Ashley's Story (*Name Changed)

I went for a run the other day for the first time in I don't even know how long. The air was crisp, I could feel the autumn creeping in upon us. Growing up I absolutely loved this time of year. I even liked going back to school. New school clothes, new friends and teachers, all of my favorite holidays approaching, it didn't get any better. But the last 4 years have been different. When Fall comes around a sudden sadness also arrives. A pain I had never felt before October 1st, 2012. The day my brother took his life.

As I was running and listening to my music, I could just feel it, summer was behind us and Fall was fast approaching and, like a sharp knife, it hit me. The pain. The pain I've been holding on to, though most of the time I try to bury it so deep that even I forget it's there. I remember him, my brother who I miss so deeply. I remember his life. I get angry. Mostly at myself. I get angry because I haven't thought about him for too long. I've gone on with my life as if everything is fine. I get angry because it seems my family does the same, which I know deep down isn't true.

I continue to run as hard and as fast as I can, as if doing so will somehow take the pain right out of me. It doesn't. I reach my house and go to the backyard where the neighbors can't see me. I feel that oh so familiar pain. I want to scream. I want to know if he is there, if he knows the pain I'm going through. Then I think of him. I wonder about the deep, dark, drowning pain he must have been going through. I hurt for my brother. Every single day I hurt for him as well as for all my siblings and for what we've been through these last 4 years. I hurt because it's so hard to talk about it that we just CAN'T. We hold it in. We bury it until it's no longer visible. We go on with our lives.

I walk inside after my run and act like every thing is fine, because that's what we're supposed to do right? Wrong. I learned that in therapy. Therapy that I needed because I struggled with self harm and anxiety after my brother died. I realized from a very amazing man that the definition of 'strong' is NOT acting like everything is perfect in our lives, like we have it all together. Being strong is not never crying because that means you're somehow 'weak'. Being strong is letting it out, having compassion for yourself and realizing what your truly capable of and sometimes that means not being the perfect mom or wife or acting like we have it all together all the time because we don't. No one does.

I forget this though, a lot, trust me. I even struggle to be 'real' in front of the person I love more than anything in the world, my husband. I worry he will judge me but I know he would never, ever do such a thing. He's seen me in my darkest hours. He's held me when I didn't even know if I wanted to live anymore. He would do anything to make me happy. He's patient and kind and gentle. He's perfect for me. He's the reason I'm where I am today. He's truly my angel and the reason I know there is a God because without him I would be lost.

I really am trying to make a point here. I'm being as real as real can get. Suicide is not the answer. All the pain and agony a suicide victim leaves behind is suddenly placed on their family and friends. The family and friends of victims are no longer the same people they once were. They live with this pit in their stomach and a hole in their heart that can never be fixed. They feel guilty for having joy but they have to act like everything is okay and live this life of secrecy almost.

As hard as the last few years have been, however, I have found true joy and true happiness. I live every day for my son and my wonderful husband. I love my life. I know I am truly blessed. I may not be the person I was before my brother passed away but it's okay. I know I will see my brother again. I know I will hug him again. I have felt him with me when I am in pain. I know he hurts for his family. I know if he knew how much pain he has caused his family that he wouldn't take his own life. I hurt, yes. I miss him so bad. But the sun continues to shine and my baby boy still needs his mama. So I go on with life, but deep down inside me lies the hole that will never get better until I see him again.


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