Yes, there are two sides to all stories. There are stories that hit the news every day and stories that don’t get told. It is the stories of determination, goodwill, endurance, and love that still give me hope for humanity in general. Do you know the process of anyone’s thoughts or experiences without living the same exact life?

Here goes one of the hardest stories I had to deal with.

There was a knock on my door at 3:00 AM that rustles me out of bed. Still in darkness, turning on a lamp. Hand to my forehead, who can that be? Three boys ages 8, 5, 3 still asleep, as I peak in to check on them before opening the door. There are two officers and a Chaplin at the door when I opened it. “Hello?” I’m shaken wide awake as though I was smacked in the face.

The Chaplin, I knew him as a local pastor because I had once visited the church of. The officer’s words, “We are sorry to break this news to you; your husband passed away.”

My mouth dropped, and denial hit immediately this can’t be right. I just spoke with him a few hours ago. I felt numb and couldn’t believe what I was hearing, as the details of the how, when, and what happened were explained as gently as possible by the police officers. Suicide!? After all the counseling!?

With the condolences from the officers, they left. The Chaplin, I already knew from a church, stayed with me for a little bit of comfort and reassurance.

my head was spinning

His words didn’t sink in, but I shook my head until he left. I immediately remembered the last conversation with my husband was that of an argument. I know we still both cared for our boys, but our lives were leading into separate beings. I recognize, no marriage is perfect, and everyone has their own struggles.

high school sweethearts

When we first started dating and were early married, I didn’t understand the signs I was about to see. I met him, talked with him, and wrote letters in high school. Yes, we were high school sweethearts but we were friends first. He was handsome, funny, creative, hardworking, and smart. We were friends first, but soon started dating throughout high school. He was always affectionate, open and honest with me. Even when my family moved two hours away, we stayed in a relationship. Back in the day with long distance and no free minutes. We’d write a lot of letters. We would call each other as we could afford to. Or when I could confiscate quarters of my dad’s that he’d leave behind. Once I got my first job, I sure saved money to go see my long-distance boyfriend. As he’d do the same. I did have a few dear girlfriends that kept in contact with me to let me know if he “had the eye” for someone else or not. But regardless of who had eyes for someone else, he and I remained close. After he graduated, he moved up to where I was.

To be on the outside looking in, he was always happy, loving, hardworking, cutting up, making jokes, he stood up for his faith, what he thought was right, and doing what he wanted. His smile sure did light me up too. I never wanted who he was to change. Although he did.

I supported him in his interests with building cars for straight track racing and anything else he wanted to try. I supported him when he took a job, that was 2 more hours away. We got married and moved to a new town in the same week.

Sure, he had issues with things he found not right in his life growing up. But nothing that seemed that bad. He was judgmental, who isn’t at times? I just didn’t realize the controlling aspects he was feeling until after these enraged outbursts he’d have.

We found out soon after we were married, we were expecting our first child. He couldn’t have been a happier father. Just before the accident happened, he had been working so hard that he started having sleep issues.

My mother and father separated for a spell due to their own issues. I found out that my husband had told my mom that, “if she didn’t go back and fix things with my dad, she wouldn’t be allowed to see her grandson.” He came back to me that same day and told me what he did. I said, “I didn’t agree that was the right thing to say. You shouldn’t have to force someone to do something, even if you believe it is the right thing to do. Or use a child as some bargaining chip.” No, we didn’t see everything eye to eye, for sure.

Then on a family road trip as usual with my dad driving, we were in a car accident. Striking our car on the side where my husband and mom were sitting. My husband got hurt the worse. He was left dealing with chronic back pain. He went for physical therapy and all the right things and nothing helped him.

The doctor’s prescribed pain pills. He then took a shift swing position at a local factory which caused more sleep deprivation. Which doctor’s prescribed medication for that too. Then with that came depression and anger problems. A doctor prescribed him yet again more medication. Now, I don’t entirely blame the doctors. The medications didn’t really work. He felt like a guinea pig. My husband and I went through counseling, through the reactions on the medications and the changes that were going through both of us at that time. His pain and mine were different. We were in different places.

With all that, his personality began to change into a controlling and enraged type person that I didn’t know anymore. He’d be showering one minute and punching holes in the wall of the shower. He told me many times about his panic type rages what he was thinking. That he’d like to hit and kick whoever came in his path at that moment and was mentally trying to stop himself from doing it. As you might imagine, I felt unsafe. I didn’t know what to do to get help. I felt that I was not a partner. He never physically hurt anyone. I grew distant and cold, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

After an argument we had, he took too many medications one night, I found him sleeping at the kitchen table. I tried waking him and he was unresponsive. I called 911 and he ended up leaving our house on a stretcher that morning with his boys watching and wondering what’s wrong with daddy.

After my husband took too many medications and ended up in the hospital, I asked him, “What the hell he was thinking?” He said, “I was trying to stop everything. I’m sorry it hurt you or the boys, I know I need help.” However, he also added, “Even if 1000 cops were there to prevent me to jump, I would have still jumped.” These extreme thoughts are what he was trying to control and couldn’t. As with any attempted suicide, you are sent to a psychiatric hospital wing to get counseling. He was there for 60 days.

While in his group sessions with others that attempted suicide. He started talking to a lady who was a recovering alcoholic. From what I gathered from him, he wanted to help her. From this time on things are somewhat vague to me as to what was going on with him.

During this time, I was also trying to better myself with education and trying to get a good career going. Since I was a stay at home mom, of course, finances needed me to work. I had to be focused on work, getting the boys, and helping with homework. He would get home and I’d leave. Our new routine, or so I thought.

While getting our counseling separately, and trying to figure out where we go next. We separated, however not legally. I thought if I wasn’t in his way maybe he’d get the help he really needed. I was confused as to what to do. I probably grew a little colder towards a lot of people during this time.

Between him and I, we had an agreement that was not legal, which said we would jointly take care of the boys. I thought this was fair. We both had taken our time and fun with the boys. I never once thought he’d hurt the boys. I do think he was jealous that the boys had more fun with me.

Yes, I’d have friends to talk to and go out with or just hang out. They’d help me to laugh and have fun. I thought if he was talking to females, I’d be ok to talk to males. My circle became a little larger, but not that large. Believe it or not, I’m not as the harlot people may portray me to be. I’ve made mistakes along the way too by listening to others instead of listening to what my spirit was leading me to do. I took confidence in people, I thought were friends.

I was always told by my Dad, “You only really have true friends that you can count on one hand through anything life brings.” I believed in a few people and didn’t listen to the warning signs. I learned quickly through experience to understand the warning signs of others. I learned my mind and the body will send warning signals.

My husband, still, wanted to make it look like our separation was the best thing that happened to him. I realized he was trying to hurt me a little, no doubt. He stopped going to his psychologist appointments, stopped his medications, and everything was “better” now. In a phone conversation, he said,” Do not come by the house and see the boys. You can call them this week, but I don’t want you to come by the house.” I said, “Why? We’re adults and can be in the same place and come together for the boys even if we didn’t see eye to eye.”

I couldn’t believe he was stopping me from seeing the boys. He had told the daycare workers I was not to pick up my own sons. That he didn’t want me to see them all week. I could call them, but I was to do nothing else. That was not in our agreement. I became fearful of why.

When speaking to the boys every night that week, they’d each ask, “Mommy, when are we going to see you? We want to stay with you.” I couldn’t answer their questions, for my fears. I told them, “Mommy loves you and we will see each other soon.” This got fired up so fiercely as any mother bear knows, and said, “That’s it. He will not be controlling me any longer!”

I reached out finally for legal help. I found an attorney, once I shared the whole story with him; he sent me right in front of a judge to get temporary custody of the boys. That is until our formal legal court date to assume custody.

I got the boys to my place. That night he showed up angry asking, “Why I did I do that?” I explained to him, “You were trying to control me, through the boys and not let me see them.” He replied, “Do you know what you have done?” I tried to explain again, “I wasn’t trying to hurt him like he did me. But this needs to be legalized” and after all, we had been through with his mood swings, I was afraid. “You’ve done that one too many times,” I told you, “children are not a bargaining chip.” I added, “We can calmly come together with a better plan.” He leaves, as he looks like he’s trying to control his temper to not add more to the fire and processing what I’ve said.

i really didn’t think that was the end, the last time i would see him

He had talked to his parents on the phone. He knew they were on the way. But that didn’t stop him. It was the week before Thanksgiving. Friends of ours at the time found him. I was told certain details that would rock the very thought of my faith.

Though the shock, sadness, confusion, anger, and grief that I felt my heart breaking into a million pieces with this news at my door. Maybe somehow, I deserved it. I felt like a failure as a wife, as a mother, and as a person. Because I thought I should have done more. I could have done more. I cannot change what was done. I had good support from my friends, my brother, and my mother.

I knew I had to explain to three young boys that they weren’t going to see their dad anymore. My heart broke! I thought my GOD what do I do now. My husband’s mom, who didn’t want her son to be known as a person that committed suicide, asked if, “we not tell the boys how he did since they were young.” I agreed.

When I viewed his body on family night, I was trembling with fears. The kids were too young or had blocked this out, but they viewed him for only minutes said their goodbyes. The youngest at 3 really didn’t understand what was going on. Everyone kept saying to him Daddy’s sleeping. Then all three boys went into a playroom with our friend’s children.

The family procession into the church with the boys, myself, and his family entered. The 3-year-old didn’t understand what was going on. Screamed out, “Where’s my daddy?!” Don’t think a dry eye was in the church at that moment. Trying to keep it all together myself, I picked him up and hugged him. Sat through the service with many people speaking about my husband. After his casket left the church, we all left to get into vehicles as the next stop was family and friends remembrance. I bawled my eyes out on my friend’s shoulder before I could get in the vehicle. I still get teary-eyed when I think of it. It’s been over 15 years ago.

Part of my heart was angry and enraged that he would do this to them. Sure, I had a mountain of, ‘How am I ?!’ and ‘What the hell?!’ to deal with. There were certainly times I got upset, cried, and angry. Emotions don’t have to get the best of us. However, it is best to feel them out. I’ve dealt with the crying, anger, having to work even harder for two parents, being too proud to ask for help and many other additions in this circumstance. Something came over me as I knelt by and said, “I forgive you and I forgive me.” I had both our rings, my hand over his hand and put our rings in his pocket. I don’t think I’ve told anyone that before.

I had to stand up for my children and myself with the determination to keep going. I had three awesomely, wonderful boys to raise. They are my reasons to continue. I sought to get counseling for the boys and I. Many years later, my counselor told me, “Though I’ve been through such a horrible thing, I was able to cope with the situation. He didn’t see where I needed to come in anymore.”

For me, there is no problem or difficulty in this world that is too great that should feel like you need to take yourself out of it for good. No matter how bruised I was, I’d still want to be in the game of life. Put me in coach, I can do this.

I don’t believe just because people decide to take their own lives they are somehow in hell or purgatory. They live in their own hell while they live. It doesn’t make sense to those that struggle, to just release the hellish thoughts. It’s not up to us to judge. I have seen with my own eyes; his burden was real to him. That he really didn’t think there was a way to get out of the stuff that was going on in his head. Do I think things would be different had he not taken his life? Of course. At any one time, we could be working through things, as parents of the three boys. Or arguing about something new. I also know I can’t think like that because it doesn’t change the facts.

Here are some of the life lessons I passed on as I raised these three boys:

  • To appreciate themselves first
  • Take time to find out who they feel they should be.
  • I told them probably more than 100,000 times:
    To not give up when things come up.
  • That yes, though we love with our whole hearts sometimes, the loss isn’t something to kill ourselves over.
  • Being sad and crying is ok to do no matter what the world tells you.
  • I told the boys to not to be afraid to ask for help.
  • Most importantly I told them to look within themselves, go to prayer and meditation, for the answers and direction they need.

It was the day of the hardest discussion I had to have. When the youngest had found and read the coroner’s report. Since they were old enough at this point to find the information I explained the best I could.

I truly missed my late husband’s presence at all three son’s graduations. I am extremely proud of these sons of mine and all they have done with themselves even in dealing with the issues of this story in their lives.

Bleace (bliss and peace) can still happen even in dark situations like this one. As there are countless stories of those that have turned a tragedy into a better story.

I’m no hero, nor do I want to have that label. Although I hope I can spread some light in a moment that seems unbearable.

one day at a time. it’s not an overnight process.

I’m not saying that life was easy, by no means. The learning mentioned before, yes I’m still going through it. I am a champion for getting others to their inner selves. As compassionate as I can, I empathize with people I encounter. I try to lift them up with encouragement. Even with the hardest “why” I’d be as caring as I can be. It’s the balance of me, both sides of the pendulum swing within me.

I, at first, was a little concerned about sharing this much vulnerability. Feeling like I’m somehow doing my first husband a dishonor or even his living family members. I’ve made my mistakes in life. I’ve owned up to them. I believe that sharing our stories can, in turn, help someone else. So, I have to try.

If you are on medications for pain or depression, I do not hold it against you. Just be aware of the side effects it may have. I think speaking to a professional is a good thing. Realize, it will still take you to dig down deep and answer your own questions. Professionals know how to get you asking the questions to give your answers to. Grasp that the answer is still within you. Not an idea that the professional plants in your head.

I know my experience may not be identical to others that are also the survivors of a loved one committing suicide. However, this link and bond with the people I meet are a strong one. Just like that of groups that suffer or loved ones of someone suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety.

Many years go by before I can quiet my mind and bring that sense of peace into my life (I call Bleace = Bliss + Peace). BOOM things do come into place, though it seems like a long wait. Through every trial, a victory can be found. It takes trust, hope, and faith. I am now remarried to someone who is my friend, encourages me, and is my King Kong. He knows what that is about. We have had our moments, doubts, and scares but we keep conversations open and honest. Now, I have 4 amazing sons. Even if the last age difference is 14 years, it’s still worth it. We’ve had struggles, trials, tears, and arguments with raising children and maintaining life within a family, who hasn’t?

the pendulum swing of life may strike again

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’ll be okay. Every journey is in the moments and steps. Some planned steps and some not planned. Life is worth every step. Not everyone that has been knocked down is bitter or hateful. There are true demonstrations of inspiring people in and around you. With an open heart observing, witnessing acts of kindness, and endurance through turmoil may instill hope in mankind.

It could be a lack that you felt growing up, that you don’t want anyone else to have to go through alone. Why stay in that self-defeating lack? We are the precious existence that is capable to be loved and to give love out. Reach out in faith for who you are in creation. Start a foundation on Jesus, it’s at least helped me through everything I’ve ever faced. Whatever you deal with whether it be; pain, addiction, loss, enough daily can be what you, in turn, teach others how to walk through it. On the other side of the lesson, you are guided in a place of success. I give God the glory that I was able to get through situations. When you are raised up to that place of success, give back to others.

Choosing to continue when all else seems to go wrong. Trust anyway and don’t give up.  You find help in the places you least expect it to be. You define the help you need, seeking from that place within connected to that prayer to God. That help will come in the form of the assistance you require. Or the peace will settle in. It is up to you to ask.

On another note, I’d like to make clear. You are not quitting, if you leave a bad situation, you may be just taking another route that opened. The fact you are continuing in a direction towards that something good and more is out there. Be a soldier for awareness, perseverance, determination, and resiliency, then you are on a right track.

Go out there and do something out of love. You were created with your talents, skills, and power to get up and make a difference in your life.

 

Published in featured, memoirs
2 Comments
  1. Stacia Stall 6 months ago

    @4scmace This story had me so engaged, I would have guessed it was fiction, if it wasn’t so tragically real.
    You are an inspiration for championing on.

  2. Author
    Shawn C Mace 6 months ago

    I wish it was fiction. Certainly, I would not wish that on my worst enemy. Thank you for your kind words. I only hope my experiences can help someone else NOT QUIT!

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