Guest Posts, Surviving

What my Mother’s suicide taught me

March 25, 2016

By Liz Goodchild

I still look for her, even after all these years. I scour crowds, searching for her face, hoping to catch a glimpse of her thick-rimmed glasses, the same glasses that helped to identify her when she was removed from the railway tracks. And yet I know that she is gone. That I will never see her again.

She was tall. Much taller than me. She carried herself with such dignity and determination and yet depression drenched her bones with every step she took. I only knew her as a child and teenager, and yet I am an adult now. How has it been fifteen years since I last saw her?

I was 18 when she died, when she ended she own life. There were no goodbyes or I love you’s. One day she was here, and the next day she was gone. I often wonder where ‘gone’ is exactly. It seems almost impossible to me that life can flicker with the intensity of a burning flame only to extinguish itself so easily with one final breath.

I spent a long time feeling numb. Unable to grasp hold of the grief that knocked on the door moments after I was told that she had died. It was too much, to feel, to face my life without her in it. She had been by my side since the day I was born. She’d held me in her arms and loved me with all the love that she had. And yet it was that same love that wasn’t enough to keep her here. “Was I not enough?” It was a question that plagued my twenties and I looked for the answer on dance floors at 4am, in shots of vodka, and in long workdays. I began traveling, trying to get away from the home I once knew. The home that was now just tiny, unrecognizable fragments of family life. It was too painful to stay and yet the pain never got easier, no matter how many miles stood between me and the aftermath of her suicide. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that what I was really trying to move away from was myself. And that in every country I stepped foot in, there I was: hurting, pining, alone. Dragging a bag of “I Am Not Enough” around with me, mad at the world – surely it owed me something for taking her away?

It was in a chair, sitting opposite my therapist, years later, when I realized that the world owed me nothing. The words she said hit me. “Liz, your mum died. That is a fact. It happened. Everything from this point on is a result of your thinking about that what happened.”

And she was right. So right. I was choosing to allow my mum’s death to dog me. Because, deep down, it felt good. To not have to take responsibility for some of my own issues. To play the victim. To tap-dance the ‘Poor Liz, her mum killed herself, no wonder she’s so fucked up’ routine. And we all do it, don’t we? In some area of our life. We duck out and hide away, holding up the red card the moment life takes a twist and knocks us to our knees. We stay down there because it feels good to be small again. To not have to be an adult, to shirk away from what it takes to get back up. And yet when we don’t get back up it costs us in so many ways. Our self expression and aliveness fades, our creativity and productivity never gets the opportunity to surface, our affinity and love for others is tarnished, our happiness and integrity slips through the net.

Our humanness, our connection, our potential is squandered by playing it safe.

We have a choice in how we live our lives. No matter what happened in the past.

And I chose to get back up.

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An ultra-endurance athlete and coach, Liz recently left London city life for rural Germany – a decision that she describes as extremely incredible and extremely terrifying (mostly because she can barely speak German and can’t seem to get the hang of driving on the other side of the road.) Always one for challenging herself and diving in at the deep-end, she writes with fervent honesty over on her Facebook page {facebook.com/lizgoodchild.co.uk}. Her writing  has also been featured in Women’s Running Magazine, The Metro Newspaper and Tiny Buddha.

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Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a special Mother’s Day weekend retreat in Ojai Calif, May 6th, 7th, & 8th, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

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