Wednesday, May 5, 2010


When I can transcend the overwhelming experience of it, I find grief to be a fascinating process. I have been grieving the loss of my partner-relationship for 8 days. I am wired to experience my emotions fully. Repressing my grief is not an option. It's not healthy for anyone, but as big as I experience my emotions (which is both a blessing and a curse), it is especially not healthy for me. It will explode in some way if I don't honor it and there will be wreckage. I'm striving to minimize wreckage in my life.

However, being functional and having the will to stop myself from a downward spiral is also vital. I can be swept away by the emotion and create suffering. I had a long-term relationship with the darkness of sadness and madness. Sometimes they still try to tempt me back into their arms. I have to be vigilant about physically getting up every day and spending time in the light. I also have to be vigilant about making connections with other people -- being witnessed and supported. It is so healing to have a tribe that cares for you.


Grief travels in waves. When the loss is brand new, they are tsunami waves that threaten to drown. It feels oppressive. It creates a sense of being pressed down into the darkness. It is pressure and it is constant aching. It can literally be difficult to breathe. It is in the body as much as it is in the heart. During this stage I spent considerable time in the darkness of my bedroom, on purpose. Besides the incessant crying, I felt physically ill. I took days off from work. Beyond the necessity of caring for my teenage daughter's and my own basic needs I was not functional. I couldn't think clearly. The stories were looping incessantly.

As time passes the waves become a little less oppressive every day. The pressure slowly releases. There are actual waves with crests and trenches. They become further apart. I can be distracted from the heartache. Time with friends can make me feel lighter and focus my attention on how much love I have in my life. Vegging out on movies between intense processing sessions can immerse me in someone else's story for a while. Working can let me think in non-emotional ways and provide a sense of accomplishment.


Some waves are pure emotion. Unstoppable tears. Sobs wracking my entire body. Raw heartache. No words or thoughts provoking the feeling.

There are the waves of shame and regret. I wish I had made different choices. I wish I had never learned to use words as weapons so well and I wish I knew how to stop doing so when I'm scared or feel invisible. I wish I took care of myself and I had more emotional control after big events...or enough consciousness to recognize when I'm on a trip. I wish I wasn't so judgmental and critical. I wish I was more unconditional and patient. I wish I was more graceful when I was disappointed. I wish I had loved him better.

There are the waves of wounded stories. Stories of blame and victimhood. Stories of abandonment and neglect. Stories of shame and not-enoughness. There are the stories we tell ourselves about the other person and run through the filter of our fears from past events. We analyze how they acted, what they said, what their actions meant. We tell ourselves how they failed us or how they made our worst fears come true. I won't tell you my stories right now. I don't want to share negativity or reinforce them.

The other waves are about particular losses. Time spent together. Precious daily rituals. Laughter. Flirting. Touch. Being held. Laying on his chest, hearing his heartbeat as my fingers caress his throat and rub his ear. Uninhibited communication. Trust to the point of sharing those things we are most ashamed of and afraid to be rejected for. I could go on forever. There are a kajillion things I feel I've lost.

The wave I'm in right now that is keeping me from sleeping and compelling me to write is grieving our sex life. We had an amazing and passionate sex life. After 14 months we still couldn't get enough of each other. We flirted all the time. We were uninhibited in expressing our desire for each other. We have significant compatibility around physical affection and sexual intimacy as primary expressions of our love. We were adventurous. We pushed limits together into new and mysterious parts of ourselves. We shared our sexual relationship with our friends and community. Our first few parties together, we had many people telling us how much they enjoyed our energy when we played.

And then there is how sexy and desired I feel with him. He awakened something in me, opened me to a new comfort and confidence in my sexuality. I was in the process of losing more and more inhibition and insecurity with him, allowing myself to express my love and desire through erotic expression. I had more I desired to give, to share, and now instead I must figure out what to do with this tremendous sexual energy that courses through my body when I think of him.

I have been watching movies when I need downtime from emotional processing and intentionally avoiding stories with romantic themes. Absolutely everything reminds me of us. But I watched the musical Nine tonight, not realizing how sexual of a movie it is. While there are no actual sex scenes, there is a ferocity of sexuality in the story and performances. I was turned on. I thought about how much we would enjoy watching certain scenes together. I thought about how much I've wanted to do an erotic dance or strip tease for him. And I realized I can't feel arousal or touch myself without crying. I can't fantasize because I can only fantasize about being with him. Sexual release without him present feels alien. I haven't masturbated much at all during our relationship because I didn't feel the need. I was satiated with what he gave me.

There is light and shadow in my grieving our sexual relationship. It is an alchemy of not-so-healthy yearning (we are both addicted to being validated through sex) and a truly loving desire to merge body, heart and soul. Sometimes sex was about physical or emotional need. Sometimes it was an expression of intimacy and our immense love. But other times we achieved a Divine Spark to Divine Spark connection. (We both professed a desire to explore Tantra and deepen the blending of sexual and spiritual, but never followed through. I keep asking myself if things would be different if we had spent more time intentionally seeing and experiencing the Divine in one another, sexually and otherwise?)

I am no stranger to immense grief. I have survived many losses. It's been less than two years since my mother died. Grief used to be crippling, but I believe I am learning how to navigate grief in a healthy way -- to fully express my emotion but not create unnecessary suffering.

And I believe there is meaning to be found in sharing my grief journeys with others. Thank you for holding space for me to do so.

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