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The girlfriend

Charles had a girlfriend named Susanna. (Name changed to protect privacy.) Between the two of them, their weight would add up to one average human. So yeah they were both thin people. While he did love her I don’t think he was an awesome boyfriend. Those with substance use disorder rarely are because their addiction makes them desperate and selfish. Deep down that was not who Charles was.

She had gotten clean by the time Charles had relapsed after his first recovery so it was a lopsided relationship at that point with Susanna acting as his primary transportation and everything else he needed. I even saw some tweets prior to his death where he threw barbs at her for having broken up with him. But honestly how long could one be in such an unfulfilling relationship? And it’s not at all fair that he implied she was the root of all his problems. Because frankly, the person at the root of his problems was Charles.

His lyrics reveal a very developed understanding of his issues but he didn’t have whatever skills he needed to work through them. Or he thought he didn’t. When he was using, he could be venomous even though he never said cruel things to or about me.

Here’s what bothers me.

Maybe by writing it I can forgive myself.

Susanna asked us right after he died if she could sleep in his bed. At the time we had a house full for the memorial service. So I said no. But if I remember correctly I treated it as a “weird request” not being as compassionate as I should have been–perhaps not understanding that in her grief, it was a way for her to say goodbye to feel closer to him as the sheets likely still carried his scent even if they had been washed. And why didn’t I let her know when there would an opportunity for her to sleep in his bed in the future?

She truly loved him and was heartbroken. And I admire her for taking the reins on her own recovery and doing what she needed to stay sober.

In my defense, I am looking back at this through the lens of a rational person.

At that time I was watery and unhinged as it was mere days after his death. My son’s body had been stolen and held at ransom, the house was on the market, and I was planning a memorial service. She was hurting. We were hurting. But I have regretted not granting this request. Because we have not spoken since the memorial service and I think she really needed it.

There is so much left unsaid. I have tried to reach out but I can’t make her touch base. Perhaps she thinks I’ll pry for too much information and be too needy? Maybe she just wants to forget it all happened? Does she think I blame her? (I don’t.) I do worry about how she processed this death as well as the recent suicide death of his close friend–one who was also her friend. I ache for that connection and stories she has that I will likely never know.

We all have unanswered questions and unresolved relationship disputes that we cannot control. I have tried. And it’s time I just let it go. But at the same time, leaving the door open in case she wants to get in touch. 🙂

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health 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 addiction 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 mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, 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. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

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