• David Sales

It Wasn't About Love

When another person lost to suicide or overdose, brought on by mental illness or addiction, it lands harder lately. It is just so damned sad.

I feel deeply for the loved ones, left to deal with grief, heartbreak, and confusion. It is heartbreaking, but I find my thoughts always return to the person lost. Unique suffering, unending and exhausting, defeated by finality. I understand such darkness, the weary fight, and the slow expenditure of mental ammunition. Once spent and defenseless, the horrible clarity of a single remaining choice offers peace. Some of us, saved only by an inability to act, an intervention, or twist of fate, survive to process our own journey and experiences.

I have wanted to write something for a very long time. Maybe today is finally the right time, as the thought of it has taken up residence in my head lately. This part of me, this shy part that feels the deepest love, often hides deep inside until he knows what he wants to say. I struggle with this part of me because to write about it as it opens the door to my deepest sadness and regret, which is a place I can only visit for a short while. My heart breaks when I am here and it often overwhelms me.

It is tough because on one hand; I know that loving someone with mental illness and/or addiction is impossible. It causes pain, frustration, anger, confusion, resentment and often it leads to a level of toxicity that requires the removal of that person from your life. When you love a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or friend deeply, there is usually a point where one thinks if they really truly loved me, they would change or get clean - get help and dammit just try harder. Each relapse or step back, further justifies this belief. I get it, I really do.

Maybe this is true. Perhaps this person is just plain old awful, unloving, and so self-centred they are incapable of feeling anything for anyone other than themselves. However, that this is very rare. As suicide is more commonplace in the recovery community, it has blessed me to have had deep conversations over the past number of years with several people who later died by suicide or overdose. Each one faced their own internal and unique demons, but not one of them felt this way about the people they loved. Not the people they hurt, not the people they took advantage of, and not the people they lied to. In fact, I found a bond with them because they all experienced love powerfully and suffered from the perceived loss of it. In my experience, they were all stripped down to their core, beautiful people who lost in deep emotional pain. They hurt... and hurt people - hurt people. No matter how broken they were... they loved.

For me, as I wound my way toward my day of finally giving up, love was all I thought about. Every hour of every day, I spent grieving the loss of it, longing for it, and breathing in the self-hatred I thrust upon myself for my part in losing it. It wasn't just the emotional sadness, my heart hurt in my chest as the last threads holding it together broke away. I cried endless tears over each person I loved. I cried for my kids, the person I wanted to share a lost future with, and for a family that had tried so hard to help me. I thought of nothing else as I slowly slipped away.

If I had not survived, that anyone would carry on thinking I didn't love them enough is still a crushing thought. My spiral into insanity had nothing to do with how much, deep within my broken heart, I loved them all. I couldn't show it, at least not in the way they may have needed, but it was always there.

I am one of the lucky ones, able to express long silenced love. While I only really know what I went through, I believe that most who were not as fortunate as myself deeply loved those they were leaving. To think otherwise seems an unnecessary burden to carry as we grieve for those gone too soon.

Much love to everyone, wherever you are in your journey.