Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash
It was my daughter’s birthday last month so my sister and I went up to celebrate her turning 15. As an aside, I can’t believe she’s 15. Only one more year until she drives. Yikes! In passing my sister mentioned that she had asked my daughter how she was doing and whether she heard from her dad. And my daughter had responded, “He’s taking his girlfriend to Amsterdam”.
And there it was. I was ticking right along, minding my own business, and boom. I felt that knot in the pit of my stomach and an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness. We were eating breakfast and I lost my appetite. My sister felt terrible, like she shouldn’t have said anything.
But, that’s not it. I don’t want my sister, or my daughter, or anyone else to think they have to keep things from me, to protect me, so my feelings don’t get hurt. I wasn’t going to broach the subject because I knew my sister would feel bad. Then, I thought if I don’t talk about it, it gets pushed down and buried. So, I mentioned how it felt to hear those words.
As I walked upstairs to brush my teeth, I thought to myself, “I wish I could just get to the other side of this”. To the place where I can hear the bits of news and it doesn’t have an impact on me anymore. That it’s like hearing the weather. Interesting but it doesn’t affect me. Okay, maybe the weather is not a great example.
But, if I rush to get to the other side, if I try to force myself to push past it too quickly which would really mean denying my feelings and pushing them down, then I think it will take me that much longer to truly get to the other side. It’s a process and it will take time and distance.
So, as I brushed my teeth, I let myself feel that immense sadness, that heavy heartedness, that loss. It’s not that I wanted to be the one he was taking to Amsterdam. Not at all.
It’s the sense of not having that one person who has your back no matter what, that someone to share in life’s moments. That person you can call or talk to when sh@# happens. It’s also that feeling of rejection, of being tossed aside for someone new. I let all those emotions wash over me.
Then…my life carried on. I had stuff to do. I had 25 rolls of fabric waiting for me to pick up at the manufacturer. I had to find a storage solution for those 25 rolls of fabric and get back home to Ottawa.
Later as I was driving down the highway, my mind wandered back to that bit of news I had heard earlier in the day and the sadness was still there but it didn’t have as much of a hold over me. That visceral reaction I had felt so strongly had lessened.
So, there is progress, little by little, step by step, day by day. I can see the other side. I’m just not there yet. But, I will get there…eventually.
We don’t talk about these life changing events and experiences enough. We hear about it but we don’t talk about it. You can feel so all alone and then you find out there were others in the same boat but you don’t know that because we don’t talk about it.
So, if you feel up to it, let me know in the comments, or by email, or in person if you’re going through or have been through a similar experience. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone. And sometimes you just need to vent with someone who will listen, who understands, and will hold the space for you.
Until next time,
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You are not alone Colleen. You have so many friends including me, who are ready to listen any time, whether we have had this experience or not.
Thank you, Eleanor. Your love and support mean a lot to me. I’m so glad that Heidi introduced us. It can be difficult to start over and develop new friendships at this stage of our lives.
This is very wise, Colleen. Thank you for starting the conversation.
Sarah, you have been a good friend for a long time now, going on 14 years! I think we need to have these uncomfortable conversations so they become more comfortable.
You have such insight, Colleen – I think what you’re going through is one of those cliche – time will make it better – things. I remember when my sister and her husband split I never wanted to see him again – neither did she…but time, the great healer helped. My sister now visits him and his long time love at their lakeside home – when he has medical appointments in the city he stays with her….we are all passed it and now just accept him as someone connected to us by their incredible children.
Thank you, Joan. Only time will tell. At this point, it’s hard to imagine nor do I want to, but maybe some day. Right now, I just want to be okay for me and Maddi.
Bravo to you for talking about this. I am almost 6 years to the day from when Richard and I split up. There are still days it hits me like a ton of bricks and others where I think I might just be OK. Let’s get together one day soon. It is hard to make friends at a later part of life, and finding your tribe is important!
Dear Jen, I had no idea you and Richard had spilt up which goes to show we don’t talk about it. I would love to get together. It is indeed hard to make friends at this stage of our lives. I will PM you.
Feeling and acknowledging your sadness is so much better than pushing it aside and ignoring it. This is how you heal. When you are ready, you can begin to explore your readiness for a new relationship and be clear on what is perfect for you. Being alone for the moment, surrounded by your community, is a healing time. Always there for you
Betty, thank you for your words of wisdom. Being alone is the best medicine for me right now. I’m taking this time to really figure out who I am and how I want to live my life.
Colleen. You are very wise and yes you need to go through it…the anger, the sadness, the fear….they all do help in the journey to healing. One day you will look back and realize how strong you are (kinda like how we feel after cancer treatments) and you will be amazed at your strength.
In the meantime, allow those emotions to come, talk about them, vent, cry, rage, do whatever it takes. One day those things wont bother you at all. And think just how much better you are without this person in your everyday life.
Thank you, Sue. Words I need to hear, and the permission I need to let the emotions out and know that it’s okay.
Please know you are not alone. Your advice is sage, for anyone going through any type of loss. Hugs my friend.
Anna, I am so grateful that our paths crossed. It is an honour to have you as a friend and colleague.
You are in grief and all your feelings and reactions are honestly expressed, I, too, am in grief about the sudden, overnight loss of my 11 year old grandson a year ago. After this year, my mind and heart feel less chaotic at times but the pain and sorrow burst out unexpectedly.
They have to, with all who are grieving. I feel with you and know, that incredibly, the present
takes over, slowly but inexorably.
Dear Kirsten, I can’t imagine the loss and grief you feel for your grandson. I am so sorry. My own grief seems so small by comparison. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. Love and hugs to you.
Beautiful work, my dear friend.
You are feeling and being in a very healthy way.
You already have a very high level of awareness.
You are writing and you are open. Beautiful. It’s your journey, moment by moment.
Dear Renata, Your words are beautiful and soothe my soul. Thank you for that. xoxo
I remember when it happened for me and he announced he was no longer happy and I was devastated. I found other things to fill the hurt and emptiness and tried not to be judgemental when our son came home from his dad’s with stories about the other lady in his dad’s life. Time heals and unexpected things happen to make life worth every minute.
Thank you, Lynda for your words of wisdom and experience.