First of all, I’ll try not to ramble…no promises, though.
Growing up, my biggest fear was my parents telling me that they were getting a divorce. I vividly remember being 8 or 9 years old, lying in bed one night bawling because my parents had gotten into an argument and I thought “this is it, they’re getting a divorce”. It terrified me.
The next morning my mom walked in my room where I was still anxious about their (looking back now) petty argument. My mom looked at me and said, “son, I wouldn’t take all the money in the world and a farm in Texas for your daddy”. My dad then walked in and also assured me that that was totally out of the question. He spoke of faith, the promise and bonds of love, and marriage on a religious level. He was/is a preacher. After that day I never once thought or worried again about my parents getting a divorce.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. As mentioned, my father was a preacher. Not a Joel Osteen preacher, but a preacher in rural America of a church that averaged 120 people on Sunday morning. Our family vacations usually weren’t too extravagant, we didn’t have the newest cars, gaming systems, clothes, etc. but we had each other and it was all we needed.
Fast forward a few years and my father feels that god has called him to run for sheriff and combat the drug problem our community was facing. For the next 8 years, he was sheriff of our rural county.
In those 8 years, he became “everyone’s somebody”.
He was the community’s counselor
He was who everyone called when they had a problem
He was still preaching nearly every weekend
He became, moreso than before, everyone’s counselor
Everyone’s person to talk to.
He was soooo looked up to in our community it was unreal.
One night while I was riding with him, we got in a shooting, where long story short, he shot and killed a man. After this we watched his mental health take a turn for the worst.
How do you go from being a minister to shooting and killing a man? “For the last 30 years I’ve saved peoples lives…I’ve given people life by leading them to the lord…tonight I killed a man” he said, weeping on the way back to HQ for a debriefing.
Over the next several years he spoke to us about his mental health. PTSD and general anxiety became a very real subject in our family. While still a minister, my dad began heavily drinking. Mixing jack Daniels with Xanax, Zoloft, and ambien isn’t a good combo- by the way.
Fast forward to this past November, I was out at a bar with some friends. My dad calls to tell my that his father, the only grandfather I’ve ever had, has a very advanced and aggressive lung cancer. My world came crashing down around me and I instantly felt more depressed than I ever have. We weren’t too awfully close- and that was the worst part. All of the regret.
Doctors say he has about a year…6 weeks later we have his funeral.
Fast forward again to 2 days after Christmas, my parents call all of us (myself and siblings) to the house. I was thinking “they’re going to tell me one of then have cancer”
“I just lost my grandad, now I’m going to lose a parent”
The last thing I was expecting however, was to pull up to their house and see my mom (who is a saint), broken down on their couch…a bag of her clothes in front of her.
She looks at us and tells us that things haven’t been good for them, she loves my dad and doesn’t want to do this, but he wants a divorce.
My whole world, again, crashed around me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Literally, the last thing I expected to hear.
She goes on to tell us that my father is also suicidal and has come close to killing himself several times over the last few weeks.
I could keep rambling- but I’ll try to sum it up.
My worst fear is here, staring me in the face. As a grown man I never expected it to hurt me this bad, but it’s not just the divorce. Knowing my father- my superhero, in my eyes- the strongest man in the world, wants to die. Not even that, he wants to die at his own hand.
My mother doesn’t want a divorce at all…she has no family other than her in laws, children, and grandchildren. She is going to be so lonely, now in a rather large house all by herself.
I think of her sitting at home alone at night crying and I literally hurt for her.
I typed all that to ask, what’s next? How do I work through this? I can’t sleep because I’m in fear that I’ll wake up to a text saying my dad has killed himself. I have dreams about the night we were in a shooting and instead of the typical outcome (in the dream I always have, I’m shot in the back then wake up), I dream that my dad is shot and killed.
I have anxiety 24/7 thinking about how hurt and lost and lonely both of them are. I’ve tried praying, I’ve tried working out (I’m an avid gym goer anyways), and lately I’ve been drinking more which I know is no good and is even causing problems between my fiancé and I.
I was driving around last night and literally told God that I didn’t want to kill myself, but if I never woke up I would be fine with that
I’m sorry for ranting and Making this so long, but I don’t have many people to talk to about this outside of my immediate family.