From where I do I draw my strength?

pray for the strength to endure life's challenges

I have been asked this question several times since Charles’ death. As a result, it’s been on my mind because I know that others not in this club must wonder how we go on.

I have had many near death experiences that I have mentioned before–a broken neck, an attempted rape and murder at knifepoint, a brain tumor, two brain surgeries and a near lightening strike.

I would have thought this would have groomed me for whatever came my way. The truth is it did not prepare me for watching my son self destruct and his ultimate suicide.

At my worst during the chaos of my son’s mental illness and drug abuse, I was literally falling apart. I remember I would pray that Charles would stop abusing drugs.

But that’s like praying for a pony.

I literally folded up inside myself

Cut myself off from a social life and often lay in my bed at night curled up in a tight ball in absolute agony. For a while, we kept all of our ugliness within the walls of my home and suffered intensely for it.

I suffered most from lack of emotional support. Part of that was self inflicted. Part of it was society’s stigma as it relates to mental illness and addiction. Few wanted to hear about it.

But I got to the point I couldn’t take it any more and that’s when I reached out, attended a support group and started to help myself deal with this emotional chaos.

It was at Families Anonymous when I figured out I shouldn’t be praying for Charles to stop using drugs, but rather praying for the strength for whatever came my way. I learned and appreciated that I could not control anyone but myself. And I learned that addiction and depression are illnesses that I didn’t cause and I couldn’t cure.

Much of my strength comes from recognizing I can’t do this alone

I can’t sit in a silo and find strength. And it won’t fall from the sky into my lap. I have to actively dig for it. I had to learn how to find it.

I also had to learn to ask for help and then accept it with grace. Quite frankly, I draw a lot of my strength from all of you.

You have to know that when I started this blog, I truly had no idea if I would be rejected or accepted in this endeavor. What’s more, I didn’t care at that point. I only knew that shame as it related to suicide was just plain wrong.

But the fact that you have embraced the cause and furthermore invested yourselves in it has helped not only me, but the thousands who have also suffered a loss, endured the stigma of addiction and mental illness. Your comments and your sharing this mission with others gives me strength many days when I am at my bottom.

To date, collectively we have reached hundreds of thousands of people since February 2016. Literally hundreds of thousands. I see that they read your comments as often as they read the post itself. I feel less alone reading them and I know others feel so as well. You are sharing your souls for your own healing as well as the greater good.

Some of my strength comes from within.  Some comes from family and friends and a lot comes from my higher power. Once you define your higher power, you create a foundation from which you can draw strength. Once you recognize and find humility, you can start to heal emotionally.

A higher power is not necessarily “religious” although it can be.  It is spiritual. Your higher power can be mother nature, it can be God, it can be a group of people you love, it can be the energy that surrounds the galaxy and keeps it together.

It’s all about accepting that there is a power greater than yourself

When Charles died,  I already had practice relying on my higher power to help me deal with heartbreaking situations. Sometimes I relapsed to emotional basketcase. Sometimes I got it right and eventually it became habit.

As a result of developing this skill, I am no less sad or depressed. I simply have the toolbox to process my hurt without it pulling me underwater completely.

Some days I have to let the ache and sadness of the loss of my son by suicide wash over me–grief that has now become part of me. I have to ride the waves of grief and let it drop me off when it’s done. While I thought I had control over me. I don’t always have that either.

My loss has given me grief. But also great gifts. Redefining what strength is happens to be one of those gifts.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

16 thoughts on “From where I do I draw my strength?”

  1. Anne, thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing how you experienced lack of emotional support because of self-inflicted isolation. I did the same thing after losing our son to suicide 10 years ago. Thank you, too, for providing such a broad network to support others in this, their time of greatest need. You are a God-send, for sure.

  2. My son gave me your book to read a month ago after attending your seminar in Avon Colorado. I picked it up and put it down after the first 2 chapters only because I could not read thru my tears. Finally I finished it today. I also had a son who committed suicide 1 year 4 months ago (not that im counting) and it was his twin brother that gave me the book to read. I want to thank u for sharing your story, I know it must of been hard, lucky for all of us u did.

    1. Debbie-thank you so match for taking the time to find me and tell me that. I don’t give it to people right after because the first part is hard. And it’s takes those who’ve lost someone to suicide a while to be able to step back and understand the perspective. Funny how it filters down through my readers. It was hard but also cathartic to write. But I feel a real sense of pride and healing from having done it. And then there are people like you who reinforce the reason I did.

      You are still in the raw part. That’s not a long time and I know it still hurts intensely. I am so sorry you lost your son too. But the fact that you are seeking support means you will learn to walk beside grief and incorporate your son’s memory in your life. It has to be hard for a twin brother too. Being a twin makes sibling loss that much harder. I would be curious to know what he thought of the book. If he read it.

      If I can ask, I would appreciate a review. It helps to get in front of those who need it.

      Thank you again.

      1. My son has not read it yet I think I was the guinea pig so to speak. I know u touched his heart at the seminar or he would of never gave me the book u see he does not talk about his brother Tayler to me or anyone that I know of and I think he gave me the book to tell me mom I know your pain not sure though. I do know whatever u said at that seminar let him start grieving just this year so that’s progress and thank u for that.
        P.S. I did do the review and plan on reading the book again after some time has passed

        1. Thank you. Tears. Thank you for telling me that my story gave him permission to grieve.

          Here are a couple of videos Richard, my oldest and a screen writer and film editor in LA, did that I often share at high schools and colleges about his brother’s death. This was four years after. It takes a while before siblings will talk.

          And finally Alex Sims made this website in honor of his twin brother, Christopher, 14, who died by suicide.

  3. I don’t have a toolbox yet. Coming to grips that I will live with this grief forever has yet to settle in and I drown in that thought. I’m still in the phase where I have no idea how I will go on. But you made it. Others have too.

    1. You will survive it. And yes I have and will survive it. Grief changes over time. It starts out so intense and so pervasive. That is not a permanent state of mind. Eventually, you learn to live with it. And it becomes your friend because it’s your connection to the one you lost. But for now, know we are with you. You have a pk e to go where people are in all stages of grief.

  4. Thank you, Anne Moss. You use your gift of communication to bring light into some of that darkness that Charkes wrote about. God bless you.

  5. I agree with Wendy… You are a super hero, Anne Moss. This is (yet another!) important post. You give hope and concrete help to so many. Sending love.

  6. This is such a Perfict day to read this ! I need to read this ! I also lost my son by suicide he used a gun and I am also forever changed and yes I do pray for strength and dream visits , it sure does give me peace for a while then the waves start up again , I too would like to help others go through this for it’s the one thing that is so painful in life and if we can share our stories with others it may save a lot of people’s lives , you are my super hero today thank you so much !!

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