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.