my dad died by suicide when i was 13 years old.
i was barely a teenager. my body was starting to change but i was still a little girl on the inside. i felt awkward and self-conscious for the first time in my life. i wanted to be attractive, i wanted to fit in. i wanted to be cool. i was vulnerable.
and then that vulnerable little girl walked into the laundry room and found her father just a few hours after dying by suicide. he was my hero. how could this be? for the first few moments i truly thought it was a joke – it seemed that impossible to me.
so i did what many survivors of childhood trauma do: i disconnected.
the reality of his suicide was too much for my thirteen year-old brain to process. the loss was too great. his death was too horrifying. the abandonment was too final. and facing those emotions made it real.
so i put those feelings away, totally unconsciously. i shoved the sadness and anger and fear and horror deep down inside of me, and i built a wall. a thick, tall, almost impenetrable wall to keep those emotions hidden.
the wall worked, for a while. i never talked about my dad. once or twice a year i would cry, thinking about his death, and then i would move on. that was how i coped. it was my subconscious attempt to protect myself from the searing pain of my loss.
i chose another protective mechanism: i focused instead on making myself perfect. so smart. so likable. so cute. so funny. so attractive. so talented. so hard-working. so lovable that NOBODY could EVER LEAVE ME AGAIN.
i got to a point where i felt nothing when i thought about my dad. i could feel anger or sadness for how his suicide impacted my mom or my sister, but when i would take the temperature of how his loss made me feel i was ice cold. numb. i stopped thinking about him. i stopped missing him. i tried to stop remembering him.
but as the years went by i started to notice cracks in the wall. certain feelings would come gushing out – fear of abandonment. fear of loss. i would stop the leaks up, but those were temporary fixes. the tide of my trauma was rising.
family, friends would push me to talk about it and i would try, but i felt awkward. uncomfortable. vulnerable. kindof like that thirteen year old girl. still disconnected.
this year, the trauma finally overflowed. it poured out and flooded into every corner of my being. it literally stopped my life in its tracks. the perfect person i was trying to be has transformed. left in her place is someone in search of healing. someone holding the pieces, the fragments of a wall.
it’s time. i have to feel the anger, the sadness, the fear about my dad’s suicide. i have to connect with the terror of that morning in order to free myself from its hold on my life. i don’t want to feel numb. i want to feel.
am i ready?
am i brave enough?
will i know how?
can i take it?
i’m not a little girl anymore. i’m a strong woman. who has been through hell and is brave enough to try.
to try to reconnect the disconnection.