Category Archives: grief

goodbye, redux

I just clicked the categories for this post.  I usually do that at the end, but for some reason I changed it up today.

Divorce.  Group.  Grief.

Last night at divorce group, we talked about grief.  When the facilitator opened the class and mentioned the topic, some jokes were made about how we needed to have boxes of tissues out.  Little did we know.

The task of the evening was to write a letter saying goodbye to our former partner and the things we miss.

Oh, I thought.  I’m way ahead here.  I’ve already done this.

About two months ago, at the suggestion of my therapist, I wrote a letter of sorts.  It started out as an accounting of the things I miss, but turned into an inventory of the things I don’t miss.  It was helpful at the time, and I thought that, well, I had already done the exercise.  I decided to participate in my “small group” (four participants and a volunteer-leader who has gone through the class before) as a way of being a good sport.  I’m nothing if not a good sport.

I didn’t really think I’d have much to write in the twenty minutes allotted, but somehow I filled up both sides of the paper I had been given.  Somehow.

And this time, it didn’t turn into a listing of what I don’t miss.  Somehow I was able to hold the space, and think of the beautiful moments.  I remembered that many of them were tainted by our dysfunction, either then or later, but somehow I was able to write out my grief for what I had lost, and not shift into protest mode.

The time was up, all of us in a suspended space.  I heard someone in one of the other small groups start to talk.  Then, my group’s leader told us we would then be reading our letters aloud to each other.

Say what?

It was very difficult to read my letter aloud.  I had no idea that what I had been writing was not to be for my eyes only.  Reading the letter, hearing my own voice speak what was in my heart was much more difficult than simply writing it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about letting go.  Mr. X dominated 6 years or so of my life while we were together, and he has dominated this last year since we’ve been apart.  A large part of me is saying “enough already.”  As I wrote last night, and as I read my words aloud, I felt a bit of him slip out of my grasp.

Before we split into our small groups, our facilitator played a song for us.  As soon as I heard the first notes, I recognized it.  In almost any other setting, at almost any other time I might have thought it was too corny for words.  Somehow, last night, it fit.

real

So I was very antsy tonight.  I was watching a DVD on my computer (Nurse Jackie, if you’re interested), but I kept pausing it about every five minutes or so to check Face.book, to check Bloglines, to get a snack, to open the fridge and stare blankly at it’s contents before closing the door, to check the laundry, to do nothing.  I had had kind of a down feeling all evening (actually, since the afternoon), and the good part is that it feels different than it felt before, I could just notice it, it didn’t engulf me.  Still, it was there, and I kind of wondered what it was about, but not too much, I mean, not to the point that I actually tried to figure out what was going on.  Right.

So I was away from the computer and the DVD for a few moments and it hit me, square between the eyes:  I miss him.

And I don’t have to remind myself that I’m so glad to not be with him, and I don’t have to remind myself of how awful it could be to live with him, to be tethered to him, because that part never leaves me.  I don’t forget that part.

What I forget is that I had fun with him.  What I forget is that the most exciting times of my life were spent with him.  What I forget is that I was in love with him.  What I forget is that I’m probably still in love with the person I thought he was.

For about a week or so I’ve been having these really good memories of X and me.  Memories that make me happy to remember them.  Very bittersweet.  Memories of feeling happy with him.  (And again, no need to remind anyone of who he really is, and what he really did, because that’s the part that doesn’t go away.)

It’s been kind of amazing to reconnect with the happy pieces, because, well, without them it’s like the six years or so we were together just becomes a black hole, pages ripped out of a diary.

I was talking to my friend, Cherry, about this earlier this week, about how I’ve been remembering good things, and not feeling awful about it.  She said, good, this is more real.

Real.

The thing is, it’s so much easier not to miss him.  It’s so much easier just to focus on the waste, on the sadness, on how much I have left to heal, on how much he took from me.  That’s easier, believe it or not.  To only see the shadows of our time together.

That’s easier, because then I don’t have to miss him.  I don’t have to miss how it felt to share so many inside jokes with him.  How I would just say a couple of words, and he would know the whole story behind them.  How it felt to laugh with him.  How it felt when we were happy.  How good it was when it was good.

But this is real.  This isn’t a fairy story where things are strictly “good” or “bad.”  This is not black, is not white.  This is starting to see the picture as a whole—the shadows, the light, the color, the darkness.

And it’s sad.

And sometimes it feels like such a waste.

And I know I have much left to heal.

And I know that he took so much from me.

And I miss him.

feeling it

Sorrow.

That’s the word my Needle Lady had for it today.  I had been using the word depression, mostly trying to describe how I was feeling (loss of interest in just about everything, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating) and less to diagnose myself.

Sorrow is probably more apt.

And I hear the words coming from somewhere in my mind, telling me I’ve mourned long enough, stop moping, what’s wrong with me?  Strange, the thoughts seem to have the voice of Mr. X—well, fuck him, as my Needle Lady said, shaking me loose a bit with her choice of words.

Why now, though?  I’ve definitely been through peaks and valleys, so why such a valley now?

I think receiving get (Jewish divorce) has a lot to do with it.  That was truly the end.  The end of all the legal ties to Mr. X.  There are no more papers to sign, no loose strings to tickle my consciousness.  It’s done.

And it’s sad.

This whole divorce was absolutely, 100% the right thing.  No doubt.  But it’s still sad.  And I am still learning how to deal well with sad in my life.  Generally, I’m more comfortable brushing it aside, covering it up, putting the lid back on the pot.  And I know, I know, it doesn’t go away like that.  It will only move on when I stop jerking my hand away, when I allow myself to open the door and feel it.

So I’m trying to feel it.

I’m a bit overwhelmed, as I’m a little out of practice at facing uncomfortable feelings head-on.

But it doesn’t have to be perfect, I suppose.  It just has to be felt.

A line I’ve quoted here twice before seems apt today:

“There are some feelings about which there is nothing to do.  Some bad feelings simply need to be felt.  Only after you begin to feel them will you be able to find enough inner comfort to address them.”*

*from this book

anniversaries

Posting has been a bit light lately, perhaps because I’m starting to feel like a bit of a broken record here.  You know: happy, sad, happy, sad, ad nauseum.

What happens is I’ll start to feel really good and hopeful and all that and then, in the way of grief, I’ll step back into the mourning again.  The thing is, after getting a taste of happiness, something in me fights so hard against feeling the sadness and anger again.  It’s like part of me thinks that if I ignore my feelings enough, they’ll go away.

And this has never been the case with me.  Ignored feelings just seem to ferment and double in size like some kind of grief-dough.

A year ago, things in my marriage started their final downward spiral.  The abuse got more and more overt and the bearable times got more and more rare.  It seems that I am experiencing some anniversary grief.

So while, yes, things are better, and no, I wouldn’t trade where I am for anything, and no, I would not do anything any differently about the last year, there’s still a lot to work through.

I have an appointment on Tuesday with a therapist.  I’m a little gun shy, particularly as the last one I had was fairly mediocre.*  But it’s time.

And having better insurance now that will pay for it doesn’t hurt either.

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P.S.  On the work front, I applied for a job that just came open.  It’s that other position I talked about before as a possibility.  Apparently someone decided not to go back to work after maternity leave.  At least one other co-worker is applying, which we discussed and decided it would be best to hedge our bets.  If either of us gets the other job, it’s good news.

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*My last therapist definitely helped me to some degree, but there were some major ways in which she could improve.  I’d give her a C+; I’m looking for an A+ therapist this time around.

barraged

Lately, I am barraged by memories that I can’t share with anyone anymore.  So many memories of just the two of us.  I don’t share those stories with anyone anymore.  They are mine alone.

At some point, the angstiness will move into another mood, and I’ll have something else to post about.

two things

I’ve been inside my head a lot more than ususal lately.  I hate, hate, hate living with drama, and try to grab some peace however I can.  If you’ve been reading here lately, you know that my life feels a bit dramatic right now.  Another thing going on with me is physical.  I have been hit full force with a very strong fatigue and want nothing more than to go to sleep, oh, all the time.  I’m not sure where it’s coming from.  It could be physical, could be emotional, or a combination.

With almost everything, (my marriage, plans for the future, job in Breederville now very up in the air) right now I’m living in a space of not knowing, a waiting room of sorts.  And I’m  stuck waiting with this person who doesn’t seem to like me very much.*

About that.  All of this in-my-head-living has clarified for me  of a couple of things.

1) Infertility has been the pressure that has forced to the surface all of the problems that were in the relationship already, but hiding out of sight.  Once the pain of infertility came, I couldn’t do the song and dance of making Mr. X happy all the time.  I couldn’t put my feelings on the back burner to take care of his stress, because I was just having too many feelings to fit on the back burner.  I was having too much grief.  Once I stopped playing by our unwritten rules, things kind of started falling apart.  Granted, it was a kind of fucked-up way to be relating to begin with, and I had glimpses of that before IF reared it’s ugly, ugly head, but I never said I didn’t have issues.  Though I am working on them.

2) Mr. X has so much hurt inside and he has so many defenses built up.  He is so incredibly defended against pain that he has also defended himself against love, against my love.  So he can’t hear me when I try to talk to him.  Literally.  I don’t want to be that defended.  One thing I have learned these last few months is that numbing myself to my pain doesn’t make it go away.  I’ve also learned that my feelings won’t kill me and that often dreading them is worse than actually feeling them.  I know that the way I have learned to deal with my pain and my stress over the last year has changed who I am.  I don’t want to be so hardened, so defended that nothing gets in or out.

*So that’s not really fair.  I think that he does like me (down deep), he’s just so unhappy right now he doesn’t like anything, or is having a hard time showing that he likes anything right now.  It just feels like he doesn’t like me.

Unsure

I’m not really sure how to start this post.  Mostly because I’m not really sure how to think about yesterday.  I found the debate in the comments for the last post interesting because I have that debate in my own mind about a hundred times a day.

So, yesterday.  I had gone home around lunchtime to check on the dog, and Mr. X was there working out.  He ended up sniping at me about something that was nothing and ended up saying that I never talk to him about anything important anymore (a recurring theme).  I had to leave to go back to work, so this conversation was cut short.  Later I received a surprise phone message from him with an apology and his saying that he loved me and missed me.  When I called him back, we said we would talk that evening.

Well, the Talk came and I said everything I wanted to say and I stayed calm.  I also remembered what it is like to have these kind of talks with Mr. X.  For the last month or so we haven’t been fighting, we’ve just been cold, I guess.  Cold can be painful and very lonely, but this “talking” was just crazy-making.  Mr. X can be so very defended, is so very defended against what he sees as an “attack,” that he will not let himself be vulnerable at all.  I’m not sure he even heard what I said.

I was so careful to say that I was not putting all the blame on him.  I was so careful to say that I know that the fault for our problems lies with both of us.  I said that I wanted to tell him about what MY experience had been for the last couple of months.  I told him about being hurt by some things that he had said and about my defensive response to that.  I told him that I have a hard time trusting him now, and that that hurts me, that I want to trust him more than anything else.  I also told him that the way he responds to stress has a detrimental effect on our relationship.  I told him that I understand that, that I have a hard time dealing with stress, too.

When he spoke, he didn’t respond to anything I said.  I won’t go into all of the specifics he said, but he went back to “for over a year,” etc.  He said some hurtful things.  The mature, self-actualized part of me recognizes that a lot of what he said came from a hurt place and he might not have meant it.  The rest of me is just hurt by it.  It doesn’t seem to matter how calm I am.  How careful I am.  He has a fortress of defenses built up against me, and I have so much love for him.  I remember thinking, “How could we ever have children?”

So I brought up the counseling, of course.  His excuse, and it is just an excuse, I know, is that he is too busy right now, with the job search , and the house on the market.  I believe that eventually we will go back.  The thing about the counseling was that we didn’t re-hash all of our problems, we didn’t re-argue our arguments.  We did that with the first counselor we went to and it was horrible and made things worse.

Our counselor, C, worked with us to get us to reconnect with the reasons we fell in love to begin with.  She helped us to foster positive feelings and to build up a feeling of being loved instead of analyzing why we were having problems.  This actually worked for us really well, and with a more solid base of love, we were better able to face our problems (and it seemed with less defensiveness all around).

So I am left with this:  We need help.  I am feeling very unloved right now.  He is probably feeling very unloved right now.  I am doing what I can to show love to him, but am too wounded for any grand gestures.  I wish I knew why he wanted to stop the therapy last November.

I know there is love down deep.  I just don’t know if we can dig through all the layers of hurt and defenses to get to it.