When I was eleven my father died. I remember sitting on the living room couch in my grandpa's lap with my little brother John sitting next to me. My other brother, Matt, was in my mom's lap in the rocking chair in the adjacent corner of the room. John was eight, and Matt was five.
My grandma perched on the coffee table, her hands squeezed into fists in her lap. Her eyes were swollen. I noticed then that Pa-Pa was holding onto me so tight and that mom was hanging on to Matt for dear life, too. I wondered what this meeting was called for. I was scared. I wasn't sure what was about to happen. Then she said it.
Our daddy had died. He died in an accident is all she said. No details. No answers to why or how. The only words floating around in that room were, "We're so sorry, so sorry." I was mad. I was confused. Matt didn't really comprehend anything. John looked at me for guidance from his older sister. I had none to give. I was struck down from my cloud of innocent childhood, plummeting to the earth to land face first in a pile of disappointment. Life was going to be hard from now on. And that is the source of all of my anger, frustration, disillusionment and self loathing. I blamed myself for not being a better daughter.
That "accident" was a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Thank you for sharing this powerful, moving story. When "family secrets" are allowed to remain untold, a lot of unnecessary pain can result. Writing about your feelings, as you have here, can be very therapeutic. I encourage you to continue writing about this and any other traumatic experiences in your life. To learn more, read the book "Opening Up" by Dr. James Pennebaker.
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