Guilt is the Shadow in the Mirror

May is Mental Health Awareness month and I wanted to share a post written in 2015. Suicide is one of the reasons we need awareness, it can happen to anyone, with or without notice.

Photo by Dids on

All he said is your daddy has done away with himself. I screamed then said I’m on the way. Calling right back to ask were they sure he was dead? Yes. I think years of abuse left a permanent hole in my heart. I go there to do actions requiring no emotions. It’s like autopilot, it has served me well. I started to think about work, and who I needed to call. I’m driving with emergency lights on going 100 mph calling my work team. I stayed on autopilot until I pulled up to my grandparents.

Estranged since a teen, I thought it odd when he started calling. He sounded delusional and extremely paranoid. Nothing made sense, he was not talking in sentences. I pieced together he didn’t have any money and couldn’t work. Why he could not work must have come from the madness.

I would do anything to avoid my granny being hurt. I paid his bills. Over the next several months the phone calls were my hell on earth. He would threaten to kill himself and then go off on what didn’t sound like words. I couldn’t make out anything he was saying as he yelled on the phone. I would keep trying to redirect him back to our conversation. I did not tell anyone what daddy said. He was mentally ill. It had been years since we talked, maybe this was his norm. I didn’t know.

Everyone sitting on the floor when I entered the door. The first words out of my mouth were what he told me. I felt overwhelming guilt, I let my family down. I knew it wasn’t logical but emotions rarely are. My mind scrambled, my father sexually abused me and I’m feeling guilty. I forgave my father, cut him out of my life, paid bills, and feel guilty.

My grandparents and I went to daddy’s the next morning. The disarray would alert anyone that something was wrong. On his coffee table, his lockbox opened with every card I had ever given him, every school photo. The divorce paperwork to my mother laid on the table, his bible open to Job. You could see tear stains on the pages. The house had papers scattered everywhere, dishes piled up, and everything was thrown around. My father had reached the bottom long ago and no one knew.

I found a shoebox full of cassette tapes from recorded phone conversations. It took seven months to listen to every tape. I would have a couple of drinks, listen and cry. Like a tornado in my head, being in the house my sexual abuse took place, daddy putting 357 mag to my head, being a drug addict, and my boyfriend and I planning how to kill my father. These are the times the hole in my heart is useful. Granny didn’t know about the abuse and went to her grave not knowing. To help my granny cope, I would not cry or show emotion around her. I wanted to piece her heart back together. Holding emotions inside extended my grieving process for a long seven years.

A couple of weeks later the morgue called asking me to pick up the gun. Ring the side doorbell, someone brought the original suicide note, autopsy report, and gun with dried blood. My mind could not prepare for reading the autopsy report. Every detail of how he shot himself. The trajectory of bullets, lobes damaged, bones crushed, and exit wounds.

I believe my father died so I could live. Learning about his mental illness pointed me to my own. Thru ancestry, I connected with daddy’s half-brother and several family members. There were over ten suicides in only three generations and many are now with severe mental illness.





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