Life can take us in unexpected directions. Some of these phenomena
can be caused by our past history or even past lives if you believe
that sort of thing.
The death of Robin Williams this week
was a sorrowful reminder
of the fact that even though we may love someone and care
about them a great deal,and let them know often, we still do
not know the inner turmoil that may be happening in someone’s soul.
During my lifetime I’ve taken notice of how many famous and
successful people take their own lives because their inner
world was full of pain in direct contrast to their public image.
And, even if the public image showed a glimpse of their pain,
the fact of being in the public eye precludes many times
the ability to reach out and admit that you are in a very bad way.
Robin’s death naturally brought up the memory of my own
husband, who took his own life at the age of 45. I’ve studied
the causes and effects of depression and the downward
spiral that can take place if the opportunity presents itself
and the despair is deep enough.
What I’ve realized is this.
The change that has to take place for someone experiencing
mental pain is a change on the inside. Although external
activities such as getting psychological help, exercise,
or speaking to a loved one may break the grip of pain,
one must still process it and let it go, which takes a lot
of effort and determination. It’s not easy. But again, the
decision to do that comes from inside.
Whatever is causing the inner turmoil is very hard to identify sometimes, even by the one experiencing it. I certainly had only a small picture of my husband’s past and the things that he shared certainly didn’t seem as traumatic
to me as they did to him. But that’s the power of the mind
and its ability to form a defense against further perceived
harm. I learned later that some of the events that occurred
during his childhood, although not intentionally harmful,
damaged the self-esteem of a very, very young boy.
Sometimes the memory of the actual experience is blocked
but the feelings it created can live on and continue to fester
until we process them and let them go. There’s also the
frustration that one cannot change the past, or perhaps get
an explanation or apology from someone who inflicted the
However, what can change is how we view the past event.
We can reframe it in different ways: by seeing a benefit or
strength gained from the experience; realizing that you survived
it; acknowledging that you no longer have to go back and
relive it – you’re allowed to move on; you are not to blame
for the past; and you’re not to blame for the feelings that
you have now, only in how you deal with them; and, most
important, you’re not responsible for the actions or feelings
of other people, only yourself.
If I hadn’t learned all of that before and after my husband ended
his life, my life would have become a living hell, full of guilt,
anger, depression (yes, I suffer from it too) and goodness
knows what else. Now, while I was in the midst of it, I
was scared, devastated, set adrift, angry and sometimes
desperate. The pain for myself and my children was mind-
blowing. I had a support system; I leaned on it as much
as I could, and I was able to raise my two young daughters
by myself in a loving household and handle life one day at
And though I was grieving, I realized I was never alone.
The tragic event became part of the fabric of our lives, shared
and borne by those we loved. It wasn’t always fun, and
it wasn’t always happy-go-lucky. And, by the way, although
I have dealt with it, the grief never really goes away, it
comes back with each news report of a suicide.
But then I reflect on how we became pretty strong women – the three of us.
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