For a long time after my first husband died by suicide I thought I wanted to live alone forever. He died 5 years ago this Thursday and I wanted to live alone forever.
Forever to protect my heart. Forever to protect my trauma. Forever to protect my children.
For a long time I thought I would never get married again. I thought that ship had sailed. I thought marriage had hurt me. I stayed alone for over 3 years. And those 3 years felt like 30 years. I was afraid of what I had already endured happening again. This is what trauma and PTSD do to a person....and it's painful and it's unfair and it's reality. I didn't only suffer after the day that he killed himself.....I suffered for 3 years prior while he battled darkness and demons and I was the life preserver, the fixer, the mender, the "try to hold it all together" wife. He often turned those dark demons onto me and it's a very, very painful memory that I don't talk about and many don't know about and many others would never believe. There's an entire story before the story and I know many of you know what I'm talking about if you also had a spouse kill themselves. The trauma and pain often started long before that fateful day and often no one knew about any of it.
It took me a long time to heal. I will never be fully healed. This is life.
We break, we explode, we fall to our knees while our entire world is on fire and we heal just enough to stand up and keep living.
You cannot go through an experience like this and ever go back to the innocent person you were before. You are forever changed. Forever triggered. Forever wounded. Forever different.
But I'm here to tell you that you can build a new and beautiful life after all of this. The fear and dark trauma will tell you to stay quiet and to stay alone so that nothing can hurt you but it's a liar. Don't listen to it. You deserve the sun, the moon, and all of the stars in the sky. You deserve freedom from nightmares and night sweats and checking and rechecking every locked window at night because suicide put a fear so deep into your bones that no doctor could ever remove it. You deserve a beautiful love story if it's what your heart needs and desires.
When you move forward people will judge you, people will gossip about you. They will whisper about you. They will talk about what you should be doing and how you should be living but they don't know. They don't know what you actually went through. They don't know the fear you lived in before the loss. They don't carry those memories and wounds before the wounds. They don't know that those whispers and judgements can often put you down so low into the dark that the dark thoughts creep in......the same dark thoughts that make others end their lives. So you keep living forward. You live your life...it's yours. Suicide is awful. It's embers burn on forever. It's not something you can just forget about and being the spouse? You had to clean up the mess and deal with the details and that is an added trauma that others will never understand.
I thought I would live alone forever after he died by suicide. I thought I would move to a mountain and never allow any man to come in and sit at my table.
I was wrong. I fell in love again and I have a beautiful marriage to a man I met over 20 years ago. He is my heart and soul....my rock. He is not my 2nd choice....he is my soul mate. I sold my house, moved to a new town and I'm happy.....deliriously happy and content. That's it...that's what we truly strive for after pain of this level....contentedness. I can breathe again. I can laugh again with my beautiful husband that God gave me. A Father for my children.....who are now our children. He is not their "Step" father. He is their Dad. They call him Dad. He is the man they will have in all of their growing up and grown up memories. He is the Dad they will run to. He is the Dad that will walk her down the aisle and hold her first baby. He is the Dad that will show him how to treat a lady and how to take care of his first car. He is the Dad that will be at every Christmas, pick up every broken heart, and be the man they deserve to have protect them. He is the man who stepped in and made their lives better. We are a family. He stepped into their lives and accepted them fully as his very own. This is not just my new marriage. This is not just about me. This is our family. This is a new story for all of us. A new life for these children who have endured deep pain and abandonment.
5 years ago this Thursday my entire world burnt to the ground. I can remember that day and the days leading up to it as if it were just yesterday. And I hate that I can remember it that vividly. But like dark memories do...the more you try to push them away...the more they torture you. So I allow them in at this time of year, say a prayer over the woman I was then....and I keep breathing. My children have no memories of that day and no memories of the years before. New life breeds new memories and it is what keeps us going, keeps us living, keeps us thriving and able to feel happiness once again. I talk to them often about the past and old memories that I am the keeper of because they do not remember and they smile and then they do what children do....they talk about today's plans....they talk about what they're learning this afternoon...they talk about the future. They live forward and they are now ages 9 and just about 7. They are happy, whole, kind-hearted, and healthy.
I battled my own suicidal thoughts in the years after he died. I wanted to fall off of a bluff, slip into a dark river, drive my car off the road, drink vodka until I never woke up. Those were tough days and rougher nights. Holding on because I couldn't bear to leave my children even though living was so painful because I felt abandoned and completely worthless and unloved and I felt like no one understood what I had been through....years before his suicide and after. I don't write his story because it's not mine to write. I don't know the reason why he took his own life. I don't know why he planned it out for that exact September morning. I don't ask God for answers on that anymore. I accepted long ago that this happened, that I will never know why, and that I have to carry the load and keep living. Will I live perfectly? Of course not. Can I help everyone who knew him through their grief and pain? No. I'm only human. I extend myself grace every day that I mess up and cannot extend my time and heart to everyone because I have to protect my healing so it doesn't crumble into the river. But I found ways to heal, dear friends. Talk therapy. QNRT therapy. NATURE. and God. Jesus picked me up on the dirt road I was traveling down to nowhere and He brought me back home and gave me an entirely new life. And some people tell me I shouldn't write about this....but this is my testimony to the power of God's love and it feels wrong to not talk about it. It's part of my story and every bit of our stories are important. No one owns your story but you.....we cannot pick out and leave out pieces that others might not believe or like or might be offended by.
Maybe none of this makes sense. It doesn't matter. This is my story. This is my experience.
I am a completely different woman than I was 5 years ago. I love the me that I am now because I know what I've endured and fought through to get here. I am wise beyond my 40 years and I've accepted that because it helps me to help others. I used to design and decorate weddings and now I am a writer and I have a loving ministry where I try to help repair broken hearts. It's not easy work. I hear painful stories every day....but I also hear stories like mine. Stories of rising. Stories of overcoming. Stories of finding true happiness and love after brutal pain.
You can get through anything. Do not let the dark thoughts win. Cry over the past and all of the hurt you endured and didn't deserve....the apology you never received and then wash your face, dear friend, and move forward with what is left of your one precious life. God loves you. Thank you for being here in this community I built. Thank you for reading my writings and pouring love and compassion onto my story and not judgement. I was given a story that I didn't choose, was thrown into dark pain that I didn't want, and I have done my very best to make it into something beautiful to help other people. I hope any ounce of my writing can help you.....You, the one person out there that I'm trying to reach. The one who is reading this and saying, "Me too"
I am running straight into my tomorrows...my new story...each and every day. And if you have been through similar...I hope you do the same one day when you are ready.
Run, dear one. Towards the sunshine that is calling your name.
Love always.....your friend, Nik