Surviving Suicide – Part 39
Was asked to do an article for the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) on what it was like to lose someone to suicide. I gladly accepted as I feel it’s so important to get personal stories out so people can better understand what it is like for those left behind, we’re known as survivors.
Hope once you’re finished reading my blog post here, that you’ll check out my article “Suicide Changes Everything” in the AAS Surviving Suicide Spring newsletter, and that you’ll also explore their website and Facebook page. They are one of the oldest suicide organizations out there, perform amazing training, research and raise awareness around the topic of suicide and prevention. (I’m so happy I learned how to do anchor text!)
December 2002 – Life goes on!
This post takes place in December 2002 and is two years since my late husband Rob died by suicide. It’s amazing to me as I look back at my journals and notes just how much had taken place in the two years since his death, and also how much more was still to come. I can’t stress enough how much journalling or noting in my daytimer helped me unload what was on my mind and I so encourage others to do the same, if not on a regular basis, just highlighting the more significant moments of your life, good or bad, so you can look back if you so wish and see what you’ve experienced, what you’ve accomplished and overcome – it’s invaluable!
I’ve noted that I hung my outside door wreath for Christmas and lit it with minilights and also had done outside winter/Christmas arrangements in my pots and lit those too. “Looks Nice!”. This was something I’d not done the previous year and was a sign I was feeling better and more inclined to celebrate Christmas.
December 2nd I met with my friend Peter who was also my life coach at that time. We met in Starbucks for a session and he told me to take control and teach others how to treat me, to not allow any negatives or put downs! He told me I didn’t stand up for myself and to just “do it!” (geez isn’t that a Nike commercial?) and that I’d find it very empowering. He made me aware that I was allowing some to talk to me that way and that I had to stop it. I was having a few in my inner circle who seemed overly critical and judgemental and who also voiced what they thought I should be doing more often than not.
I’d just returned from a wonderful conference the previous month, meeting new and exciting, like minded people which was something I really had needed and benefitted from. Peter knew many of those I’d met, gave me some lovely feedback that they found me to be a very nice lady, intelligent, etc. and that was so nice to hear! Really bolstered my confidence which had taken a bit of a beating over the past two years. He told me he intentionally stayed away from me in Cancun to see how I managed on my own not knowing anyone, he wanted to see what I’d do and to see who gravitated to me. I managed quite nicely, but was out of my comfort zone.
I discussed with Peter that my brother was very critical and judgemental but that he wasn’t aware of what he was doing. Peter replied “you can make excuses”. I wondered what the heck he was saying, so repeated that I didn’t believe it was intentional, and as he so often did, he repeated “you can make excuses”. Now I was getting ticked off because I felt I wasn’t being “heard”, but then it dawned on me what he was saying and I got it! It’s what I would do! I’d make excuses for someone else’s bad behaviour toward me, would adamantly defend they weren’t intentionally trying to hurt or upset me, and I’d just accept the bad behaviour even though it was to my detriment. Was quite eye opening for me! I’ve noted “GOT TO STOP!”.
Later that evening after returning, I got into it with another family member, my sis-in-law on the phone, was given a blast for not thanking my mother-in-law for the Christmas Advent Calendar she’d made my son for Christmas and then she hung up on me. I had simply forgotten, had too much on my mind, but made a note to call and thank her. Not a good close to the day and left me feeling very badly about myself once again. The timing certainly wasn’t lost on me as I’d been discussing just this sort of behaviour with Peter earlier that same day.
The next day I decided to confront my brother about how upsetting it was when he was so negative and critical toward me. I was a bit nervous, but knew I had to take a stand for myself and rectify it. Said I wouldn’t tolerate criticism and negativity anymore, that I needed to build up my self esteem not have it constantly knocked down, and surprisingly got an apology.
I’ve noted that I cried and I don’t cry often, but had been extremely emotional the past two weeks thinking about Rob often as Christmas approached. Pondered on where my life was and that I wasn’t happy. My brother called me later in the day to see if I was okay, and I was.
Peter had given me the task of taking a stand for myself with my brother and sis-in-law by telling them how upsetting it was when they treated me the way they had been, and to then report back to him once I’d done this with them both. Wasn’t easy as we so often are very close with family members and allow them to cross boundaries we wouldn’t allow with anyone else. I called Peter to tell him the outcome of my conversation with my brother and he said “Good Girl!”.
While all of this was transpiring, I was also doing battle with my house builder on getting some deficiencies repaired and a refund of overpayment for some upgrades that ended up not going in. They were always difficult to deal with as you could rarely reach them or they’d say they’d call right back and of course wouldn’t. I was given the run around being told I’d have to deal with someone else new, would have to go through the entire details again each time and it was frustrating. This had been ongoing since August 2002 to no avail.
December 6th I noted that I called my sis-in-law at 8:30am and we played telephone tag until 1:30pm. I was supposed to attend a Christmas event in her town which I cancelled as I was most upset over the call and her hanging up on me. When we did finally connect, I told her that I expected an apology for her going off on me and then hanging up. I also told her of my conversation with my brother. Her response was “what’s the common denominator?” meaning me, I said “Strike one! and I’m giving one warning only.” Noted we had a long talk for about one hour but think we’re okay. She called me back later too.
December 8th I’ve noted I got my Christmas tree up all by myself. I have a huge artificial tree that takes about 10 hours in total once assembled and decorated. I hadn’t felt like doing decorating at Christmas since Rob died, so this was a big step forward for me. My brother called and told me how proud he was that I’d done it by myself and I told him, me too! and thanked him. My sis-in-law called that same day and she too said she was proud of me too! I’ve noted “WOW! Supportive and positive in less than one week – it works!” :).
December 10th my builder got back to me saying they’d do a partial refund, but not the $3500 for the living room window upgrade. I called back and said I’m not agreeable to that. When we connected again, I explained their on-site manager had told me what I’d be getting as a refund, but it had been done verbally. Learned my lesson right there and then to NEVER do anything verbally, always get it in writing. The on-site manager was no longer employed with them, had left on bad terms so they couldn’t speak with him, but they mentioned that some gal in the office still was on good terms and would contact him. I was not a happy camper and could just see where this was going.
December 11th I’ve noted that I called the unethical boat broker asking where my spare boat prop was which was worth thousands. Looking back on this now from my notes, I sure piled a lot of crap into December lol! I eventually did get it back from the buyer who fell through, he’d taken it off the boat to his house :(.
December 13th my builder said they had in fact spoken to the on-site manager, that he said everything had been looked after as far as credits went. I told him I could fax him a copy of me questioning where the $3500 credit for my living room window was back quite a few months ago, I kept scrupulous notes. The builder was not budging, said they’d refund $1300 for two other items, but not the $3500 for the windows, and if I wanted the $1300 I’d have to sign a waiver for any further amounts. I clarified once more what the conditions were and then told them I’d contact my lawyer and get back to them.
The builder still had other outstanding deficiencies that by law had to be repaired outside of the money refunds. Got the run around on that too, but did get a few things done the week before Christmas.
I didn’t make note about Christmas this year and can’t for the life of me remember where I spent it or with who. I was just happy to have the holidays over and done with for another year, but do remember sitting in my family room a lot enjoying the tree and doing a lot of thinking. Had been quite an eventful December and year. I remember contemplating on what had transpired and was hopeful that 2003 would be my year.
As always, I’d love to get your feedback and comments on my blog. I welcome any and all suggestions!