I wrote a daily prompt a while ago that was on the word apology. I began by saying that an apology that may consist of a short statement such as “Oh, sorry ’bout that.” This an unacceptable apology. When an offense is committed against a person it becomes a personal offense. A personal offense deserves a personal apology. Sometimes an offender doesn’t realize that they have offended or hurt someone.

After 20 years my personal offense against my family has become a painful realization of just how deeply I hurt my family. I never dreamed that my actions would hurt anyone but myself. Now I know, and I owe so many apologies to my family. After I wrote and posted my apologies online, I thought about it, but it was a very sensitive subject to me and my family. I did post it, and then I thought about it. The more I thought, the more I realized that it might bring back some horrible memories for my family. I believe that my children, my stepson(s), my granddaughter does too, but she was so young when this happened she may not remember the incident. My stepson and his wife may read my posts too. He is old enough to remember those dark days. I removed the post. Unfortunately, I destroyed it and wish I hadn’t.

I would have let it go at that, but someone wrote a disturbing comment that concerned me and sounded like a serious cry for help. I want them to see what happens to the family when someone commits suicide. I have to do this for my family because it has taken me more than 20 years to realize the unimaginable agony I caused the ones closest to me. So here goes, I will try to include everything in this letter that I did in the other one that was destroyed.

Dear Family,

I hope that this letter will help you to understand that I now know that I was not the only one who was injured in this horrible act. In the year 1994, I tried to take my life by swallowing 30 hydrocodone and a 20 pack of diphenhydramine. I’m not sure who called the ambulance; I was told that I called 911. First of all, I don’t remember doing that, but I do remember calling my therapist who actually was doing more to hurt than help. I remember calling him to tell him that I had taken all these pills before our session and he never even noticed.

In any case, I ended up in the ambulance with a blood pressure of 230/190.  I don’t remember much after that. I was in and out of consciousness for quite a while. When I was beginning to be more conscious than not, the doctor told me that my husband wanted to talk to me on the phone, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. I said no, but the doctor said that I had to and he was going to bring me the phone so I could talk to him. He had already called several times and was quite worried about me. I did, but I told him that I didn’t want to see him and that I definitely didn’t want to see the kids at all. I said that I didn’t want to have him see me this way. When he asked me “Why?” All I could say is that I couldn’t talk to him about that now and not to come to the hospital. I could talk no more to him so I hung up. I don’t remember what the pills were, but they checked my purse and missed these. When no one was looking, I’d take one after another until they were gone too. The next day I told them and they started running tests all over again.

This was the action I took against myself. I truly believed that it would affect no one but me. Anyone who thinks that way needs help right now. I knew I was in trouble and headed for more, but I didn’t know how to stop it. I could take no more pain, and I really did not want to die, I just wanted to stop the pain of the flashbacks of childhood abuse. I didn’t want to believe that people who told me they loved me could have treated me so badly. I remember wanting to die when I was a child, but I didn’t know why or how to do it.

My husband is a wonderful husband and did everything he could during the 5 1/2 years it took me to just figure out why that happened and how to fix my own feelings about it. He held me when I cried, and we went walking when I wanted to walk. We went to the mountains when I needed to go for a ride, and he held me close to him at all times. He said that he didn’t know what he could do to help me, but I kept telling him that he was helping me more than anyone else could. That was by listening to me and letting me cry on his shoulder until I could cry no more.

Long after I attempted suicide. My nephew, who was never exposed to violence, not even allowed to watch the news while he was growing up. When he turned 18, he went into the army despite all of our beggings and trying to explain what happens in war. He turned a deaf ear since the recruiter had gotten him hooked with the lies of getting an education before having to go to war and by then the war will be over. The bonus for signing up was a ridiculously large amount. He never saw any of the promises they made. He was in Afghanistan but a couple of months and they sent him home. He was in Bethesda Hospital for a while and as soon as he got out, he waited for a train on the deck and threw himself onto the tracks in front of the train.

That was in 2008, and to this day his mother deeply mourns his death. She will never again be the sister I knew and loved. Her own life has disappeared. She mows his grave and the 3 around it so the mowers don’t’ have to come near the grave. She decorates his grave at least once a week. She will take a book and just sit near his grave to be near him 4 maybe 5 hours just about every day. She feels that by mowing the grass herself she is still taking care of him. She compares the mowing as putting clean sheets on the bed. She still lives for him and believes she is still caring for him. Her friends worry, and I worry that she is not letting him die even though she buried him more than 10  years ago. She cannot bear the pain of suicide so she tells herself that he is still there. It’s so very sad. She intends to do this until she dies. This is what suicide did to one mother.

Another sad story is that two different friends actually were the ones that discovered their mother was dead when they got home from school. They were children when this happened. One was able to move on with his life and the other still suffers terribly from nightmares and is sometimes afraid to go to sleep. He still mourns her death and believes that he could have and should have stopped her even though he didn’t know she was going to do that.  Now, these people had family members, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. Think of how they must have felt then and how they feel now. They may appear to have moved on with their lives, but have they really?

As I slowly recovered from these memories that came from nowhere, I did learn a lot about myself and my husband. Years later, I don’t know exactly what triggered my final recognition of how many people I had hurt and became surprised at the ones that weren’t too worried about it. The biggest apology I owed was to my husband. I finally realized how badly I had hurt him and how long he worried that I might try that again. He has stood by my side now for 29 years. We did have a nice long talk about how badly I felt that so many people were hurt over this. I said that it took me this long to realize that the pain people felt was cold, hard, facts.

Our granddaughter said something to me that I believe started me down the path of the truth of the cost that my loved ones paid because of my one selfish act by my own hand.  She was only about 3 or maybe 4 at the time I tried to take my life. Now she was 20+ when she suddenly remembered grandpa playing musical chairs. It was down to our granddaughter, my husband and me. Bill was carrying her because she was so small. When the music stopped, grandpa and our granddaughter got the one chair left. She remembered that, but she asked me where we were when we played that. I had to tell her that I was sick and was in the hospital at that time and she just said “Oh.” No more was asked by her.

I looked at her innocent and trusting face and cried because she would have had me no more in her life. I would have missed out on all of her growing up I would have missed the vacations we took her on, the days and weeks that she stayed with us. I would have missed a lifetime of memories and she would have had no memories of me. I cherish those memories and am thankful that whoever called the ambulance did so in time.

That is what got me thinking about how many people I had to apologize to. I imagined seeing my daughter having to sit down and explain to our granddaughter why I was dead.

I thought about my 2 stepsons that were at home. Bill had me tell the boys why I was in the hospital and why I would be there a while. So I had to tell them over the phone. Neither of them had much to say about it except ask why I did that. I just told them that I didn’t really know. I had many friends where we lived, and I imagined Bill having to tell them why I died. When I thought of these things, I cried myself to sleep that night.

My mother and my father would have been upset the rest of their lives wondering what was so bad that I had to kill myself over. They would have wondered why and if there was anything that they could have done to stop me from that. I was the one who took care of my mom for 16 years while she had Alzheimer’s and until she died. Who would have been here to do that for her? They both died before I could apologize to them.

Then it came down to my husband Bill. He was the very gentle man that I chose to marry because of the way he treated his mother and his kids. He treated me so well too. He truly loved me and in the nine years that we had been married at that time; we had never had an argument where angry words have exchanged that hurt and could not be taken back. One of us always walked away before we got too angry. Then we would go back and discuss it.

This was the most difficult thing I have ever had to apologize for. When I realized how deeply my husband loved me, how much he depended on me to care for the family and all that had to be carried out. If he had me no longer and had to take care of all the affairs, and how much this would have devastated Bill. I could see it then. He would not have been able to bear this happening to him. He had already lost so much in his life; this would have deadened his emotions to the point of physical and emotional paralysis. Then I thought of our granddaughter who loved her grandma and grandpa so much, how would she have fared? She loved us and counted on us to be there for her when her mom and she needed a break from each other, or she just wanted to visit us.

I recently sat down with my husband a few months ago and we talked for a long time. I told him that I was sorry for that one selfish act of attempted suicide I only figured out now how much he would have suffered and it took me this long to figure out that I would have hurt him the most, and why. He listened to me when I talked, held me when I cried, and I listened while he talked and we both cried some more. I apologized for the hurt that I caused him and told him that was one thing I never thought of was the devastation that people would feel over my senseless plans of killing myself. I need to apologize to others that this affected deeply. I have to apologize to my daughters, but that will have to wait for a couple of paragraphs.  This is for JR, you were the youngest, and even though you were my stepson, I have always thought of you as my own. Even though you never saw me as your mother, it’s OK. I never claimed to be your mother. Since I know that this did hurt you in ways I don’t know how still to this day. You saw what was happening to me and I sincerely apologize for the unhappiness and uncertainty I caused in your life at that time. It was more difficult for you than any of the kids. You were at the age that you needed a female figure in your life. Those and the younger years you were my buddy who went just about everywhere I went. I tried as hard as I could after I came home from the hospital. I never imagined it might have affected you at all, but it did and as I began to look at the damage I had done in everyone’s lives, I now understand why suicide is called the most selfish thing that anyone could possibly do. I still love you as my own no matter how you think of me. I was still a mother to you for a number of years, but I know what you think of me as your stepmom. I never expected you to see me any other way.

Jason is not here for me to apologize. It’s too bad that he was hurting so badly that he needed to make the pain go away the only way he knew how. I know that this hurt him at that time in ways I don’t know either. My attempt affected him somehow but I won’t know until the resurrection. He was a difficult child to get to know what he was thinking. It may not seem like it, but at times I felt as if he were my own too. He tried to reach out for help, but I was not able to cope with him at that time. Many times I know you saw me help him when he needed it no matter what. I know that your father didn’t know what to do to help either of you. He’s a good man and loves both of you. I do look forward to seeing him again. We both did the best we could at that time.

Now I turn to my own 2 daughters. TL, I know you were and still are very disappointed in me as your mother and as a person in general. All I can do is what I am able to do. You were living so far away. I don’t know how my actions affected you if it did at all. We have never really talked about it. We have never talked about much at all. You want me to be something I’m not. I’m not a person who needs to call and talk to someone, 3 or 4 times a week. I’m happy to talk to people once every month or two. I could not do what you wanted, it wasn’t me and you expected me to be what I was not.

I know you don’t understand why I am the way I am. You were not around when this thing happened. So I have no idea about your feelings on it. I also know that you don’t care to talk to me, and if that is the way you want it, I respect that because that is how you feel.

LL. You were around when this happened and I’m so sorry that it hurt you probably in ways that I don’t know either. Our relationship was always rocky at best. I know we laughed about that before, but it isn’t really funny. I am sorry that I don’t recognize how this affected you since we are not very close. I would like to talk to you about it after Bill gets into the nursing home. Then we will be able to talk without being interrupted. My apologies for not being there. Thank you for the amount of time that you let J visit us and spend so much time with us while she was growing up. I feel bad that we didn’t have time to have lunch, I’m sure J told you I got pretty sick in Laramie. I won’t be back in CO again. The altitude I can no longer tolerate.

Anything else that I need to say to you, it’s far more private then what I wrote here. I have received a lot of comments on this one article that I would like the 3 of you to read. I have at least two more entries to make in that series, and it will be after JR comes to see and take care of his dad in August. The last post is already done, but I want to know JR is okay with his dad in the nursing home.

It was the most painful apology I’ve ever had to make. After I posted it, I pulled it back off the post and deleted it the next day. I wish I hadn’t done that because it was much better than this one. (I thought)

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