TRIGGER WARNING, THIS IS A BIT OF A STORY OF THE YEAR LEADING UP TO MY HUSBANDS SUICIDE. IF THIS IS A SENSITIVE SUBJECT, PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION.
Right from the start, my husband and I had an extremely rocky relationship. Many people said we shouldn’t have even gotten married… which, who really knows. But, the fact is, it was extremely unstable. We separated in January 2016. He left me, which I can get into further in another blog down the road.. ANYWAYS, after our break up, we were very on and off. For the most part, I would say off. I was immensely uncomfortable with his promiscuity, addictions, as well as his uncontrollable and unpredictable physical lash outs, and harsh language. (I honestly do not like speaking negatively about someone who has passed, especially my children’s father, but facts are facts.)
In July, he asked to meet up and presented me with a ring and necklace, asking for us to renew our commitment. I worked out of town, so in order to make this happen, I had to give a lot of trust, which at the time.. wasn’t exactly deserved. But, I did anyways. A few short days later, everything was already falling apart. 2 weeks went by, and I called it off with him. (For various reasons.) Mainly, I had found out he was already dating a new girl since I had left, and it was entirely too much for me to handle. I had to focus on working, and start focusing on myself and my children as a separate unit from my husband. This meant, that I needed to think of where I saw myself in months and years to come, not as his wife anymore, but as his co-parenting partner and ex-wife. It meant I needed to figure out what goals WE had together, and which of those were still a priority for ME to complete on my own.
One of the mutual goals we had as a couple was that by the end of 2016, we would travel to Africa. It had been a dream of mine since my early high school career and it was a big topic for us when we got married. We actually told everybody who attended our wedding that we had been planning this, and would possibly bring our children as well. So, being that we split up, I decided I was still going to bring this dream to reality. I still needed to decide where in Africa I would go, but, after working with countless South Africans, and living in close quarters to them, I decided that I would travel to South Africa. I made this goal clear to him. Whether or not he would come, I was going to go for a month in November.
He actually seemed to have taken it a lot better than I had thought. He said it would be a great way of rediscovering myself as a single adult woman, and experiencing the world. He told me that he would make every effort to kid proof his apartment so that he could watch our children while I was away, and asked questions like who I would stay with and what exactly I wanted to do. I let him know that after several months of working with South Africans, a lot of them became good friends, and that I trusted them to keep me safe and show me the country. I would travel all around and experience the culture and life, just as they do every day in their off season from work, and do a few other things like surf and climb the famous Table Mountain. Over the phone, he gave me complete support.
THIS IS WHERE SHIT WENT DOWNHILL.
Once I got back from my time working out of time, my husband had a change of heart. AGAIN. He decided that he wanted his family back. MEANWHILE, I was focused on becoming my own person. My mindset is that if something is meant to be, time and distance wont change that. So for me, focusing on going to South Africa by myself was no big deal. For him, it meant the end. For him, he began realizing that I wasn’t going to sit around anymore and allow this roller coaster relationship take its tolls on me anymore, or hold me back.
This is the thing.. Because we had seriously disconnected in the months following July, I hadn’t realized how bad his addictions, depression and anxiety all had gotten. Neither did his family. In the months prior, he has severely disconnected from his family as well, aside from when he visited with our children. (Who stayed with my family while I was out of town.) So, me going to South Africa alone, to him, symbolized the end of any future for our family.. Which wasn’t true in the least. My biggest wish was always that he would be even more motivated to live a clean and sober life, and take his addictions and infidelity seriously so that we could get our family back. That wasn’t the case though.
On October 4, 2016, My husband committed suicide.
Honestly, in ALL my life, this is the thing that had blind sided me the most. (I will soon write a detailed post about how I have handled this experience.)
After that, I literally became depressed. I hardly ate or slept at all for the next month. Most of my time was spent awake; wondering, crying, being mad, confused, and a million other emotions. It was the hardest month of my life. I got up every day and fed my kids, clothed them, bathed them, put them to bed, etc… but I was completely absent. I was like a zombie mom. Starving herself, and barely sleeping. Honestly, after I would put my kids to sleep, I would sit outside on the front porch for hours. Crying, and smoking cigarette after cigarette and drinking wine. Sometimes until the sun would start coming up. And then I would lay in bed, and fall asleep for maybe an hour or two, and do it all over again. Friends and family that saw me didn’t even know what to say.. and really, what could they say anyways? Nothing would bring his life back.
Now, I seriously had to think of where the hell my life was going in the following months, and years. I had 2 children to support, and there was no longer an option of co-parenting, or mending those wounds. I had to give these kids all I had, because it was me, or no one. I had to pull up my damn socks, and figure my shit out. I had to get my head on straight, and come out of this darkness. I decided that in order to do that, I would start by following through. I had been planning and planning, and saving. Comparing prices for trips, saving photos of where I would visit. Planning the entire trip for months and months… I NEEDED to follow through. Not just for me, but mostly, for my children. Without me being level headed and clear minded, my kids would continue to suffer.
Right from the time I decided I would go to South Africa alone, I decided November (around my birthday) was going to be the time to do it. Flights were slightly more expensive to get there, but, it was the optimal time for everything I had planned on doing and seeing. 90% of my trip, I planned on being outside, so the weather was prime in November and December. I made it official and booked the trip. At that time, I didn’t even have a passport yet though, so I had a lot to do in order to get things ready. That was kind of nice though, because it gave me something to focus on and something to take my mind off of things. I didn’t want people to judge me about working out of town for so long, and then taking on for a ‘vacation’ right after my kids father passed, so I continued to keep it hush hush. Finally, a few days before the trip, I let the cat out of the bag.
I had A LOT of support. From people who UNDERSTOOD what I went through in those 4 years that my ex and I were together. From people who had seen how depressed I was. From people who just love traveling. And from people who, regardless of the situation support my decisions, because they know I wouldn’t do something if it wasn’t right. On the other hand, I had A LOT of negative reactions. Some people went as far as publicly posting that I was the reason my husband did what he did. I had people THREATEN MY LIFE. Saying I deserved to die and that I would burn in hell. I had people calling me a whore, because most of the friends I had planned on visiting were males. I had to block several peoples social media accounts, and make my personal accounts private.
It was honestly all a pretty crazy experience, and aside from all of the hurt I felt, I was able to pull a valuable life lesson from it. People grieve at different paces, and in very different ways. Some people have less control over themselves when they are grieving, and some people have more. Some people take a short period of time to work through it, and some people are never fully able to work through the process. (And yes, it is a process.) We need to understand that in order to be able to respect each others grieving processes.
Am I done grieving? No. It is going to be a long journey, and I know that. I still break into tears some nights thinking how my children’s father will never be able to be a father to them. How will I explain this to them when they are older? Will I let them read our diary? I sometimes still burst into tears when my children bring him up, or when we drive past “daddy’s lighthouse”, and when we visit his resting place.
But, though, I am still grieving, I still deserve to be happy. I still deserve the opportunity for my kids to be happy. We still deserve to love and be loved. I shouldn’t have to change my life’s path because it doesn’t flow with other peoples’ “acceptable timelines”. And, neither should you! What we should do, is be conscious that people might not be ready to share our excitement about certain topics (such as new love, traveling, or moving abroad, or any other big life choices you make after losing a loved one.) And that we need to exercise caution when sharing this information with our friends and family who may still be in a different stage of grieving.
“All in due time” they say in Jamaica.