Do I even have the right to miss you? Do I deserve the support being offered? How can I be out having fun when he’s gone? Why am I so selfish? Why wasn’t I good enough?
If you’ve lost someone you love to suicide, I’m sure you’re plenty familiar with these thoughts. They come up out of nowhere, and they feel like a hot knife in your belly, you can’t just ignore it. The guilt wells up in your throat and you aren’t sure if you are going to scream or throw up or break down in tears. You have this overwhelming urge to fix the problem, to make up for it, to beg for forgiveness, to change the last words you said… but there’s nothing you can do and nobody to listen to this madness, so instead you just kind of hyperventilate until you’re dizzy and wait for it to go away.
Your brain is telling you that you know it’s not your fault. You know you’re being irrational. But your physical reactions say otherwise. The knot in your stomach is screaming for your attention and making you second-guess any rational thoughts. Those haunting, nagging thoughts creep back. It’s all my fault. If only I had… I should never have said…
I’m going to share with you some more of the details of my boyfriends suicide. This is something that is extremely difficult for me to talk about, and for some this is probably equally as difficult to read about, so please stop reading if you feel this could be too much.
The day my boyfriend died started just as any other day. It was the day before we were supposed to leave for vacation and to celebrate his 30th birthday. We had been counting down the days for this trip for months and I was elated. It was finally here and I had the next ten days off with my love and no responsibility!
But he was in one of his moods, he was in a darker place than I even realized. I tried to cheer him up. I tried to be playful with him, but he shrugged me away. I tried to join him in the shower, but he made it clear he was not in the mood. I felt a bit rejected, and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, but whatever, I was on vacation and I wasn’t going to let his mood swing get me down. So while he showered I poured myself a glass of wine and sat at the kitchen table working on some things I wanted to finish before we left.
When he got out, he sat down at the table and had THAT look on his face, I immediately was on the defense, because that look always meant something bad was going to happen. He proceeded to bring up an argument that we had many times before and I was in no mood to deal with the drama. I tried to blow him off and I finished my glass of wine in a few gulps. I made it clear how weary I was of his fits, and how unfair it was for him to play with my emotions and make me feel bad for being myself. This created a ripple effect and turned into a huge fight. He slammed his fist down on the table which shattered my glass. I responded with a bitter “you have to ruin everything, don’t you?”. From there, the accusations flew freely and we spit venom at each other out of anger.
We knew exactly what to say to hurt each other in the deepest ways. Funny how love can do that.
I was so angry, I told him I wasn’t going on vacation, and I grabbed the bag I had packed and told him I was going to stay with my friend. That’s when he began threatening suicide.
My blood boiled and my heart raced. This had happened so many times before. He threatened, I stayed, I did everything I was supposed to do. In the past I had called the cops, I took him to doctors, I took the weapons out of the house, and I did everything I could to keep him calm and happy so he wouldn’t try anything. It always worked, temporarily, but then it would happen again and the cycle was so exhausting.
And this day, it happened all over again.
This happened all of the time; could we not just get ready for vacation in peace and have a good time?! I was being accused of things I hadn’t done, I was being called a liar and every other name in the book, and I was, quite frankly, sick and tired of defending myself. I was so frustrated; could we not just get ready for vacation in peace and have a good time?! Could he just not be grateful for our life and love me for who I was instead of trying to tear me down? I was seeing red and screamed that I wasn’t going to deal with this again. I told him how exhausting this shit was, how I didn’t deserve to be spoken to that way, and that he needed to go and get help.
In response, he pulled his gun out and loaded it. He cocked it in front of me. All of my own rational thinking disappeared, because I was terrified. I screamed hysterically and threatened to call the police. He said if I called, it would be too late by the time they got there. He slammed the gun down on the nightstand, punched a hole in the wall and walked away.
I felt absolutely insane. Was this truly my life? What do I do now?
I climbed into our bed and just sobbed. I didn’t know what to do. I was so tired of this. I couldn’t do this, I shouldn’t have to do this, but I knew I couldn’t leave. I loved him too much.
I called friends frantically trying to get some help. I was desperate for some guidance. What do you do when someone you love so much is doing this? One of them told me I had to get out of there right away. I scrambled out of bed and grabbed my bag, frantically trying to figure out what else I would need.
He stormed back into the room and walked over to me and wrapped me up in a hug. I stood there like a statue and let him hug me. He said “I love you, I’m sorry it has to end this way”.
And I said, “just stop, just leave me alone, I’m so tired of this”. I never hugged him back. I never said I love you back. I just shrugged him away.
I’d do ANYTHING to go back to that moment and hold him so close and tell him how much I love him.
He walked over to the nightstand and said “fine, don’t worry, after tonight, you won’t have to worry about this anymore”.
I said, “is that a threat?”.
He said “nope. that’s not a threat.”
“Is it a promise?”
“Let’s just say it’s not a threat”.
I honestly don’t remember what happened next, or who said what. I just remember seeing him reach for the gun and putting it up to his head. He looked me dead in the eyes. I so clearly remember my own scream. I screamed “NO!” and I tried to make my feet move towards him.
By the time I started moving forward, the gun fired.
His body slumped to the floor as I ran past, dialing 911.
I screamed into the phone and begged for help, then ran back to the body of the man I loved.
I squeezed his cold hands and rubbed his still chest. I begged, pleaded, said my goodbyes, and apologized through the sobs.
But no apology would ever be enough. I felt entirely responsible. My brain kept telling me that I was the reason my boyfriend was lying on the floor, lifeless.
I got shuffled out of the house and interrogated by many. Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. I experienced every emotion imaginable. But guilt… guilt was always right there through it all. It could not be ignored.
It got so bad that I was basically begging people to blame me.
The guilt was destroying me. I sat up at the firehouse in front of his gear locker in the middle of the night just sobbing and begging his forgiveness for not hugging him back or saying “I love you”. Repeating over and over that I’m so sorry for getting mad and threatening to leave. I’d work myself up to the point of being physically sick and dealing with my own suicidal thoughts. I felt like I took him away from his friends and family. I felt like I failed him. I felt like I failed as his woman, as his supporter. I felt like I was the worst thing to ever happen to him, even though I only wanted the best for him.
This was truly the worst mix of emotions I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t think I would survive it. The pain from losing the love of my life and the guilt of feeling responsible for his death was just far too much to handle. I sought help quickly, but even then I struggled to feel as though I deserved the redemption.
After multiple sessions, my therapist put this in the clearest perspective for me. I explained my feelings of guilt and she said “Honestly, it’s quite narcissistic of you to really believe you had anything to do with his choice to take his life. You aren’t God. You didn’t pull the trigger.” Well damn. Okay. That was a hard pill to swallow, but the logical side of me knew she was right. He had a very abnormal reaction to a normal situation. Couples argue. Couples break up. We have the right to stand up for ourselves and leave a situation that is not healthy for us.
She asked me if I was satisfied with my efforts in the relationship, and if I felt like I gave my all for him. And I realized, yes, I gave that man everything I had to offer.
I loved him unconditionally for everything he was. I tried daily to show him love and compassion and understanding. I worked hard on our relationship, on myself, and on our little family. I gave my all every single day, even through the hardest moments and the challenges of his mental health battles. He frustrated me, absolutely, and challenged me every day, but I loved him endlessly, through thick and thin. He was my one and only. We always said “forever and for always, no matter what” because we knew how hard things would get. He was a very loved man and I gave him the best of everything I had to offer in the time I had with him.
Do I still struggle with these thoughts? ABSOLUTELY. Every single day. I battle with myself on why this happened. I beg for the answers to questions that I know I will never get. I still get overwhelmed with the feeling that I could have, should have, found a way to stop this. But I’m working on positive affirmations and trying to remind myself that I had no control over this awful situation. I’m human. I am allowed to get frustrated with people, even if it’s someone I love. I’m allowed to stand by my expectations. I’m allowed to stand up for myself.
This pain is so unique and immense. I know it’s going to take a very long time to come to terms with this. But I keep reminding myself of the love we shared and the wonderful man he was. And I try to be kind with myself and tell myself that this was a situation beyond my realm of control.
Now, I can do nothing but move forward, practice patience and forgiveness, and try to let go of the questions I’ll never have answers to.
Remember this as you navigate through life. Be gentle with yourself. Love and healing to you all.