Monday, February 17, 2014

old friend from far away v1 :: the things I've carried.

I'd love to preface this with the fact that this is Megan's brilliant idea.  She has provided writing prompts  for the next few weeks, and I'm in love with this idea.  I don't think I'll participate every week, but if the thought hits me, I'm going to go with it.  


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I have hinted around the idea that last year was a tumultuous time for me, but I've left out the details.  The details that are so personal.  Those aspects of the past year have forever changed who I am.  I haven't opened up about this time because there is quite a thin line when it comes to divulging personal information for the entire internet to see.  When I began blogging again, I wanted this space to be about passion, happiness, and truth.  Happiness and truth are about sharing and moving beyond.  I have carried my truths with me but shared with very few people.  I gnaw them over every day.  Today, I am ready. I want to share about the things I carry.  I want others to know they are not alone.  I know I am not alone.  I will balance my truths with minimal personal details, but the story holds the same impact.

2013 came on the heels of an emotionally difficult 2012.  My family life had always held its own difficulties, but the prior two years had been extremely trying.  With trepidation and hurt, I made the decision to stop talking to my mother in October 2012.  Although my family members have never worked much in the way of communication, this decision did not come easily, and it never felt good.  I recall the holidays came and went with just two impersonal texts to wish happy times.  I felt lucky that at least I was an adult and could manage my own emotional pains.  Others were hurt on much different and impacting levels.

2013 continued and preserved with more downs than ups, such as an injury that temporarily took running away from me.  We never spoke.  It was easy to do since I live two states away from my mother; however the gossip and rumors often don't end when it comes to family.  I tried to put her, and the rest of my family, out of my mind.  I wanted to close the door on problems I could never fix on my own.  I needed to move on from my own pain and hurt.  Maybe this was the wrong thing to do.  I'll never know, but I will take solace in knowing that my choice was right for me at the time.  It's just that right choices don't always make the pain cease.

I still remember that morning.  A summer day, D was out of town.  I woke up early to go to the gym.  For the oddest reason, I chose to take a shower before going to yoga so I could get to work on time following the class. Unlike so many people, I have never kept my cell phone by my bedside.  It charges through the night, usually on silent, away from my bed.   Irrelevant details that nonetheless are solidified in my mind.  After my shower and when I finally checked the phone, I saw the two uncharacteristic missed called from 3am.  I honestly don't remember what passed through my mind.  With wet hair, I frantically attempted to return the calls.  I was informed that my mother had died.  It was suicide.

In the whirlwind of any unexpected death, many difficult decisions are made, and there are so many things that must be done.  The feelings must be dealt with even temporarily.  With this type of death, my experience was that the emotions are muddled, confused.  Family members are often left with no answers.  In the time when my mother's home had to be cleaned out, I desperately hoped for a letter, journal entry, card, anything, to express her feelings.  Her feelings of love, regret, hope, happiness, sadness, anger, etc.  There was nothing; I was left more more unanswered questions.  I will never have the answers I so desperately seek.  No one in my family will ever have closure.  Never a goodbye, an I love you.  I will never know if we would have began talking again.  Would we have put past in the past?  Could we have moved on?  My mother will never be a grandmother.  She will never meet any potential children I may have.  I will never have that to share with her.  These are just a select few of the thoughts go through my head daily.  Would haves and could haves.

My personal comfort comes from knowing that mental illness is the real demon here.  The demon that could not be resisted.  The illness, while unspecified, forced my mother to push everyone away; it made her give up and feel hopeless.  Could anyone have helped?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It is difficult to help those suffering with mental illnesses if they don't first accept or understand that there is a problem.  As someone who has been personally affected by suicide, I can attest that it is never the best choice in any situation.  There are others who care, even if you think they do not.  Suicide will forever impact those who love you.

This is my truth.  I have lost my mother to mental illness, to suicide. I will never have closure, never get to say goodbye, and always think about that last conversation we had almost nine months before her death.  I try hard to cling to happy, positive memories, but in reality my memory is weak and tends to be reminded of the frustrating, hurtful memories from the previous two years. I think about the whys, what ifs, hows, and would haves almost daily.  These are the questions, thoughts, and memories I carry.  They gnaw at me, but they have shaped me.  They have made me a different person, and sometimes that person is not necessarily better.  The things I carry have changed my relationships and my outlook on life, on family.  These truths will never go away, but I do hope that I can use this to be a good, better version of myself.  If nothing else, I have shared them.  I am not alone.  We are not alone.  We never will be.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.  This is a deeply personal confession.  If you suspect you suffer from a mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health or call their hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI.  If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

16 comments:

Kristin Miller said...

Kristin, I want to extend my deepest thoughts to you and your family. I pray that you will take solace in knowing who she was to you, not who she was in the midst of the illness.

whitney said...

I wish I could give you a hug after reading this story. I am so proud of you for being open enough to tell the story.

I'm terrible with personal information, and wish I could be more open. So again, I am so proud of you for wanting to share this story in hopes that it helps give you solace and peace.

*group hug for kristin*

Megan | Freckled Italian said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! And I hate that you are going through such a sad and confusing situation. I think it's really good to open up when you can. Thank you for sharing this! Sending so much love xx

Exploring Woods said...

Oh hun, thanks for sharing. Just know that I'm praying for you & I'm always here for ya!
((hugs!))

mommygorun said...

This was heartbreaking to read,but I thank you for sharing! I'm sending lots of love your way!

Christine Caruso said...

the what-if's are the hardest. Mental illness is really tough, it plagues my family but my mom has recognized this weakness and has taken extra care to meet hard times head on. I know from my very strained relationship with an uncle, that this isn't always the case. May you continue to find peace & thank you for sharing.

Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your story... my mother is Bipolar and the ups and downs of that relationship have often times forced me to wonder if we would be better off not talking. I just can't handle it and I don't understand her. It is so hard, and I hope that while you may not get the answers you seek, that perhaps you will find closure and be at peace with the things you couldn't control.

meghan said...

Oh my gosh Kristin. I'm so sorry for everything you and your family have gone through and are going through. I hope somehow and someway you're able to find peace or closure of some sort.

Alex Hubbard said...

Oh mama. You're such a brave woman, full of life and vibrance, and it hurts my heart to know that you went through this. But we go through things to make us who we are now, and you are so much stronger because of this. Thank you for sharing your strength.

Alicia | Jaybird: Home in Motion said...

Kristin, I admire you for sharing something so deeply personal and difficult with such grace and openness. Mental illness is so tough because many people won't talk about it...whenever possible/healthy/safe, I think it's important for parents to talk to their children about experiences with depression or mental illness, in hopes that they will feel less alone or stigmatized if they experience something similar. I'm so sorry that this illness robbed you of your mom and I hope the happy memories you hold will always stay.

Katie Adams said...

You are SO brave to open up!!! I have never blogged about it, but I lost my uncle to suicide five months after I lost my Mom. It was the last of many attempts and although it was hard, it was what he wanted and I've made peace with it.

I can't even imagine how you feel. Losing a parent is so though and these circumstances have to be so confusing. My only piece of advice, because I truly believe everyone is different (and that's how it should be)- give yourself permission to feel. I never expected to be so angry after my Mom died, but I was. When I finally owned my feelings, I was set free.

Also, you know where to find me and I'm great at listening to venting-so reach out whenever you need.

Meghan said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am sure it can't be easy to relive those moments and feelings. By reading this, though, I feel like I know you just a bit deeper, and I can say with confidence that I admire your bravery. You are such a strong woman, and I can only hope that one day, you do find the peace and closure you'd like. Many prayers are with you!

Niki {Glossy Blonde} said...

Oh, Kristin. I am so sorry. For your loss, for what you've dealt with in the past and continue to deal with now, for everything. I wish I could give you a hug. It takes a lot of strength to share something so personal and I respect you so much for it. I hope that it can help somebody else who may be affected as well.

Cara-Mia said...

I don't know what to say to this, but I want you to know I read this and I am so so sorry for your loss. Wishing you a happier 2014 full of healing.

Miz.November said...

I'm just sitting here nodding my head. So much truth here. I'm glad you poured it out. There are more folks out here who can relate than you will ever know. Much love to you.

Ash said...

i LOVE you girl... im so sorry you had to go through this... big hugs to you. and i hope you can find some solace through your writings

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