“I don’t have a name. I don’t know what to do.
The only thing I know for certain is that I must begin to heal.
Just like every time my life was re-created, I had to begin restoring the foundered part of my being: the lost relationships, the familiarity of a neighborhood, the sense of the person I might have been. There is an algebraic term for the technique for distributing two binomials, called the FOIL method. It stands for first, outer; inner, last. And that is exactly how I have learned to repair myself time after time: from the outside in.”
p.233 “The Girl She Used to Be,” by David Cristofano
I don’t know who I am anymore. The moment they told me that he died I felt myself die, too. Every part of my reality shattered. It’s hard to explain to people the feeling of dying but continuing to breathe. I no longer see the world the same. I no longer feel the same. I don’t even look the same anymore.
He was my whole world, my best friend, my future…my favorite everything. How do I recover from this? He didn’t get sick or die in an accident. He took his own life. He killed my husband. He destroyed our future. He took away the father of his children. He also suffered so much that he felt he had to do it. The turmoil of conflicting emotions rips me apart every day.
When they told me he was dead, hanging inside my home, my life became a horror movie. It became a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. As time has gone on, more has been revealed and my heart has been shattered over and over and over again.
But my Bob was kind, gentle, funny, compassionate, emotional, intelligent and sensitive. He loved other people. He made other people feel like they were important. He was generous with his attention and his time. He was proud to be a soldier and served his country honorably. He was everything to me. He loved me more than anyone ever had. I had to find a way to focus on that instead of how he died.
One of the last notes he ever wrote me said “Love yourself like I love you”. So, that’s what I’m trying to do. He encouraged me to eat well because he knew that I often got busy and forgot. So, I try to eat well and make sure I make it a priority. He encouraged me to do things that I didn’t think I could do. Since he has died I have done quite a few things I didn’t think I could like running a half marathon, taking a trip alone, living when I wanted to die.
I have thrown myself in to activism. I am working to prevent veteran suicide, take care of survivors and educate people about PTSD and other mental health issues. I exercise every day because the physical exertions help my mind. This is how I’m beginning to heal.
I know my heart will always be broken. I know I will never be “okay”. But I want to make him proud. I want to live for both of us. I want to honor him in every way I can. I want to be as happy as I can be. I feel like every day I’m here is a gift because I expected his death to kill me. I’m actually surprised every morning that I wake up and I survived the night.
Despite the agony, the loneliness, the heartbreak, the tragedy, the insomnia, the PTSD and the struggle…I made a promise that I would give life one more chance. I promised that I will give it everything I have. I promised I would honor him and do everything I can to use our story to help and save others. So, that’s what I’m going to do.