I’m almost 3 months out from the break-up. A sweet friend sent me a message with a song attached. She said, “I believe this song will touch you.” The words go something like this, “Say something I’m giving up on you.”
She was right. I listened to it while sitting in my car after just after briefly seeing ____ at the gym. I felt anxious from the meeting of our eyes across the room. The song helped me move through more feelings of surrender. When I looked at her I thought to myself, “I don’t even know you anymore. We used to brush our teeth together and now you’re becoming a stranger.” It felt weird, but I hardly recognized her. It’s true; I don’t know her anymore like I did before.
Below is a summary of the last few weeks, and what I experienced and how I’ve grown. Thanks for reading.
Week 9: Moving right along
So it seems, thank God, and with the help of all my friends and loved ones, that I have finally moved out of my deep despair.
A dear, childhood, sister-like friend said, “What are you going to do with your life? What’s going to make you happy? You’re a divorced, single, working mom, and _____ left you. This is your life now. Your life as you knew it has changed. This is your reality. What are you going to do?”
I felt her words. I am awake now. The mist of denial, like the last drops of a downpour, is clearing. (I think) I have no choice but to move on with my life. I don’t like it, but here I stand.
So on this Monday, I want to remind you all to fight for the ones you love. If you love someone work through the pains in your relationship, overcome the places inside that say you can’t by focusing on gratitude, be grateful for your loves. Commit yourself to the commitment, to the deep richness of life.
(And now I’m a relationship expert, but seriously, learn from me, and my mistakes. (Wink))
I am triumphant. She is falling away in pieces, not all at once, like the way I came to love her. With each passing day I give up a little more. My grief has become fluid; the ride slows, but it hasn’t stopped. It creeps up on me when I least expect it; it manifests in my body, and comes out when prompted.
It can happen from a tender touch, or a spoken word, a song can provoke my sadness, or just at the sight of a full moon. It happens a lot when I’m open to it, and when I expand my body in yoga. Just the other day we were working on really stretching and opening our palms- the tendons, joints and fascia in our hands. I was seated with my fingers stretched out behind me to their maximum distance, my wrists turned out, fingers pointing away, and pressing down hard, and in the floor. We held this for a few minutes and then went further by walking our fingers farther away from our bodies. After a few minutes of breathing on the borderline of pleasure and pain, we lifted our hands in the air, articulating each finger one by one. Bending and flexing, moving them individually, not all at once.
After we finished we reached our arms up in the air and away from our bodies’. Something happened to me; a nauseating swell moved upward and out of my body, and my eyes became wet. I tried swallowing, and blinking the feeling away, I didn’t know what was happening, and it scared me. The tears came hard and fast, rushing past my face and pooling around my collarbone.
At first I couldn’t figure out why the simple act of stretching my hands stirred up so much emotion, but then it came to me. I remembered a nightly ritual that had been abandoned when she left. Every night in bed I would massage her hands with Lavender scented hand-cream, paying special attention to the space between her thumbs and forefingers.
I realized how much I missed this pleasurable moment between us. I enjoyed doing it as much as she enjoyed being the recipient of my touch. I loved pressing my hands into hers, pressing my love, and passion through my hands and into hers. I’d close my eyes, enjoying the sensation of loving her in that way. It was so sweet.
But the tears went deeper. Stretching the hands, and then recalling the moments of hand touching we once shared became yet another loss. Releasing the muscles in my palms during yoga became symbolic of the physical embodiment of letting go, a loosening of my clenched fists grip on something that I have no control over. Letting go of love, and all the nuances is a process; for me, it happens by deconstructing visions of our past. I have to stop, say hello, and acknowledge the things (everything, every single fucking aspect) that comes to me that was once between us. And this takes time it doesn’t just dissolve with the relationship. We grew together, and now I have to grow apart.
I don’t know how to throw my hands up and surrender all at once. I give up slowly, and out of sheer exhaustion, especially when the stakes are high; and my love for her is up there.
But I’m doing it; I’m learning how to yield to my circumstances. I’m taking steps to re-create my life, and I’m doing the things again that I stopped doing because I was afraid of running into her, like going back to the gym, and the grocery store during specific hours, and other things.
I’m getting to know myself again by asking a lot of questions like, “What do you really want in your life?” I’m finding that I’m pretty good company, I like spending time with my inner-self. I’m interesting and funny. A friend in a similar situation said, “My friends keep telling me that I’m afraid of being alone but my therapist said that I’m just tired of being alone, that I was alone my whole life.”
I get this on so many levels. I’m not afraid of being alone, I like who I am, however I don’t want to be alone forever. I spent most of my childhood alone, unseen and unheard. I tried to become invisible; I didn’t want to disturb my mom, and I was afraid. She had enough going on without me causing more problems. If anyone knows how to be with and entertain herself it is I. I created my own world many times over. I want, need, and deserve companionship, however I just have to make sure it doesn’t become my crutch, or something to fix my little-girl loneliness.
I’m getting to know more about myself. I’m learning that I can still self-soothe, and that I have all the love I need inside, I also recognize my great need for a partnership. However, before I find that kind of love of my life, I have to master being on my own as an adult- able to fulfill my own needs. As I child I couldn’t do those things, I wasn’t equipped, but now I have everything, and I won’t abandon myself the way I felt I was as a child.
I am triumphant because I’m capable of loving her and letting her go; I am triumphant for loving myself and for knowing that love will find its way back to me again.
Week 11: Holiday Hangover
Good grief, I can’t believe it has been 11 weeks and I’m still feeling this way, I’m trembling, I miss her so much it hurts, the pain clings to me and there’s nothing comforting about it. Please make it stop.
I feel hung over from the holiday weekend, and that, combined with this rain is killing me softly. I’m really fighting to stay focused on all the great things in my life, and there is so much to be grateful for, like my health and my children. But it’s hard to stay positive all the time, I’m exhausted from all the energy required to be, “strong.” I just want to act out. However I know deep down that this isn’t the answer.
I know we’ve been through this before, you and I (my FB community) and we will probably do it again. Thank for listening to me, and for hearing me; writing to you all is my only true release.
I didn’t expect the holidays to hit me the way they have, adding more layers to the already complicated and somewhat spontaneous pile of grief that I’m sorting through.
I woke up early and alone on Thanksgiving morning, my children were with their grandmother; I listened to music and baked sweet potato pies. I went to the gym before having dinner with family. My dad left a message for me while I was working out just to let me know that he was thinking about me (even though he was seeing me later that day). He said, “Hey hon, I’m just checking on you. Call me back if you want or else I’ll just see you after a while.”
This felt like true compassion towards me. I’m a 39 year-old woman with children of my own, but his words made me feel like he still sees me as his little girl, and every child of any age needs to feel this way: loved and nurtured by their parents, no matter. He knew I was alone for the first time in long while on a holiday, but he didn’t want me to feel alone so he called, and for that I am so thankful.
I had dinner with my family, but as the day progressed my mood started to sink, and I had to leave. It could’ve been the wine/turkey combo that put me in a cranky-coma, or the sugar crash from the hunk of Paula Dean’s recipe Red velvet cake, or it maybe it was my disappointment over not getting a happy t-day message from her. (However, I would’ve been upset too had I gotten one. That’s just the way things are with me right now. Nothing feels right. ) I kept checking my phone, no messages.
I also knew I had to drive home alone to an empty house, so I had in my mind plenty stacked against me to justify my downward spiral. There would be no car-ride conversation, no one to complain to about how full I felt.
The roads were wet; I imagined who would rescue me if my car slid off the road and into a ditch. I knew my thoughts were pulling me under so I started to pray.
My mind is dangerous place for me to live; it sets up scenarios where I’m a victim on the verge of death, it pulls me under, straps me to resentment and tries to rob me of my joy, and connectedness with others.
I cried all the way home, entered my house, and was greeted by Floyd, my GoIdendoodle. I told him how much I missed her and asked him if he missed her too. I told him I was sorry she left, sorry that I didn’t give him as much love and attention as she did.
The kids came home the following day. We went shopping for a Christmas tree, a Charlie Brown tree. After hoisting the tree in the car my daughter asked, “Momma, can you carry that up the stairs all by yourself?” I told her, “Yes babe, that’s why we got such a small tree. I have to be able to carry it and put in the stand.” My son said, “Mom, I wish _____ could be here for Christmas. He said what I was thinking, what we all were thinking. I said, “I know buddy, me too.” My daughter added, “Mommy, Who’s going to stuff your stocking, and who’s going to buy presents for you?”
I told them, “You guys can make stuff for my stocking, and other family members will buy presents for me. I will be ok, and we will put this tree up ourselves.“
I’m a pretty competent woman, I’m tenacious and bold, resourceful and independent, and I know how to get things done, but for some reason I felt weak that day, like my back wanted to crunch under the weight of the tree. I was holding it up with one hand while turning the giant screws in place with the other. The kids were busy hanging the stockings. My daughter said, “Mom, Do you remember the stockings for _____ and ___________?”(Her dog) I said, “Yes doll, I gave them to her to hang at her house. And then it started. I excused myself. “Hey Guys, I need to go to my room for a few minutes. I need a time out. I’ll be back in a little while. You can go watch TV.”
I went to my room raging with anger. I thought to myself, “Really? You really chose to give up all this? Really?” As a mom it is one thing for me to be sad, but good god almighty it crushes me to know my children are in pain. Especially emotional pain, it just kills me. I cried hard in my pillow, body tense, so out of control.
I let it out and put on a happy face. I gave myself a talking to, telling myself as if I were speaking to one of my children, “Sweetheart, She did the best the she could. She couldn’t do anymore. This isn’t about you, this is about her; and you have to find compassion for her and let go of your ego in order to hold her in the light of love and gratitude. I fought against my own self-talk. It felt good to feel bitter for a second, I felt validated in my anger by thinking negatives thoughts about her, but thinking that way only held me closer to the pain, there was no escape. The way out for me was forgiveness; and love, the only emotion that feels freeing.
When I reshape my thoughts I transform my feelings, and the anger melts away. The sadness and longing remains, but the rest just leaves me like an old idea.
I called my children to finish trimming the tree. They came in the room asking, “Mom, Are you ok? What happened? Were you crying?” I said, “Yes, I’m ok. I’m just missing ____, and sometimes it just happens because something reminds me of her. I’m sad that she can’t be with us for Christmas, and I will be sad about other occasions too. This will happen again until time has healed me, and I’ve run through all the holidays and things without her. But I promise, I am OK, and I’m ready to finish decorating the tree with you guys.
We pulled the ornaments and lights, seeing them as brand new again. We stood back and looked admiring how beautiful a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree can be.
I thanked them for helping me and told them how much I loved our tiny tree.
I will feel hung over from my anger and sadness for a while, but I will not be broken; humbled, yes, but not unfixable. I will get through this month, I may act out, but just a little. However, I will always find my way back to the strong, and loving woman I know myself to be.
I’m asking you to continue walking me as I evolve and grow from this loss. This all has to be for me, it just does, otherwise I’ve gained nothing, and that’s just unacceptable.
Thank you for being my confessional, my confidants; and for serving as witnesses to my flaws and limitations. I love the person I am becoming.
Tight Squeeze, SJ
Week 12: Release The Prisoner And Tie Me Up
This past weekend I went out with a friend, and a couple I met for the first time. They have been together for over 16 years. I asked them, “So tell me, how have you all managed to stay together so long? Is it your commitment to the commitment?”
The beautiful, Grace Kelly look alike of the two replied, “No, not at all. We just made a promise to each other to always be honest about how we feel. We made a pact to tell the other person if one of us no longer wants to be with the other. This way we both know at the end of the day that we are both choosing to be here. We each get to make that choice and be honest about our decision.”
I was taken aback, I had never really thought about staying power in this way, mainly because relationships for me have always been about trying to make the other person do what I want. (Eureka!) In other words, I have a habit of trying to make prisoners out of my lovers. What a concept, wow. Well thank God for this new insight about myself. I am such a silly little dumpling. Why would I ever think I could hold anyone against his or her own will? Or be so delusional to think I actually could? And more so, why would I even want to make an attempt?
I mean seriously, do you know me? Have you seen, talked to, or listened to me? Have you felt my spirit? I am loveable, and the false design of my thinking is ridiculous at best. It’s fucking absurd to think that I have to force, or make anyone love me and want to be with me, or any of us for that matter. We are all deserving of it without having to hold someone behind bars to get the love we desire.
I started noticing this about myself last week when I heard the song “Woman in Chains” by Tears for Fears. It made me realize that I’m almost (but not there yet) thankful to her for leaving me. I can see the value in being set free to find someone who really wants to be with me, all of me: I’m a lot of work. I have to be handled and managed, I’m delicate and unpredictable, but this comes with a priceless payoff.
I want to be with someone who can’t wait to swallow this mess; who willingly signs off on my issues with control, someone who stands for themselves and who only falls for my unconscious tricks when it serves them in the best, bedroom kind of way, not for any other purpose. I need to be with someone who sees my mastermind at work from miles away, and comes running to meet me half way.
A great friend and I were having a conversation about sex. She told me, “You need to be tied up. You’re such a control freak, it would be good for you.” I mean really people, what friend tells you something like that other than someone who loves you? I am so blessed to have such honest folks in my life.
(Oh my, how I digressed.)
In any event, her leaving has given me the opportunity to be with someone who chooses to be with me, not someone I shackle with control and call it love. What a lesson I’ve learned about myself and how I love, and for this I can thank her.
By unlocking herself from me she has also given herself permission to seek out love without chains, which is what she deserves. I didn’t mean to push her away, I was only trying to keep her and that pull is what made her leave. I don’t heart paradoxes, but they really are the best teachers.
It’s been three months now and we’re both free agents. Maybe it’s time for me to stop writing about the weeks that have gone by like a lifer in a cell and start cataloging life as a free woman.
As always, thanks for being part of my process.
Love your loved ones.