Grief for me started at 10. My mother passed after a long battle with cancer. She was 43. My dad tried all manner of things to create a sense of normality, but he neglected to just be a loving attentive dad.
Then he went at 67, 24 years later.
I never realised until recently, but have lived my entire life unable to allow myself to connect and be fully devoted in love. Unbeknown to me I was taught that life will take away the things you hold dearest, and to fear unconditional love. My subconscious does not allow it and the passive fear makes me push people away by slowly taking them for granted, undermining them, discrediting their value… It’s a silent and stealthy defence mechanism, that actually does the opposite of what you need.
I discovered this at 46, as my marriage began to fall apart in the shadow of a recognition that I’ve done nothing but fail to value my wonderful amazing wife for 16 years. We have three young boys.
So although my wife is very much alive, this is in effect now my fourth loss. The thing that destroys me is that: I didn’t want to be like that, I didn’t ask for any of it. I wasn’t in control of any of it. I had no choice.
I am currently coping by learning about psychotherapy techniques, specifically Transactional Analysis. I chose this because I needed some method of working towards finding reconciliation and understanding about what is in effect a lifelong catastrophe.
What this has taught me is that we emotionally exist between three basic emotional states: child, parent, adult. And when grief bubbles up and becomes uncontrollable upset (as a child looking for consolation and comfort) how to learn to move myself into my “parent” to provide my own reassurance. Additionally where the child/grief need is too strong to do that, to be in my “adult” and focus entirely on the here and now.
It has also allowed me to accept that I have lived as an ambivalent self, and allowed me to become my true self. It may be too late for the person I wanted to grow old with, but at least within myself I can finally be somewhere near emotionally whole.
My family may still be imploding, but I am a profoundly different person. For once in my
life I am open to unconditional love. And I can see the irony of it all.
I have also found mindfulness, and with it, am enjoying the benefit of meditation.
I must remember to be kind to myself.
I must remember to allow myself total permission to feel however I need to feel.
And I must be be patient with myself.
One day, maybe, my wife might come back to me. One day she may understand that I am not who I was. One day…