My dad was always a quiet person emotionally to me. The only time I remember him even slightly tearing up was the morning I had to told him that the night before I wanted to commit suicide. I was in the hallway in my high school and I had asked my teacher to step outside to make a phone call. It was by far the darkest time in my life, a time where I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. My dad just responded with “Chelsea, that is the most selfish thing you could ever do.” I over came my darkness with time.
Sadly, on Wednesday December 2nd, 2015, my dad committed suicide.
I have been having a hard time to say in the least trying to wrap my head around the whole act. The timing, the excitement in his voice when we would talk about my son, the confusion of wondering if there were any warning signs. Yesterday, I finally had the courage to reopen our text messages and run through them to see if there were any signs I missed. Nothing. Just my dad being my dad. Photos of my growing baby bump, screen shots of sporting events on TV, random snaps of things I would see throughout the day that made me think of him. I never thought I would experience this so-called guilt people endure after a loss of a loved one by suicide. The “what if” factor. The day of his death was the day of the San Bernardino mass shooting. I thought to myself, that’s weird I didn’t get a text from my dad…he always sends me a message asking if I’m alright during a tragedy like this (especially being that it was in California, not too incredibly far from where I live). I just continued on with my afternoon, getting last minute baby essentials to prepare for the birth of my son the following week. When I pulled into target with Danny around 1pm in the afternoon, I got the overwhelming feeling of sickness. Feeling like I was going to vomit or faint – figuring it just another pregnancy symptom. Carried on with our errands, shopped around Target looking at Christmas decorations. Danny was insisting we purchase more Christmas decorations and stockings for our place to look festive for when my dad and his girlfriend arrived in a couple weeks. I felt so randomly ill that I was just thinking yeah, sure, whatever let’s get it. Looking back on that afternoon now, I remember getting that same overwhelming feeling of sickness when another member of my family unexpectedly passed years ago. Intuition is more powerful then we make it to be.
A few hours pass, and I get the unexpected phone call. It was by far, the most horrific, heart dropping moment of my entire life. A moment that was shocking and devastating and took my breath away in the worst possible manner. It makes me sick to my stomach replaying that moment in my mind. I believe my natural human instinct has started to kick in, and shards of that memory are being blocked out with black puzzle pieces that will soon come together and eventually black it out as a whole for my own well being.
There are details I remember about that moment and afternoon that I could choose to elaborate on but that is not why I’m writing this. I am writing this because I feel like the first step in my healing process is to talk about what happened. To talk about the fact that I don’t feel like I can smile anymore without feeling guilty. Or when I laugh, I feel like I shouldn’t be.
How am I going to be able to bring in a brand new life into this world while I feel like my world is completely crushed around me? How are my family members going to be able to look at pictures of my son and smile? The worst…watching people carrying on with their lives and feeling angry because I feel like I can’t do the same.
Yesterday and today are the first days where I haven’t cried. I’ve come close – but I thought in my twisted mind if I didn’t it would be a small success. The truth is, I want to feel happy again. I want to be able to post a million pictures of my newborn son that flood peoples Facebook feed. And I want to do so without feeling guilty. I want to get dressed up and do my hair and make up and go back to life I was living not even a week ago that seemingly feels like was ripped away from me.
I was scared of child birth. The thought of the pain a woman’s body has to endure to bring life into this world was quite frankly terrifying to me. But now, I’m not afraid at all. With great loss brings a new perspective into your life. At this point, any feeling that takes away the pain in my mind I am willing to endure. I am so afraid of being able to love a new life with still grieving an old one.
I know that with time, I will learn to live with the fact that my dad will not be physically present during monumental moments in my life. That it will be a process trying to come to terms with the fact that suicide is a different type of grievance. Slowly, I’ll be able to understand that my dad did not do this intentionally to hurt anyone else, he was just ending the hurt he felt within himself. I’m encouraging myself and others to not be afraid to talk about suicide. It’s a subject I feel so many of us feel we need to hide because if we don’t it is disrespectful to the deceased, which it is not. What is hard is hiding in the emotions you feel without voicing them. That is what lead me to my darkness, and talking about them is what pulled me out of it.
One day I will learn to focus on the good memories only, without the final memory of his decision to leave. There will be good days, and there will be bad days and I’m sure even on the good days I will miss him dearly. At the end of the day, my dad was a great man who would have done anything for me if I would have asked. I can sleep at night knowing that if he was still with me in the present, he would have been an amazing grandfather. I’m sure like now and even years down the road I will want to snap a photo of something and send it to him just because I was thinking of him. My sons uncles will have to take him on fishing trips because I know that’s what my dad would have wanted, and I will only give my son skim milk because that is what my dad made me drink as a child as much as I hated it. With every meal. And I still hate skim milk.
My mom, myself, and my dad. June 28th, 1989.
I am a suicide survivor.