Brace yourself for probably the longest letter that's ever been written. I don't know what inspired me to write it really, I was just at work last night and Emma was having one of her girl moments and getting pissed at me for not empathizing with whatever inconsequential problem she was going on about. She got really frustrated with me and then she asked me a question that I don't think I've ever been asked before, and it really made me think. She asked, "Don't you ever just feel like you want more out of life?" I took a few seconds to consider it because I wanted to at least be able to give her an honest answer, but I immediately realized that the answer was no and it just all of a sudden hit me. I'm completely, one hundred percent happy with my life.
I guess the thing she doesn't know about me that you do is that two years ago I tried to kill myself, but even you don't know anything beyond just the fact that it happened because we've never talked about it. I'm starting to think that I really do want you to know, I want you to know everything about me, but I just suck at talking and you know that so this is the best way I could think of to do it. I really hope it'll mean as much to you as it does to me, and I know we said we weren't doing Valentine's day, and I know this is really fucking morbid for a Valentine's day present, but I want you to have it so here it is, the story of why I tried to kill myself, uncut and unrated and for the first time in my life one hundred percent honest:
It definitely wasn't a half-assed, half-hearted sort of cry for attention. I seriously hated everything about myself and just wanted to get the fuck out of my own head. I was pretty certain that I was crazy and if I wasn't then I didn't want to live in a world where I was considered normal. I think a weeks worth of forced detox from oxycodone leading up to it didn't hurt either. That shit is horrible, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, so when, after months of deliberation, I found myself curled up on my bed with my entire body aching, shivering one minute and sweating the next, unable to even think about food without retching and gagging on stomach acid, and with the horrifying and unrelenting sensation that there were tiny bugs crawling around underneath my skin for six straight days I decided fuck it. If that was my life then I didn't want to live anymore.
I was living with my brother at the time and he was the one who was forcing me to detox so I had to wait until he left the house to sneak out, but that was fine with me. I didn't really want to kill myself in my brother's house anyway, I didn't want him to be the one to find me. I felt bad enough because the last thing I had said to him was "Fuck you," but I was angry about having to do it and I guess I hoped that if I was a dick to him right before I died maybe he wouldn't miss me too much. It was kind of because of him that I wanted to kill myself anyway, but it absolutely wasn't his fault. He couldn't have done anything to change it and I was sure he was going to be upset so I did feel bad about it, just not bad enough to not go through with it. I left him some money and a note saying I was sorry and then I called Jeremy, my egotistic douchebag of a boyfriend, and he came to pick me up. He didn't have any oxy but he gave me a xanax just to chill me out a little and promised he would get me some later.
He went out that night. He was always going out to parties and clubs and shit like that. I used to always go with him too but that night I wasn't in any sort of state for going out and he could tell so he left me alone which was exactly what I wanted and he promised that he would get me some oxy, or at the very least some vicodin, on his way home that night. I told him not to worry about it and he just laughed. I don't think he knew what he was laughing at. I laughed too because at that point I was feeling very morbidly excited about what I was getting ready to do. I had it all worked out, I had been thinking about it for months and I was pretty sure I had come up with the most practical, guaranteed plan I possibly could. I tied one of Jeremy's ties around my left arm, it took me several tries to get it tight enough, and then I waited for the veins to pop up. I have very superficial veins, they're easy to see and easy to hit. Once the vein that I wanted appeared I got a good grip on the razorblade and got to work. I cut vertically, starting at the bend in my elbow, slicing through the cubital and then following the jagged path of the median antebrachial vein all the way down to my palm. I tried to follow it exactly perfectly but I fucked up a couple times. I didn't know as much about veins then as I do now. If I had I would probably be dead.
I tried to do both arms but after I did my left I got really dizzy and weak and the cut on my right arm turned out to be a lot less neat. I couldn't even manage to get the tie tightly around that arm much less perfectly follow a vein, but I somehow managed to accidentally hit the radial artery on that side which I now know is what I should have been aiming for all along. I would have been dead so much faster if I had done that on both sides, but I'm not complaining. Like I said, I'm glad I'm not dead.
It was definitely what I wanted at the time though. I had done a little research, at least enough to know that whether or not I executed the cuts correctly I would still be gone in a matter of minutes. That's why I chose that method. I wasn't trying to be overdramatic or anything, I just wanted to make sure that no one could save me. I could have swallowed a bunch of pills, Jeremy certainly had all sorts of drugs laying around in his apartment and it would have been easier but that seemed like a much less failsafe way of doing it. I didn't own a gun or know anyone who did and I didn't want to cause a huge scene by jumping off a building or something so bleeding out seemed like the best plan and it should have worked. I didn't do as well with the cuts as I had hoped to so it might have taken a little longer than I originally planned, but I was bleeding fast and it still would have gotten the job done if it weren't for the fact that Jeremy had forgotten his damn phone on the kitchen counter. I waited around for a long time after he left to make sure he wasn't going to come back and get it, but for some fucking reason he decided an hour later that it really was important for him to have his phone after all and less than a minute after I had finished the last cut and stretched myself out on the floor to die I heard the sound of his key in the door.
It still could have worked if I had chosen somewhere besides the kitchen to do it. If I had chosen to die in the bedroom he might have just grabbed his phone and then left again without even realizing what was going on, but I hadn't done it that way because I didn't want to ruin his floors. I was trying to be considerate. Blood is much easier to clean off linoleum than carpet or hardwood, so he caught me, but even after all that it still might have worked if he hadn't been such a quick thinker. If he had freaked out and had a panic attack or something I would have had time to die, but he didn't. He took one look at me, looked right into my eyes, and said, "No you don't, motherfucker." He and I didn't have a great relationship so that was almost an endearing term coming from him. He snatched his phone off the counter, called 911, and while on the phone with the dispatcher wrapped both my arms up in towels, his good towels too, the monogrammed 800 gsm ones that were so expensive, and held firm pressure until the ambulance got there. I passed out long before that happened but that's the story they've told me and I don't doubt it.
So after having several veins taken out, one graft put in, about a million stitches, two blood transfusions, a brief stay in the hospital on the behavioral health until for observation, and a longer stay at an outpatient drug rehab center, I emerged from that experience still alive and eventually very glad of it. I think it would be pretty fucking selfish of me to say that I just want more out of life when if not for a very extraordinary set of circumstances that had to have been designed by God himself I wouldn't even be alive today.
But like I said, Emma doesn't know about that so I can't really get mad at her for asking. The few people that do know about it always have the same response. They want to know why. I'm assuming that you've probably wondered that for a long time and now is as good a time as any to tell you. The long in short of it is that I did it because I saw no good reason for me to be alive, but I did see a good reason for me to be dead. My depression, my drug addiction, the fact that I was in a relationship with a horrible man who I didn't love, all of that was doing nothing but hurting the person that I loved the most and I didn't like being the cause of someone else's misery, not when that person meant more to me than anyone else in the world.
I'm sure you can guess who that person was. Ryan. My only brother, and technically my little brother although I'm only older than him by a few minutes and only because my head was smaller than his when we were in the womb and I managed to sneak past him and get out first. Not that I remember that or anything, that's just what my mother always used to say about it. That's one of the few things I remember about her. From some of the conversations you and I have had I think that you might possibly remember her even better than I do. The one thing I do remember extremely vividly though is the day that she died. I was in second grade and I was just sitting in my classroom practicing my cursive handwriting – a completely worthless skill that I still refuse to make use of to this day because of that connection – when I got called to the principal's office. I had no idea why I was getting called, I hadn't done anything bad, but halfway there I ran into my brother who had been called to the office as well. We were in different classes but he told me his class had been practicing their cursive too.
When we got there the secretary took us inside and our father was sitting there. His expression was completely blank and when I tried to say hello to him he didn't say anything back. You remember that school I'm sure, it was in really bad condition and the system clearly didn't have money to spare for social workers or anything like that so it was just me, my brother, our father, the principal, and the secretary. We all waited in silence for a long, long time, but my father couldn't bring himself to say anything so the secretary finally turned to us, put an arm around each of our shoulders, and said, "Boys, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this, but…your mother has died."
I cried. Ryan didn't, but I don't think he fully understood what was going on because he gave me a hug and then said, "It's okay, Taylor. At least we won't have to go to piano lessons anymore." He wasn't being a dick, he was just a kid. He didn't know what death meant because his class had never had a class pet to die, but mine had. We had a hamster named Lulu, do you remember her? I'm pretty positive you were in my class in the second grade. We all used to sit there and watch her run on her little wheel, but then one day we came into class and Lulu wasn't moving anymore. We buried her outside on the playground and it was a very nice funeral but we all still cried a little bit. Lulu had been a good hamster, and my mom had been a good mother.
After that day our father was never the same, you know that just as well as anyone. It's understandable of course. His wife of ten years suddenly dropped dead at age thirty-five of cardiac arrest brought on by a genetic heart condition nobody knew she even had. That in itself was shocking enough, and he had really been in love with her. My brother and I had the happiest parents of any kids that I knew. They never fought. They were always laughing together and not a day passed when I didn't see my dad sneak up on her quietly, grab her around the middle, and surprise her with a kiss. She would always shriek and act like she was caught off-guard but she usually knew he was coming, she just pretended for him anyway.
Even at age seven I knew I was lucky to have parents who were so happy together. There were a couple times when we were kids that you told me you were jealous of me because you didn't even have a dad. I was too young really grasp what it meant when you tried to explain that he had just walked off when you were four years old and nobody had heard from him since, but what I could understand was how sad your mom was because we caught her crying in her bedroom all the time and we never knew what to do about it. I didn't want that to happen to my dad and I was so afraid that it would so I did everything I could to make him feel like Mom was still there. I folded the napkins the way she always did them, in triangles instead of squares, and I made my bed, my brother's bed, and my father's bed every morning and turned down the corner exactly the same way she used to. I even played the piano every day because my mother had always wanted me and Ryan to be musicians for some reason. That didn't exactly work out obviously but it wasn't for lack of trying on my part. When Mom died my father quit paying for us to go to piano lessons but I still played. I was only seven so it wasn't like I could play anything worth listening to, just easy little versions of "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and stuff like that, but I practiced them every day until my father decided he'd had enough and had the piano hauled away to the junkyard.
That was my big mistake. Those constant reminders of my mother did nothing but make my father miserable. He didn't want to remember her, he wanted to forget all about her, and his method for accomplishing that was to drink all day, every day. He hated me because I reminded him of her but he never told me that so I didn't know. I mean, I knew he hated me, he certainly didn't keep it a secret, I just didn't know the reason. Then I turned out to be gay and that was like gift-wrapping and delivering a perfectly good reason right to his doorstep. I never personally told him about it of course, he just figured it out on his own, but I think it was always pretty obvious, especially since I was completely in love with you.
I remember the exact day that I realized. I was thirteen years old. Ryan and I were just getting home from school and you came over to our house like you did almost every day. Dad was drunk off his ass as usual so nothing about that day was remarkable at all until he started going on a rampage about the three of us playing jokes on that ornery old man who lived a few houses down. Ryan and I had both received severe beatings for fucking with Mr. McDonald several weeks beforehand and had since then ceased all of our practical joking but apparently you hadn't. I don't know why, I don't even know why we did all that in the first place, I guess we were all just complete dicks when we were thirteen. Dad was getting tired of the old guy coming over and disturbing his mid-afternoon drunken stupors with his complaints so he decided he was going to take care of you as well. He took a swing at you, this thirteen-year-old boy who wasn't even his own kid, and when you sidestepped that punch he said, "Get the fuck over here, you little bastard!"
I know you hated being called that. You always have, I'm assuming because it hits so close to home, but whatever the reason you got fucking pissed and took a swing right back. You hit Dad hard and then shoved him down to the ground where we discovered that he was out cold, and he may have been drunk but he was still forty-five years old and significantly bigger than you so it was quite an accomplishment. I had never seen anyone stand up to my father. Ryan and I certainly never did because he was our dad and he owned our house and if we had hit him we probably would have been living on the streets, but you were a little badass and you didn't give a fuck. You had nothing to lose and you didn't put up with people treating you badly, and I was so fucking impressed. I decided right then that I was in love with you, it didn't matter to me that you were another boy, and I was so crazy about you that it quickly became obvious to everyone around me, including my father.
The only person who didn't figure it out on his own was my brother who was always kind of oblivious to everything outside of his own little world, so I had to tell him, but he didn't care. We were brothers after all and we were always best friends, for our entire lives, especially so after our mother died and our dad started drinking all the time. I've always loved him obviously, he's my only brother, but at one point several years later he went through a really bad breakup with his girlfriend and things started to get kind of weird. Not weird between us, I mean, weird in my head. It had been three or four years since I had last seen you so you were a very distant memory at that point, but you were still the only boy I had ever really loved and when I started getting that same feeling every time I looked at my brother I began to freak out a little bit. That was zero percent okay. I was dating Jeremy at the time but it didn't make a difference. I didn't love Jeremy, I knew that, but I stayed with him because I thought that maybe if I had a boyfriend nobody would notice that I was slowly but surely losing my mind over my own brother.
Jeremy wasn't good for me. He was way too old for me, first of all. We started dating when I was twenty-one and he was thirty-two. He was power hungry, addicted to money, and in search of a very specific sort of partner: a pretty boy who could serve as arm candy to show off in public but who could also turn right back around and own him when no one was looking, and I fit the bill perfectly. I was young, horny, irresponsible and certainly very pretty, and I couldn't believe my good luck. Here was a rich, successful, older man who wanted to take me out and show me off, supply me with drugs, and introduce me to all of the other rich, important people that he knew. So what if he wasn't much to look at? So what if I didn't like him as a person? He was entertainment for me and I was a prize for him so we were perfect for each other in that respect, but I knew from the start that it wasn't headed down a good road. He was a rude, arrogant, cold-hearted bastard, and I was too hot-headed to put up with it for long, especially not after I had firmly established in my mind that I didn't and would never love him. We fought all the time, sometimes things even got violent, and although he weighed more than I did I was taller and quicker and just in general a better fighter. We yelled at each other, gave each other busted lips and black eyes, and then we would get it together, apologize, pop a few pills, and go out and party.
That's how I spent the next several years, fighting with Jeremy and rolling on ecstasy while I watched my brother's life slowly deteriorate around him, unable to help him no matter how hard I tried and terrified to tell him how I really felt, and eventually when the club drugs couldn't do enough to mask reality anymore I moved on to narcotics and kept myself pretty much constantly sedated for months. I got fired from my job for being under the influence at work and I didn't even care. It wasn't a job that meant anything to me. I didn't have anything but a high school degree and I worked at an art gallery selling ridiculously overpriced paintings and arranging them on the walls in such a way that was supposed make people want to buy them more. If there's any job in the world that has less meaning to it than that then I don't even want to know about it.
I stayed locked in my room most days. I didn't like to see my brother because he was usually angry and drunk. He was unemployed, being faced with the prospect of legal action that would deny him all visitation rights with his son, and worst of all even through all that he was falling in love with a girl right in front of my eyes. I didn't want to see it anymore. He would be okay, I knew Crystal would take care of him, and part of the reason your cousin Jen was trying to take Matty away from Ryan was that she knew I was on drugs and was keeping them in the house so she didn't think it was a safe place for her child to be or that I was a safe person for him to be around. She was probably right.
Obviously the simple solution would have been for me to just stop taking the pills. Ryan knew that and that's why he forced me to detox. He wanted his son back so desperately and I have to admit your cousin was being kind of a bitch about the whole thing, trying to take him to court for something that was essentially my fault, but I guess as a mother she had the right to. I tried to detox for Ryan's sake, I tried for six fucking days, but it was too hard. I was addicted physically and mentally, and I hated myself when I wasn't fucked up because I could see myself logically and see what a horrible person I had become.
Finally seeing myself in that light was really what convinced me. I've always been a "fixer." I like to problem-solve and I've always been good at it. When I just couldn't stand living with my father anymore I solved the problem by convincing Ryan to run away with me at age sixteen and staying with your cousins until we were old enough to get our own place. When Ryan first lost his job I solved the problem of us not having enough money by selling ecstasy to all the rich ravers that I had met through Jeremy. When I found out that Jeremy had cheated on me with some little graphic designer slut who worked under him I solved the problem by finding the kid and beating his fucking face in to the point that he needed plastic surgery to fix it…okay, so maybe that last one isn't the best example, but the point is that I was always able to come up with some way to make my problems go away. When I was at my lowest point I was the fucking problem so I decided I had to make myself go away, and my method for accomplishing that was with a tie, a razorblade, and my boyfriend's kitchen floor.
I guess that's pretty much it, the story of why I tried to kill myself. It's simple really. I don't even regret doing it because I think it took that happening to make me realize my worth as a person and also how incredibly distorted my view of things had been before that. My brother, who hadn't quite reached his lowest point yet, was completely torn up over it and made up his mind to voluntarily sign over custody of his son to your cousin and her husband so that he could devote all of his attention to me, and after one day in which I considered that I might actually let that happen and one night in which some things happened between me and my brother that we've vowed never to mention again I realized that was crazy. I had no right to ask that of him and I didn't want to either. We were incredibly codependent, to the point of self-destruction, and it was so unhealthy. Even though I wanted him I realized that what I wanted most was for him to be happy and neither of us was happy at that point so I decided that was a problem and set my mind to fixing it.
I got on an antidepressant, went to rehab, made up with my father, and finally convinced Ryan that I was going to be okay. I moved into my own apartment and got a job folding shirts at Hollister on weekdays and waiting tables on the weekends to put myself through school so that I could eventually get a real job that meant something. I made some friends again and sat by and watched with a huge fake smile on my face as my brother fell more and more in love with possibly the nicest girl in the world and certainly someone I could never hope to compete with, and every night when I went home I fought the incredible urge to call up one of my old dealers and get something to dull the pain a little. I wore long sleeves every day and tried to pretend that I had never tried to kill myself and that I was over everything that happened between me and Ryan, but I was lying to myself. What else could I do though? I wanted to live for myself, I really did, but try as I might I was still living for him.
However, all of that changed on June 24th a little less than two years ago because that was the day that you, the boy who I had been so in love with when I was just a teenager, got out of prison after eight years of being locked up. I was back upstate trying to sell my dad's old house because I had finally convinced him to move down closer to me and Ryan and I was only back in the neighborhood for a few days trying to figure out what repairs and renovations I needed to get done to increase the house's resale value, but I may have talked to your mom before that and scheduled my trip so that I would be there on the exact day you got out…
Obviously you know I had sent you letters and I had even been to visit you a few times, but I was still so incredibly excited. I wasn't expecting anything beyond friendship, I was just happy to get to see my oldest friend in something other than an orange jumpsuit. You had made it very clear to me when we were both teenagers that, after a brief period of experimentation and trying to figure shit out, you just weren't into it. I was heartbroken at the time but it wasn't your fault and by the time I was twenty-six I was over it, so it came as a huge surprise to me when, after spending the day just hanging out and talking, we got drunk that night in my dad's old house and after several minutes of peaceful silence you looked over at me and said, "You know, I thought about you every fucking day that I was in that place."
That was it. That was the moment that I realized maybe there was hope for me after all. Maybe I wasn't weird or fucked up, maybe I was capable of moving on and loving someone besides my brother in that way, and maybe, just maybe, I had the potential to actually be happy sometime in the near future. That near future turned out to be about a minute later when you moved closer to me and put your lips on my throat, and when you pushed your hand up the back of my shirt and started trying to pull it over my head I didn't even protest or try to hide my arms from view because you had scars too and for the first time I didn't feel embarrassed about letting someone see mine. You definitely noticed them because you looked right at them and even ran your fingertips along the ridges, all the way from the base of my palms to the bend in my elbows, but you didn't ask. Instead you just kissed me, and that was when I fell in love with you for the second time.
It's been well over a year since then and although things of course haven't been perfect they've been so exponentially better than anything ever was for me before that it kind of feels that way sometimes. There's not a single thing that I would change about my life at this point, and I know this has been long and rambling and is now officially eight pages making it probably the longest card you've ever had to read in your life, but I just really wanted to find a way to say all the things to you that I can't put eloquently when we're talking. It's taken me three weeks to get this all together and get it perfect, but at least now you know that all those times you walked in and I really quickly closed the window that was open on my computer I wasn't watching porn. I was writing this for you.
I'm not saying that I even really want to talk about it now, I just wanted you to know, and I don't expect anything from you in return. I understand if you want to try to forget prison, sometimes I want to forget things too but then sometimes I don't because I know that if I can remember where I came from I'll always be happy with where I am. I hope you don't judge me or my brother too harshly for what I've revealed in this letter, but I don't think you will because I know you and I trust you and even though you don't say much about it I can tell you've been in some pretty dark places before too. I just wanted you to understand how much you've changed my life and how grateful I am for it. I'm so happy, I couldn't ask for anything more, and I love you so, so much.
Happy Valentine's day.