4 Weird Things That Happen To You When A Love(d) One Kills Themselves

4 Sep

chloe sagal suicide

Someone I used to be in love with and lived with for two years took her life. Depending on the sort of story you were expecting, this could be seen as a beginning or ending. For me it still seems like some sort of limbo, moments and feelings trapped in amber that I can see but not touch. Hopefully writing about it will help me move forward.

This isn’t news to anyone that follows me online through either my own social media and posts, or filtered through your favorite online stalking/roasting site/FB group. From Fall 2014 to Fall 2016 I was in a tumultuous relationship with video game designer Chloe Sagal, and we lived together for much of that time. We separated during a particularly tense eviction, where I moved to downtown Portland to prepare for an impending surgery and she moved elsewhere with another of her partners. I ceased contact shortly afterward, and heard little from or about her until she hobbled into a downtown Portland park and set herself on fire to protest her lifetime struggle with inadequate and unsympathetic mental health care.

And then things got weird.

I found myself lamenting that there really isn’t a whole lot of advice out there for this sort of situation. What do you do with yourself and your thoughts and your pain? Everyone has hot takes about why this happened, but you don’t hear many stories from/about those left behind. So here we are.

I figure this could be a good resource for a lot of people, even if you don’t literally have Washington Times journalists openly wishing on Twitter that you would also commit suicide.

chloe sagal suicide

1) Your Memories Are A Fuck

I mean, this isn’t the first time I lost an ex. A guy I used to date when I was much younger drank himself to death around his 30th birthday. Another ex of mine (another trans woman in the video game industry) passed away peacefully during a camping trip. This isn’t even the first time I lost a loved one to suicide; I’ve brought up more than once on this blog my uncle that killed himself when I was a pre-teen over his inability to reconcile being gay with his Christian faith. It’s not like I don’t still have unprocessed and complicated feelings about them all, most of all about never being able to say goodbye.

This one is different, because my relationship with Chloe was… not great a lot of the time. She screamed and hit walls and could be very threatening. She broke a lot of my stuff, specifically targeting things she knew had sentimental value like childhood possessions. She would send harassing messages to people I cared about and in the end was sending nasty messages my way as well. It got to where I woke up in a panic when I heard her typing in the wee hours of the morning creating a new manifesto. I wondered who was targeted next, what damage control would I have to devote my day to rather than my own life.

But she also wrote songs about me. Not just full romantic ballads, but little ditties she would make up while I was cooking dinner or cleaning the room. She would riff off of themes songs of shows we watched together, cuddled under the covers, when things were good. We had a whole language of in-jokes and references. She always looked better in my clothes than I did. I still remain convinced she was one of the most effortlessly brilliant artistic minds I was ever blessed to spend time with and be inspired by.

I fell in love with her while she sung “The Calendar Hung Itself” by Bright Eyes to me. Honestly that should have been a red flag this would not end well, but I was starry eyed. This shit is complex.

I don’t think she was a bad person, or a martyr. I think she got so accustomed to online abuse from the fallout from her GoFundMe incident that she compulsively sought out negative attention over positive. She was so terrified of ever completing a project because of anticipated backlash she just devoured herself like a snake eating its tail.

2) People Show Up Out Of Fucking Nowhere

chloe sagal suicide

I found out what happened on my birthday, when a reporter contacted me for a statement. I was on my way to a date with a guy at a club so I said I would give a statement first thing tomorrow. He got me so drunk I overslept and never contacted the reporter.

I got an email from him the next day giving his condolences. I hadn’t told him during the date, he had Googled me and found mention of it on a roasting site. He concluded by admitting he had a wife he didn’t tell me about. That meant, he insisted, that future dates would have to be more discreet since he was now aware of people watching my social media. I deleted his number from my phone.

Happy Birthday To Me.

Those first few days I got messages from probably a thousand people. Limiting it to supportive messages, it was still broad swaths of individuals with widely varying connection to me. People I was on good and bad terms with. People I hadn’t spoken to in months or years, and some I honestly never wanted to speak to again well before this.

The messages came so frequently I barely had time to formulate how I was feeling, much less summarize it. A lot of vague offers of “support” “if I needed anything” that I had no idea how to respond to. Even a handful of folks that genuinely seemed to be looking for an odd sort of absolution. Like I could pat them on the head and be like “well fine I forgive you,” and give them closure.

Fuck that, when do I get closure?

3) The Narrative Becomes A Disaster

People are still actively talking about her on Twitter. Everyone has their pet story about what happened. I see articles written in like Portuguese that have photos of a completely different ex of mine in them because a right-wing blogger fucked up the Google Image Search for her in a hitpiece. People use her death to make a point scolding other people using her death to make a completely different point.

A month ago, a Canadian balladeer I hadn’t heard of previously wrote a song with her name in the title and I realize this is bigger than I can comprehend. Like, she’s not the person I lived with and woke up next to and she’s not the person I had to separate myself from. This whole thing is bigger, even to people that never even met her. She’s now a symbol, a metaphor. A horrible, grisly death turned to legend that means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

In a way, kinda got what she wanted; people talking about what she went through. People taking it seriously. For the rest of us, however,

4) You Never Stop Wondering What This Means

chloe sagal suicide

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and end. Something bad happens, and you learn something and grow stronger. Ghosts haunt you, and you put them to rest and you both benefit.

Otherwise you just… sit there.

Do you let go? What does “letting go” mean? Is it better, is it required of me, to preserve the good she has done over the bad? How much responsibility do I have for sustaining her legacy?

Why did this happen? What’s the lesson here? What’s the next step? How do I put this ghost to rest?

Do you ever get to find out?

Does this story ever actually end?

Article Feature Image: Tristen, Flickr

Advertisements

4 Responses to “4 Weird Things That Happen To You When A Love(d) One Kills Themselves”

  1. All About Life September 5, 2018 at 2:27 am #

    No, it doesn’t end, you don’t let go, you just get better at dealing with it that’s all. I’m so sorry for your loss and sorry that I can’t say anything more positive than that. x

    • destroyedforcomfort September 5, 2018 at 2:30 am #

      It’s fine. Eventually it won’t hurt so much. I appreciate you checking in!

  2. Stephanie Weil September 5, 2018 at 7:31 am #

    Thanks for writing this. I saw it last night – got news my friend from up the block was found dead (apparent suicide in the second bedroom) by her wife yesterday morning.

    I know it’s not quite your situation but…..yeah….. *fist bumps in solidarity*

  3. Dave Stevenson September 5, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    Very moving post, Rani.

    Dave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: