How do I forgive myself?

Good morning Faithful Reader – 11/3/2021

As promised, I will be sharing some of my posts in this group to my personal timeline in November as a way to bring about awareness of parents who have lost a child to suicide. This is one such post and no link to this group or mention of anyone here will be made.

How do I forgive myself?

My name is Bob Cristello and my son, Anthony Cristello, killed himself a little over four years ago at the age of 35. I say this to claim my seat here and show my connection with a club that no one wishes to be a member of.

I am probably the least qualified member or our community to speak about forgiveness, especially when it comes to forgiving myself. When people on my timeline read this, they will know and remember what a thug I was even as a young boy. In my journey through grief in the last four years, I came to find a focal point where everything in my life went sideways. I was 13 and it was the last day of 8th grade and I was sexually molested by a male music teacher who had been a father figure and mentor to me for the previous two years. As part of my recovery, I made some public statements in the Brockton High School alumni group hoping to reach out to others who might have experienced the same thing. That journey ended in 1995, almost 25 years later, and I spent a year in a locked unit at the Brockton Veteran’s Hospital.

I know with a certainty that I hold responsibility in the death of my son. For the first two years, people tried to convince me I was just in a depression. While that was true, the truth of who I am as a human being has everything to do with the death of my son and I now appreciate that people just let me feel what I feel and respect that. I had to begin what some programs of recovery call a ‘searching and fearless moral inventory’ and for me it was not pretty. I always ask people not to feel any pity or sorrow for me, because there is a slew of human beings that I left devastated in my wake of self destruction that I can never apologize for. One of them is my son, Anthony.

I will never get over this, I know that now. I will never get past it, around it, through it or under it. I cannot lie my way out of it, smooth talk my way out of it, stand and face it in combat or run away from it. I am left with accepting it. Once I accept it, I can then let go of it for short periods of time. Six weeks ago I got up and got a job because my wife could no longer support us on her income. It was a simple choice, but I had lost the ability to choose anything in my grief except to grieve more. I pray that you find your way to this point because you will be able to look back and see how far you have come.

I did not do this alone. I had the help of many people in this room, sharing this journey of pain and devastation. You have been there when I could not breathe and my vision tunneled and I thought my heart would rip right out it’s chest. But I have hope today and I didn’t have that when I first walked in here. I have hope that some of the people I have hurt, will find peace in their lives. I have hope, that my wife and 8 year old daughter finally have their husband and father back.

Please call someone and tell them you love them today. Thank you, once again, for allowing me to humbly share my gratitude, my hope and my experience with you.

My name is Bob, thank you for letting me share.