A grief as big as love

Advice has been coming at me from multiple directions since the split, often with the acknowledgment that words alone will not heal my wounds. I appreciate it whenever there’s a sympathetic nod to my grief. If only it were as easy as telling myself to “snap out of it” or “let it go,” or that “a person can only cry so many tears.” I have actually tried taking those words to heart, and they—along with my own stubbornness—have supported me through periods of willful detachment. In a way, it’s easier to keep alternating between denial and anger than to risk slipping into sadness. It’s not that I think sadness will destroy me; I’m just tired of hurting, and tired of feeling helpless in the face of loss. I’m frightened by the idea that I won’t fully heal until I return to the grief, again and again, to explore all its dark corners.

Unfortunately, the fact that I now wish my ex bodily harm doesn’t negate the fact that we did have a relationship, and we were happy. Vengeance is not an option; nobody has taken up my request to go kick him around and berate him with a kind of coldness that I wouldn’t be able to attain. There are hundreds of memories and other bits of reality that will confront me, one by one, and they’re going to hit me hard. A lot of them are going to come up soon, as I pack my possessions and remember all that’s happened in my home on Belmont Street—I’ll be touching things that I have so far been afraid to look at, like the CDs we listened to together. I’ve listened to hardly any music at all since mid-January.

I realize that at some point, my exercises in avoidance may become pathetic. Still, I want people to understand that as strong and determined as I am, the process of Getting Over It will take longer than anybody wants it to. My therapist told me something that is both liberating and disheartening: “You’re allowed to grieve as big as you loved.” I wish I could get around the grief; I wish it weren’t there at all. I loved him with all my heart, and honestly, I’m not sure just what to do with the pieces that have been given back to me. I haven’t found the proper balance between detachment and grief, reason and emotion, looking forward and looking back, being busy and reflecting quietly. Even writing about it feels like a form of escape, as I try to remove myself from the feelings and render them as black-and-white words.

I’d like to give myself the same kind of trust and support that a good friend might. When I step into that kind of faith I can see that the sadness is deep, but it’s not an ocean; and although it is powerful, it’s not quicksand.

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