"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Letting Go of Blame

When Julie died, besides being completely devastated, I was pissed.  That's right, along with all the usual emotions that follow a suicide, I was angry!  Angry at her, angry at myself, but most of all, angry at her so-called friend/sometimes boyfriend B.  I held him more than a little responsible for her death.  

Their relationship was rocky from the word go.  They met at work, where they both worked in the same office for a while.  He lied to her almost from the very beginning.  She wasted two years of her life on him, something I repeatedly reminded her of.  She knew it was an unhealthy relationship, but held onto it because she was terrified of having no one.  In her mind, something was better than nothing, and she gratefully accepted whatever crumbs he tossed her way.  

We would spend hours on the phone together discussing their relationship.  There were many late night and early morning phone calls where I tried to console a weeping, devastated Julie after she'd confirmed the latest lie from B, driving by his ex-girlfriend's place to see his car there after he'd made up an elaborate lie as to why he couldn't spend the weekend with her.  He was a master at building up her expectations and then disappointing her at the last minute.  

She knew exactly what he was doing to her, but seemed powerless to resist his manipulations.  She would tell me she knew she was acting "crazy" but she couldn't help it.  Many, many times she broke it off, which always made him redouble his efforts.  He's that guy.  The type that thrives on drama and love triangles--manipulative, arrogant, deceitful and narcissistic, but to the outside world the perfect gentleman.  In Julie he found the perfect match, a person desperate for love and acceptance who was in a difficult place in her life, struggling with mental illness, not eating or taking care of herself, and self-medicating with alcohol.  It was the perfect storm and had devastating consequences.

Something went down between Julie and B that last week before she died.  I'll never know exactly what, but I know they talked more than once that week, and had lunch or dinner together just a few days before her death.  It was always easy to tell when she'd "fallen off the wagon" and had contact with B, because she'd become uncommunicative with me and the rest of the family.  She so badly wanted to believe whatever line of bullshit B was feeding her, and didn't want me or anyone else to confront her with the fact she was being manipulated by him. Again.  

I'm convinced her fatal cocktail of booze and pills was a desperate attempt to get his attention, to make him realize how much he was hurting her.  He was dating some new younger girl who lived in the same apartment complex as Julie.  The long Memorial Day weekend was approaching and she dreaded spending it alone.  B didn't have the good grace to just end things completely with her and stay out of her life.  He messed with her like a cat messes with a mouse.  His position in IT at work meant he knew how to get into her email accounts, and he did.  He'd reference things that she'd talked about with others only in emails.  He invaded her privacy, he tormented her, making even work a place where she couldn't be free from his games.  

Even before her death, I fantasized about sending thugs to take B out in a dark alleyway.  I'd always disliked him and the way he treated my sister, and all women for that matter.  He needed to be taught a lesson.  After her death, my dislike of him turned into full-on rage.  When he showed up at her apartment shortly after the police did (Hmmm, weird that he felt compelled to go check in on her, and weirder still that he refused to tell the police why he'd gone there) I freaked out from 600 miles away and insisted the police make him leave.  He was told that he wasn't welcome at her funeral.  If I'd seen him I was afraid of what I would do.

For months afterwards I fought back the urge to call and ask him for a full, truthful accounting of what had gone down between the two of them that last week, and especially the last 24 hours before Julie died.  I poured through the police and coroner's reports, looking for clues. They only left me with more unanswered questions. I know he could shed light on her state of mind. I also know he won't tell the truth.  He's incapable of it.  I desperately wanted to confront him with everything I knew about how he'd treated her and make sure he understood that his treatment of her wasn't without consequence.  I needed him to know in no uncertain terms that he'd contributed to her final breakdown, and that I held him partially responsible for her suicide.  I longed to know he felt the same depth of pain and loss that I did.  I wanted him to understand that his callous behavior had caused mortal pain to an already very wounded spirit.  I wanted him to hurt as deeply as Julie had.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago while reading this blog post, Ravi and Clementi about the recent case where a college roommate was on trial for his actions that contributed to his roommate's suicide, that I realized I no longer cared about B.  Where before there had been such strong feelings, now I can barely muster a whimper of caring.  It simply doesn't matter anymore.  Placing blame is futile.  Do I think B's treatment of Julie contributed to her state of mind that led to her suicide? Absolutely. But so what? I'm not the judge and jury.  How he's dealt with her death and whether he's acknowledged his role in it is his problem.  If I passed him on the street today, I'd probably look right through him.  He isn't a person I want to waste one second of my time or energy on.  

Blame, guilt, rage, and anger are all natural responses after a suicide.  So is forgiveness.  Two years ago forgiveness seemed unimaginable to me.  How would I forgive such an unforgiveable act?  Today, not only have I forgiven B, I've forgiven myself and most importantly, I've forgiven Julie.  Holding onto my rage and blame was holding me back.  Now I'm free to move forward with understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.  


  1. That is a very powerful and hopefully healing post, Keicha. You wrote the whole thing from your heart, and you didn't spare yourself. I am so glad you are free from any kind of feeling towards him, who deserves nothing more from your family. My heart goes out to you for the incredible loss you are dealing with. Peace, blessings, and love to you.

  2. Im so glad you have been able to get through your anger and rage at him and to forgive and go on. Its a big and important step forward. The depth of your anger was a concern. Now you can feel better and more peaceful about everything. Dealing with the loss of your sister is enough for you to deal with.

  3. Oh, Keicha. What a gift you have shared with us by recounting this combination of feelings, background and passion. Indeed, forgiveness in itself is a gift to yourself, a gift we don't realize we need to give ourselves until it has been given. You have no idea how much I admire your, not only for being able to forgive, but to share this deeply personal part of your life. Thank you, my friend.


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