Check-In: Separated. Responses to comments.

Life got really chaotic for me so I haven’t posted in a while. The main purpose of the blog–was for me to share my experience. I felt so alone. If you’re a spouse with a partner struggling with suicide–you’re probably feeling alone too.  My hope is that through the blog, and the comments from readers–you will see you are not alone. Because our couple’s struggles deals with life and death situations–it is especially distressing.

To update my current situation.  My husband and I separated in April 2015.  It was hard, lots of tears shed on both sides.  Fortunately, we both had therapists to help us. After about 6 months of living separately, the crisis of the transition dissipated.  Early in 2016, Dave asked for a divorce.  Another round of tears on my part, as I had hoped we could work things out.  April 2016 made one year of separation. After working through the grief regarding divorce, I am now okay with it.  I can see that the separation was a good thing. Dave, Beth and I are happier, and psychologically healthier.  Dave and I are working on our own issues.  Our daughter, Beth is doing better.  Her attitude has improved.  She’s doing better in school and socially. She’s thriving.  We all feel safer.  We’re all working on awareness and identification of feelings, tolerance, coping, and healthy expression of anger (and other uncomfortable emotions).

I apologize if I just approved an old comment and this reminded you of an old situation.  I struggle with whether it’s better not to approve the old comment, but then I wonder if the reader might wonder why I approved some and not his/hers, so I approved it. If you changed your mind let me know and I’ll take the comment down (I think I’m able to do that).  If I haven’t approved a comment–I’m not dismissing your experience, minimizing your pain, or favoring certain commentators. I may not have gotten to it yet (I’m really behind), I missed it, have deemed the comment to be too personal, or there was another reason. I apologize for this.  Readers–please know that you are not the only one going through this, if that helps.  Your experience is real, hard, scary, upsetting, confusing.  Love, hate, fear, hope–whatever you feel, it’s so painful, it’s so hard to go through and you wonder how much more you can take.  We need support too. Find a friend, family member, therapist who is willing to really understand your experience.

As I skimmed the comments, there were a few things I thought I might address that might be helpful to readers in general.   (Keep in mind—I don’t know the complete situation so I am not offering you advice.  My concern is that you read this post and then run out and apply what I say, don’t.  One way to get help for your unique situation is to seek out professional help so you can share your complete story.).

Involvement of police.

On November 6, 2016 a reader wrote “Tonight I called the police where he was and explained what he had said to me and they went searching for him. I’m not sure if it was the right move…Did I overreact?” On April 2, 2015, a reader wrote, “I had no idea they would send police and cuff him. He was taken to ER and released but was treated like a criminal. I feel so horrible. Now he is furious at me. I don’t know what to do.”  This really is hard to witness. I recall my own struggle to make the call, knowing that Dave didn’t want me to call, and knowing he would be upset during and after either openly or passive aggressively.  I needed a lot of support from my therapist to make the call and after the call—and I got the support.  The cuffs or plastic ties that’s used–keeps your partner and the officers safe.  A person in a state of mind needing to be taken to the hospital for an assessment has intense emotions and obsessive preoccupations with dying.  S/he is probably desperate, hopeless, and not thinking rationally.  In that context—S/he is unpredictable and could do something in the moment that is permanent and irreversible.  The humiliation of being cuffed can be processed in treatment.  It took a little time, but Dave said to me in couples therapy, that my calling the police saved his life, and he was grateful.  I can’t promise that outcome, but if saving a life is a goal—then calling the police may be the only option, when the person struggling with suicidal thoughts/behaviors does not and will not help him/herself.

As for over-reacting or under-reacting—this is the hard thing in dealing with our spouses/partners.  I too felt helpless, and powerless, confused, conflicted as to how best help.  The emotional charge that’s between the couple, family member, friend, can make it hard to see clearly, objectively—what’s the best path to take.  A professional can help with this.

Duty to report.

A comment from a reader: “But I’ve always heard that if a professional like that hears of someone at possible risk of suicide, it’s their duty to report it to the authorities“–I thought it might be useful to clarify this–the therapist’s duty to report relates to the client in the room.  So if you see a therapist and report your own suicidal thoughts–the therapist will assess for your safety. The therapist does not have a duty to report for your spouse. So you will continue to be in a hard position and have a tremendous sense of responsibility for your spouse’s safety, it’s hard not to, (even though in most cases, your spouse is an adult and responsible for him/herself).  To take this responsibility off of you–calling the police or a crisis assessment hotline (in Hawaii we have a 24/7 hotline that will send someone to your home, to assess the safety of a person (808) 832-3100) is an option. In Hawaii the police relays the information gathered to an on-call psychologist and the psychologist makes the decision to take the person to the hospital to get a formal assessment of safety.

On March 3, 2015 reader wrote, “I have thought about crashing my car, just so that I can be in hospital and have someone look after me for a while. To not be the strong one, just for a while. To have people asking if I’m ok, just for a while. I know that sounds insane, but I don’t know if I can keep being the strong one when I feel so weak.” We can have thoughts that might seem “insane” when we’re feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and desperate.  When I start getting preoccupied with my own scary thoughts, this is a sign, that I need support/self-care/see a professional.  We need someone to hear, get, support and help us come up with coping strategies, self-care and our own resources, support network.

COUPLE DYNAMIC,

On April 2, 2015 a reader wrote, “We had an argument Wednesday and I lost my head. I did scream snd (sic) say hurtful things. Everything is bottled up.”  One of the dynamics of living with a suicidal spouse is this bottling up and censoring ourselves.  I remember holding my hurts and anger in, not wanting to upset Dave.  But this bottling up, took  my anger and hurt to escalated levels, and I too, when I couldn’t hold it in any longer—would unleash it.  The couples therapist helped create a safe environment to share our hurts/upsets in a more timely way and not let it build up.

That’s all I have time for right now.  Take care.

Advertisements

Runnin’ (Lose It All)

As I drove, I heard, “Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy, on the radio. The lyrics stuck in my head, so I googled the runnin’ line and found this video. (Lyrics by Arrow Benjamin, Beyoncé, and Carla Marie per genius.com).

As I watched, tears streamed down my face.  I’ve felt this “runnin,” so many times.   Chasing, chasing. Chasing after an elusive safe love.

These four lonely walls have changed the way I feel
The way I feel, I’m standing still

For the past 8 months, Dave and I have been separated.  And I’ve been staring at four lonely walls. It could be worse, though.  It could be my worst nightmare, my greatest fear.  He could be dead,

“…And nothing else matters now, you’re not here
So where are you? I’ve been calling you, I’m missing you…

Memories turn to dust, please don’t bury us
I got you, I got you.”

and I could be chasing after an elusive wish to have done something more to keep him alive.  And I know it’s not my role to keep him alive.  But in relationship with him, I found myself “runnin,” watching, to make sure that he was okay.

And whereas in this video the characters swim into each other’s arms, I swam away from Dave.  Is it permanent?  I don’t know.  For awhile I thought so.  Something happened that sent our family into a tailspin. I got tired of the crises.  He stopped turning his anger inward, but then his anger spilled outward toward us (mine did too).  Dave wants to make everyone happy. But it costs him too much.  The accommodating to everyone, to his coworkers, to myself, to Beth, it takes an emotional and psychological toll. Not asserting and voicing his needs–he pushes all his upset down, and resentment builds.  And where he used to go to hopelessness and act to harm himself, when that avenue closed, when he decided that was not an option for him anymore, where else could his built up, accommodating to please everyone, anger go–but toward Beth and I.

And he was not the only one angry,  I was too, and so was Beth. Dave and I were both afraid to voice our upset directly and we both held things in.  I was too scared to voice directly what I saw going on with Dave. I was getting better at it, but I was primed to read Dave’s cues, verbal and nonverbal that it was not safe, and to tread lightly (and some of that priming–was pre-Dave family of origin stuff, my stuff).

When the family crisis, and it was a crisis with a capital C, cropped up, we separated.

I ain’t runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all
If I lose myself, I lose it all

I was scared to leave.  I was scared that he might end it all, if I left, but I separated anyway. And I didn’t want to face a life alone, but I separated anyway. I “ain’t runnin’ from myself no more, I’m ready to face it all.”  It took the family crisis to set in motion a therapeutic separation.  Initially during that period, we were all reeling from the affects of the crisis.  And the first 6 months were pretty tough, some of the roughest times–psychological and emotional affects of the crisis, of the separation.  Single parenting while holding a full time job, and a part time job wasn’t easy.  Plus Beth was going through a rough patch with me after the separation, and all the stressors piled up on each other, and I felt pretty hopeless at times.

I got serious about getting Beth help. She’s a teen, she didn’t want to go to therapy, but at the same time she cooperated and went.

And Dave, for the first time, started to go to therapy weekly.  During the eight months we’ve been separated, he didn’t make any suicide attempts.  In therapy he’s been working on asserting his voice, how to manage his emotions, safety planning to prevent future crisis, and building his self-esteem.  There’s a quote, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear,” that comes to mind.  I’ve heard the concepts that Dave shares with me from his current individual therapy, talked about by our couple’s therapist in the past, but I think Dave’s ready now to take it in and apply it to his life.

I ain’t runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all
If I lose myself, I lose it all

For me, my work in individual therapy is that I’m working on me.  I’m working on my anger, and what it means, and what I need.  And what I want and need for Beth and I–is safety.  I need to know that there will be no running away from problems, no escaping from problems, disagreements–through harm of self or others.  And that goes for all of us.  Staying in the relationship the way it was, was harming to myself and Beth, and even to Dave.  I’m working on my childhood that carried into adulthood, caretaking, over-resposible, enabling role.  And I’m working on my self-value.

During the separation, I was told by my therapist to take my time, don’t rush into any decisions. To sit in and sit with various contemplations, to clarify my feelings and needs, before I decide.

I’m getting clarity.  But the thing about clarity is it depends. It looks different today than yesterday. And clarity will look different tomorrow than it does today. And it’s not incongruent.  It’s my truth in the here and now.  And I accept that it’s gonna change.  And it’s okay.  And I need to assert the truth, my truth for today.

The progression of my truth went from, not knowing if I wanted to stay or leave, to wanting to break up, to now–taking a wait and see attitude.  Why the changes.  The factors included, the level of crisis I was in, the effects I saw on myself and Beth, the amount of blame I was placing on Dave.  Thinking that I never wanted to go through another crisis again.  But as Beth and I have stabilized emotionally, and I’ve been seeing that Dave and I have been making positive changes.  But I’m going to wait.

What am I waiting for? I’m waiting and observing–can we be safe together?  Can we talk directly about our issues and feel safe? Do we have coping strategies to manage our emotions.  Do we have a support system in place to turn to when we are unable to give support to each other?  Does Dave have a safety plan and will he implement it?

My line in the sand, is safety.  If we don’t feel safe–issues will go underground again, and build up, until it turns into the next crisis. I’m tired of living that way.

We’re tired of living that way.  Tired of “runnin” in circles, in dysfunctional cycles.  Instead, we’re “runnin'” toward psychological, emotional and relational health.  I feel healthier already.  Beth and I our closer than ever. Dave and I have been dating.  Like our therapist says, “Trust is information over time.” I don’t know what the outcome will be, my decision, Dave’s decision, but I’m taking it slow.

And I

Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all

And I really am.

(Note: I encourage the above “therapeutic separation” process to be done under professional supervision, by qualified mental health practitioners).

Fears Triggered

Looking back a couple weeks ago, at my previous post, I thought that I had most of my fears about Dave attempting again, beat. Now I realize that my fears were merely compartmentalized, tucked away, ready to spring into action when some trigger, some reminder set them off.

The day after I wrote the previous post–I was in my therapy session tearfully explaining Continue reading

Individual Therapy–Self Care For Me

Right after Dave’s second attempt, I felt like I was falling apart. I would come home and see Dave’s car in the carport and think, “Oh please, don’t let me walk in there and find him hanging!” If he was getting a little irritated with me, I feared he was tipping toward an attempt. I was afraid to voice my irritations with him. Fear and anxiety were taking over my life.

So two months after his second attempt I requested individual therapy.

Individual therapy helped because I didn’t have to censor what I said. My therapist helped me process my feelings about my husband, Dave, in it’s very rawest stage, in the safety of four walls. During the session I could craft the language in a style that Dave, my husband, could hear and take in and prevent him from walling me off or spiraling towards suicide.

I got to hear over and over again that it was not my fault.

I got to process the trauma. Grieve. Heal.

Though Dave’s last attempt was over a year ago, I’m still processing it. It still affects me. The fears and anxieties still erupt and Individual therapy has been critical in helping me get through that year.

I am doing individual therapy to take care of me. To help me. To support me. It’s what I need and I’m doing it to take care of me.

Approaching One Year Anniversary Of Dave’s Second Attempt

Note: This post was created on 8-10-12, before the previouspost , but has just been fine tuned and posted.

We are fast approaching the anniversary of Dave’s attempt last year. I am acutely aware of this anniversary date, even though the sixth year anniversary date of his previous attempt passed without a thought.

One thing I’ve noticed is that Continue reading