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How I'm Learning to Move Forward After My Boyfriend's Suicide

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I’ve been taught some very harsh lessons in the last two years. I am definitely not the same person I was when it all started. I thought I knew what heartbreak felt like before but I had no idea until that hot day in August of 2015.

As long as I live I will never forget the moment I learned my boyfriend had died by suicide. Sometimes things go terribly awry and they can’t be put back together the way they were before, no matter how much you want it. I see things so differently now. I’ve changed. A lot. I’m a completely different person. I still look the same, but I’m not. In some ways I’m harder, more cynical. But I am also softer, more tolerant, more understanding and forgiving. I believe it’s a good thing.

Everything has changed and yet, I’m more than I’ve ever been. I have learned so much about suicide that was rarely even part of my vocabulary before. I wish I knew nothing about suicide. I’ve learned a lot about God and even had a screaming match or two with him these last few years. I have learned there’s a lot of cruelty and unfairness in this life, but there is nothing we can do to stop that.

As of the day of writing this, it has been just over two years since I’ve heard his voice, been kissed by him, received a random text or saw his face. He is still my first thought most mornings, and my last thought when I lay down — and what pops into my head when I wake at 2 a.m. for no reason. There were all these small things that seemed so insignificant that, looking back, I see were all the big significant things. They are what I miss. Mostly, I hate that our goodbye was never said. We were not finished. There was so much left to do. We were in our mid 30s. Mid 30-year olds don’t usually bury their partner. But at the same time, I know how lucky I am. There are people who spend their whole life looking for what I had with him, and I am grateful for every second we shared. There were so many things happening I couldn’t see at the time.

There have been moments I didn’t think I’d make it. There were times I didn’t want to make it, days I couldn’t even get out of bed. The thought of facing the world and all the people just walking around and continuing life like he didn’t just die made me physically sick to my stomach. How could they just go about their day like that? Didn’t they know the world just lost this man I love so dearly? Didn’t they know how incredibly empty my heart was right at that very moment? How could they not?

I knew what it was like to lie on the bathroom floor crying at night while the shower was running so as to muffle the sounds from the other people in the house. I knew very well what it was like to have no desire to live another miserable day. It is not that I was ever suicidal, but at that point early in my grief journey, I did not care if I made it another day or not.

Then there were those small glimmers of moments when I started seeing how strong I really am. They popped up out of nowhere. For the longest time, I hated that realization that time continued. Time is always viewed as the enemy, but time is the only thing that made this loss even slightly bearable for me. No, time does not make it better (as many, many, many people feel the need to point out). Time does, however, ease the pain and sting of the initial loss. With each passing day, it does get a little bit easier to make it through the day. Time is what made me want to swim instead of sink.

I have two children who needed me. I quickly started attending a face to face suicide grief group that met weekly. I returned to work fairly quickly after my loss. I have an amazing circle of family and friends who held me accountable and continued to check in on me regularly. These things all required me to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. I resented these things so much at the time, but now, two plus years later, I could not be more thankful for these things and these people.

I have an attitude that my mentor calls “the Brook mentality.” If I cannot change something or do anything about it, then I deal with it and move forward as best I can (I refuse to say “move on”). I can’t change his death and as much as I want to, I can’t bring him back. Therefore, all I can do is accept it, learn from it and move forward in life. This is what I have done because I am a survivor, not a victim. So many people have said I’m a strong person. It’s a title I wish I didn’t earn, but I refuse to sink. I never saw any other choice. I know there will still be days that sneak up on me and kick me in the stomach. Those days I will have to remind myself, take a shower, wash off the day. It will be OK.

The need for constant clarity is gone. Things will make sense in time. Until then, I embrace the uncertainty. I live for today. It’s all about starting small. I’ll do what I can and add to that. There will be days I fail miserably, and I know that’s OK. I was created to make someone’s life better and now I know how, I have my purpose. I don’t care how long it takes me, but I’m headed somewhere big, somewhere beautiful.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via contributor.

Originally published: September 15, 2017
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