POS-FFOS Retreat - Columbia, Tennessee 2007 era

About Complex Adjustment after Suicide:

Personal (situational) difficulties are unavoidable and ubiquitous.  These pitfalls will snuff the light out on you.  At best, this can leave victims living in the shadows. 

All the while we continue to masquerade around as though nothing has changed.  To get on to the next day, we are left to adjust our expectations or pretend that we are in control and okay.  Pretending is grueling work.  I have watched folks, that have been deeply hurt, but their outward persona does not reveal what is going on inside. 

Some that grieve do a better job of masking their situation. Some will (for whatever reasons) spend a lifetime nursing wounds that they are unable to heal.  The emotional scars that heal still retain the power to remind us that the past was real. 

I suppose we have all learned to perform for one reason or other.  We start this process as children.  We learn to pretend and become masters of excuses.  We carry on life (at some level) in “performance mode.” 

Scatted within the events of life are all sorts of good and not so good experiences.  During the growing up years, we are at risk of becoming handicapped by neglect and/or abuse.  Either one can have us contrasting our current situation with our past history.  Reality is these situations occur and take a toll on our self-esteem. 

Teachers and other role models can inspire us to rise above our past.  None of mine were famous.  If I shared their names, you would have never heard of them.  They were only “famous” in my eyes.  None would have been considered “near perfect,” either.  Yet there are those that were abused and carry irreparable scars.  SAD stuff. 

The human spirit seems to drive us to present our character for public recognition.  Suicide puts a huge glitch in our personal history.  For years, as a survivor, I was driven by the need and desire to explain what I now realize is unexplainable.  No matter what conclusions I would make, given time and new insights, I would change my mind.  Afterwards, I would struggle to translate this into dialogue and it invariably it fell short of my intent.  In the end, I would have further compromised my situation. 

Below the surface chatter that ensued, the question of “why” lived on. 

After a number of years, I finally adjusted to saying “I do not know.”  “I don’t know is the truth" . . . so simple, yet so complex.  Counter to what the human spirit expects. 

Today, I know the complication of explaining my own actions.  So why would I ever think I could explain why someone would choose to end their life. 

Emotions need some degree of balance – for us to achieve PEACE. 

Through it all, there is still hope.  Hope that we will find someone to share with, care with, help us heal and encourage us to get up and Keep On, Keeping On. 

Originally written on a Sunday morning July 24th, 2012. 

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An example:

Some adjustments seem simple at first glance but stymie us . . . like do I Move or Stay put?

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I was being encouraged by some to physically relocate, while others advised on staying put.  I am not persuaded that moving or staying provides significant relief, at least initially. 

Over the long haul, if you are anything like me, you can convince yourself, express it openly, that things are a certain way. Then time passes and you encounter situations that coincide or conflict with your previous positions. It is important to keep this in mind when you listen to someone else. What they tell you today may change significantly the next time you see them. 

Finding lasting peace requires some serious thought, which one is incapable of following the loss of a loved one. 

I have known survivors that never returned to their home after the event. And I have listened to some of them and been convinced –under the circumstance – that I would have done the same thing.  The horror of the aftermath can be unbearable. 

While my first exposure to suicide was by gunshot, the aftermath was equally traumatic.  I ended up managing the restoration of my friend's property.  Damage was extensive and the task took over two months. 

The anguish of letting things go and the potential regrets was plied against their reminder of the event. 

For me, my wife took her life in our garage, at home, which was minor in comparison. 

I cannot explain why, but in time I was able to separate the garage from the house in my mind. I did not use the garage for a long time, but then winter arrived.  I began to park the car inside again. 

As time moved along I began to think about the garage less and less. Sorta telling myself that I was passed that crisis. 

Then coming home one night I was in the midst of a phone conversation.  I hit the open button, drove inside – and since it was cold – closed the door and continued to talk. 

A feature of this door opener was a light that stayed on – designed to allow time to get inside. Well, the conversation was still progressing when the light timed out. I would learn that I had in-fact not passed that crisis as I thought. Knowing this, I never sat in the car after the door closed again. 

Over the next five years, I began to think along the lines that I could NEVER leave this home place.  By this time I was nearing three decades here.  So I began to fix the place up to live out my retirement years. 

Then grandchildren came along (350 miles away) and I realized I would never really know them if I stayed.  I would only know about them, a huge difference.  So I moved.  For that fact alone, moving was good for me.  I think because of the change in surroundings there were fewer triggers that would set me back.  For me, this realization came on slowly. 

It is not all good. I moved away from neighbors and friends that I had shared life with.  My experience is that I will not be able to rebuild that here. I don’t have enough life left. 

But along the way, I have found PEACE and I am approaching the 19-year marker. 

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