I’ve definitely witnessed myself in the five stages of grief since I received the news that my boyfriend wanted to ex me out of his life last Thursday.
It’s been 6 days so far (if you include Thursday night when I got that most unexpected and painful email). For the first four days I didn’t think I would ever come up for air again. I was so glad this shit landed on a weekend and that I happen to have Fridays off, so I could wallow in my self pity, tears and anger.
At first, I was a zombie. Didn’t want to get out of bed. I was in complete shock. That was the denial phase.
There was no way this was really happening to me, I said to myself. So, I sent a a message to his friends-to make sure he was okay-since I really could not imagine that this beautiful man who was so honest with me would just break up and then block all contact with me across email.
My sending that message, though, was not a good idea.
Note to self and others reading-do not send out a message to friends of your lovers to see if they are okay/not if they cut you off. I really reached out just to make sure he was okay. But it became nasty and personal so I was hurt more.
That quickly got me to the next stage-anger.
I was angry at him, so fucking angry. I painted my anger. I screamed into a pillow. I emphatically wrote in my journal almost tearing out the pages with the pen. Then I was completely numb. No tears would come out. It took over 24 hours before I could express the sadness I knew I had and was holding but wasn’t releasing. I was in a very dark place.
Two days later I was engulfed in those tears that weren’t flowing. I was like a waterfall. They wouldn’t stop. I stayed in my bed for half the day. Didn’t take my PJ’s off the whole time (you’re all lucky you don’t live with me-but my poor son)! I lost my appetite. I couldn’t stop remembering all the amazing times I had with this man I love. And it was torture. I had entered the stage of sadness.
That went on for another full two days. I thought it would never change. I wanted to drown in my tears and disappear.
Over the course of those days I had started noticing that I was bargaining with God and the spirit of my ex-beloved. Maybe he would still reach out to me. Holding on to hope that he may receive the two emails I sent him, even though I’m blocked. Could he miss me and want to talk again? Stage of bargaining.
As you can see that was a mixture of denial and bargaining. Totally denying that he made his choice to leave me and our relationship. My denial of the position I was in. The conscious bargaining was a way for me to develop a will to live. During those two days I really understood what heartbreak felt like.
Even with my marriage in the past, I didn’t feel like this. I think that was because our marriage was doomed from the beginning and my ex-husband wasn’t nice to me. But my recent love was so good to me until this past week. I didn’t see this coming at all. So, much harder to not hope and therefore, easier to live in heartbreak.
I learned something interesting about heartbreak this weekend. A friend of mine shared a TED talk about heartbreak and apparently functional MRIs showed that the areas of the brain that light up during a heartbreak are the same areas that light up when an addict is in withdrawal. We keep feeding our brain the memories that made us happy which only prolongs the agony of the extreme sadness and loss.
So the only way to get past it is to create different words to tell your brain. Words that are not sympathetic to the one you are breaking up with.
But, I can’t do that.
I am not built that way. When I love someone and tell them so, I don’t falter from that and I don’t walk away from them. I gave my heart to him because I saw something in him. That still stands. Of course he’s wronged me now, but there must be a reason that he can justify. I won’t like it, I’m sure and may never hear it, but I can’t throw shit at him.
So, I thought I was going to live in heartbreak forever.
Well, I didn’t.
After my two days of sadness and bargaining went by, I finally awoke yesterday without tears in my eyes. For the first time in four days. I was still sad inside and carried it into my day with patients, but it didn’t block me from connecting with them and doing my work. I was functional.
Could I already be at acceptance?
But I see it. The acceptance card is waving at me down the end of the tunnel but that tunnel is still pretty long. It’s still going to take time for me to totally accept it. But I am much closer than I thought I would be.
I recognize he made a choice. The choice to leave was his. I see that is not something I could have controlled.
So the stage of acceptance is looming above but very mixed with sadness and bargaining. I am way past anger and denial. Frustration-yes, but that doesn’t seem to be its own official stage! I think frustration’s a part of all of them. I’m simply frustrated that I’m in a fucking stage of grief at all!
As I’ve gone through this I see that the only way I could be standing up today and not lying in my bed crying under the covers is because I allowed myself to feel. I was feeling the feels.
I can’t emphasize enough how importance it is to own and welcome all of your feelings. Without judgement.
By acknowledging what I was feeling and then letting myself sit with them, they moved to me to do what I needed. And I didn’t isolate myself.
I reached out to family and friends. I wrote to myself in my journal and to all of you on my blog. I painted to express what I didn’t have words for. I meditated. I didn’t want to listen to music, interestingly enough. I love music and it’s usually a deep form of expression for me but I think the connection we both shared with music made it harder for me. Every beat made me think of him, so silence was actually easier. I watched TV, slept, cried and didn’t change my clothes.
For you, all of this may be different if you find yourself in a similar situation. You may find totally different ways to express how you feel. It’s just really important that you allow yourself to let it out.
That’s my message to anyone reading who is experiencing loss.
Don’t self judge.
The whole world is out there to do that. You don’t need to do that for them.
Look at what happened to me.
If I believed the words that both my ex-boyfriend and his friends said to me, I would be broken. Instead, I stopped and allowed myself to feel what I felt in response to all those words. I heard them. I considered the truth in all of it and learned important lessons. But, I didn’t let their words take me down.
I got to a point a couple of days later when I saw the important message behind their words. He didn’t want to be with me. It’s not about me. It’s about him. Yes, I was a part of a couple-that’s the reason it hurt so much. We were intertwined. But he wanted out. If I allowed them to make me feel bad about myself then I would have lost the game.
Because at the end of the day, life is a game. It’s a weird one. We don’t know all the rules. The game is dynamic. The coaches seem to change based on what you are doing. The only constant in this game of life is that everything changes. And there’s no ball to keep an eye out on. You have to keep an eye out for yourself. Not in a selfish way, but in a self preservative way. I think that’s what my boyfriend did-he self preserved by disengaging with me. So, I need to self-preserve by continuing to love myself even if I got dumped.