Sunday, February 19, 2006

Suicide note in my email

Dear Alan,

When you get this email you can strike me off your contact list for I will be no more. I just wanted to let you know, and wanted to tell you that our ‘friendship’ or mail relationship or whatever you might call it was really special to me. I enjoyed most of it.

I spare you explanations because, let’s face it, you are not really interested in anything or anybody but yourself. So why bother. Know what? Your blog was a real eye-opener in this respect. I think I have never met or known anyone so totally self-absorbed as you seem to be. Or, the others have concealed it better. Yes, probably that, because deep down I believe that everybody is just interested in themselves, and screw the rest.

Well, whatever, enjoy and keep well. And perhaps you might even remember this silly grumpy old German woman in Mozambique from time to time.

Love
Felicitas
xxx

I received that in my email yesterday. It was attached to the second of two emails I received yesterday morning when my head was pounding with hangover toxins. The email read as follows:

Dear Alan,

I believe you may already know that Felicitas passed away yesterday, Friday. My friend G has been trying to contact all Felicitas' family and friends to give them the sad news. If you do not already know then I have to inform you of this sad fact.

Felicitas left a 'memory-stick' with personal letters to all her friends and it is my duty to send these on.

I hope you will forgive me for not writing more at the moment. I am still in shock trying to face up to losing my dear friend.

Kind regards
A.L

Reading about her death was shocking. Reading her opinion of me was shocking. For most of yesterday, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I felt saddened and depressed. This is the reply I sent to her friend.

Dear A and B

It was a terrible shock to receive those emails telling me about Felicitas’s tragic death. Thank you so much for letting me know and sending me the letter she wrote me. I am very sorry that you have lost a good friend and have had to go through such a trying time in the past few days.

In the almost three years that I’ve ‘known’ her, we got to know a lot about each other and I regarded her as a good friend even though I’d never met her in person. I first got in touch with her when I was looking for information on how to get a copy of my Mozambiquan birth certificate. I found her name when I was doing an internet search for contacts in Maputo and emailed her.

At first our emails were very formal but over the space of a couple of months, they became more personal and we maintained a very regular correspondence in which we discussed all aspects of our lives. About a year after beginning our correspondence, she very kindly got copies of birth certificates for my brother and I at some expense to herself as well as time and effort. I offered to pay her but she would not accept money so I said that I'd try to visit her one day in Maputo to thank her in person. About a year ago, I was going to send her some books as a token of my appreciation but was unable to as I lost my job and was without money for a long time. Now that she has gone, how I wish that I had done that at least.

I know a lot of personal information about her as she was very open about herself and told me a lot about her past and present circumstances. So I know that she was very unhappy about her life. There were several times last year when, on discussing the possibility of my visiting Maputo, she said that I had better do it before the end of the year as it would probably be too late after that. When I asked why, she implied that she would not be alive beyond the end of the year but would not be drawn into discussing it. I tried to find out more and to tell her that she must not think that way. I really didn’t expect her to take her life but, not knowing her in real life, perhaps it is not so unexpected after all. I know that she was lonely and that she was sometimes in great pain as a result of the motorbike accident she had many years ago but there must have been much more that was troubling her than just that.

I so wish that I had been able to prevent this tragedy. I am sure that all her friends think the same way.

You will have seen that the letter she sent me was rather harsh even though it was also affectionate. Whether she is right or wrong in her assessment of me, it is sad, depressing and hurtful to think she thought of me in that way but such concerns are irrelevant now that she is gone.

I will miss her a lot as I am sure you and all her friends will.

When you have the time and have recovered from the shock of Felicitas’s death, I’d appreciate knowing a bit more about the circumstances of her death and any thoughts you have on why she chose to end her life.

Kind regards
Alan

felicitas - stellenbosch 2005Some of you may remember a post of mine from last month when I was wondering who my regular reader from Ghana was. A few weeks later, I discovered that it was Felicitas – sitemeter and neocounter identified her ISP incorrectly as being from Ghana as opposed to Mozambique. Once I realised that, I could tell when she had been reading my blog.

The only time she ever commented on the blog was when I posted some pictures of Avenida 24 de Julho in Maputo and she asked where I’d found the one picuture as it appeared to have been taken from the place she’d first lived in when she moved there in the late eighties.

She recently emailed me a lot of old pictures of Maputo from the twenties that she thought I’d like for the blog. She also emailed me the window-cleaner clip that I posted a few weeks ago when I blogged about the TV programme on the world’s biggest penis. The last time I received word from her was a few emails on February 1st. I had been enquiring how she was. This was her reply:

Grumpy, what else. My depression is getting high-grade, and getting worse each day. I drink half a (litre) bottle of whiskey a day, that doesn't help either. I feel absolutely totally completely awful.

I last emailed her 3 days ago suggesting she have a look at the picture of the Mozambique showjumping team that I’d posted that day as she used to be a keen horse rider.

There was no reply.

I wasn’t sure if I should blog about this as, in a way, it seems to confirm her opinion of me that appears to have developed from her reading of my blog. That seems especially true when you consider that I've told you how we came into contact and a bit about her state of mind but I've not really told you much about her. I can do that another time. But, whether I've validated her opinion or not, Felicitas needs an obituary and this is the best I can do.

I will miss her. A lot.

38 Comments:

Blogger andrea said...

This sent a chill down my spine because a couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that an email friend, of whom I am extremely fond, could fall off the face of the earth and I'd never even know it. I'd just think he quit writing because I'd finally crossed the line into the no-man's-land of unrelenting boringness. How strange that we can live two separate lives now: actual and virtual.

That said, I would try not to dwell on her parting shot too much. Had she been feeling well she'd have been able to place you and her relationship with you into the proper perspective. As it is, she was clearly desperately depressed -- not the most clear-headed way to judge people. You might find her words useful in the future, though. We could all use a little reality check about both our self-absorption and the needs of others now and then.

Buck up.

4:55 am  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

I am so very sorry to hear of this! There are no words to replace the loss one feels when someone who has had an important role in their lives is no longer there. As you said, the letter was mixed, but pain and depression can do that. If there was no caring, no bond, there would have been no letter. Hopefully you will get the answers you seek regarding her death. How I wish I had something more poetic to add, but for now, all I can say is that I am sorry for your loss.

5:03 am  
Blogger Caroline said...

Do not take her remarks about you to heart.

It is common for us all to project onto others what we secretly fear about ourselves. And as she says she thinks "everybody is just interested in themselves, and screw the rest" she had almost got to the point of accepting this in herself too... Maybe she had noticed it and that was what tipped her over the edge. If so, she had yet to accept it and put it into perspective.

Do accept the love she sent though - it shows that despite her own unhappiness (whatever the cause and whatever her estimate of herself) you were a light in her life and there was warmth in her heart.

((((hugs))))

11:17 am  
Blogger Miss Mish said...

Darling, ANYONE who knows you in R/L does not recognise that description of you. You are kind and good and loving to your friends, which is why we love you and want to spend time with you. Blogs are our public persona and bear no real comparison to the foibles and personality we give out in the flesh.
And of course, in her state of depression, she would be just as self-absorbed as she claims you are. It was a side effect of how she viewed the world. I don't know the circumstances of her death and depression but I assume that she thought of it as being ignorant of her and her needs and she was unable to connect with the day to day of life and complications.
Don't let her thoughts on life taint your world.
Much love.

11:34 am  
Blogger mike said...

After you told me about this on the phone, I spent quite a lot of yesterday feeling angry with Felicitas, both for her cruelty and her hypocrisy. For what is suicide, if not the ultimate act of screw-the-lot-of-you self-absorption? And what was her note, if not the expression of the sort of revenge/blame assignment fantasy that I'm sure that many who contemplate suicide indulge in?

Reading through the e-mails today, my anger has been tempered with sorrow. She sounds like a profoundly miserable, disturbed soul, who had reached a dark place inside of herself which no-one else could ever reach, who is now leaving so much grief and guilt in her wake.

And yes, now I can see the affection as well as the aggression in her note. Despite the aggression, that affection should not be played down - and it is clear that it was returned from your side.

If she thought that your blog revealed self-absorption on your part, then maybe she was unfamiliar with blogs as a genre. There is so little that we can say about other people without compromising their privacy, that we tend to fall back on talking about ourselves. One great strength of your blog is that you talk about a LOT of subjects outside of yourself, revealing a lively and enquiring interest in the world around you.

As someone who has got to know you very well in real life over the last couple of years, I can also confirm that Felicitas's assessment of you is horribly wrong. One unfortunate side-effect of your gentle, easy-going nature is that, for some strange reason, you seem to attract people who sometimes project their own hang-ups onto you in quite an unpleasant way. I'm fed up with it. You deserve better.

My sincere sympathies for your loss.

2:53 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

So you're a self-absorbed shit! well, we knew that. But all of us who have a blog are just a bunch of self-absorbed shits anyway. 'Cause what will we write about but ourselves?
Even during the harshest part of her last email to you, you can read a kind of "get lost, you old fucker" that one can afford to say to people one really loves only, as saying I love you probably sounds too corny/scary. If you see what I mean.
I'm sorry to hear about your friend Nomad.
Carry on absorbing yourself!

2:57 pm  
Anonymous xmichra said...

I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you.
Suicide is a self-absorbed thing to do, and that projection e-mail was totally uncalled for. It is a final slap in the face that one does.. but has nothing of reality since it is mainly based upon her feeling of herself, not you.

I am in complete agreement with Mike.. that made me angry the first time I read it.. And I had nothing to say for comment (I knew it would be unconstructive). But now, I see what I should be saying, which is to you - you aren’t' like that.

Even in this cyber space where we do tend to talk extensively about ourselves.. This is where we GET to do it. Not have to, not because of self-indulgence. We allow others to see inside our souls, let them see the people that most of us cannot be beyond this pixilated dream world. And you should not in any way feel guilty for that. Not ever.

You have become one of the 'reads' I cherish and admire on my daily search for friendship and sanity. You have made my life better by being you, and writing here about you. Your comments, your vision and your light should not be taken away because of one person who was so obviously spiraled into depression and self-loathing.

You have my most sympathetic regards, and hope you get out of this unscathed.
~Michelene

4:36 pm  
Blogger Terri said...

What a horrible thing to have happened. Some of the things she said may seem harsh, at first glance, but she did, at least, admit that really, everyone on the planet is self-absorbed. Isn't that the point? I mean, if we don't look out for ourselves as #1, who will? Everyone else is too worried about themselves to do it on our behalf.
I don't think she was pointing fingers.
I think she cared about you despite your human 'failings'. That's what friends do... they love us anyway.

This is a very sad story. And a very touching obituary.

5:15 pm  
Blogger Ling said...

When the life of someone we know comes to an end due to suicide, there is always a sense of puzzlement and a lack of closure. I think it is a very normal reaction to wish that you had posted those books, but do remember that nothing would have changed for the tormented Felicitas – her action was “out of control”.

Everyone is different and due to human nature no one "sign" is true for all people in despair. The world is not a balanced place and at some point we have to accept that whatever caused a suicide may never be known - though from what you say Felicitas had many negative elements in place. In time, you may come to a better understanding of why your friend chose this action or why her past paved the groundwork for her unfortunate demise.

Having said the above I do think Felicitas’ letter to you was cruel. I think she was hurting bad and lashing out … you know “I’m hurting, so let others hurt along with me!” As others have said a personal blog, is by it’s very nature about the blogger.

Get it out of your mind that you could be self absorbed –sharing your life, for other’s pleasure, says otherwise!

6:25 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Thank you for all your considered, thoughtful comments.

Since making this entry and reading your comments, I've felt a lot better about myself in terms of my 'involvement' or lack of it in her death.

I've not received a reply from her friends in Maputo yet but look forward to hearing another much closer perspective on her death.

7:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friends all seem to have left you these "we are sorry that she hurt you before she commited suicide" and "blogging is about talking about oneself so its OK to be self centered on your blog" type comments. I will resist the temptation to cover that ground.

I want to ask you though, have you spent some time thinking about Felicistas said to you about you?

Read her comments again. These are the final thoughts that she wanted to share with you and maybe she had been brooding over them for a long long time. She says "I think I have never met or known anyone so totally self-absorbed as you seem to be."

Ask yourself, it this true about me? If not, is this how I would like to be perceived by others? Is this what you want your public writing to say about you?

If not, do something about it. Her sentiments might just be true.

8:50 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I have thought long and hard about what she said and I don't think that I'm much more self absorbed than anyone else. As Mike said above, if she was not familiar with the genre of writing that is a personal blog (she wasn't - I introduced her to it via my blog), she'd not have known that its very nature is one of self-absorption. A personal blog is not much more than the public exposition of an old-fashioned diary.

I have put what she said in context with the many emails we have exchanged over the past few years and have a very good idea of how lonely she felt. What started out as a formal exchange became a much more personal thing that she became, to probably use too strong a term, dependent on. While I enjoyed the correspondence very much and developed a close bond with her, my life has enough variety and complexity for the relationship never to have been a balanced one.

I wish that I could have done more for her but I'm a person that never met her in real life and lived thousands of miles away.

9:05 pm  
Anonymous xmichra said...

you know, I was going to begin this comment with a snaky comment about anonymity. But I won’t. Instead I will get to my point here.

You shouldn’t feel involved or any sense of blame. Even IF you were self absorbed.. even IF you didn’t care, and even IF the entire decision of Felicita’s fate were to lie in your hands. How fare of her (or anyone else) would that have been to you?? You are not remotely responsible. The unfortunate thing about suicide is it is the sole responsibility of the person who is dead. Notes and mementos are normally left behind to hurt those left behind, and usually left to people the deceased would have admired, loved or connected with. The whole thing is selfish, maniacal and completely unfair to those left to deal with the person who has passed on. And is usually meant to torment those who sometimes deserve it.. but more often than not don’t.

This is a tough time for you Alan, and understandably. But please do not let anyone make you read more into this note than that of what it really was. A sad desperate woman who’s life is over because she couldn’t find a way out. You don’t deserve the heartache of responsibility that isn’t yours. You have enough to grieve over, you lost a friend who was indeed lost.

You have my e-mail if you ever want to talk . ((hugs)) ~Michelene.

9:59 pm  
Blogger Miss Mish said...

And just to add a side point here - you barely knew her. She was astranger to her! Where were her FRIENDS when all this was going on? Her family, her loved ones and all the ones she cared about?
While it is quite true that it's easier to talk to a total stranger at a bus stop about the most sad/awful/hurting things in your life - because they don't know you and don't judge you - it is not fair and WAS not fair for her to just leave a comment or two about someone she never met or interacted with.
I had a bad time once. I was stuck late in a bar with fighting, warring people yelling, screaming and hurting each other. I know who came to help.

10:57 pm  
Blogger Bill said...

A very powerful post, Alan. Take care of yourself and don't let the acerbic final comments of someone who was obviously a very sad and unhappy person project onto you too much although I suspect they will to some extent whatever anyone here says to you.

11:27 pm  
Blogger rhino75 said...

Miss Mish's point is a good one. She didn't really know you, you didn't really know her. Jeez, it's hard enough fathoming out the people we love and live with in real life, you can't take on the virtual world's troubles too. I've been reading your blog a while now, and I have to say the impression I have is that you are a caring, thoughtful guy - the complete opposite of the person Felcitas described. Leave the being self-absorbed to me and Micke (we live in France where your right to be self-absorbed/important is enshrined in the constitution :-)) and please don't take these last words of a deeply unhappy woman to heart.

11:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@xmichra said
you know, I was going to begin this comment with a snaky comment about anonymity. But I won’t.

I will again hide behind anonymity, specifically because, in this case, it is easier to attack the messenger than think about the message. If I, the messenger hide, then maybe the recipients of the message will receive it rather than think about the way it was conveyed.

My asking if he had done this type of thinking was not meant to be an accusation. I was just saying that Felicitas last message to him may should have made him think if it was worth his time to re-evaluate if he was sending across the image of himself that he wants to convey on this blog.

Thats all.

"reluctant nomad" understood the meaning of my post in the sense in which I mean to convey it when he responded to my post with "I have thought long and hard about what she said and I don't think that I'm much more self absorbed than anyone else". He goes on to say that he is satisfied with the nature of his blog and the image that it conveys about him.

This is all that matters. After all, this blog is a place for him to express himself as he wishes, nothing more, nothing less.

3:25 am  
Anonymous xmichra said...

actually, that rational was exactly why I was going to say something about your comment. but like I said, it defeated the purpose of my point. Just so we are clear.

3:42 am  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

A powerful post Nomad!

I only hope that Felicitas is in a better place, where she no longer feels pain and sorrow and is free at last.

I won't get into whether or not her last email to you was warrented or no. That is between you and her, and the past is past, there is no hope for reconciliation now.

I will say however, that maintaining a blog is a very self-absorbed thing to do. It goes with the territory, it's YOUR blog and you fill it with what you will, you require no man's advice or consent (unless of course, reproducing copyrighted material!) so it is what it is.

Your blog can be a timecapsule of sorts. An electronic diary that everyone has potential access to. Fill it with what you want to recorded for history, as it pertains directly to your life. Her passing has emotionally affected you, there is no shame in blogging about it.

You allowed her (and us) access to your personal thoughts, a glimpse of your personal life, and the ability to comment on it on top of that.

What more, as observer, do we want?

5:01 am  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

To me it is not a question of whether or not she was cruel to you or whether you have validated her beliefs. In truth you are the only one who knows the answer.
It speaks rather to the deep depression she was in when she wrote this e-mail. One has to realise that shortly after writing this email, the woman passed away (perhaps committed suicide?). And that is the context of this email. I bet all the e-mails she sent out, had the same common theme running through them.
People who deal with depression aren’t at their happiest or at the peak of their life. Their lives have reached an all-time low and they feel that everyone has abandoned them let them down. These aren’t thank-you notes. These are notes that contain all the hurt anger and resentment she harboured inside of her and towards those she knew and loved.
You are the only person who truly knows Felicitas and what the two of you had in the past. None of us who read your blog can truly form an opinion, and we aren’t qualified to make any judgements. Despite the contents, she cared enough to write to you and that in itself says a lot.
And yes, I agree we all prolly look out for ourselves first, but we do not do it at the expense of those we love and hold dear. If however it reaches that point, then I believe one loses touch with one’s humanity.
Perhaps you need to forgive her and celebrate her life, rather than focus on what is perhaps the last desperate act of a woman who felt hat she had nothing more to live for.
And if by chance there is the slightest bit of truth in what she wrote, then spare a moment to reflect on what she is trying to convey to you.

7:32 am  
Blogger BUDDESS said...

So much has been said on this subject. Having suffered from depression myself, I can relate with what she said. When you are in that state of mind, you want others to hurt as much as you are hurting. You normally hurt the ones you love most, because you want them to make you feel better. My depression was an extremely selfish period in my life. Nobody mattered but me. I was fortunate to find help. Felicitas was reaching out, but couldn't see anyone helping her. Don't beat yourself up about it. I keep coming back to your blog because you are what she wrote. I however mean it positively. You write about things we obviously want to read about. Hence your number of visitors. It is sad that she had to go in the frame of mind that she was in and it is even sadder that there are so many unanswered questions. Maybe her English wasn't very good and the whole letter came out wrong. However, I think this was a beautiful tribute to her.

8:53 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Once again, thank you for all your comments. And while most of you have been at pains to reassure me of what sort of person I am or am not, comments that pointed out that I should also pause to reflect on her comments were/are also welcome.

As some of you have pointed out (or implied), this should be just as much about her as it is about me. Obviously, me being the other party in a 'relationship' that you ‘know’, there will be an unbalanced portrayal of the relationship. In real life, where relationships break up for reasons such as divorce, it tends to be much easier to get to know both sides of the story even if, in practice, you may find yourself being biased towards one of the parties. Where the break up is as extreme as suicide, a balanced viewpoint gets much more difficult even if you knew the parties concerned personally. In this particular example, balance is even more difficult as, apart from a few of you, none of you know me in real life. And none of you knew her in real life.

To complicated matters, she and I didn’t know each other in real life.

Having said all of that, I’m able to present the facts as I know them and in so doing I’ve invited your opinions and comments. I obviously don’t want to be known as one of the world’s most self-centred people but if you see some truth in that viewpoint, I only have myself to blame by writing about these circumstances in the way I have.

But, be that as it may, the most important thing from my perspective is that Felicitas is in a better place and that she be remembered for the good things in her life rather than the things that she may have said at the end when her mind was dominated by pain, suffering and loneliness.

In the next day or so, I’ll make another brief posting about her which will tell you a bit more about her background and life.

9:11 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

buddess: I spoke to her a couple of times on the phone and know that her English was Germanically-accented but I can assure you that her writtend English was nigh on perfect!

She worked as a translator in Maputo, mostly translating English into Portuguese.

9:12 am  
Blogger kyknoord said...

What a parting shot. It's weird, because even though what she wrote seems vicious, I don't actually see it as such. I have no idea of the deeper aspects of your relationship, but it comes across more like 'sparring' than an actual dig. Hope you're bearing up.

9:34 am  
Blogger JP said...

Sorry Nomad, I couldn't be arsed to read all the comments tagged to this entry, especially after 'Anonymous Alan' jumped in; suffice it to say that you're a star player and I have to agree with what I've read so far.

Felicitas didn't know you and with her condition, her drinking and her depression was clearly looking at the world in a dark way.

Big hugs

J
x

10:19 am  
Blogger CTG said...

So sorry to read of your friend. I hope you get word soon. Take care, CTG

10:34 am  
Anonymous patita said...

Very sorry to hear to lost a friend, especially in such a troubling way. I'm glad that you've shared this, and feel motivated to give her a proper obituary. Sometimes that's the best that one can do. As for the content of her note, I figure it's for you to decide what it means to you and how you take it. I do know that sometimes pain is the only thing a person can feel.

4:28 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

This sent a chill straight through me. I read what Andrea, Mike and Caroline said and I agree.

Depression can warp our view of others, I gather.

I don't know any bloggers in "real life" but the sense of who they are comes through no matter how much we try to keep a 'public face.'

I can understand how you feel, Nomad and hope you do feel better soon xx.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Lubin said...

Suicide is ultimately a destructive and often selfish act, so her unkind words aren't completely surprising. I think what is the most important part of her message isn't the bit regarding you, but the bit that comes directly after that "I think I have never met or known anyone so totally self-absorbed as you seem to be. Or, the others have concealed it better. Yes, probably that, because deep down I believe that everybody is just interested in themselves, and screw the rest." It sounds like she is trying to convince herself that the whole world is populated with selfish people, so that she can justify and go through with her suicide.

Whatever her faults, she had a sense for the dramatic and some knowledge of psychology - she said something which I guess will make you think for a very long time. Whatever lessons you take from that, I'm not sure should be the ones she maybe intended to, in those last awful hours of her life. Thinking of you anyway. Lubin. XX

11:33 pm  
Blogger justin said...

Alan,
I felt sad (almost close to tears) when I read about your loss, but then I felt very angry with F. for what she said to you in the second paragraph of her email.
I reckon that this all may fit in with Stephen Karpman's "Drama Triangle", where initially someone like F. adopts a "Victim" role (Oh poor depressed me), you jump in to "Rescue" her, whereupon she switches from being a "Victim" to a "Persecutor", and punches you in the face. End of game.
I've been at the receiving end of a lot of this game play with various people over the years, leaving me feeling badly bruised. Does it sound familiar?
I'm sorry to hear about your sadness. I think her criticism of you was totally unjustified.

12:44 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Once again, thanks for all the comments and opinions. While I my mind is still obsessing a bit about the whole affair, I'm far more concerned/intrigued in what finally drove her over the edge and have more-or-less got over her parting shot.

I received an email from her friend this morning to say that the cremation is today and that her ashes will be scattered at a favourite place in the next few weeks to come. I suspect that the friend and I will be exchanging quite a few emails to get to understand what went on.

Apparently, Felicitas once thought of visiting me in England, she was that taken in my our friendship. The friend also confirms that it was my blog that convinced her of how egotistical I am.

I have said that I will write a tribute to her that will be read when they scatter her ashes which will be a quiet affair accompanied by Jamesons's whiskey and the Rolling Stones.

Once I have gone through her old emails, I'll probably post a bit more about her background.

9:23 am  
Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Oh my God.

Others have said it better than me.

I'm sorry you have to go through this.

I would also like to add that I do not understand why no one in the history of my blogging life has ever made a nice, well-meaning, useful, constructively critical or otherwise helpful comment anonymously.

10:02 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Sorry you've had to go through this, Alan. Suicide is as self-centred an act as there is, and I think you can take that email as a final lashing out, even if it did contain opinions she'd formed reading your blog over a period of time.

Mish is right - while you might feel a tinge of remorse in with the sadness, you shouldn't bear responsibility. She's been let down by her friends and family in real life, not those she's only ever "met" virtually.

As for the blog issue - being self-centred or at least liking the sound of your own voice is a prerequisite for being a blogger. You and me are no different. Your blog roams over many different topics, and though the material is often of a personal nature I always find it an entertaining, well-written read. The blogosphere (sorry for the term) is full of far more self-centred blogs written by people who lead far duller lives and write much less engagingly about them.

In any case, those of us who do know you in real life know Felicitas's comments are wide of the mark.

10:55 pm  
Blogger whatalotoffun said...

Sorry for your loss. Depression is a very bad illness. My dad suffers from depression and believe me its very difficult to live with someone that suffers from that disease.My dad suffers from a "Mechanical brain disorder"They explained that your"brainwaves"must be equal,my dads one brainwave was lower than the other one so he suffered from depression (his job also played a very big part of his depression "policeforce")so he tried to hide it in the bottle and that bottle made his depression worse. He also lost his secretary through suicide and his depression got worse that is when he seeked professional help and that is when they did cat scans and EEG's.what she said about you is not what she really meant people with depression say hurtful things cause they want the attention on them.I dont know you that well only started reading your blog for about a month Buddess told me about your Blog she is a dear friend of mine.So everything for the best and we all think of you.

8:54 am  
Blogger Clare said...

From what ou say, it seems as though she discoverd your blog as a side product of having met you through the birth certificate thing.

This is really important, as it means she may not have been a regular reader of blogs - i.e. yours might have been the first blog she ever encountered.

To someone not used to the form, an understandable initial reaction would be "My God, what a bunch of narcissists". Blogging is an inherently self-absorbed pastime. But then again, human beings are inherently self-absorbed.

To someone who hasn't encountered it before, it would seem excessively so, but that's because they have to get over the culture shock of seeing people be open and public about their narcissism.

Anyway, my (typically long-winded) point is that you are probably no more or less self-obsessed than any other blogger, or indeed any human being. You just got on the wrong end of a suicide note from someone not used to blogging.

And on another note... depressives are often very antagonistic towards the rest of the world, who they consider to have let them down and not cared enough / done enough / been too wrapped up in themselves... which is, ironically, an incredibly self-absorbed attitude.

4:50 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

whatalottafun: welcome to the blog and thanks for your comments. Depression is a terrible illness that hits a large proportion of the population, sometimes with devastating consequences that don't necessarily end in suicide.

clare: welcome to you too. The first blog Felicitas would have read would have been Troubled Diva when I pointed her that way at the time I guest blogged there while Mike was in Peru. The next would have been this one when I told her about it. So, yes, being unfamiliar with them she'd have been very struck by the self absorbed nature of the writing.

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's me again.

Is this vindication?

6:57 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I don’t think vindication was/is necessary as, by the comments, you’ll have read that most bloggers reading this have already stated that a personal blog, by its very nature, is all about the blogger’s personal world.

The way you choose to write about yourself varies widely but, ultimately, you hope for a readership of some sort. And once a readership has been established, there is a natural tendency to write to/for that audience as the reason for them being an audience is the way you write, a combination of style and content. Some blogs are very focused on particular/specific aspects of life such as illness or sex, others are much more generalised. Although a more generalised blog will give a fuller picture of the blogger’s life, both types are completely focused on the blogger’s life. The choice of material and manner of presentation, through skill or lack of it, and through manipulation or lack of it, will influence the opinions of the readers. And while the comment box provides a semblance of two-way communication as you get in a conversation, the nature of the medium is that of standing on a soap-box and sprouting about yourself.

I fully acknowledge that this is a self-absorbed activity but I don’t accept that it makes me particularly more self-absorbed than anyone else, whether they are bloggers or not.

One thing, however, does interest me. If my sleuthing work is correct, you live in Canada but came across me via www.blogafrica.com. Is that true? If so, what’s your interest in Africa?

9:03 am  

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