It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I lost a hero.
Anthony Bourdain to me, had the life I most aspire to. He had seemed from outward appearances to overcome his past, and personal demons and find his calling in food, writing and travel. He connected with people on a personal level, explored uncomfortable truths about history, current realities, and brought people together. He had wit, and sarcasm but also altruism, and a giddy joy for discovery. He spoke out against injustice. He loved everything from a hot dog to a fancy multi-course prefix with pairing. He could connect, with everyone with a good heart. He had no tolerance for bullies and fools. For years I have said if I could do anything/be anything, I’d be the female Anthony Bourdain. So how do you handle the loss of a hero? Someone who seems to have everything you dream of? If this strong fighter can’t deal with the state of the world anymore, how could I possibly? When you’ve spent years trying to bring people together through food, through our commonalities, trying to get everyone to see that we are all humans with the same basic joys and pains and we just need to connect. What do you do when it seems increasingly that hatred, greed and fear are winning? When the world seems more and more divided? How do you not lose hope? It’s dark right now. Every day I read the news and it just seems worse.
I was 22 when I attempted suicide. I took a most of a large bottle of Tylenol with codeine. I obviously didn’t die. I did get terribly ill for a few days. My father’s response when I told him was to look at me and tell me “If you are going to do it you take a knife and …” and proceeded to pantomime slitting length wise along the vein in his arm. Ironically when he attempted suicide the year before he died, he used pills too. I refrained from reminding him of his direction to me. P.s. Happy Father’s day Dad.
I get the darkness. I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle daily with those voices in my head. The ones that nag on and on about how: I’m not good enough, I’m too fat, I’m too ugly, too old, I’m difficult, demanding, hard to work with, hard to live with, snippy, unreasonable, dramatic, overly emotional, broken, used goods, useless, stupid, a whore, failure, my life is too much, my life makes no difference, etc… etc.. It doesn’t help, I’ve been told every one of those awful things, by other people. It really doesn’t help that often those people are those who I’m in theory closest to. I feel the urge to separate and withdraw because I think I’m a waste of space, that I bring the party down, they have more fun without me, that I’m only invited along out of pity, that I ruin things. Men might flirt with me for a night or two, but they quickly tire of me, because who could possibly love a wreck like me? Sometimes the noise of it is so loud it’s all I hear.
The strange thing after that attempt at 22, when things in comparison were really nothing much to complain about, I’ve never tried again. I’ve been through hell… back injury with excruciating pain and near paralysis, career failures, heart break, more heartbreak, failed friendships, death, more death, even more death, and fuck all the death already. Sometimes, quite often really, I hate my life. But I don’t want to give up living. There are days I want to disappear completely and have the momentary thought of throwing myself in the river… but then I have a cry, and start over. My life has not at all been the dream I had for myself… the dream in times gone by… Wow this just turned into Les Mis….
Ok. But seriously. When I was young I thought I’d be on Broadway and be a movie star by now. I’d have some gorgeous husband and we would be traveling the world and I’d have a little artist retreat center. It was planned. Right now I’m just trying to function day to day, to find some sort of basic happiness in life, and pay my bills. I’d like there to be something more than basic. But for now, that’s what it is. Hopefully I’ll get there. I’m better this May than I was last May… and that progress however slow, is something. I’m going to focus on that.
I took my current job at much less of a salary than I asked for, with the hope and being verbally told that if I did well they’d reevaluate in 6 months and I’d get to my desired goal (which was still less than I’m used to making) within the year. I got .26 cents. That combined with some other factors made it time to move on. So I’ve found a position that I’m excited about, that is going to pay me much better, and have some elements of adventure, and hopefully be less stress, though longer hours. I’ve made some good friends in the last year, I’ve also met some assholes. But that’s part of life too. I’m getting better at saying no, and getting better at cutting off people who hurt me. It’s progress. The unknown is scary, but exciting too. I’ve come to think that too often the danger and damage comes from being stuck, from spending too much time trying to fix things that are broken that can’t be fixed.
Spring and Summer are riddled with grief bombs. The anniversary of Ed, my stepdad dying, his birthday, Fathers day, the anniversary of Kenny (my grandfather) Dying, The anniversary of Dad dying, Dads birthday etc.. Today is fathers day, so they can’t help but be on my mind. In my own most recent struggles with depression I understand my Father a bit more. That urge to drink, the urge to find comfort in whatever arms will have you, the urge to try and control tightly more and more whatever you can so it doesn’t feel like it’s just all going to shit, that urge to cling to people or situations whether ultimately they are good for you or not. I have a deeper understanding…. I’m trying really hard not to fall into the same traps he did. I’m trying really hard to learn from his mistakes. I sometimes fall into them, and of course I find my own new ones. As time goes by, while I still have a large amount of anger and unresolved issues with my Father, I find myself more and more remembering the good things. There is a peace in that, and I welcome it. He had big dreams and aspirations too of how his life was to be, and it didn’t work out. He gave up. While things have not turned out how I planned or wanted, I will adapt, I will make a new plan. I will hold on to hope. The depression and nasty voices may knock me down as we constantly duel but I will not let them win.
Maybe I’ll never be on Broadway, maybe I’ll never be a movie star, maybe I’ll never have a handsome husband who I’ll travel the world with madly in love. I can find creative outlets in other ways, I can have adventures on my own. I may be all the things the unkind voices tell me. But, I am so much more. I am loving, loyal, empathetic, creative, adventurous, thoughtful, warm, thorough, knowledgeable, entertaining, intelligent, adaptable, accepting, persistent, open minded, and a wild free spirit. I’ll try to be more like my stepdad and embrace his adaptability and his easy going nature. Maybe that will mean living my life in Kalispell, having an ordinary, non glamorous life. Maybe that will be ok. I'll try to have it be.
I still want to be the female Anthony Bourdain. I want to explore, connect and relish in all the deliciousness. I want to connect with all the people of the world and explore all the cultures and history, to raise awareness and speak out against tyranny and injustice. So I’ll do my best to emulate all that was good about him and keep exploring and savoring the goodness that there is.
Rest Easy Chef.
About the Blog
I've been blogging on and off for years. This is my area to explore healing, food, wine, travel and various thoughts on life. My goal: Be True. Be Kind. Heal. Dream. Inspire. Discover. Create.