In those beginning years, it seemed as though there was a sensitive trigger lurking around every corner. However, struggling through the grief associated with the suicide, emotional balance progressively returned.
It took a while to come to terms with what had happened. There was emotional rubble everywhere I turned. I cannot recall a turning point. It was a progression, but slowly a “new me” emerged.
A fellow survivor (Kathleen, a decade ahead of me in this journey) was telling me I had to "release the past and live in the moment. What you are doing is constructing a new life."
I never had a cause or given any thought as to how this could be done. Stumbling blindly along turned out to be regressive and all along time was slipping away.
I knew Kathleen had changed, but never considered her transition. Her favored concept was to develop coping skills and choosing a passion for giving life purpose.
Though I resisted, she pushes me to attend a Survivors Of Suicide support group. She took me the first time and, at her insistence, I reluctantly continued at first. Later on, I began facilitating the group. I stuck with it for the next seven years. It was a mix of obligation and discovering a passion.
"Pay attention to the body language, not just the words, of others," Kathleen would say. "You can adopt approaches suggested by those you judge as successful," she would say. "You cannot get this insight from reading books," she would say. Kathleen was upfront about the folly of trying to figures this out on my own. I had been floundering for months already. Valuable time was slipping away.
I moved out of state after eight years and participated in the startup efforts of five local groups. While my hearing is too weak to facilitate now, I still keep in contact with several here a dozen years later.
Even with help, there are many things you must reason out for yourself. I think I am talking to myself (here) in intimate ways. Helpers can influence but cannot restructure your thinking. There are some issues you have to resolve yourself. No one can do for you.
You are the one that will be living out your choices. Don’t allow yourself to follow other’s instructions blindly. That has limited staying power. Deciding and consciously adjusting your path leads to PEACE. To me, PEACE is being comfortable when I am alone.
The days ahead can never be utopia you once envisioned. You progress in constructing a different life, moment by moment.
There will continue to be triggers that will take you back in time. Odd, but some can hurt and help at the same time. It took considerable time to balance my external demeanor with what was going on inside me. I wanted to be the old me, but what was going on inside refused to participate.
I have learned that being caught off guard will reoccur without warning. Sometimes it is visual, in others, it's written. For me, the most common is the lyrics of a song.
If I am familiar with a melody, I can instantly attenuate the sound and mute the lyrics to maintain public composure. I found paying attention to the words sometimes surprised me. Some are too intense, and the message is too piercing. You cannot anticipate your reaction just knowing the title either.
An example is "The Dance," by Garth Brooks:
The lyrics are a - - - TRIGGER WARNING!
When I am alone like tonight, I can absorb the message, and the emotion feels good. In a public setting that would not work the same. I would be too caught up in how others will judge me. This uncertainty comes along with the situations we encounter.