We can not move through this life without leaving our mark on others, just as others can’t help but leave their mark on us.
I worry. I worry about the impact I have on my family, and my friends. I worry that my legacy to them will be losing this war in my mind.
I have lost someone close to me to suicide before. Knowing the pain that I felt with the loss, it makes me feel even more guilty that the thoughts even cross my mind; guilty that I would even consider passing that pain on to others as well.
After a whirlwind romance in the spring of 2000, Ashley and I married that summer. She is a part of my past that I don’t speak about a lot because my guilt still grips me in a choke-hold.
Ash was a damaged soul. She suffered from mental health issues long before we met. With my own issues I thought I was ready to deal with the challenge. I. Was. Wrong.
I tried to make it work, but the fights got more frequent and larger in scale. My mental health suffered terribly. I was working my ass off to work on myself, but she refused, feeling that she deserved what she was feeling.
In the just under two years we were married, my mental illness began to take hold, and after a time we were two vortex’s of negative energy feeding off each other.
No medications, no therapy, no nothing. She wanted to keep carrying on, carrying on. Three days before our second anniversary, I told her it was over. I couldn’t keep trying to be healthy for the both of us. If she couldn’t commit to getting healthy herself, I needed to leave. It was the single hardest decision I have ever made in my life.
We talked a few times over the next few months. I stabilized. She continued her decline into depression. Just over a year later she moved to Newfoundland to be with her best friend. Less than 18 months after our split, in the fall of 2004, I got the call. She was gone.
Logically, I know that I made the best decision I could for me. Logically, I know that had I stayed, the outcome would have likely been the same, if not with an increased body count.
Emotionally, the guilt still eats at me from time to time, even these 14 years later. Emotionally I feel that there had to be something I could have done differently to change the outcome, though realistically I know otherwise.
In EMT school, when they talk about scene safety they talk about looking after yourself, then your partner, then everyone else. You can’t rescue someone else if you put yourself in danger, and if the rescuer needs rescuing, who rescues the rescuer?
My path these last 14 years has ben tumultuous; from highs and lows and back again. I’ve gotten married again, to a beautiful, strong-willed, and independent woman. I’ve concluded one career, and have begun to transition to another. I’ve wrestled with my demons time and time again.
The life I have has not been easy. I have had to blaze my own trail, full of pitfalls, hills, trips, and snags. I’ve had highs, and lows. I’ve tripped. I’ve fallen. I’ve gotten up again. I’ve brushed myself off. I’ve carried on.
The last few days have been a challenge, but I’m keeping my head above water. I know this time of year I usually struggle. I just need to plan with that perspective. So, I’m taking some time for me, shedding some work commitments, and doing what I need to.
Ashley lost the war 14 years ago, and her death continues to haunt me, the grief gnawing at me. She is remembered. That memory drives me today, because suicide is not a legacy I want to leave behind. I don’t know whether it will one day claim me or not, but one thing I know for sure is I’m not going down without a fight.
I am at war with the beast in my mind. My weapons are the medications, the skills, support, and time. Neither side has yet claimed victory, nor defeat. I don’t know what the future holds, whether I will win or lose this war.