So today’s challenge is to write about the hardest thing I have ever experienced. This is a difficult one for me – not because my life hasn’t been without difficult, horrible experiences but because it is one that could possibly cause triggers for people. With that in mind, Trigger Warning: Suicide.
I grew up in one of the most idyllic places you could imagine. It was a place where children could play safely – until the sun went down – and we did. As I grew into a teenager it became harder to find the fun and when I decided to wait a year after all my friends went to University I found myself, quite suddenly, without the group of support I had had around me since I was 13 years-old.
I had been going to the pub regularly, mainly as the designated driver, for my then boyfriend. He worked with a guy called Paul, and Paul knew how to be fun! We regularly would sit and chat, putting crap songs on the jukebox, whilst my boyfriend and his friends played pool. He was so hilarious and even his stories about his past suicide attempts were told in such a way that it was entertaining. He would tell me about previous relationships and talk about the one he was in currently. He was with a woman who was pregnant when they got together, and he acted as the baby’s father for the first couple of years until he and the mother split up.
I remember one time we were in the pub and my sister was there too. We were putting songs on the jukebox and for some reason Sonique’s song ‘Feels so good’ popped into my head and I put it on. When it came on Paul’s face turned to one of fake disgust, “Eh what’s this hoe?” And I said, “Was it not the song you used to listen to?” “Yeah – with my ex! You’re such a bitch.” All said with smiling eyes and a laugh in his voice. This then lead to us all laughing about how awful I was, in a very loving way.
I moved to Edinburgh in August 2003. Still went up North regularly and would meet up with Paul and my sister. In 2004, Paul was due to turn 21. My sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) went to his party at his parents house but I was in Edinburgh. I tried to call him at Midnight to say happy birthday but he didn’t answer.
The next morning I received one of the worst phone calls I ever have to date. It was my mum, and it was early. I knew it was going to be bad but I didn’t know how bad. I can still hear my mum’s voice, the sadness, the sorrow and the pain. She had to tell me that Paul had committed suicide on his birthday night. My sister and her boyfriend had tried to find him to say goodbye the night of his birthday but they couldn’t find him, turns out Paul had hung himself in the barn on his family property. He did it somewhere he knew his dad would find him. There was no note. It still makes my heart sad that he’s gone. I can’t listen to Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to you because it was played at his funeral. And even that Sonique song still makes me think about him – 14 years later.
It was the most difficult thing to have happened to me because I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I wasn’t going to see him again or hear him shout ‘Bad Little White Girl,’ as I came into the old man bar. Watch him smoke his way through 40 cigarettes a night or drink the triple vodkas that he tanked after a shift at work. I visited his mum once after his funeral, it was sad but I think it was very cathartic for both of us.
According to the Choose Life website, the statistics for suicides in Scotland, the number of suicides in 2015 was 672, compared to 728 in 2016, with two and a half times as many men than women committing suicide! It is so important to seek help before it gets to that stage, and I know this is easier said than done but if you are feeling suicidal and you can reach out then do.
That’s me for now, I’m going to go reflect on him for a bit, and actually I’m heading up North this weekend, so I will most likely go visit his grave. It’s been a while.