I am a suicide loss survivor
On March 14th, 2015 my ex-boyfriend died by suicide; we had broken up just two months prior. This loss changed not only my life, but the lives of many others. It has changed the way I think, it has changed the way I look at others [even complete strangers], and the way I work with my clients. Most importantly, it has sparked a drive within me to help those who are struggling, and to support those who have lost someone to suicide.
My story has been that of a rollercoaster…beginning with the entire ride being broken down and unusable for months. Then it began working again….but bumpy and definitely not enjoyable. My friends [or …the mechanics in this analogy] were beyond supportive, doing everything but breathe for me. Constantly reassuring me, “this isn’t your fault”, “it’s going to get better”, and “you’ll fall in love again”. I wanted to believe them so bad, but I didn’t. I kept saying [& thinking] to myself “if you didn’t break up with him, he’d still be here”. That exact phrase lived in my head for entirely too long. Still to this day, it creeps in…but not with nearly as much strength. Let’s get back to the roller coaster analogy. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting hours in a line just for it to shut down the second you get to the front of the line; OR! Better yet, getting on the ride, and having it break down mid-way. This is how I felt with my friends for months. They wanted to bring me out, distract me, get the “old Jen” back, but I would just shut down. I felt that no one genuinely understood how I felt and that I was unrepairable. God help my friends, they continued to wait in line for the world’s most miserable roller coaster ride…legit, EVER!
I believe the day after my loss, one of my best friends [shout out to Fallon] had me connect with someone whom she believed could help me. If you’re thinking Anna…. BINGO. Almost immediately, Anna reached out to me, and has helped me in ways that I could never put into words; both then and now. The basis of our connection was simply this: our shared experience and support from someone who “got it” and “lived through it” helped tremendously. That is exactly what we hope to provide to others within this movement.
I began therapy shortly thereafter, going twice a week and also attending Suicide Survivor Support Groups twice a month. These were the supports that I feel benefited me tremendously. I had the two perspectives that I was looking for: I needed someone who wasn’t my friend or family to tell me that this wasn’t my fault and I needed to be with people who have experienced this type of loss. This greased up the roller coaster tracks so that the mechanics weren’t doing all the work!
For about a year [if you ask my friends/family…maybe a little longer], I was not a pleasant person to be around; if you asked me how I was, you were an idiot, and if you didn’t ask me how I was, you were an asshole [doesn’t make sense does it? grief often doesn’t- & it’s totally NORMAL! God forbid you be in love around me…I hated that. I couldn’t be happy. Looking back now…I believe this was a punishment I was inflicting on myself…I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy. The guilt of this loss was what compounded this thought process; completely irrational, but felt so real. I would often say “I’m going to be single forever”…then, when I actually entertained the idea of dating again [almost 2 years later]…my mind would play tricks on me (e.g. “no one wants to date someone with emotional baggage”). Once again, the notorious roller coaster mechanics roll in and start supporting me in different ways. I remember sitting on my couch with a friend and downloading a dating app; us each thinking to ourselves: “are we really doing this right now?”. I’m so glad that we did.
In December 2016, I met the most incredible guy. He made me actually feel something…opening up my eyes that I could actually fall in love with someone again. He re-wrote my story [at least the one I had predicted for myself when I was grief-stricken and determined to be alone]. Jeff has embraced my past, allowed me to talk/process and vent, and supports me in whatever I do. He has helped me fundraise for suicide prevention walks and has been vital in the development of this movement. My friends were right, I did fall in love again.
My loss isn’t my story. My story began when I was born, my loss was a chapter…maybe two (or four). This chapter/ experience has changed my life. There was a lot of sadness, but when the storm settled, I was able to see the support, I was able to see hope, and I was able to connect with people whom had gone through similar experiences to my own…because no matter what you’re going through, YOU ARE not alone!
The things we experience in our lives, are always going to be part of our stories, but they don’t have to define us. Leaning on others for support, forces you to recognize that YOU ARE not alone, and if you only take one thing from this movement, I hope it’s just that: No matter what you’re going through, you are not alone, and you are cared for by more people than you know.
To my friends, family, and Jeff, I love you so much.