Grief can literally knock the wind right out of you.
Grief is a hard emotion to deal with. Dealing with loss is difficult, we all do it in our own way. The strange thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you in little ways you’re not expecting. When it does, it can knock the breath right out of you.
This past Friday afternoon I found myself huddled on the floor in the studio crying, trying to catch my breath and asking myself, “Why does this hurt so much?”, “Why am I not handling this better?”
The previous Sunday, the server that hosts my sites had a major technical issue. As a result, they had to migrate my websites to an entirely new server.
In the wake of that server migration, something went wrong with all my email accounts. For the next 5 days I was in the email void. I could not receive email. Couldn’t send email.
Big deal? What is a measly five days without email? Holy cow y’all. I’ve never felt so handicapped in all my life! So much of our daily life and correspondence with the outside world takes place via email. It was crazy.
No big deal though. I have an amazing Web guy. He was on it and trying to resolve the problem as quick as possible and by Friday afternoon I was getting all caught up.
What in the world does my email have to do with Grief? I know you’re wondering.
Here’s how that story goes. When my emails started coming through, I didn’t just start receiving emails I had missed in the last five days. My entire email box started to repopulate with what I can only guess, was a bunch of emails that had never been correctly deleted from the server. Consequently, I started getting emails from 2016, 2017, 2018 – it was a lot of email.
The volume of the emails wasn’t an issue. But, the content of the emails through me for a loop. Suddenly, my inbox was full of emails from my late ex-husband.
It’s a strange thing really. Being so grief stricken over someone you choose not to be with anymore.
But let’s explore that for a moment. While our relationship was never really what I would consider healthy. I loved him. I didn’t love him as much as I loved someone else at the time. But when someone we love doesn’t love us back the way we want them too, or is completely unattainable to us, we move on with life. I did that with Jason, I moved on with life.
Back in the beginning our relationship was great. Later it was cloudy with financial problems and resentment. Those two issues continued to haunt the relationship until it died a slow miserable death. In the end, I walked away to try to live a healthier He stayed stagnant. He was the type to ignore problems. Like a flamingo, he’d stick his head in the sand and hope that when he lifted it back up, his problems would miraculously go away.
I’m more the fixer type. When I see a problem, I want to fix it. I want to find the best solution and resolve the problem as quickly as possible. As a result, my resolution to the problem was to pack all my shit it a car and drive away while his head was stuck in the sand. [ Read Related Article: Sex Love and Obesity ]
I’ve experienced a lot of grief and loss as a result of loving him.
First, there was the loss of the man I once knew. A loss and grief that took place as I watched him get lost in the dark depths of addiction to prescription pain killers, depression and an overall lack of enthusiasm for life. There was the loss of the love we once shared. Watching it fade and die until we were nothing but two bodies passing in the hallways of our home. Then there was the loss of the life we had built together, our home, and our belongings as I packed my bags and drove away.
There was the loss of a dear friend. A friendship that I hoped could someday be rekindled when the dust settled and the hurt subsided and we were both in better places. I found better places. He didn’t.
Subsequently there was a loss to grieve there as well. A loss of hope. Hope for a friendship. Hope that he’d find a way to start dealing with the plethora of health issues that he had and find a path to a healthier life.
It took me nearly four years of being separated from him to work my way through all that grief. To figure out how to deal with all that loss. Four years where all I really wanted to do was help him and make things better for him. I still handled all his finances and paid all his bills for him. I still felt the weight of obligation to the promises I had made early in the relationship.
Even through the process of dating, living with and loving three different people. I stayed connected to Jason through email correspondences as I tried to help him navigate his life, his finances and his health issues.
They say that the pain we suffer from grief and loss gets takes time to heal.
I believe that. For me, there was a lot more pain and grief in those four years that was completely unrelated to Jason. There was the self-inflicted grief I caused myself as I bounced back and forth into people’s arms. The loss I experienced each time I went looking for something new and gave up something safe and comfortable. There was the grief of having to realize that some people don’t speak love in the same languages. And of course, there was Peter, and the heart and brain shattering grief that relationship brought me.
But all that grief started to subside when I met someone new.
I met “The Security Guy”. When we started dating, I wasn’t looking for love. I wasn’t looking for Mr. Right happily ever after anymore. I was just trying to be a normal woman. Getting out there. Dating. Meeting new people. Our relationship stayed like that for months. I kept him at arm’s length, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Always ready to throw my hands in the air and go “This isn’t working out.” or “This isn’t where I want to be.” at the first sign of trouble.
Only, there was never any trouble. We had an argument over a tomato once. We had some little getting to know each other and learning about each other obstacles to navigate. But about 7 months into the relationship I realized something. I’m a much better person with him. He has a way of bringing my level 10 crazy to about a level 4 crazy. Somehow, he calms me and makes me feel grounded. Around him, I don’t have any insecurity. I am never wondering if I am wanted or loved. The relationship doesn’t lack sparkle and romance.
I’ll tell you a little secret. Most people think I call him “The Security Guy” because of what he does for a living. Its logical. He’s a Security Technician. But the truth is, I call him “The Security Guy” because for the first time in forever, with him, I feel secure in every aspect of the relationship. He provided a feeling of security in my life.
His entrance into my life let me begin to process all that grief and loss.
It didn’t happen overnight. But the feelings of grief, loss and hurt were beginning to subside. During times I felt sad and didn’t understand why, the simple act of him reaching for my hand to hold it was comforting.
My broken and hesitant heart was beginning to heal. Whether he realized it or not, the little things he did helped.
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that help us heal. Something like reaching over and resting his hand on my thigh while he was driving or always making sure to come to my side of the car and open the door for me. When you’re dealing with someone that has been hurt, the little details are important.
Around then, without any prompting, poking, goading or pushing from him, I chose to file for divorce. I wanted my freedom. Finally, free from the grief and loss, it was now time to break free from the obligations I was holding on to. It was time to let go of the control that the relationship still had on me.
Additionally, I wanted the comfort of knowing that if he ever asked me to spend the rest of our lives together, I could say yes without having to worry about all the loose strings of my past needing to be severed first.
Even though I had finally let go of all that grief, loss and hurt, when the divorce was final, I felt a new and different grief.
I spent most of August processing through that new grief.
Just like that. A black ink stamp on a piece of paper and a 13-year long chapter of my life was over. Luckily, “The Security Guy” understood. He spent time talking to me about it. Listening to what I said. Hugging me when I got teary and helping me wrap my brain around the things I was feeling.
My best friend helped as well. We’d been friends almost the entire time Jason and I were married. She had seen everything that had transpired and witnessed how all the cards fell. She was there to remind me that it wasn’t all my fault and that in the end, he really didn’t give me any choice but to give up on the marriage.
Just about the time that I had successfully navigated my way through processing that new grief, I was paralyzed by another monumental dose of grief and loss when Jason suddenly passed away in October. Paralyzed. For days.
I was armed with the skills to deal with him not being a part of my life anymore. But I wasn’t nearly prepared for him not being alive anymore. I fell into a depression. I had a hard time dealing with the grief of his death. My tribe surrounded me with love and support.
Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. Slowly it began getting better. [ Read Related Article: The Finality of Death ]
Yet here I was sobbing on the floor of the studio riddled with grief.
Because that shit sneaks up on you when you least expect it. You’re never prepared for those moments. You can’t guess when or how they are going to happen. It’s like a scab that is starting to heal and then the scab is ripped off. It bleeds profusely for a short time. Then it starts to heal again.
As a result, I was sitting on the floor of the studio with a box of tissues trying to sort through all that grief. It gets better. As time passes the triggers to the grief become fewer and happen less frequently. I call these moments my emotional aftershocks. The important thing for me here, is knowing these moments will happen and having a plan of action.
Recognizing the emotional aftershocks of Grief is essential for me.
I must have something, or someone, to turn to instead of food in these moments. If I don’t it’s just too easy for me to get caught up in the vicious cycle of feeding my feelings and stuffing them down with something that only makes it feel better for a short time. Something like Cheetos, chocolate or beer.
Over the last few years of my weight loss journey I have learned that Grief is by far the hardest emotion for me to deal with. Having a good therapist, good friends and a supportive boyfriend help me a lot. But if I am not careful with how I deal with this emotion, it can knock the wind right out of out of me and completely derail my healthy lifestyle choices.
I wish that none of you ever had to experience a grief over the loss of someone in your life. It’s such a hard emotion to navigate through. But if you are dealing with grief, or in the event you must someday, remember to have an action plan for dealing with the aftershocks. But, most of all, remember you are not alone in your struggle. I’ve been there. I understand.