As with any trauma, physical or emotional, in order to live through it and go forward it is my personal belief that a healing process must take place. This may indeed be called a grief period. Sadly, many survivors of a suicide never have the tools, knowledge, or ability to work through this period. Sadly, I count myself as one.
My mother committed suicide a long time ago. As her only child I was left with her legacy – baggage of emotional pain, guilt, shame, and fear of ending up the same. Sorting through this and separating myself from this has taken God’s grace, a lot of help, and my willingness to move on. This has not come easily. I have found myself a quick study but a slow learner – especially in terms of applying what I have learned.
My mom was a Zigfield Follies girl and, needless to say, talented and attractive. Married to a successful self-made man she started attempting suicide when I was a teenager. After each attempt she was institutionalized for 3-4 months and treated with electric shock, insulin shock, thorazine, dilantin – on and on. Returning home after each episode and hospitalization she became more of a shell and less of a person. She eventually succeeded in a 2 car garage with both cars running – dying of carbon monoxide poisoning and alcohol and drug overdose.
What have I learned? It seems the more I learned the less I knew. At the point of beginning to deal with this I had to keep it real simple. The feelings incurred with that experience have been dealing with me for years – affecting every area of my life. I unconsciously recreated my situational relationship with my mother over and over again – each time hoping to save some poor soul from self-destruction or anything else I deemed they needed saving from. In simple terms, I played God in peoples lives. After numerous failed marriages (7), treatment for depression, two suicide attempts, alienation from life, treatment for alcoholism and prescription drug addiction, and continually setting myself up in a relationship destined to be painful and fail, I believe I can be accurately portrayed as an advocate for getting help in working through the “stuff” associated with being left behind.
I thank God that I have been helped and, even more so, that I am willing to seek the help I’ve needed for so long. I don’t believe I will ever get over what happened to me. However, I know that I can learn to live with this and move on. Today I have choices – not reactions. Today I am able to be a friend and be accountable. Today I can care about someone without caretaking them. That’s the difference. My prayer for you reading this – and I believe if you are reading this you may have indeed been deeply hurt and affected – is that you will know that there is hope and there is help – take advantage of this!