Sunday, January 4, 2009

Column 6: Paint it Black.

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes…
I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones

I finished reading 'Paint it Black' by Janet Fitch. A couple months ago, I was half way in before I closed it & put it on a dusty shelf. I was amazed by the author’s precision & word flow. The inane way she made me feel like I knew what the protagonist was going through. It was too gruesome to continue. I felt darkness settle in the pit of my stomach & a desperate frown decorate my face. For my sanity, I had to stop reading.
It’s a story of depression & suicide. Josie falls in love with Michael & they move in together. Michael spirals into depression & kills himself. Josie is left alone, heart broken; trying to grasp the why’s of his suicide.
Of course, there’s much more to the novel. But this is the part I can relate to.
She’s trying to deal with his depression & she sees him going down but feels so small & frustrated that her love isn’t enough to save him.
Her thoughts & musings are so authentic. I’ve been in her position; on the sideline, watching a boyfriend being devoured by depression.
I want to hug Josie & let her know things will never return to normal, the carelessness & love will never flow back into their couple. I also want to take her hand & guide her to the door, somewhat instill the notion that she doesn’t have the power to save him.
With my X...
He was struggling against the huge abyss that is depression .He had lost 20 pounds from an already paltry figure; atrophied muscles and the knee joints that jutted. I borrowed his belt and rocked his jeans. Even his sweaters looked fitted. It didn’t help that he chain smoked, the smell of tobacco and mint gum was always present on his skin and clothes.
But I didn’t mind. Oddly, I loved his slim figure. The wide shoulders and the tiny waist, that formed a reversed triangle like the pyramids in Egypt. Of course I was scared, terrified even. I was concerned about his health. How much abuse could your body take before it started to rebel and grow tumors, before your lungs collapsed or your muscles began to deteriorate? When he was upset, he smoked and starved himself. He said he couldn’t keep his food down
It was all around us. The darkness; like a thick black fog that swept in & out of our lives. A single phrase could cripple him as much as it could heal him.
Every day was uncertain; would I find him so down he would barely acknowledge me or would he be like the man I fell in love with? There were the mood swings, his lack of desire for anything; sex, food, me. He was always tired & wanted to sleep & he would quit jobs every month.
Sometimes, he pulled himself together & laughed with others. I would watch his phone conversations; jealous yet happy there was still a spark in him. It seemed that frowns & ennui were mainly reserved for me. Perhaps because he knew that he had me. He was so sure I would always be there.
The ugly thing about depression is that it turns your lover into a stranger. He says & does things that don’t resemble him & you feel guilty because you used to make him happy.
But now it’s all gone. The darkness is more oppressive; the good times are few & far between. Somehow, when he’s laughing & loving you, as scarce as it has become, it is enough to make you forget about the bleak times.
One good day beats a bad week. When the sulkiness returns & he becomes of ice, you are left to deal with it. You know that when you feel like sh*t, he doesn’t even feel guilty. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about anything. The darkness has won.
I wonder if I should have just chuck it up. I knew that sometimes he felt like his soul hurt him. Yet, when he was mean & insensitive, I took it personally. I thought it was about me even though I knew only months previous, his whole life was dismantled.
Reading ‘Paint it black’ makes me feel guilty. It renders my head wobbly with ‘maybes’; maybe I should have stuck around & somehow forced my happiness on him, maybe if my love was stronger, maybe if I fixed the holes in his life, maybe I should have put up with it. After all, isn’t the best time to love someone when they are down? Can’t everything we love be saved?
When your Lover is depressed; your life gets ugly. You are dragged to the bottom of a very dark well & you find yourself grasping for air, while trying to simultaneously swim your way back up & pull your lover to the surface. But he’s too heavy. There are rocks tied to his legs & arms. Do you drown with him or save yourself?

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