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It wasn’t about me

Angry Charles in wilderness

As I go through Charles’ song lyrics typing them up, I am struck once again at the level of creative genius and the sheer volume of music that expresses both pain and anger (there are very few published here). Pain from depression. Resentment for the way he was. Anger from having been sent away and put on layaway.

He knew he had a gift that came with a curse. He was so amazingly self aware, yet stubbornly incapable of changing direction to save himself. And yes, there are instances he wants to do that but falls into the trap of numbing himself which he didn’t work.

I can’t argue with him now. Tell him we had no choice but to send him away. He was headed towards the side of a mountain full speed ahead with no stopping. It was the only way to stop him. To save him. At least temporarily.

We were desperate. Did I pick the right place? Probably not. But then what would have been the right place for Charles? I don’t know if that place existed.

He resented God for making him the way he was. And he knew who he was. He knew he wanted help, yet he didn’t want it at the same time. Compliant for a micro second giving us hope, and then stubborn and non compliant as we desperately hung onto hope that he’d follow a treatment plan. As they say, you can lead a horse to water. His inner conflict is so obvious when I read these rap diaries.

It is the pages after pages of agony and emotional pain that hit me the hardest. It helps me understand that saving him was not possible without more investment from him. Investment we’d have never gotten simply because he was so tied to the beat of his own drum, he wasn’t able to follow a path he didn’t carve himself. A true, tortured creative soul, a nonconformist to the core of his very being.

Like most who feel like suicide, he thought the world would be a better place without him. That he was not worthy of it. Other times, just a few, he felt on top of the world. The angry raps spit at you from the page. The ones about love soften and cradle you. The druggie ones drag you into the hole of addiction, pistol whip you and make you feel slimy. The ones about sex make you feel like you’re eavesdropping or should read them with only one eye open.

He felt like a failure even to the point of imagining I said that to him. Of all the mistakes I may have made, I never, ever implied or said he was a failure. Resorting to name calling was never my thing. His self loathing was a result of what he’d done to himself. There is a point, even he acknowledges that. But briefly. Like a passing thought that was merely visiting for a flash.

It was after reading his notebooks, of which I have but a few, that I was able to forgive myself. Because it was then that I started to realize his suicide was not about me.

It was not personal. It was not because of something I did or did not do. It lived in his head, had a life all its own, twisted and tormented him. And my love was not enough to fix it.

Verse for the Lonely – by Charles Aubrey Rogers

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.

10 thoughts on “It wasn’t about me”

  1. Thank you for this post. I still feel like a failure and wish I could have d
    Been a better mom. But it kind of helps to read your feelings and memories of Charles. Hugs 😘❤

    1. Joanna- Step one is just believing you will get to a place where you are not blaming yourself as much. I think we are never completely free of guilt but we do get to a point that we forgive ourselves. I still relapse but catch myself and it does not happen as often as it did.

  2. I know this is no consolation but having his music has allowed you to see his inside his soul..and that is such a blessing in a bittersweet kind of way…Our son once yelled at me, when we were starting to go down that rabbit hole ‘ Connie, f…ing Georgetown ‘…my alma mater….never expected nor asked him to even go to college..a trade or the military was just fine with me…his self hatred unfortunately. ..

    1. It is a gift. And that’s why I’m transcribing lyrics. They’ll be in the book. And you’ll recognize traits in those songs. I think it will help others understand the diseases of addiction and depression (with suicidal thoughts).

      I’m glad you no longer take his barbs personally. It’s hard not to. Greatest gift to myself once I learned that.

  3. Such wisdom and insight, Anne Moss. I hope others who have lost a child to addiction or suicide will read your words and be encouraged as they try to understand their child’s actions, consider how things could have gone differently. Thank you for sharing your family’s deepest hurts as you seek to help others with theirs. ❤️

  4. I feel for Charles so much. Whitten texted me a month before he died, saying he was “defective” and it was “only a matter of time before he failed.” The depression says awful things to them.

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