suicide loss doesn’t stop hurting after one month or one year or one decade. i am 21 years into this journey and the impact is still there. the fallout is forever. i try my best to be positive and hopeful, to remember that i can deal with this and that i am a survivor. but some days, some weeks, i don’t feel like a survivor. i feel like i am just surviving.
that moment when i walked into the laundry room and found my dad is forever. it went somewhere deep inside of me and lodged itself into the core of who i am. i have been in years of therapy. i have reached out for help and talked to so many people. i have done my best to be aware of what i need and to take care of myself to the best of my ability. i write write write it out and process through this blog. but that moment is still there. the terror is still there. the abandonment is still there. the traumatized little girl is still there. maybe not as bad today as it was 21 years ago. but suicide is forever.
the abandonment i experienced when i lost my dad, the pain that my entire family experienced is forever. at 13 years old i was faced with a loss that was bigger and more complicated that i could comprehend. i was so sad that i couldn’t even cry. i was so scared that i didn’t even know it. and that feeling lasted in a conscious way for years and then went below the surface and is still present today. what if i fail? what if you don’t like me? what if you see who i really am and then you leave me? suicide is forever.
there is no road map for surviving a suicide loss. and especially as a child, i didn’t have the emotional framework to begin to process what had happened. i wasn’t even diagnosed with ptsd until i was 31, because back when my dad died ptsd was something that veterans experienced. not seventh grade girls. so many of my symptoms went untreated and i developed unhealthy ways of coping with the trauma. obsessive thoughts and behaviors to control my surroundings. checking checking checking to be sure that the people still closest to me were not going to leave. shopping to fill the empty space inside and to have a momentary rush of feeling beautiful, desirable, wanted. i am working on them, i am trying to change but i still do all of those things today. suicide is forever.
sometimes it feels that just when i have gotten to the bottom of my dad’s suicide it drops out again and i have to go deeper. there is always more to work on. there is always more to learn about myself. during weeks like this one it feels almost maddening. how many more layers are there to peel away? how can i work so hard at this and still feel stuck in the same behaviors i exhibited at 13, 15, 18 years old? i try to be kind to myself as i go through this process but that in and of itself is one of the biggest consequences of my grief and early trauma: on a deep-down level i see myself as not good enough. so i put myself down, over and over again. i try to grow and make different choice but it’s still inside of me. suicide is forever.
i want to scream at my dad, take him by the shoulders and shake him really hard.
look at this, look at what you left me with. look at what you did to me. did you know? did you think? did you realize?