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July 31, 2019

You can’t Escape Grief. ~ Ryan K. Russell


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Shortly after my best friend passed away, I moved to Los Angeles.

The greatest person I knew in this world was gone, so the City of Angels seemed like a great place to head. The only issue was that I was trying to run away from a pain that would follow me beyond any state lines.

Grief has several stages. For some people, the stages come in order, and for people like me, sometimes it’s a roll of the dice. Just like many young men, I wasn’t truly taught how to analyze and express my emotions. Being a writer and a poet helped me a lot of the time, but something like losing a best friend to cancer seemed beyond pen and paper at the time. I had gotten to a stage where I just felt numb, and I decided that was better than the stages where I cried myself to sleep or punched holes in walls.

Numb was good because it was functional. I could go about my day, and though I never smiled, laughed, or cried, I could get through by checking tasks off the list.

Of course, I couldn’t stay in this stage either—denial, depression, anger, betrayal—all waited for me at every sunrise, begging to have their turn. So, I found ways within my control to become numb again. Alcohol was one of the things I turned to all too often. I would take a shot for everything I missed about my best friend until I couldn’t walk straight, let alone think straight. Another distraction was sex—empty, meaningless sex.

I was in a new city, with new partners who didn’t know me and, hopefully, never would. I could be more than the grieving friend, the tortured writer, the depressed alcoholic, the washed-up football player. I could be anyone or anything I wanted to be. Needless to say, all I wanted to be was numb. The issue with losing yourself inside another person is that you can’t control how they’re going to react to you. If I was putting on a show to my partners that I was a capable, functional, rationale human being, they could fall for the person I was pretending to be.

I used sexual partners as an escape from grief. They always wanted more and all I wanted was to feel nothing at all.

You can change cities to run, you can use drinks to escape, but when you use people, that’s when things can get complicated.


Nothing was loved, nothing was hated.
When I awoke, time flew so fast I watched plants
The sun and moon chased each other around time,
Doves cried and swam through Silverlake
As the quiet grew painfully quiet.

Nothing was beautiful, nothing was ugly.
Every picture I took was black and white,
The air was stale and stagnant.
People born into sadness and crashed unto death
There was a smile on the pillow next to me,
A smile worn by a new face every morning.

Bruises on wrist
I held down so hands wouldn’t roam—
Nothing was hidden, nothing revealed
The blessing was anonymity.

I hate when you kiss me.
You were not my soulmate yet
You had perfect view of it.

You were not my lover
Yet we made love like music

You were a vacation
That lasted too long
And wanted too much.

You have reached inside me
And found the void.

Leave me; run, dance, jump,
Cry, mourn, and love another.
You will know joy beyond me.

But when you wander, be disciplined.
Be cold; cut off that pesky longing
Be angry; curse my name
Know you were just a smile on my pillow.

And do not wander back to my bed
Let there be hate were you hoped there was love.


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Ryan K. Russell  |  Contribution: 2,425

author: Ryan K. Russell

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