A quick search of images for the word alone did not wield the image I was looking for- fitting, considering I have not yet been able to articulate this layer of grief in the forward lane of life. I was not prepared for the bitch slap of depression and the sting it left. Depressed? Me?
Explain manic distraction tactics.
The thick muck that clings once suicide has crossed your path is both defiant and unforgiving. It is a crusty, black ooze. I kept looking for a remedy. I kept at my investigative search for the missing puzzle pieces on those last days of my husband’s life, in his developmental history, in his family, in his first marriage, in the precision of his creative mind, in the love of our life together. I stopped at nothing.
I am a big believer in doing whatever you need to do and say once you find yourself on the survivor side. When you survive anything that changes your entire being.
It was exhaustive. It was unforgiving. I was unforgiving. My search was relentless. For years I studied the impact of early trauma and the co-habitating bed partners of early and repetitive trauma, depression and substance abuse. I was captivated by the way brains rewire when faced with trauma-and adapt accordingly to survive- if not suppress nightmares. I was not suffering from the deeper sense of loss, or the reality of the situation. I know the reality of the situation. My daughter knows the reality of the situation. I have uncovered more truth than I ever imagined. I also uncovered more about being in the living than most people want to admit. I gave myself permission to do whatever I needed to do in search of the remedy, for the end of the anger. I placed little hope on an appeasement for peace, and all the other issues that arrive at the pit stop of pain. I did not know what I was looking for, I did not know a great deal about much of anything really, except for this: I was not going to drink it away. I was not going to drug it away. I was not going to sex it away. I was not going to consume myself with anything other than getting through. Getting through. I don’t know any other way to do things. Do not ever underestimate resilience. It does not come in the package I thought it would.
On some days this meant different things: I became scattered and not able to make decisions.I napped. I got back in bed. I fortified the boundaries around myself and my daughter. I slept in. I gave way to tears again and again. I said yes, and more importantly, I said no. I came face to face with the fact I neglected to see: My own brain had been rewired and fear had moved in to stay. I had not known this kind of fear prior to my husband’s suicide. I had known fearless, I had known fierce, but damn if fear did not take me by surprise. It sneaked up on me when I was least suspecting. I did not recognize myself. This was unsettling. My brain was not working like it always had. My energy was giving way to complete and depleting exhaustion. I was afraid of how the physicality of fear was going to manifest it’s wretched self. I dug in. Took more yoga classes. I practiced my practice. I ran more miles, cycled more on a bike going nowhere, made lists, sub lists and tore at every single thing that irritated me. I was hell and damnation wrapped up in a 5’3, 54 year- old. I pointed the finger at myself. I cleaned my house.
Keep. Moving. Take on more. Do more. Be more. Read more. Question everything.
Just. Keep. Moving.
I am going to do this. I am going to do this. I am going to do this.
I was going to find the remedy. If I could find the remedy, then I could wake up one morning and go back to way back when- way back when my brain and my body would do whatever I asked them to- what they have always done- when I asked them to do something.
Run marathons? Check.
Start a business? Check. Check.
Read and research? Check.
Rely on my default mode and do something, anything, creative. Check.
Yes. These things took me further through my unimaginable but this was not enough. I was not going to wake up to the way things used to be.
I had forgotten my own brain rewired herself to spare me the onslaught of discovering my husband.My brain was rebounding from a nanosecond of pure trauma and then the hours, days, and months of everything after that. How dare I ask her to behave as if nothing happened? Even though I knew everything happened, and all at once everything had changed. My brain was working as hard as she could to reprogram and recover. I was just being unrelenting. I was being impatient. I was asking myself to carry on and get through thisthingthat changedeverything- as if nothing had changed. Even though I knew it had.
You do not know alone until you are alone with a pain that will not leave you alone-and without a process. I was there.
Then one day, without fanfare or a declaration of any kind. I stopped.
I stopped trying to carry on with my old set of coping skills. I was ready to stop the heaviness of treading through the muck of pain. I was ready to give myself a break. I was ready to stop.
And I did. I made friends with the many definitions of silence. I found strength in new ways of speaking and of listening. I upped the dosage on my antidepressant with a since of pride. Hail to the power of replenished serotonin!
I have given up on my investigative search for the answers that will never come. I can no longer piece together the fucked up puzzle that led to his choice to end his life. Most of the pieces are missing anyway- hidden the way families bury the darkest of secrets until there is another tragedy, and another layer of dysfunction is spread across a generation.
I can’t remember his voice, my daughter recently said.
It is slipping away from me too, I said.
We will get through this, she said.
We are getting through this, I said.