Tag Archives: grief

Brokenness

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Growing up I had many fears.   They were not just ordinary kid fears.  For there were things which lurked in the dark.  Things from which my parents could not protect me.   I often felt petrified particularly at night.   The nights were long and at times seemed to stretch out interminably.

To make matters worse the landscape of my daytime was such that I was rather invisible.   Usually well-behaved, I got lost in the shuffle of the chaos and discord,  the cacophony of our home.  I needed comfort after the unspeakable terror of the night.  I often fantasized about being rescued by a benevolent parent archetype.  Someone who would recognize my hidden suffering and rescue me from the profane which my parents could not see.

So ever since I was small I can remember seeking out bits of care and affection hoping to stitch together enough to survive.    I have a crystal clear memory of cutting a bunch of lavender colored lilacs with a pair of scissors from the bush outside my bedroom window.   I brought them to school as a gift for my 3rd grade teacher, with some tin foil wrapped at the base.  I was hoping my good deed would earn me a bit of her praise.  Wishing she might look favorably upon me.   I was starving, aching for somebody, anybody,  to tell me that I was a good girl.

That desperation has not changed much since then; only my age has.

Even when I have managed to capture that attention and validation from a man as an adult,  that I had so desperately sought back then, I cannot hold onto the warmth I feel from receiving it for very long.  Because my early childhood trauma left me with a hole somewhere, all of the warmth and goodness I am able to take in slips away into the darkness leaving me feeling empty and alone.

I have been left in a constant unending cycle of seeking attention and validation from others.  The process itself is exhausting, time-consuming, and always ends the same.   I must begin it all over.

Trying to figure out how to construct the emotional glue with which to fill this invisible hole has proven a lot harder than I ever imagined.  For I don’t know where the hole exists within myself to patch and the spackle is not readily available at the local hardware store.

I still feel like a little girl inside, wanting that care and reassurance that I am lovable and good.  There is the sobering realization that it’s all going to have to come from me.  I’m going to have to be that voice I always needed.

I don’t want to shoulder this.  I want a different way.  I continue to struggle with accepting that there will never be anyone to rescue me.   There won’t be any grown up to tell me that I’m good.  Because I’m not 7 years old anymore, even if I feel like it on the inside.

It sucks being broken.   Dealing with kid feelings, kid fears, in a grown up body.

Kid Fears – The Indigo Girls – 1988

Pain from pearls, hey little girl
How much have you grown?
Pain from pearls, hey little girl
Flowers for the ones you’ve known
Are you on fire
From the years?
What would you give for your
Kid fears?
Secret staircase (secret staircase), running high (running high)
You had a hiding place
Secret staircase (secret staircase), running low (running low)
They all know, now you’re inside
Are you on fire
From the years?
What would you give for your
Kid fears?
Kid fears
Skipping stones, we know the price now
Any sin will do
How much further, if you can spin
How much further, if you are smooth
Are you on fire (are you on fire)
From the years? (from the years)
What would you give for your
Kid fears?
Replace the rent with the stars above
Replace the need with love
Replace the anger with the tide
Replace the ones, the ones, the ones, that you love
The ones that you love
Are you on fire
From the years?
What would you give for your
Kid fears?
Are you on fire
From the years
What would you give for your
Kid fears
What would you give for your
Kid fears
What would you give for your
Kid fears
You can’t feel
The kids
Songwriters: Amy Elizabeth Ray / Emily Ann Saliers

 


Land, Fire, Sea.

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When our partner has been unfaithful it is a shocking betrayal we don’t expect.  If they then leave the relationship, we are forced to grieve.   This is another painful betrayal which can blindside us.  They are still alive and as such grieving them becomes what I would categorize as a different sort of “complicated grief”, no less painful than a bereaved partner.

We are not only grieving our partner but also the loss of the life we had together and the loss of dreams of the future that will no longer be.  It is a multi-layered loss which is often minimized by well-meaning people trying to help by pointing out facts meant to quiet our pain like,”wow, what a such and such!!! .”  and “you just dodged a huge bullet.

Complicated Grief or CG – from Mayo Clinic.org: “losing a loved one is one of the most distressing and, unfortunately, common experiences people face. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement have a period of sorrow, numbness, and even guilt and anger. Gradually these feelings ease, and it’s possible to accept loss and move forward.

For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and don’t improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life.

I believe that my experience and those of others who experienced infidelity and were then abandoned by their partner, CG could aptly describe the same type of grieving process.

I decided that my ex-narcopath’s idealization phase was just that, a way to reel me into the relationship on his fishing line.  However, the feelings and love for him were real for me.  Just because they were contrived on his end only meant that I felt the loss and pain and grief of losing what I thought I had.

I eventually came to accept that I had fallen in love with an illusion.   That took time to arrive to that understanding and even longer to accept.  In the end, I was grieving the man I thought I had, not the man I actually had.  This cognitive dissonance slowed my grieving process down.   For as I would start to become angry at him and go through the grieving process, I would quickly remember how wonderful he had treated me in the beginning and get hopeful again that maybe we could reconcile.  Then I would have to begin the grief process all over again.  Not to mention him staying in touch with me, one weak moment of me communicating with him and I was right back to missing him only to be cast aside and wounded by him again.

It came in cycles.  Waves as it were.  Until the waves came closer and closer in succession until they were on top of each other colliding.

Then, I was faced with despair and nothing the grief process itself.  But how? How does one grieve someone who is still alive?

I observed and compared people who lost partners to death and noted that as a victim of infidelity who was dumped, I  was lacking ritual and ceremony in my grieving process.  I then set out to find find personal ways to make my grief feel more real and tangible.

I first visited many online forums and connected with lots of people who had experienced the same thing that I had.   I listened to their stories and advice.

Once I accepted that it needed the be over for ME….(it had long since been over for him) I decided to take all his fake-ass love letters and put them in a wooden box.   Then I took said box with his photo in it and dug a hole into the woods.   I placed a medium sized rock over the pseudo-grave with a simple black symbol I had painted on the rock which was meaningful to me.

I wrote a short eulogy and read it out loud expressing my feelings of betrayal for the sweet man that I would miss.  I said in closing he never had existed except in my heart.  I wrote it for the man I thought I had, for he was the man for which I was crying. .   I had my best friend there to bear witness to my process.  I found this helpful and was pretty sure by then she was ready to smack a shovel over his head and put him into a box with the sheer amount of hours I cried on the phone to her.

I have heard other women getting lighter fluid and torching their love letters.  Still others ripping them into bits and throwing them into the ocean.  I knew of one other woman where threw her letters into a trash dumpster and then taking a photo and sending it that the ex.   Another    man simply bound his letters up and returned them via mail no return address.

Which method you choose matters not.  The important thing is that the process empowers you and brings you closer to healing.  There’s always the option to do nothing at all.   Simply sit be with your pain.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  There is no blueprint and certainly no handout anyone gives you for this kind of off the charts level of fucked up pain.   You will have to do it your own way.   At your cadence.   On your terms.

You may grieve before your ready but not before you can.  Freedom really has always been inside of you.    You can do this.  You will be okay.

 

 


1970 something

Going to my elementary school, there were about thirty kids in my class.  Hell, my graduating high school class there were 562 of us.  Recess was always fun.  Our playground was pretty nice because I lived in an affluent suburb.  It had what most nice school playgrounds in suburbia do.  Plenty of swing sets, slides, see-saws. Box-ball and hop-scotch were even painted right on the hot top itself.

*
I became friends with Jimmy in second grade.  We were in Mrs. Drapeau’s class.  There was a few unforgettable things that happened that year.  Like the time that Henry Altenwen puked and peed his pants at the same time in the front of the class.  The time that Eric Frobert puked all over his reading book.  And the time that Mrs. Drapeau yelled at me in front of everyone for helping a classmate pronounce a word when they were struggling, during oral reading.  Asked me if I thought I should teach the class.  I remember feeling my face felt hot and I felt ashamed. I was only trying to help him, my heart was kind.  It’s amazing the influence that teachers can have in shaping children.

*
Jimmy and I stood next to the teacher aid at recess you see.  I didn’t get much attention at home, my life there was a living hell that no one would ever find out about.  Jimmy? well he was physically sick.  I didn’t really know with what.  His shoulders were always raised up by his chin because he struggled to breathe.  So we both had different reasons for hanging out with the teacher aid at recess while all the other kids frolicked about on a beautiful sunny day.

*
Me being the little chatter box, and not really grasping at age 7 that Jimmy was so sick I treated him like anyone else.  I asked him all sorts of questions since he could not run or walk around much.  Why this, why that.  He laughed at my questions.  I told a lot of stories and a lot of jokes.  I asked if he was ever going to get braces.  I asked him all kinds of crazy shit.  (I used to ask my Catholic grandmother if I was reincarnated and maybe I were a rock in another life)

*
Jimmy and I went to St. Mary’s Church together as well.  So I am sure that I yapped about CCD too.  I liked our time together.  Me, Jimmy, and the teacher aide.

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Jimmy had been out from school for a few weeks and one morning I came into school and the Mrs. Drapeau said that Jimmy wouldn’t be coming back.  That he was in heaven.

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Her words hung in the air like a garrote, choking the love in my little heart.
*****
Jimmy as I would later learn had Cystic Fibrosis.  I spent a good deal of time in my teens doing the Stair Climb, an annual event during the early 1990’s at the Prudential Center in Boston to raise money for my favorite childhood friend that I lost to death.

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Every year my dad would drive me to Boston and I would get people to sponsor me for each floor that I could walk up. I always made it to the top of it’s 52 floors. Course my legs felt like rubber when I got done. I have asthma, and  sometimes it was a struggle and I would get winded.  It would occur to me as I walked, how Jimmy struggled day after day. How winded he must have been.  That I get relief with an inhaler…. that he suffocated.  I cried as I climbed.

*
Since 1965, the term “65 Roses” has been used by children of all ages to describe their disease because it’s easier to pronounce.

*
*****
After Jimmy’s funeral, his mother sent me a card.  It read, “Thank you for being there for my son.  You were his only friend.”  Her words gripped me and I will never forget them. To this day I never realized that all the other kids, were frolicking around, never talked to him, never stopped to get to know him.  Strange, how because of the hell I lived and the horror of what happened in my house, God brought Jimmy and I together.
*****
2 weeks ago, I received a text from my mom which made me ecstatic! It read, “there is a new treatment for Cystic Fibrosis!”  So I ran over and googled it. Sure enough, there is.  It is a brand new FDA approved drug called  “Kalydeco.”

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It reminded me of Jimmy and I smiled, then cried.  Some 35 years later, the love for my friend still lives in my heart.

*
~miss you Jimmy~ xoxox
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