The Dark Place

June 5, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always."

Just recently, I learned of some really sad news. My sister's friend, Robert, committed suicide a day after Mother's Day. He was 21-years-old, born on the same year as my younger brother. When my sister phoned me a couple of days after he died (the day she found out), my brain couldn't compute "Suicide" with "Robert." 

Surely, this wasn't right? Robert wouldn't do that! And he was far too young! 

I found it unbelievable. My crying sister wasn't enough to convince me that this was true; I have met and seen Robert with my very own eyes! I found it difficult to mentally grasp the idea that Robert decided to take his own life. Robert who I (somewhat) know because of my sister. Robert who had dated my sister. Robert who worked on my car because he cared about my sister.

May his soul find rest...

Robert's death reminded me of how at just any moment, we could lose someone we love. 

After losing Elijah, my fears became unbearable, especially surrounding death. I became overly worried that someone else I loved would die. I would pray most nights that my family would be safe, that our house would be protected from all kinds of harm, and especially that my husband would get home from work safe and sound (which I still worry about everyday). God forbid that I would lose my husband after losing a son. 

For some reason, I want to say that I cannot imagine how Robert's mother is feeling or how she is coping with her loss. But then, I realize that I can and do know. Well... at least in a general sense. I know that she is most likely feeling guilt, questioning and re-questioning what she did or what went wrong. She is most likely to feel anger, disbelief, heartache, confusion, shock, and other terrifying and agonizing emotions of grief. 

I don't know what it feels like to lose a son to suicide, but do know what it is like to have a son, and then to lose him. Forever. 

A couple of years ago, a neighbor just a door down had committed suicide. Like Robert, he was young, just a kid at 18, 19? He purposefully overdosed and his mother found him in the backyard. To this day, as I water Elijah's tree in our backyard, I still look over to the neighbor's side (now untended and with new tenants) and feel this sadness wash over me. Like Robert, it must have taken everything to decide that they didn't want to live anymore. 

I deeply believe that suicide is not something that someone briefly or hastily conjures up in their minds. It takes years, it takes pain, it takes suffering, silent and deadly suffering, trauma, loss... I say this because I have been there - and at times - desperately return to that place. That dark and desolate place. 

While Elijah's death has taken a toll on every inch of my soul and tore my heart out and shredded it to a million pieces, the suffering from the years of infertility have also made my life full of constant yearning and brought heaviness wherever I am. In other words, my life often feels like a living hell. I am mortified with the realization that this could be my life from now on, a life with chronic pain that never heals.

Everything and everyone would trigger me, in every nook and cranny of the world, I am constantly bombarded by reminders of my loss, of what I had hoped and prayed for, of everything and all that I have wanted. I become furious, especially with God, when I hear on the news that some ungrateful bastard abused or abandoned their baby. I become angry and sad every time a pregnant woman walks my way. I become frustrated and jealous when someone announces that they are expecting a new baby. I become someone or something I really am not and shouldn't be - I'm not proud of it. 

Sometimes, I shut myself out and away from the world, and will lie in bed all day and cry because it is the only way I feel comfort. Other times, if I am out in the world, my invisible motherhood feels like a gut-wrenching punishment, my tears silently fall, and then, I revisit the dark place. I talk into the darkness and tell it: 

"I just want rest."

"I can't do this anymore."

"Take all of my hopes and leave me be; I have nothing left."

Speaking of hope, hope became a dangerous game. Those who have known infertility know what I am talking about. You hope and then lose it. You try to make more of it, then lose it again. Month after month after month, cycle after cycle, until it becomes years. And then, there comes a point where you don't know if you can muster up the courage to make any more, but hope that you can anyway. It's a treacherous road and it's petrifying. And it's exhausting, debilitating, discouraging. 

When I imagine what the dark place will look like, I cry. I feel ashamed. Foolish. Unforgivable. I know that the people who love me will call me selfish, possibly hate me, but also that I will have caused them more pain.

Every day, I am at war. A bloody war with giving up, giving in, letting go, letting in, having and losing hope. And I don't want to lose. Not again. Not ever again.

My sister said something along the lines of, "It's always the ones who appear to be the happiest and smiling that are battling the worst wars. It's the typical scenario." And often, it sure is. It's not enough to tell them to seek help or get counseling. It's the people around them that they count on the most.

Talk To Someone

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free, and confidential. Please visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more info.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

With love,
Must Read:
Read Elijah's Story, "From Gender Reveal to a Spontaneous Delivery"

Photo: andnest

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