Monday, November 18, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

If you’ve read my blog from the beginning you know I’ve written about all of the things I did in an effort to recover and move on after Eddie’s death…reading books on grief, researching information about suicide, talking with a pastor, seeing a counselor and a psychiatrist, reading devotions and the Bible, praying, and finally writing. In my reading (especially about suicide) I often came across stories of people who were still dealing with their loss many years after the event  – some as many as 20 years later – but I vowed I would never be one of those people. I knew it would take time to recover from what happened, but I truly believed there would come a point in my life where I reached the end of my “coping” period. I was determined that, although I knew Eddie’s suicide would always be a part of my life, I wasn’t going to let it be something I had to “deal” with on a daily basis forever.

As I started to recover from my experience and began the process of rebuilding my life, I gradually gave up the things I'd been doing that had initially helped me to heal and move on. Giving up some of those was the right thing to do. I had read enough information on grief and suicide, and I wasn’t learning anything new, so I stopped reading and researching. Although I was comforted by the time I spent with the pastor, even he agreed we eventually reached a point where he had nothing new to tell me, so I ended my visits with him. The same was true of the counselor. The time I spent sharing with her was invaluable, but eventually the sessions became repetitive, so I chose to end them. I knew then and I still know now I made the right choice at the right time in all of these decisions. Unfortunately I also changed the other things I had been doing, and that was a mistake. I felt like I had said all there was to say with my writing, so I ended my blog (with the exception of an occasional post). While it wasn’t necessary to continue sharing what I wrote, I should have continued to write in some form, even if it was just a journal that no one read but me. I didn't realize until now what a great form of therapy my writing was. It gave me an outlet to express my true feelings – feelings I now realize I was keeping bottled up inside. And somewhere along the way, I can’t even pinpoint exactly when, I quit reading devotions and the Bible and gave up my daily prayers (that's a topic for another time).
I replaced my old methods for dealing with my experience with new ventures and activities. Most of these have been positive and have helped me move forward with my life. I reconnected with friends from the past, formed close bonds with new friends, and started traveling. These have all been good for me and have provided me with experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. At the same time though I made it a point to stay so busy I didn’t have time to think about the past, and when a thought or memory would start to creep into my head I’d push it out before it had a chance to get stuck in my mind. Little did I know these thoughts and the feelings associated with them weren’t really going away – they were staying with me building up inside just like a fire slowly beginning to burn deep down in a volcano. I had small indications this was happening – I’ve felt anger and resentment again – but just as with the thoughts and memories I chose to ignore the feelings. I didn’t recognize the harm I was doing until it was too late. The volcano erupted and all of the suppressed anger, resentment, fear, questions, blame, and hurt came spewing out.
If I had been alone when this happened it would have been okay. I could have ranted, raved, and carried on until I got it all out, and no one would have witnessed it or been hurt by my words. I wasn't alone though. Someone totally undeserving of the treatment they received was here to bear the brunt of my explosion of emotions. Without even knowing it and through no fault of their own, this person became a stand in, and I unloaded all of the pent up anger, frustration, and blame I've been feeling towards Eddie on them. Too late I realized how harmful keeping everything bottled up inside of me has been. Now only time will tell whether my words and actions have destroyed a valued friendship.
So here I am four and a half years later - much better than I was but still with a long way to go. I guess I'll be one of those people in the books after all still dealing with what happened years down the road. I don't like it, I didn't choose it, but this is life. We live it, make mistakes, learn from it, and carry on. Like the line in the Zac Brown song As She's Walking Away says..."may have lost this battle, live to fight another day."

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