Grieving a Friend’s Death with Death Cab for Cutie

Grieving a Friend's Death

This is about my close friend who died a few years ago, with the backdrop of music from Death Cab for Cutie and their album Transatlanticism, which was their fourth album, which was released in 2003, my friend died October 6 2007. 

Grieving a Friend’s Death

Now, why this is important is that it was the very first person that really respected me. He really listened to me. He was a gentle person. Now I grew up with Asperger’s. I was used to people picking on me. My friends picked on me. Teachers picked on me, they physically assaulted me sometimes. And my dad picked on me, you know, whenever I had big dreams and talked to him about it, he would just laugh at me and say yeah keep dreaming, you know that’s not reality. 

So I just had, I felt like the whole world was against me so I really got into Death Cab for Cutie, they were a huge band out of Bellingham, Washington I lived in Port Townsend Washington so they were pretty local, and they got pretty big. I remember having transatlanticism, and a lot of things happened during this album because my friend died. 

People with Asperger’s can get really obsessed with music, they can play the same song or same record over and over and over. I had done that in the past. I could listen to the same song over and over for hours at a time. I started doing that with Gary Newman’s Cars when I was 12 years old. I had his 45 record Cars and I would just play it over and over. So, it wasn’t a new thing for me to play music all the time. 

But what was new, was this was the very first friend who truly respected me. We played tennis together. He would cook dinner for me. He was seven years older than me and I felt respected. People with Asperger’s tend to like animals more than people, or they like to hang out with people that are older because older people are lower key. They don’t have as much ego, typically, depending on who they are.

But I chose friends who were older than me because they would actually listen to me. They didn’t tease me like my old friends and Haas Mroue was his name. He was actually an author of Beirut Seizures, you can find it on Goodreads. 

But he was just a gentle spirit, and he loved playing with words and doing poetry, and that book is basically a book of poetry of his growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, during the war, and he was a child and he was just scared to death of bombs going off around him. 

My mom actually told me that Haas had died. I was just heading home, so when I got inside my converted school bus, which was my home at the time, I just started bawling my eyes out and I couldn’t stop, and I have never, ever cried like that – even when my guinea pig died when I was 12. 

This relationship meant something different, because it was the first person basically that truly respected me who is closer to my age. I had a couple other friends that were twice my age, and they respected me as well, but Haas and I really, you know, we worked out together and we played tennis. I would go over and we would have dinners together and talk about poetry. And so there were a lot of similarities there. 

But what happened when my mom told me that he died, I went home and I started crying and I couldn’t stop – and I was drinking. I was drinking a lot at that time anyways but I wouldn’t drink around Haas because I didn’t want him to disrespect me.

So he was there for me when I was hungover – he was there for me when I wasn’t drinking, and he basically soothed my tormented soul, because I was really in the ravages of my alcoholism, and he was there for me.

So when he died, I just stayed at home and listened to Death Cab for Cutie, and a couple things happened that I’d never done before. I didn’t leave my house for a week. That was the very first time I didn’t leave my house. I started to get agoraphobia. I didn’t want to leave my house, I didn’t shower, there was no bathroom in my bus. I would go out in the woods. I didn’t want to move off the bed, I was rocking back and forth all day long. I stopped working out. 

I was stimming. I was rocking back and forth 14 hours a day, and even my dad came over and was so concerned about me. I said, Dad, can you just go get me a bottle of white wine, the big bottle, the 1.5 liter. Normally, he wouldn’t do anything like that, but he saw how desperate I was that he did go and get me a bottle and then my girlfriend at the time she brought over a bottle. 

So I was drinking three liters of wine a day, and popping lots of Xanax but I remember listening to Transatlanticism while crying, and the sun was rising and I had all these windows in the school bus and the sun was shining through a crack in the window, and that crack had been created by me wrestling with a neighbor and accidentally his head hit the back window and cracked it – that was just a reminder of my alcoholism, everything around me was crumbling, cracks in the windows, beer cans all over the floor, the smell of urine on my bed, and I was losing it. 

But here’s the thing is that there is some type of – I relished the misery, I relished the torment. There was something kind of wicked, but easy with just being slothful and not caring about anything. I got really in a dark despaired time, I was dirty, I wasn’t showering, I didn’t want to do anything and I just cried and I needed it. It was beautiful. It was a very traumatic time. And, all with the backdrop of the album Transatlanticism. 

So what does this video/article mean? I’m going to talk about how to get out of that because being slothful, being agoraphobic, having social anxiety, it just gets worse and worse. The more you give it attention, the more you’re basically creating these neural pathways that say yes, you have to fear something; you have to fear people, you must stay home and there’s people out there all over that are stuck at home with agoraphobia, they’re stuck at home with paralyzing fear. 

The only reason why I got out of that situation, I cried it out, I listened to Death Cab for Cutie for a week, and slowly but surely, one day I just concentrated on showering. Then the next day I would go for a walk. The next day, I would eat a little more food. 

It was very hard, my legs were weak. I was starving, I was dirty, and I just started to slowly pick up the pieces and that’s how you have to deal with all of these things: agoraphobia, social phobia, social anxiety, panic attacks, you have to slowly face the fear, because if you give it power by accepting it, it’s going to get stronger and stronger to the point where you’re going to be trembling in your bed. You won’t even be able to, pretty soon you’ll just close your eyes – you’ll say, I’m scared to open my eyes, it will get so bad that you won’t even be able to open your eyes in bed in a dark room. 

So, there’s two ways to get out of this hell, you can do all or nothing, you can just face your fears head on right away, and just say I’m going for it. Who cares what happens. Okay. You can say it’s okay whatever happens, let’s do this. I’m serious, dive head in. People dive in right away. They say, I don’t care anymore, I’m gonna face this fear, and they’re gonna feel panic they’re gonna feel anxiety, but they get through it and after two to three minutes of this, of this total adrenaline dump into your body, you will overcome it. 

The adrenaline will eventually subside. Okay. The other way you can do it is slow incremental steps but you have to face something every single day in small incremental steps, and you will eventually train your body that you are not in a life or death situation. You will get used to that adrenaline dump – that adrenaline dump feels very scary in the very beginning, but you have to just drop your arms and just say I don’t care anymore. 

It’s worth feeling three minutes of fear, total terror to break free from the chains of anxiety because my whole life I’ve been struggling with anxiety for years, and it gets so tiresome to avoid places and people and things because of this anxiety. It’s better to feel an adrenaline dump for five minutes to break the shackles of anxiety forever. It is worth it. 

Are you going to have relapses of anxiety? Yes, it could come back, but then again you say, I’m done with this anxiety. I don’t care if I puke, I don’t care if I feel dizzy. I don’t care if I get totally embarrassed by someone. Embarrassment does not matter. Who cares how you look. People do not care how you look, they’re more concerned about themselves. 

Alright, break the shackles, feel the fear and do it anyways, that’s what everyone says. I’ve read so many books about this, and they all talk about exposure therapy. You have to break out. Now you can do it all or nothing. Just say who cares anymore. Bring it on. 

You can even use a little bit of humor, you could be like you know my fear could light up a whole, I have so much adrenaline and energy I can light up a whole grid or, you know, I can’t wait to see the eyes of people bugging out when they see me trembling on the floor, you can make fun of it. 

When you make fun of your anxiety, your body will go Oh, okay, well he’s laughing or she’s laughing at this. It must not be a threat. Then you have to wait for the adrenaline to leave, and the shaking to leave, and then it will pass, and then you just conquered it. You can slowly start conquering bigger and bigger anxious moments, until you’re completely free. That is way better than trembling with your eyes closed in a dark room, not wanting to ever leave again, or a shower or go for a walk or talk to your parents or do anything like that that is not a way to live. 

So I really miss Haas, I feel like this is an anniversary. I mean he died in 2007, like I said, Death Cab for Cutie was there for me. It was fine for a week not showering, not working out, not seeing anyone, people coming over with booze for me, but I was on my way out. And I believe that Satan loves giving you a little bit of fun. You know he gives you pleasure in sloth, he gives you pleasure in denying people, he gives you pleasure in destroying your life. He wants that. 

But, it’s a short term high, and eventually it will destroy you. It’s all a lie, drugs and alcohol are a lie, hiding at home is a lie, avoiding people is a lie. He wants you to go to hell. 

Alright, but you are here for a reason, and you can slowly or fastly, climb out of that hole, depending on how you want to do it, but the bottom line is you have to face your fears, and we’re still alive. If you’re watching this, you have been through a lot. You deserve to live. You’re here for a reason. I love you guys, leave a comment. Thank you for watching and we’ll talk to you soon. 

Here’s more Resources for Asperger’s and Addiction

Sincerely,

Erik C Johnson

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