Tapping Into the Sadness Underneath My Recent Losses

Tapping Into the Sadness Underneath My Recent Losses

I lost my brother and my lover in the same week. Ouch.

Neither of them were completely unexpected. That does not diminish the sorrow and pain that both events caused in my life. And that does not minimize the weight of those losses on my life at this point, even as I strive to lift up up and away from both heartbreaks. I am sad. I realized while hugging a close female friend that I was really sad. I wanted to be hugged through the death of my brother. I wanted my lover to stand in and be there for me. That’s not what happened.

As I was navigating the murky waters of pain over the summer, I was repeating to myself, and to several friends, “I don’t know how I would be doing this alone. I am so lucky to be in a loving relationship.”

My friend, today said, “What I saw this summer was you trying to hold it all together with this woman. It was not a functional and happy relationship.” She was right. I was making excuses for dysfunctional behavior. I was creating a loving relationship where there was still plenty of work to be done. I wrote about it. I spoke to my girlfriend about it. And in the end, the relationship became unsustainable. Even with big love and all the potential, the aloneness has replaced that loving feeling in my life. I’m not happy about it.

I’m not lonely, but I miss having a loving partner in my life. I’m not needy, but I enjoyed hot sex and passionate romance in my life. I’m not depressed, but I’m having to generate a lot of my own enthusiasm, where during earlier parts of my recent relationship I was elated with the joy and energy we seemed able to sustain.

Now I have to start over again, and it’s not all that fun. Sure, there is the “potential” again. But I’m a bit tired of always generating the intensity. It’s exhausting being the engine of happiness in a relationship. And it’s harder, to be that same engine when you are alone. Or, not harder, different. I have only myself to please at the moment, and there is a definite release in that. I eat when I want and what I want. I sleep when I’m tired. I determine the course of my days and nights. And, I’m alone.

When you begin building a relationship, part of what you are envisioning is how the two of you will progress into a full-blown, loving, couple. All the dreams of what life will be like with this person are there for your enjoyment. And, until the other shoe drops, there is a lot of thrust in that uplift of imagination. I take flight when I have a solid relationship on the ground, backing me up, physically and emotionally. This relationship became less stable emotionally as time went on. Even on vacation, there were signs that all was not right in our universe. I was unclear what the problem was. But the disconnects would continue to happen despite my best efforts and negotiating skills. I simply could not successfully navigate her choppy waters.

When things came up between us, often, there would be no clear path forward. At some point, I stopped trying to soothe and heal her, I simply hit my own internal buddha button and claimed I was available for a relationship when the storm had passed. The odd thing is the emotional upsets appeared to be about past events more than our current relationship. And that was the rub. When the past comes up and bites your ass, you either figure out how to process and deal with the issues or you don’t. If you choose not to contain your own problems they soon become shared problems because they are interrupting or interfering with you establishing a loving and connected relationship.

So, I failed her. I ended up choosing to release her back to her process rather than continuing the “work” on our relationship. It wasn’t always a relationship between two people. Frequently, her ghosts would arise and take her out of commission. I felt alone at those times. As I felt alone when she began to exit during the process of my brother’s death. I needed to be held. I needed that “loving relationship” that I had been envisioning and working towards.

In the end, when my own family crisis arose, there was not enough emotional bandwidth between us to support both my (brother dying) crisis and her (emotionally triggered) crisis. I remember saying, “I can only deal with one major life crisis at once. And at this moment, I’m having to choose my family and my dying brother.” It was a sad and dark moment.

I am no longer in that sad and dark place about it. But, I am not happy about it either. As I hugged my friend today, I felt the sadness well up inside me. I needed someone to hold me. I needed someone to just be there for me. I needed someone to BRAVE me and stand in. The woman I thought I had found was unable to manage her own crisis enough to even contemplate mine.

I am sad, but I am also relieved that the worst is over in this previous relationship. We have let go as friends. I don’t pass judgment on her. I simply release her and let the story be an educational fable rather than a tragedy.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

back to Dating After Divorce

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wow! I really look forward to these emails showing up in my folder now and then. Especially this one! It’s as if what I’m going through now is being acknowledged by what is written here in these words. It’s encouraging and helps me to see that other people are also doing their utmost to navigate through their loss. My fiancé broke up with me 4 weeks ago. We were super close, but he got sick and decided he would spare my daughter and I the ‘inconvenience’. Still it feels like my autonomy was stripped away and I still haven’t come down to earth with this gaping hole in my heart. Just this morning I was in between sleep and waking, my mind adrift in the passion and hot sex that I once had with someone I cherish a lot…it’s a difficult road to walk down, but I had to respect his wishes.

    1. Carla, thank you for your kind words. I have been doing the hard work of recovering after a traumatic divorce and the depression that followed. I know you will heal your heart. That’s the first step. Take care of yourself. Let me know how I can support you.

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