Across my career, domestic violence occasionally put suicide before me. No more commonly rooted in this vein of violence than in any other part of my career those few, though, were planted in obvious conflicts. On the other side, a sparse and broadly scattered number in the mental health systems were suicides I had no direct idea to explain ‘why’.
Other than the man who’d changed his mind in the last milliseconds but still blew his jaw off, no case hit me like my son. The jawless man was able, in writing only, to make clear his reasons for attempting and why he’d changed his mind. Now, I see the man’s written words and find personal insights that I hadn’t caught sight of. Yet, to a person, those, of us, who have been left behind knew and still know what I now know.
I haven’t been left behind. My son escaped from his own despair. In my own despair lies a common thread tangled throughout all of my experiences with people who finally took their lives and those left behind. Pessimism twined through all those lives of every case I knew in my son’s. Discouragingly, this casts light on the ‘why’.
Occasionally trekking across short distances of other’s grief made obvious our, usually, having no direct part in spurring a loved one to end life. Each, also, became painfully aware of having no clear options in making a difference. Yet, like I am now working at, I pushed them toward accepting there is no way of truly knowing our faults. No excuse rests in this. It is simply willingness to let the experience meld with all that is part of our lives. It requires taking our eyes off of our navels. Turing our attention back into the immediate and toward where we are headed
Without intending to, my son, like their loved ones, left a dagger in my heart. His efforts to both solve his immediate snags and to bring closure to a long despair he inflicted a personal wound into me. Even with my serious doubt, his suicide had any direct connection to me, I know the pain of wondering if I could have kept this from happening. Being without a hope of making a difference I chose to walk on from my son’s suicide.
The man whose jaw was missing touched me deeply. Beginning to struggle through reframing his life he revealed a complexed weaving of his life. His sense of complete defeat was securely grounded in belief that others were wronging him. Struggling to take up unwrapping his avoidance from about his thoughts he began digesting his responsibilities. He was and I hope still is exposing himself to himself. Beginning to realize his feelings of hopelessness as what he’d run, himself, aground on was more freeing than further defeating. What others had done to him were not his cause. That motivation pulling him to within a millisecond and within a degree or two of the arch away from ending his life was the beginning of shouldering responsibility.
Now you’ve caught sight of how I look at suicide. It is a two sided action. On one side, is the desire to escape. On the other rests a decision to take action. Out of this point arises my reason to forgive. Even though, I do not agree with my son’s choice, I see the wonder and beauty of his life in concert with a sudden and horrific act . In concert are a host of actions, some of which I love and others I wish he’d never set foot in.
Ceasing to expect his life to play out as I wanted has been forced on me. Forgiving his choice means letting go of a useless revenge. I do know a yearning to at least cuff him in some stages of my heartache. It is our subtle versions of striking back which are not typically dug up. We keep those out of sight and somewhat out of mind. It is those which keep forgiveness from taking root. While I’m not done excavating my own unspoken malice I have chosen to begin walking away, away from my versions of vengeance. It isn’t what my son did that I am to pardon. My deepest need is to relieve myself of any fashion of vengeance toward my son.
It is here that I am finding the oddest fashion of discovering a blessing. Shouldering my own “shit” brings with it a relief I had never imagined. This solace isn’t just toward me. It is creating in me a transforming or perhaps evolving sense of my son. His suicide, of itself, isn’t a blessing! God’s taking hold of the deepest yet pain in my life and using it to delve within me to bless me, unsettles me.