I can’t recall exactly when he told me he was suicidal. I do remember picking him up from the bar. He was drunk. He told me he needed help. Told me he felt suicidal. Said it was the kids that kept him going, kept him wanting to stay alive.
At the time, that comment hurt. The kids. Not me, who had been with him through so much. Who had supported him in things my gut told me not to.
Later, after one of his sessions, he said his therapist told him why I wasn’t included in his want to stay alive was because I’d always been there. He apologized for taking me for granted.
But that wasn’t why I started this post. I started this post because I still carry guilt.
After Ted told me he was suicidal, he made me promise not to tell anyone. Absolutely no one. I didn’t keep that promise.
I told two people. I told two people, thinking they could help somehow. I didn’t know how, but I think I thought they could help. I also couldn’t keep quiet about it. Now that I think about it, I needed help. Only, I didn’t say that. I didn’t say, “What am I supposed to do? How can I help him?”
I made those two people promise not to tell anyone, and not to let Ted know I had told them. And maybe by telling these two people, I had subconsciously hoped that they’d break that promise and tell more people.
That’s not the only guilt I’m working through.
I also carry the guilt of not telling more people. Sometimes, I think, “What if I had told all of his friends? What if I had told more of his family? Would it have made any difference? Or would it have just stalled him from taking his life?”
These are questions that will be left unanswered. In a recent therapy session, BK said, “You’d have to have lived two lives to know what the outcomes would have been. And really, if you had done all that, what other lesson would you have had to learn?”
It was something that made me pause and think. I can’t change what has happened. It’s been nearly 27 months since Ted took his life. I did what I did, knowing what I did. I didn’t know much. I thought I had, and I just didn’t. I could say so much, and no matter what I said to you, you’d hear what you wanted to hear. And through all of that, I loved Ted. Loved him so much. That’s one reason why it hurt so much when he took his life, and one reason I carry guilt.
Suicide survivors will carry guilt. I think we all think the same thing, and many of the questions start with , “What if – ?”