The Final Battles Pt. 3
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Most would be surprised to know that the death itself wasn't the hardest part of the loss for me. I didn't have nightmares about his lifeless body. I wasn't constantly reliving the funeral. It didn't make my blood boil thinking about the viewing. This wasn't the part of our story that caused me the most amount of pain.
When Daniel died by suicide, everything became about what led up to that godforsaken day. Losing someone through suicide feels preventable. It feels like if only I could've managed to say or do the right thing, then maybe I wouldn't be living my gravest nightmare.
And so, everything I had ever said and done was under scrutiny. I left no stone unturned; I put it all under the microscope. It was in this point in time where I stayed frozen; perpetually doomed to constantly relive the most regretful moments of my life. I replayed conversation after conversation. I punished myself for failing to say the right thing. I was consumed with guilt for not being able to change the way this story ends.
The thing about this time frame, is that it was already painful the first time around. Loving someone with mental illness can often feel like there are three people in the relationship. I was deeply intertwined with both the gentlest and cruelest parts of Daniel's soul. As quickly as I felt secure in his embrace, I knew it could all unravel at any moment.
I spent the months leading up to Daniel's suicide in the dreadful limbo between "he loves me, he loves me not." Initially, it was clear to see right through his tactics. It was easy to see that he was acting in self-destructive ways and trying to distance himself from me.
But as time went on, that image lost its clarity. All I could see was the disinterest when we were together. All I could hear were the "I love yous" that sat in deafening silence. All I could feel was completely and utterly alone.
I remember what it first felt like to become host to the type of loneliness that doesn't care if you're in a sea of people. What they never warn you about, is how painful it can be when your suicidal loved one is still alive. The pain didn't begin the moment of his last breath or when his heart stopped beating.
The pain first began when I watched him become unrecognizable to me. As I watched him aimlessly walk through life without any regard for himself and lose all ability to see the beauty inside of him - that is the moment my heart would endure a break that would never fully heal.
This meant my nightmare would begin months before Daniel was even dead. I would be drowning under the pressure of trying to string together the right words. I was suffocating under the weight of the possibility that this world might actually one day exist without him. I was painfully toying with the fact that the person I loved most in this world was in excruciating pain.
I was constantly playing tug of war with the facts. My mind was telling me it was over but my heart was telling me there was something deeply wrong. I desperately tried to see through the smoke; I tried to maneuver through the deception. But even as I tried to dodge the attacks, I couldn't manage to keep my heart out of harm's way.
It was really hard to remember that it wasn't about me. There was so much noise it became hard to hear the truth. I slowly began to believe the painful narrative that Daniel had fallen out of love with me. I began to see myself through the eyes of the cruel and intruding presence in our relationship.
I foolishly mistook his loss of interest in life for a loss of interest in me. When he seemed bored, I thought I was boring. When he felt guilty being with me, I felt ashamed. And when he broke up with me, I thought he was tired of me.
I never wanted to be one of those crazy ex-girlfriends that couldn't let the other move on. But the more I held on, the more I could feel myself turning into that. I didn't want to be somewhere I wasn't wanted. I didn't want to hold him back. I had always loved him enough that I wanted him to be happy, even if it wasn't with me.
So I started to consider that maybe this was just a regular break up; two people who had just grown apart.
Until the day he came back.
To be continued...
Always with love,