The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

Suicide of someone close, no matter if you loved or hated them, will leave life-long consequences. However, it is up to the individual to allow the tragedies in our lives as an entitlement for self-destruction.  In other words, if something bad already happened, it could become a justification for slowly destructing one’s life, generally by self-neglect of one’s health, by using substances to numb the pain instead of facing it and learning from the past so it may never happen again.  Someone i love beyond words recently told me she never liked therapy.  Neither do I. Therapy is hard work, unplesant at times because it forces one to look inside, at the only person one cannot walk away from: SELF.  Perhaps other therapies, such as massage and facials could be used in addition to psychotherapy to make the process easier.  No, psychotherapy is not pleasant but if one is lucky to work with a good therapist and is willing to look inside the self, then miracles may happen.  The past is not repeated over and over again, the patterns which lead to delf-destruction by making the wrong choices are changed and replaced by true self-love and appreciation. We learn to chose the right partners because we see at last our worth, that we deserve to be appreciated, cherrished, truly loved. Yes, love starts at home, and the home is the self!  

After a suicide, there are  degrees of pain, confusion, anger, sadness, depending on our relationship with the person we lost, the age when it happened and again, as the psychiatrist said, that “bucket of resilience,” we were blessed with upon birth.

Following Kevin’s death, our family, already desintegrated, disintegrated further because, as my daughters so well expressed, now they lost the hope of ever regaining their father’s closeness, love, approval. They were both teenager, both females and needed then more than ever the admiration of the first man they ever knew, their father.  At the time of his death, they were angry at him, angry because he had chosen to be absent from their lives, from our life and death troubles, such as my cancer diagnosis, disability and loss of business. Still, they were hopeful and he died, he chose to die and no questions would ever be answered by him.For the wounds to be healed we needed to give ourselves answers and many times have suspended judgement, accept things as they were. He took away forever that dream of hope for reconciliation, however we had thechoice to allow the past to destroy our future. It was a choice to learn from it and make a better, more meaningful life from what happened, or justify self-destruction because bad things happened anyway! Yes, it was a choice! The choice to numb and self-destruct is easier, the one to understand and move on to true self-love and in a better place, takes time and work. it takes detrmnation and the willigness to make choices.

The immediate impact  of Kevin’s death was anger and because the Holidays were coming, we all decided to bestow our anger on the Holidays.   As a result we stopped celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yeah, let’s take it on the Holidays, they were still there, they didn’t betray us, so now we were betraying them!

2005 was the year when all our Christmas treasures, all the memories we created every year, all the decorations, went right in the trash! No, we had no memories, it was all a lie and lies belonged in the trash!

I could not remember what made me do the research on the beginning of the institution of marriage, how and why it first started, but what I remember from the research was that in ancient times marriage had the purpose to provide for the safety of the woman and children, to give children a safe environment. The notion of romance was introduced much later, and if the husband, whose duty in old times was to provide for his family died, then it became the responsibility of his brothers to take care of the orphaned children. I was a divorced woman, a single parent of two teenage daughters. What family?

We did not live in ancient times, we had no family, we were the three of us and our friends to begin a journey through the Hell of recovery from a suicide loss!

Each of us reacted differently and at different times after the loss of Kevin, the fear of losing our home, the divorce, my illness and the loss of the overall dream of security  we once had.

 It was all a lie, pretense, and my daughters were determined to build their own lives, alone, because, as I interpreted it, those who should have taken care of them, didn’t. We, the parents, betrayed them. Their father bailed out, but I was alive, responsible. How was I going to continue, at least try to protect them when they were about to fly out of the so-called nest? How was I going to do it from a distance when I had failed while they lived with me?

Out of respect for my daughters and becauseI believe they have their own stories to tell if and when they chose, I will not talk in detail about their reactions, their pain, confusion and what is still, in my opinion, a wound that still needs mending, so that these two amazing young women could live their lives to the fullest.

I have faith, they will each accept and resolve their healing  at their own pace, in their own, unique way.  We are given choices and consequences, and not choosing is in fact a choice.

 What I would say, is that both my daughters flew out of our nest as soon as possible. I  chose tostay in the house which carried the memories of divorce, illness and now suicide, while my only family, my daughters, chose to go away, away from the memories of pain and disaster, and I was happy they did. I encouraged them to go as far away as possible. In Romanian we have a saying, “change your place of living, you change your luck.” I hoped they will have better luck elsewhere, however I also know change requires work and further choices to make, otherwise the pattern will repeat. 

But my children were my lifeline, should I have stayed or move far away? Should I have locked myself in the house and slowly die of sadness, anger, confusion, all stirred in the depth of my soul…

I wasn’t even understanding what happened, why it happened… I knew nothing about suicide because suicide never happened in one’s immediate family, oh no, it always happened to others!  However, when it happened to you, it was like the “elephant in the room,” nobody talked directly about it. He died of “sudden, “unexpected” death.

For instance, if  he died of a heart attack only if it were a heart attack, we’d speak about it and send emails about the symptoms of avoiding a heart attack, now that it happened to someone in our immediate family.

Not so with suicide! We didn’t speak about it and if on top of it,  the church  where the family belonged believed suicide was a “sin,” then those left behind were really screwed, as the image of  Hell needed to be addressed.

Our church, thank God, didn’t believe, or said anything about Hell. Now I felt I was on my own to figure out where did his soul go? Oh, no!  I had two souls to worry about, my mother, an atheist, and my ex-husband, who took himself the gift God gave him, the gift of life. It was true,   suicide may be interpreted as murder against oneself and therefore not obeying the 6th Commandment, however my research showed that in the case of suicide, the Bible does not clearly state that those who kill themselves go to Hell! In fact, the only unforgivable sins are rejecting Christ (Mark 16:16) and blasphaming the Holy Spirit. (  If this held true, my mother, not Kevin went streight to Hell, a rather unsettling thought, because she was a doctor, she saved many lives and did the best she knew how with what she had available during her life on Earth.

This approach to trying and understand the complexity of where the soul goes, life, death, suicide, atheism and above all the immediate, ardent fear of what was going to happen to my daughters, how were they going to handle these tragedies in the long run, especially that they were away from my protective eyes consumed me day and night! I could only protect them with my thoughts and prayers. I felt helpless and worried …

There was also an immediate personal  effect Kevin’s  suicide had on my personal life. I lost the desire to ever have another mate. I would never trust my  judgement of men. How could I not have known he had a gun and bullets in our home he was not a pacifist and for the entire over twenty years we lived a lie! After his death, the girls confessed when I was going to work every evening, he was never feeding them, but cooking for himself alone, that the chair didn’t break because he sat on it but because in a fit of rage against the children, he broke the chair, but then asked them to not tell me.  Secrets. Dark secrets. I lived in the mist of dark secrets for twenty years and didn’t even dream of them. Who was the man I married? What else didn’t I know and was going to jump out of some closed to bite me when I least expected it?

Years of therapy helped me scratch the surface of the multitude of problems facing us. I needed more to understand the root of the problems!

As 60% of the married population we ended up in divorce, further more Kevin ended up as another statistic which at the time, was, every 17 minutes a person ends their life…

I was given a full plate in this life-time, but don’t they say, “God never gives you something you can’t handle?” God knew I was strong!

The little girl  in me, the same one who ran away from home at the age of five, defying the nanny, and crossed the street to play in the park alone, because nobody was willing to take her, emerged once again.  Strangely, this was the story my mother always told people about me: I was determined, I was brave, I had a mind of my own!

My choice after the dire circumstances of 2005 was to try and understand my past, what happened to my daughters whileIi was convinced I offered them a childhood of security and happiness, unlike mine.

I decided  to understand the dillusions of my past before stepping into my future, so that the patterns of the past might never destroy my life again!

In addition to  the regular Al Anon meetings, now I was attending a Suicide Loss support group and I was so active in both groups, soon I was elected the  group representative of the Al Anon group, and trained to become a facilitator  for a suicide loss support group.

As if this was not enough, in 2008, at the age of 58, I applied and was accepted in graduate school, a Master’s  program at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.  The major, Clinical Psychology and Counseling.

At the present time, I am one course away and 300 hours of internship, from earning my M.S. in Clinical Psychology.

Life continued to happen, good and bad, and some of my goals needed readjustment.

In spite of all the hardships, I will never, ever stop wanting to cross that street and play in the park of life… unless, of course, a car runs me over. However, the good news is, I have learned to only cross on green and even when I cross on green, I still look both ways!

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