Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery St. Louis, Missouri
About Ranting and Venting:
Through reading books, attending seminars, and involvement with survivors of suicide support groups, I have picked up things that I don’t know where they originated. This acquisition behavior is unfair to the originator, i.e., not being able to quote accurately what was said or written and by whom. I am saying that ideas and experiences written on my website have come from other folks. Very little is original.
To refresh my mind on survivor issues, I follow selective websites and FaceBook pages, on an occasional basis. It helps to be current and conversant with survivor concerns.
One source is a FaceBook page, Families Dealing w/ Suicide, The Next Chapter. A daughter and her Mom, from Bristol, England, started this almost a decade ago now. I was invited by Kate B. also for the UK after we met at a survivor retreat in TN. FDWS, a closed group, monitored by an excellent admin staff. I have watched it grow from a couple of dozen to over 26,000 members.
Reading various posts, I am reminded of survivor frustrations. High on this list is: why did the suicide occur and why are survivors not understood?
I have oft felt that way myself. Yet there are times when I cannot express myself . . . how I feel. Two words cover most of these . . . Abandon and disconnect.
It was a challenge to fit back into the routine and friendships I had before Rebecca ended her life. It seemed everyone expected me to return to my old self. In the years that followed, I began to realize there were many things I could no longer say or do. I became overwrought with concerns about what others think of me, my family, and on and on.
It is natural to get overwhelmed when you get caught up with all the pressures that appear in the aftermath. The options are few, either I would blow off steam in a rant, or I internalize it all. The fuse was always short and the ignition unpredictable.
There are so many uncertainties, after a suicide. I still (after 20 years) find it challenging to use her name and suicide in the same sentence. I have settled on, “she took her life.” Is there really a difference? Well, there is to me. It will probably be that way for you as life evolves. I began to migrate to actions, and expressions I was comfortable with.
There is little doubt that expressions shared in public posts will aggravate and anger some . . . That is inevitable. It just comes with the territory. There is a risk involved in lending help to those left behind. It is imperative to be able to turn up your thick skin at times.
One is left to walk a tightrope. How you are feeling inside does not comfortably fit into the home, work, or social situations.
On one hand, you want to scream and pound your fist, while your conscious says it is better to pretend you are okay.
I was motivated to pretend primarily to avoid getting into discussions I was uncomfortable talking about. I can only reason that I wanted to dampen the wonderment others had about me. I wanted to be able to fit back into the flow of everyday routines.
One participant in a support group expressed it this way . . . “I am afraid to tell anyone who I am, since they may not like what I say and reject me.” In one of the most emotionally moving statement (I have encountered) a mom said something like . . . This is the only place; once a week, I can again be Sean’s Mom.
Unfortunately, I do not know another way.”
In the early days, I began a period of introspection. Admittedly, I do in ways live two lives now. To the community of folks, I have routine dealings with I feel compelled to be calm and settled. After all these years I have perfected my performance, in that role. I have been told by a couple of my close friends that my demeanor tells a different story. They will say things like you seldom smile.
Frankly, I am not able to recall how I was before all this happened. It is not worth the effort to research that concern because it is immaterial now. I am no longer that person.
Some posts will express the need to “vent or rant.” I do not doubt that I felt that way much of the time in the early years.
One of the crippling issues was (and still is) dealing with the clichés offered (especially by well-meaning friends.) I again hear these repeated, “She is in a better place,” “God needed another angel,” along with the ringers like “You are not over this yet?” and “You have to move on.”
Those aggravated me in the beginning. Now, after all these years, I tend to appreciate my friend's effort to at least say something and not ignore the issue.
If you let some of these internal attitudes prevail, they will lead to permanent unhappiness and bitterness.
For me, I found peace through forgiveness. After much introspection, I started the process of forgiving Rebecca for the pain she had branded our family with. Over months and months of wrestling with the whole forgiveness issue, I finally penned a forgiveness letter. For years, I would take it out and read it over and over and make a few minor modifications. I have not looked at it in over a decade now. I seldom even think about the letter.
Now all these years later, I tend to anguish over all the events and times she has missed out on. I no longer question her actions, because I have accepted I can never know all that went into her decision to escape. I know that part of that decision was over my inability to meet some of her needs. “I am married to a man that cannot meet my emotional needs” is a huge burden for a spouse to see in print.
I cannot change any of that, and I am sorry for things I added to her load. I cannot help but wish I could roll the clock back. I accept that it is not possible.
Forgiveness is a process. Like all coping skills, forgiveness does not come instantaneously. Most survivors need help with this but never seek any. It is like we think we can fix ourselves.
Rumination can wear you out, as some of you know. My personal experience has been that I can share my frustrations more effectively with other survivors. Outsiders would never be able to come into this space we occupy.
To continue to expect our friends to understand us . . . is to ensure confusion becomes permanent, and you will be isolated.
So do I still rant and vent? Someone other than me would have to make that judgment. I do not think I rant or feel the need to. Posting on sites like FDWS I consider my venting (or maybe better . . . a form of sharing.)
In my heart, I hope it helps someone else regain some balance in the After Era.