Monday, June 30, 2014

You have to save YOU.

Good morning Love Birds.
Yesterday, I received some saddeningly ugly news.
A particularly significant ex-boyfriend of mine committed suicide a few days ago.
I haven't seen or spoken to him in years. This boy was not significant because he was still a part of my life--he was significant in the way that someone who altered you--for good AND bad--only can be.
He was not a nice person. I say that knowing full well that, in death, most people find something nice to say. And yet.
He wasn't nice.
He was abusive and dark and selfish and sweet and charming and romantic. Yep, he was "that guy" for me. In so many twisted ways. On my eighteenth birthday, I threw myself out of a dysfunctional home environment into an even more dysfunctional relationship. And from there, it spiraled downward.
Looking back, I can remember knowing that he was damaged. But then, we both were. And although I probably couldn't have put it into these words at the time, I know now that my deepest, darkest secret desire, expectation even, was that we would somehow save each other. I thought we'd be messed up together, get into trouble, toe the line of the law, fall onto the wrong side of it a few times even. But then, we'd drag each other up and out and put each other back together again.
Only, that didn't happen.
One horrible straw led to another and finally, came the LAST straw and then I had no choice but to get away. To stop trying to bring him with me and just GO. I left in the kind of way that felt hard and fast and completely cutting. I haven't spoken to him since. That was 12 years ago.
Then, yesterday, I received the news that he'd shot himself.
It's so, so sad, but for me it was deeper than an unfortunate story in the news of someone I once knew. It's brought to surface all sorts of old feelings. Not the least of which is that feeling of wanting to save him, of wanting him to save me. And in the end, neither one happened.
In the end, I saved myself.
This is not a post about "hey, thanks for being a jerk so I could get motivated to heal my life."
This is not a post about "suicide is so tragic. I wish we'd all done more."
It's just an observation. The choice to be saved from "that other path" is your own. Never anyone else's. You can't blame someone else for your failures. But, fortunately, that means you can't blame someone else for your success either.
In the end, it's up to you.
Today, more than other days, I'm so grateful that I saved myself.


  1. I don't really know what to say to this story, but as you mentioned, I feel like an observer on the outside looking in. I've never experienced this kind of relationship and certainly not to the same outcome. But thank you for saving you! You've suffered a lot in your life, but you've don't allow those sufferings to define you...just enhance who you are. You inspire me in so many more ways than I can even thank you. It's a blessing and honor to know you. You make me work harder, want more. I love following along with you on your journeys, both to places you travel and your emotional ones :) Again, thanks for saving YOU. The world is a better place with Heather Hildenbrand in it <3 Not too many people can own to that.

  2. This is terrifying to me because it seems like something that could happen to me. I had the abusive ex - we got together while I was in high school, he was 21. Stayed together for four years, got married even. I left him, lost almost everything (except the cats), but everything ended up great for me.

    He was not a happy person. I would wake up afraid he had killed himself in the middle of the night. He threatened it all the time.

    I'm glad you got out of that relationship. Nobody needs that toxicity in their life.

  3. I know this story. I passionately loved a boy when I was 18. We eventually broke up, only to come together again during my divorce. A part of me loved him so much I almost didn't notice when the time came that I no longer could continue the dysfunctional relationship with this alcoholic man. That was five years ago, and this last March, I found out that he'd died. It was not suicide - rather the consequence of the drinking destroying his body. So, part of me still loves him, and so there's the wish I could have saved him (not that I didn't try) and there's a tiny part of me that almost wishes that I'd just waited a little longer - maybe it could have gotten better. In the end though, I decided for me. I had kids, and I also decided for them. There's grief, of course, but life is like that some times.

  4. I've been there. I've had that boyfriend. Now he's married with kids and I hope he's not abusing her. I get what you mean, its an're sad, but you're not broken up about it. Its sad to hear anyone dies. If my ex-husband, who was also an abuser, died, I would be sad. He abused my children and myself, but its like he was a part of our lives for a long it still would be sad.

    But it it wouldn't break me apart. A piece of me wouldn't die with him.


    So I get it, and I am sorry that he shot himself. A friend of mine did kill herself last year and it did break me apart. I don't wish that on anyone, the victim nor their friends or family. So I feel bad for your ex's family, too. Suicide is never something easy to deal with. Neither is death itself, but suicide I think is harder.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Heather. You have such a courageous heart. Like you said, in the end it's up to you. Only you can save yourself. Some might think this is terrifying, but I think it's empowering. I'm so encouraged by you all the time.

  6. Oh, Girl On Fire Soulmate, I too know this story well. I dated a boy during a particularly significant part of High School. He was beautiful, and tortured, and troubled, and magical.....and I knew when I left him behind that it was a far better pain than the one he was pulling me toward. A week before my wedding, he shot himself. I attended his funeral...and I was sad. Mostly because his life was so wasted. My heart hurts for you. I keep you, your heart, his soul, and his family in my prayers.

  7. Powerful post. You are so strong to have pulled away from an abusive family and relationship. Suicide is never easy for those left behind--even when that person wasn't really in your life anymore. My cousin had an ex commit suicide and it was very hard on her even though she'd moved on. Thank you for posting.