Why Bother Paying Attention?
The emotional ramifications of parental suicide are far-reaching, long lasting and life changing. Not only is there the immediate effect of shock, disbelief and confusion, but like tremors that follow an earthquake, the emotional fallout from suicide reverberates for years after.
The emotions immediately following on the heels of my father’s suicide included disbelief and heart-wrenching sadness. A few months later, fear and worry became constant companions. If one bad thing could happen, such as my dad’s death, then what other bad thing might happen next? My body and brain stayed on high alert and ran on anxiety long into adulthood.
Even worse than anxious thoughts, distrust, especially with men, sprouted up. At first, it was nothing I considered to be a flaw. After all, mistrust toward men seemed par for the philosophy of the day. The women’s movement was a strong influence at that time on me, as well as the culture. But the longer I held onto my independent stance as well as my suspicion toward men, the more I began to consider its original source.
It took years for the truth to surface, but I was resolute. I followed the trail of my behaviors and traced them back to their original source. My dad’s suicide. I’d believed and trusted in his love when, suddenly and without warning, that love was gone. He left me, on purpose, not by accident. I felt betrayed.
Not wanting to ever be deceived again, I’d distanced myself from those who might leave me. I was afraid of being fooled again, even by my husband who vowed to love me until death parted us.
Soon after we married, I entertained the idea of divorce. Wondering if he’d leave me was a constant worry.
But distrust is never conducive to relationships and I knew change was inevitable. Fortunately, my husband understood my dilemma and patiently reminded me that he was not my dad. Just because one man had left me did not mean that he would too. Learning to trust again began with paying attention to the reason I’d given myself to not trust in the first place. Though I’d felt abandoned once did not mean I’d be abandoned again.
Why bother paying attention? Damaging behaviors originate from somewhere. Paying attention to their source leads to truth and ultimate freedom.