s pretty awesome. I’ve never quite experienced breakers like that. I felt extremely privileged and humbled to get to stand there surrounded by the giant flowing mother ocean.
Suddenly, I burst into tears. Which quickly turned into uncontrollable sobbing. Overwhelmed. I was mad and sad. Sad that this person that I loved so much, had hurt so badly for long enough that he had no choice but to end his life. Mad that he didn’t let me love him the way I wanted to. Sad that I am alone on the adventure of my life and not sharing it with him. Mad that he had robbed me of so much love in my life. Not just from him but from others and from myself.
The evolution of my love since that relationship ended has been interesting. Truth is, I’m still afraid to love anyone the way that I loved him. Loving him like that was dangerous and I knew it but I did it anyway. I loved him madly. I loved absolutely everything about him except the alcoholism and the monster that it nourished. And that is why I had to leave.
I let the tears fly and when I came to the place where I no longer needed to cry, I walked on. I took some time, wrote for a while and spent time around my tour mates.
I haven’t smoked in over ten years. With the exception of the first few weeks after quitting, I haven’t ever wanted to. Smoking is completely disgusting to me. You can do it, I don’t think you’re gross, the smoking is. It’s just nasty and never have I looked back and wanted to take that habit on again. But this grieving did something weird to me and I needed to smoke. I didn’t want all the chemicals but I wanted a spiritual, grieving process facilitator and smoking tobacco was that. So I smoked. Not a lot but I smoked. It was gross. My clothes and hair smelled nasty and I really wasn’t enjoying it but I needed it. I needed it to help me gather and ground myself a few puffs at a time.
The next day, we all went out and climbed this giant rock on the beach. I walked out onto an outcropping so the ocean swells could crash around me and then all of a sudden, the tears made their way. It didn’t matter that anyone else was there (usually it does and I hold back), I bawled. I let it flow like a crazy, snotty waterfall. Time didn’t exist, only grief. I yelled at the ocean. I prayed. I let the rock absorb my tears. I laid in a useless, sobbing mess on a giant rock surrounded by the cresting tide and let that shit go.
I had to. The ocean left me no choice. I raged at him for taking my love away. I raged at myself for taking my love away. I raged at myself for holding my love back for him. Holding back just in case he found out I was really happy with someone else and how much that might hurt him. I held my love back for years. So long now that I don’t know how to not hold back. And now he’s gone. Now he knows how much I loved him.
The words, “You are no longer mine” escaped my lips. Then came out again and again. And with each reciting, I let it all go more and more and felt more peace.
When he was no longer mine to hold, I could let him go.
The ocean took him. She took him so gently and yet suddenly from me and I let him go.
I’m not done grieving yet but it seems to come in waves where I am suddenly consumed with tears. One little thing crosses my mind that seemingly has nothing to do with him and there he is and I cry and it consumes me and I let it. Then I move on.
The ocean is a powerful beast that I’ve had a sacred relationship with my entire life. It always gives me exactly what I need when I need it and I never have to ask. In this case it was a safe place to begin to absolve myself and Nathan of all of the pain we caused each other.