It has been over two years since Steve took his own life. Some days are better than others, however, for the past month, I have been sliding into a pit of despair. Just as it was with Steve, it is the same for me; things are not always as they seem. Friends tell me I look good and they are proud of my ‘strength’, but, in reality, I am barely keeping my head above water some days. This is in spite of doing all the ‘right things’; yoga, exercise, meditation, being grateful for what I have, trying to live in the moment, etc.
As I reflect on the past month, I believe I know why I have regressed. I had finished a video to promote Steve’s story (Slipped Away) and to raise awareness for mental health issues and suicide. I also created a second edition of Slipped Away to correct some cosmetic mistakes and typos which required me to proof the book by reading it line by line many times. Both the video creation and book proofing caused me to re-live what I went through in the days leading up to Steve’s suicide. But, I think what finally pushed me over the edge was searching Steve’s computer and reading documents Steve had written in the tumultuous two years prior to his death.
In his writings, Steve was filled with self hate and loathing, questioning everything in his life, decisions he made or didn’t make. This included his doubts about our relationship. In more than one document, he indicated that he felt that I loved him more than he loved me and he was indecisive about leaving me. This just tore my heart apart. I became so angry with Steve and I wanted to tear up all my photos of him and of the two of us. However, I thought that might be something I might regret, so I decided to pack all of our pictures away in a box. I even had to change my computer wallpaper which was a photo of the of us from a happier time, as I could not stand the sight of the two of us, seemingly so much in love.
I was so down and depressed, I decided I needed to speak to a mental health professional who knew Steve to help me try to make some sense of Steve’s actions and words. The doctor explained to me that more than likely, it was the nature of Steve’s mental illness that was consuming his mind and filling his head with the obsessive, self deprecating thoughts that he was having. Steve could no longer think logically or rationally.
In the end of 2012, someone (In my opinion, this person was a narcissistic sociopath with ulterior motives) wrote a lengthy letter to Steve, basically attacking his character and ethics. The letter was filled with hateful lies and false accusations. Sadly, in his fragile state, Steve could not see through the intentions of this individual and took everything that was said to heart and he would repeatedly beat himself up believing that all the mean and cruel statements were true. While this letter in and of itself was not the cause of Steve’ s suicide, I do believe it rapidly accelerated Steve’ s slipping away from us. Then, of course, others sensed Steve’s weakness and the vultures began to circle. There was a lot of cannibalistic behavior exhibited by others during Steve’s final two years of life. As Steve’s head coach said in Chapter 2 of Slipped Away, this behavior did truly happen and in other cases, the behavior was perceived by Steve as such. It is no wonder Steve could no longer think clearly.
Since it serves no purpose other than to make for some gossipy reading, I choose to remain silent for now, about the details of what went on in our lives for the two years leading up to Steve’s suicide and the months after. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around and I do believe in Karma.
Re-living all this pain and collateral damage brought on by Steve’s mental illness has once again left me with so many unanswered questions. Did Steve and I have a great love story or did I make it all up in a fantasy of mine, clouded by grief? Are Slipped Away, my Facebook page and website tributes to Steve all a sham?
My conclusion? As I look back at all the photos and stories from the book and Facebook postings, out of the 33 years we were together, I truly believe for 31 of those years, there was a great love story until the disease eventually took over Steve’s mind and he became so tortured, he could not think straight any longer. He loved me…