Not Blaming the Partner

I was on a family vacation with Dave and Beth, when I heard about a recent actor’s suicide. I was stunned. Tearful. Thankful that Dave was still alive–knowing how close I was, to living through such a tragedy.

I caught myself thinking why didn’t someone intervene? Why didn’t his wife intervene?”–realizing those were the very thoughts I didn’t want others to think, when Dave attempted or if he ever completed.

How easy it is to blame.  His wife was not responsible. I’m not responsible.

I scolded myself a little. I should know better than to blame. I’ve been there. How do you convince someone to live when a person struggling with suicide, in the decisive moment, feels:

“That — depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp — and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building.

That when the unseen scorch on the inside finally sears intolerably hot –  you think a desperate lunge from the flames and the land of the living seems the lesser of two unbearables.

That’s what you’re thinking — that if you’d do yourself in, you’d be doing everyone a favor.” What Christians Need to Know About Mental Health by Ann Voskamp

And I should know better how hard it is to commit your loved one into a psychiatric unit, to call 911, and how Dave when asked, would always say “I’m fine.” And I not wanting to do the hard thing of committing him or calling 911 would want desperately to believe that he was fine.

I’ve also been thinking of you, my main audience for this blog, whom also have a loved one struggling with suicide and what you may have been thinking, feeling. For myself, news of the actor’s suicide, brought back a flood of memories of Dave’s previous attempt, images of the rope burns on Dave’s neck, my fears, panic, my conflict around calling 911.

At the same time, reminding myself that we are, he is at a very different place. He’s now taking Prozac daily. He’s going to his individual sessions and couple’s sessions on time and not skipping sessions. He’s verbally expressing his upset, and his needs to me.

As you can I’ve been decreasing my presence on my blog. It’s an indicator that I haven’t had the need to have this outlet for expression since Dave has stabilized. It hasn’t been perfect. He scared me once in February, when he seemed to be engaging in his old cycle of shutting down, driving away. But in discussing what happened, he assured me that he wasn’t thinking of making an attempt. And his behavior seemed congruent with what he was saying. He was talking to me, he was telling me what triggered his upset.

On vacation, we had disagreements, irritations, frustrations with each other.  But neither of us tanked.  For me I usually hit the wall, and break into tears, utterly overwhelmed by the pace of the trip, by my exhaustion, as I push the family, push myself to squeeze out as much as we can as we visit different locales. This time, I relaxed.  I didn’t have my schedules. It would be okay if we slept in.  I stayed, for the most part, present and enjoyed the time with my family, visiting friends, seeing the sights. And if I did go back to old ways, I self-talked myself and corrected distortions that the day was ruined, or spoke my needs aloud.  Dave also seemed to not let things bother him, nor did he seem to beat himself up with negative thoughts, or if thoughts arose, he stopped them faster.

We’re continuing on our journey of growth in therapy, and it’s working.  Praise God!


Riding top down in a convertible enjoying the Carmel coastline.

Riding top down in a convertible enjoying the Carmel coastline.