a letter to myself

Dear N.

Before we get into this proper lets tackle the elephant in the room and acknowledge something. You even know yourself that when someone acknowledges the loss and the pain you face it helps. You have been through a trauma. A very deep personal trauma that is life changing. You have to remember that life will never be the same. You lost someone from suicide. Someone close. Someone who you thought you would have for years to come.

Dad.

He was 50 years old and you were 24 years old. Life is seemingly become defined by before or after his death. It is the mark in the sand for everything else. Did you know me when my dad was still alive or not?

Grief. The never ending grief that becomes heavy and draining.

Grief that no one seems to understand or have any recognition of what might help.

Feeling lost wandering through the fog.

At first that grief was locked away deep down inside of you. Untouchable and out of sight. You needed to do that in order to home and travel like you had planned. Dad would have wanted to go and you lived the experience fully seeking all sorts of opportunities. To live life in the now. For over 16 months you saw the world, met amazing people, saw sights some people could only dream of and you did it with all the grief locked up inside.

You have always acknowledged that your dad was ill particularly in the last six months of his life. You did not have the tools or the knowledge to help him help himself at that point in your life. You have not played the what if game knowing that his death was a result of his illness and that he did not want to die but could not cope with the pain of life anymore.

Coming home was the hardest. Opening what felt like Pandora’s box to that grief. It swallowed you to start with due to your own lack of understanding and knowledge.

You faced more loss, more grief. Betrayed by someone who had helped you through that inexplicable grief. The wrong person at the right time. You thought that person understood you but the grief over rode your gut instinct.

It seemed the signpost to what to do next was invisible, like nobody wanted to acknowledge what had happened. No one knew how to help. Grief counselling started the process but it unearthed anxiety that has woven itself into your personality. Depression followed. Rejection manifests as fear not anger.

You have been down into the black pit and looked further down into the gloom of the abyss but have pulled yourself back from the brink. Things got worse before they go better. However, you have brought the shattered pieces of your heart and mended them back together. It has been hard it has been tough.

Recovery has no line. There is no finish.

You struggled through talking therapies but they did not help the grief. They all felt too clinical, that the therapist did not understand and there was always not enough sessions to get into the nitty gritty. None of them were designed for complex grief though.

You tried medication but it just numbed everything. After 4 years you wanted to feel like you again and work out where the emotions and feelings were. Now 2 years later you are still off medication.

Feelings are hard but it is better than numbing.

Some days are so deeply black and others it lifts and you wonder why did you feel so bad yesterday?

So what has worked? How is life more liveable?

Connection. Building my people around me mainly in the form of very good quality friends. Then using those connections. Saying when days are hard or you are starting down that black road.

Being sober. Alcohol was another numbing agent and it lead to some not very nice situations. People do not understand not drinking it but you do it for you not anyone else.

Sharing the sh*t. At first you relied on one or two friends but it is hard for them to support you. It becomes overwhelming. Now you spread it amongst friends so it does not become dumped all on one person.

Taking care. Self care if you will. This includes baths, eating well, trying to sleep well, making plans, taking time when needed, meditation, women’s groups, massage, mindfulness, and exercise. The list goes on but it is always a little bit of effort done often helps to keep on top of your mental health.

Acknowledgment from close people. It is not that they know what you have experienced but that you are in pain and some of that will never shift. That themselves cannot change things but they can be there to support.

There is still a long way to go though. Life is a journey.

You carry the burden of pain heavily and you could be a lot kinder to yourself. Recognise you are not as broken as what sometimes it feels and you have lots of way to help yourself.

You still keep a lot about your Dad hidden from public view for fear of shame or misunderstanding. Keep sharing if you want to but at the same time do not feel you have to.

You use your talents in so many ways that your Dad would be proud. The dedication you bring to things, perseverance and hard work are all values from him. He lives within you.

You have so much to live for.

You make a difference in the world just being you.

You are enough.

You deserve to be here.

You are loved just the way you are.

You are not broken or shattered or falling apart.

You are you.

Be kind.

Love more.

N.